Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to One and All

Thanksgiving is just around the corner--and you don't have to be from USA to celebrate. I often forget to consider all that I have to be thankful for, so this post is a wandering of thankful thought/expressions.

I am thankful

  • for my family, first and foremost. There's no end to the variety of challenges and interests of each individual, to talents and interests, but, above all we love each other--better some days than others, maybe, but we do love each other!
  • for those terrific grandchildren that are a part of that family I'm so thankful for
  • to know of God's love and tender mercies.
  • for this glorious, beautiful, planet on which we live, for its endless varieties of plant and animal life.
  • to have hot and cold running water--and indoor plumbing
  • to have a home which shelters me and my loved ones
  • to have a large yard with endless plants and flowers, beauty abounding
  • for the variety of daytime skies--the sun rising
  • for the beauty of evening and night skies with sunsets and moon and stars
  • for misty foggy days/nights that soften the look of everything it enshrouds
  • for rain
  • for mountains
  • for forests
  • for plains
  • for rivers and streams and waterfalls and oceans
  • for gardens
  • for friends
  • to have transportation
  • to have the freedoms I've enjoyed my entire life
  • to have traveled to many places on this planet, including countries outside my own
  • to have survived some serious illnesses
  • to have blogger friends
  • to see
  • to hear
  • to taste and smell
  • to feel and touch
  • to laugh and cry
  • to read
  • to think
  • to speak
  • to teach
  • to have enough to eat, and more
  • to have heat when it's cold and air conditioning when its not
  • to sing
  • to dance
  • to write
  • to love and be loved
  • to have had challenges that have changed me and strengthened me
  • and so many, many more gifts and blessings I could go on and on about if I thought about it and didn't want to bore anyone to death...

May each of you, and those you love, enjoy the blessings God has given us each and every day, and remember to let Him know of the things you are thankful for!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nests and Nesting

Just a short post.

When I was posting pictures of Bird Nests, I was thinking of my Mother, who recently had to go to the hospital. She's okay, but she had a difficult experience over the weekend. The gist of the whole things is: she will have to change her nesting habits in the very near future. (My stepfather died almost 10 years ago--and we all miss him more than I can say, just so you know.) As most older individuals, Mom's wanted things to be as they have been (more or less) and resisted some necessary changes. (Heck! We as mortals often seem to resist change in our lives here!) But, since her "difficult experience" she may have had a change of heart/understanding as to the benefits of having daily care requirements met differently now.

So, the "nests" of previous post were a little symbolic for me as I posted. Prayers of gratitude ascend (and have been ascending) in her behalf long before and are now increased and multiplied. We (and she) are blessed that her "experience" was no more traumatic than it was and that good things are following the 'not-so-good'.

As my Mom's mother used to tell us all: "Don't grow old." Grandma would say that with all the sincerity of her heart, then smile and give us a hug. She'd broken her hip like 10 or 15 years before she died, and was 96 years old when she died. She eventually lost most of her ability to walk--because she didn't want to use a cane!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bird Nests

This is the first picture I remember taking of a bird nest. Took it January 2, 2008. It's in a wisteria vine/bush. I discovered it quite by accident and decided to capture it in a photo. I went back a few days later to see if I could get a better shot/angle, and it was gone! The winds had come and, I suppose, blown it away! I don't have a clue as to the bird species that made it their home. (We have such a wide variety of birds that frequent our yard! And I don't know them all, sorry to say!)The rusty shafts are pine straw (pine needles) and I'm not sure that they were added by winged creatures. I'm about convinced it was the wind that deposited those additions!

This nest was home to a Mockingbird family. I heard before I saw the chicks. When I saw them, Mother Mockingbird gave one sharp, one note warning, and the chicks were silent, and were soon out of sight. I tried valiantly to get pictures of them for several days, but Mom was too good at protecting her family--and I was most likely too invasive. This nest rests in a fig tree with ivy growing all around.

Same nest as first, only closer. See the fuzzy stuff at top and middle? I believe it found some kind of yarn to add to the construction. Don't know if it was a fashion statement or not. Seems like if it were for softness, it would be on the in-side rather on the out. Wish I were taller and could look inside. Now altogether void of feathered friends. *Sigh*

This nest, I believe, is some type of swallow's nest. It's under a roof that shades an observation spot on the Mississippi River near a lock. It's a rather large nest, but we saw no birds nearby. Lots and lots and lots of ladybugs, however!

This nest may have been home to Mockingbirds also. It's very large and well hidden in a pyracantha bush, so I had ever so much trouble in getting close enough to get a picture of any kind. There were too many branches and too many prickles and too many prickly branches in my way, so these three pictures tried to represent, in some fashion, what's there.

Several Red Birds--Cardinals--were checking it out earlier in the year. They must not have liked the accommodations, however, because they didn't stick around for long.

Sorry for the 'fuzz'. I think I got stuck on a prickle. But it's the best shot available to show the size of it!

See the sharp little monsters that kept getting in my way?

This precious little nest rests in a holly bush and is very hard to see from the front of the house. It's much closer to ground level than any of the others, which is why I'm able to look inside from the top. The egg shell has been there for over a year. I believe it did nest Red Birds. We'd never have discovered it, but our front windows allowed my son to see lots of bird family activity from the back of the bush. We were never able to see the birds from the front. Very good parenting, apparently going on in that neighborhood.

I find birds' nests rather fascinating. Actually, I think birds are fascinating.

Same nest with flash. ;-}

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rainfall Calculations and Blogger Friends to the Rescue, OR 59 Thousand Gallons of Rain on the Ground

Jeanie, here you've just gotten married only hours ago, and now you're already solving mathematical problems for the weak-minded, rain deluged Louisianians!? You are a generous "jeanie-ous"! Thanks, my lack of working out math problems past 1+3=4 or something like that, sorting out the bills and bank statements, etc. has made me weak-brained, I'm afraid. I used to like math, though I never excelled in it. (another post sometime, maybe.)

THANK you for the web site you mentioned. I went there and worked with the lovely formula. Since I'm not a surveyor, and since I'm assuming (and in good mathematics one never assumes anything) that our property is the approximate 1/2 acre I was once told it probably was, I'll use the figure of 21780 square feet to be the figure to monkey with. So after all the calculations, checking of calculations and thinking a bit and rechecking my calculations, I've arrived at a number to represent (perhaps loosely) the possible number of gallons that fell on our entire property last week in a 24 hour period. That number is . . . drum roll, please! 59,735.28 gallons total (give or take a few inches, or quarts, or sprinkles, or . . . whatever!) Anyway, after finding another formula, I came up with this way of determining how much water fell in my yard (approximately, of course) by using the following chart found at Somehow, it looked easier to comprehend, but the math works out so closely, it's all good! (In case you're wondering, the chart didn't copy, so this is what did copy!)

Amount of water received when an inch of rain occurs
Area Area(square miles) Area(square kilometers) Amount of water(gallons)

1 acre .000156 .004 27,154 gallons

Just to make it easier on myself, this is how I calculated:

Whereas 1 acre of surface = 27,154 gallons of water per 1 inch of rain

27,154 x 4.4 inches = 119,477.6 gallons on 1 acre. With me so far?

Then, since I only have approximately ½ acre of surface, I divided the 119,477.6 gallons by 2. That equals 59,738.8 (which is really close to the above calculations) then since a ½ acre equals 21780 square feet, the number of gallons that fell that day must be . . . 59738.8 divided by 21780, or 2.74 gallons per square foot, or something remotely close to that figure. Nearly 3 gallons of water over a square foot in one day. I think I need to get a cistern and work out a capture system to save some of that liquid for when the rains don't come! (Almost forgot to convert to liters for my friends "down under". It's about 14.16 liters per square foot.)

Whew! My brain hasn’t worked that hard since I took a college pre-calculus class over 11 years ago. And as you might guess, my ten year old son, who came with me (I was home schooling him—you might say) helped ME with MY homework for that class. What a twist, huh?

So, thank you Debby and Jeanie-ous for taking me more seriously than I take myself and actually helping me find a way to figure it all out.

However, I still want to know . . . don’t mind me if I seem a little silly, ‘cause I am, but what about all the pine straw and leaves that fell at the same time with the rain, and whether it sprinkled or torrentially poured, or the wind blew some of my rain onto the street or into the neighbor’s yard, or . . . or . . .

Okay. I’m stopping. It’s very late and my soft brain has done all it can do for one day.

Thanks again to my friends, and Jeanie, enjoy being married. Kiss V and ‘Salina for me. (I hope that doesn’t scare any of you, too much!)

I’m calling it a night. I’m not going to dream about rain, either. In gallons, or cubic or square feet. I’ll probably dream of the cleaning, scrubbing, dusting, washing, cooking I’ll be doing for the rest of the month getting ready for and enjoying Thanksgiving with my family!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Rains Came, But How Much Per Square Foot?

In the previous post I shared photos of fabulous fall trees. It's been beautiful here. Weather has been dry and cool and generally gorgeous! Yesterday, however, all that changed. It rained. In fact, it rained a ton. Yes, we needed the lovely rains. Really needed them!

When I got up this morning I checked the rain gauge. It had rained (in the past 24 hour period) 4.4 inches. I wonder how many gallons that equals per square foot. Anyone out there, of the super scientific brain sort who can let me know the calculations for that? Oh, on second thought, just figure it out for me please and let me know.

I suppose it's something like,
"x inches of rain times y hours (times 1/2 acre--more or less) times some unknown formulaic equation I've never heard of divided by the direction and velocity of the wind, minus all the leaves that fell in the process and whether it was light outside or dark at the time the rains actually fell." I'm sure quantum mechanics of rain calculations covers all that, doesn't it?

Oh, and I suppose that when the rain was falling at "sprinkle speed vs. torrential speed" could possibly complicate the equation a bit. Or not. Anyway, any of you egg-heads out there want to attempt to esplain it to the confounded and dimwitted writer of this post? I'd love to know. Ser'ously.

Oh, and the Weather Channel, or some other weather entity prognosticated there were flooding possibilities for this neck of the woods. Or possibly south of here. Since water flows down, it's probably south of here. Besides. I do live on a hill. I have watched great quantities (i.e., gallons) of water flow across my yard, puddle at the middle landing on my steps out the front door, and across the driveway. That's not counting the stream that flows down my back yard and into the wilderness behind our property. (The stream only exists in extremely heavy downpours--like the times it's rained about 3 to 4 inches in a hour. Yes. I did say, 3 to 4 inches in one hour!) And/or on those occasions when it's rained multi inches of rain over several days.

STILL: I do love rainy days! Let me amend that. I do love rainy days when the water DOES NOT seep into my downstairs because the ground is saturated. AND when I can stay inside and be cozy. And dry.

I even like watching the lightening and stormy clouds as they contort and frolic across the sky. Love clouds. EXCEPT for when danger is imminent. But I digress.

I want to know how to compute the number of gallons of water that falls/fell per square foot. Oh, yeah. You have to count the water that fell ON the house, and cascaded down the roof into a huge waterfall close to the front door. And maybe that that also poured off the back of the house? The sides? Or rather ends where there's no sloping roof? Maybe it's just too complicated to figure it out. *SIGH*

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fabulous Fall Colors

Where do I begin? First the colors in person were much bolder, beautiful and frequent than I'm sharing with you today. My photography skills, well, you can see the amateur nature of them. I wish you could have been there with me! That way, you could have seen them first hand, which seems, somehow to be better! Most of these were taken as we sped down the freeway, or highway. (Sorry for the inadequacy.)
Like Dash, Bush Babe's young son, the pictures I took in my head, well, they're still there!

I actually got to stand still for this picture!

And this one.

See the speed here?

I LOVE the fall colors!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fun Friday Fotos

Getting ready for Church and related difficulties.
Oh, Grandpa, I feel so . . . weird . . . and . . . out of focus . . .
I'm also pretty sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I don't like standing still.
Ha, ha! NOW I feel better! And check out my big sister's sparkly shoes!

This is Big Sister. She loves me. Even though I do torment her sometimes.
(You know, it's a little brother's job to do that.)

Grandpa, see! This is one of my most cherished toys. It's a little parrot.

Well, I tried to keep my shirt tucked in, but it just won't stay.

See! So what's a guy supposed t' do, anyway? Huh?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Food for Thought

Just kidding! Well, maybe not . . .Chicken Cacciatore: It was "What's for Dinner" last night.

My daughter, Sarah, asked me to fix this dish a day or two ago. So, last night I did. It was very yummy and was based on a recipe she found online from "food" courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. I personally love to watch her show.

So, here's my version of her recipe. I didn't change much.

Chicken Cacciatore

1 whole chicken, cut up, (breasts cut in half crosswise, equalling 4 pieces)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3/4 cup white grape juice (Giada used white wine)
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup chicken stock (or broth)
3 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over medium to medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Chicken WILL NOT be thoroughly cooked yet--so WAIT to eat it! Transfer chicken to paper towel on a plate and set aside.

Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, and carrot slices to the same pan and saute over medium/medium high heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the grape juice and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium/medium low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a large serving dish (or 9 x 13 inch casserole). If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. (I left this step out . . . so I had LOTS of sauce. But I liked it!) If you like, you can spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce at this point. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

The basil I retrieved from my huge plant just outside the back door was sooooo aromatic and wonderful and a nice addition to the dish. Yes, I also had fresh oregano growing back there. Can I just say how much I love my pots of herbs growing on the back patio? Well, I do. We served the chicken and sauce over spaghetti noodles and sprinkled it all with Parmesan cheese. We liked it. In fact, my husband said he'd like to eat it again. (Translation: he REALLY liked it!)

Sarah said, since I added the carrots (upon her request, I might add) it seemed sweeter than the time she fixed it for her Dad when I was off helping her sister Amy with the birth of her second child. (See the cute, smiling, blue-eyed wonder in the far left photo on Saturday's "Someone's Unhappy!" post. Oh, and as an aside, that little guy LOVES to cook! Has ever since he was big enough to drag a stool up to assist his Mom in cooking projects.)
So, go try this recipe. The seasoning is milder than I thought, but VERY nice and tasty! Enjoy! We did. And will again.
Do YOU have a favorite chicken recipe? A favorite Italian recipe? Care to share? Please! Come on! You know you want to!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Thinking of Deleting

Okay. I'm very self-conscious at the moment. I looked more closely at the picture of the grandparents and grandchildren in the previous post and nearly gagged! I look like I weigh about 300 pounds! How did my daughter's camera do that to me! I'm aghast with fear and trembling. And what makes it worse . . . When I mentioned my horror at the way I look in this picture to my dear husband, he was rather non-plussed, non-committal. He gave me no comfort!!! Yeah, yeah, yeah. He couldn't have answered correctly whatever he said. I hear you out there! You know you said/thought it! The best answer is a consoling answer. There are several that come to mind.

There is a slight amount of solace however in my stockpile. (I tell myself.) Photos always make you look larger than life! That's why they want models that are six feet tall and weight 98 pounds. Poor souls. I could share the wealth. I'd be willing.

Now lets see: Hmmmm. How many trips up and down the stairs do I need to make in 30 minutes (and for how many days?) to lose 10 pounds? Oh, yeah. How many trips up and down the stairs can I make in ten minutes without getting winded? Hey! I can do that! I have done that. A week ago. Or was that week before last? Three weeks . . .

And the Pioneer Woman has a stair machine! I should ask her why she doesn't just install stairs in the Lodge remodel. If she had to go up and down stairs all day taking care of her 7.5 tons of laundry, she'd stay as slim and trim as her ballerina self is already anyway. And she's young enough to be my daughter and all that.

Sigh. No, I don't especially feel any better, but thanks for asking. Sniff. Since I was always underweight growing up and weighed only 130 just a few summers ago, (make that three) I just figured I'd always be okay. What ever happened?!!! I protest. I deny. I . . . I . . . I gotta get up and trek up and down those stairs. (Insert long pause.) Sooner or later . . .

Actually I have to go prepare myself for torture of another kind. Mammogram. Oh the sheer pain. Fibrocystic mess (masses?) complicates and increases the pain of an otherwise already painful exercise. Thinking of you, Debby. This pain is far more temporary than what you're dealing with. Prayers ascend for you today, etc.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Someone's Unhappy!

Here are the grandparents. And here are the grandchildren. One of the grandchildren isn't exactly thrilled with what was going on at the moment. I know you needed that clarification, since it's not self-evident. I don't even remember what upset him. Perhaps it was that when he finally got out of the stroller he wasn't allowed to get into the piles of fallen leaves as his siblings had just been doing--and having a great lot of fun doing so.

Youngest of the grandchildren is often disappointed when he tries to play with the "big kids." It's totally unfair as far as I'm concerned, too!

So, this picture proves that we did actually get to spend a little time with our daughter's family, including said grandchildren. It was great. It was COLD and windy. We'd come from 80 degree temps to 60 something degrees during daylight to 30 something degree nights. Older generation has an adjustment gap there, you know, with extreme temp changes. 50 degree temp differential is not particularly kind on aching knee, back and elbow joints to those over 50 years old. At least, those two folks pictured above.

We do have happier pictures of the distraught youngster, this being one.

He's happy being in Mom's arms.

Grandma and Grandpa are very grateful they got to visit with this family. Dad (to the three adorable children, husband to the lovely daughter) was busy working most of the time we were taking pictures. You'll have to wait for a picture of him.