Monday, January 31, 2011

Walk to the Creek

We went to the Ft. McAllister yesterday for a longer than usual walk just because the weather was glorious.  The walk was through the mixed forest, across the salt marshes and out to a lookout point that overlooks Redbird Creek.  Along the way they name a few of the trees and birds, but the only bird we saw was a young blue heron landing in the water across the marsh too far away to get a picture of.  One of the trees they identified was the yaupon tree.  The Indians use to brew the  leaves, which contain caffeine, to make a drink that induced vomiting.  Seems they liked to do this before embarking on long journeys. I guess it made them feel they were traveling lighter.
We stopped at the lookout point for a while looking for signs of life, but things were pretty still, not even many tracks in the mud.  We didn't hear many birds either, I guess they'd all gone some where else to be included in the national bird count.

Boardwalk across the salt marsh

Salt marsh

Redbird Creek


Anyway, it was a great walk, came home, puttered  in the garden and braised a lamb shank for lunch, a lovely Sunday with no work week ahead of it, to quote Candace, "How divine!"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just Another Sunny Day in Florida

Python
While on the internet today I noticed 2 stories coming out of Florida and they both involved snakes, as well as dog walking and home improvement shopping.  Very interesting, but spooky.
One man was walking his dog outside his apartment complex and ran into a 15 foot python, doesn't that just make your day!  It took numerous police and animal control personnel to take it away.  They're now checking to see if it has a micro chip inplanted so they can trace the owner to see if the python escaped, or more likely, was set free.  Definitely makes your dog walking more interesting.
Pit Viper
And the other incident took place in a Lowes, a home improvement store.  A man was reaching for some pavers for a patio he was going to build and he was bit twice by a pit viper, store personnel beat the snake and the man and snake were taken to the hospital.  The man is doing well, the snake is not.  That will give you something to think about the next time you go looking for something at a home improvement store.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Month of My Own Books

Well I'm well into my month of reading my own books and I'm enjoying it so much I can see that I'm going to spend a lot more than a month doing it.  I decided to start with my Arthurian books, and quite frankly I had no idea how many of them I had  (another reason I need to get my library organized), and that's not counting the Camelud series which I had just reread last year and won't be rereading right now.
I started with Bernard Cornwall's The Winter King and it had been so long since I had read it that I only remember the broad outline of the story. It's told from the point of view of one of Arthur's men and takes place in the late 400's after the Romans have left England.  Very brutal, but also full of magic and wonder. From there I went to his Enemy of God and after that will be Excaliber.  While reading this series I'm also working my way through  The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends and The Arthurian Book of Days.
A lot of reading, and after that I still have another half dozen or so Arthurian books.  So I'm going to be busy, but not busy buying books.  Amazon would think I had deserted them but I keep adding books to my wish list so I can keep track of them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Minor Rant

This shall be a minor rant on behalf of me and Mother Nature.  We've had the same water company ever since we moved here about 7 1/2 years ago, and then with no warning,  the company was sold to another company who promises that we will continue to receive the same excellent water we've always received and at little additional cost. HA!  Our water was immediately shut off, twice, with no warning so they could do something to the lines and we were then informed of the increase, and it amounts to about 10% of our old bill.  To me anything more than 2 or 3 % percent is more than a minor increase.
Then today when we were out walking we saw the new meter readers.  Now the old company drove through our area in an electric golf cart, very economical and earth friendly when you have to stop every 100  feet or so and get out.  But what was the new company using?  A big pick-up truck that was left running each time the driver had to stop and check a meter, or in his case each time he used his cell phone.  Mother Nature is not happy and quite frankly neither am I.  When I pay my bill this month I think I'll ask if our rate increase is going to put gas in that truck that sat idling for a good part of the day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Orange Marmalade, Orange Marmalade, Orange Marmalade

Repeat after me, I will never, ever, ever, ever make orange marmalade again!  It tastes delicious, smells divine and has made an unGodly sticky mess out of me, the kitchen counter tops, the floor, the stove, and half the pots and pans I own.  The jars are all cooling, the floor has been mopped, my clothes are in the dryer because I got soaked, but they're done.  And I thought peach jam was messy, HA!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Come Saturday Morn...

After a night of dancing Saturday mornings are always a bit slow, love dancing, though to be honest my knees and back are not quite as fond of it as the rest of me is.
 We "hitched" up the wagon and headed into town this morning, Mac was in need of a haircut, and I needed fresh veggies, so I shopped while he had a trimming.  Quite a bit of a trimming as it turned out because the shop's computer said he hadn't been in for nearly 14 weeks, now he likes his hair a bit long---keeps his ears warm--but it was definitely time for a trim.
In addition to my veggies I decided the house needed a bit of color so I picked up an African Violet (editor's note, Morning Minion just pointed out that this is actually a Primula and she's right, perhaps it will last longer than an African Violet).  I never have much luck with them, I probably overwater them, but I love their color and they were among my Mom's favorite flowers so from time to time I give them a go.
My so-called Christmas Cactus is finally blooming.  The one at the top of this page is a cutting from the original plant and manages to bloom nicely around Christmas.  The original plant blooms any time from Thanksgiving to St. Patrick's Day, this year choosing to bloom for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

I've been keeping one of my resolutions to exercise more and have been using my Leslie Sansome Walk the Walk DVD.  I already walk 2 miles a day with Mac but this DVD has me do a mile a bit more aerobically.  I really enjoy it, she works me out enough without wearing me out so I do it 3 or 4 times a week.  The DVD also has a 2 mile walk so after I've worked with the first one for a while I'll move on to the 2 mile.


Looking forward to the football games tomorrow, I'm pulling for Green Bay and the Jets, hope that's not the kiss of death.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mowing the Lawn and Other Random Acts

I like mowing the lawn, I sit on the mower and think about everything,  and nothing.  It's a beautiful day here today, well up in the 60's, loads of sunshine and thoughts of spring drift through my mind. I didn't really mow the lawn so much as I used the mower to blow all the leaves and pine straw off the lawn and put it around the trees.  I know I should rake it, but my back, which rules my life, hates raking, so I mowed instead.
I did some garden dreaming as I mowed, but temperatures are expected to go below freezing again this weekend so I'll dream and not plant yet.
Mac has broad beans and peas growing in his garden and I'm wanting to start some lettuce, cabbage and broccoli as soon as I can find some starter plants, I have no luck with seeds at all, I'm sure I overwater them, but I can't seem to stop myself.
Broad Bean
Back in the house bread is baking in the kitchen and it smells heavenly, it's a honey white bread recipe and we really like it.  Tomorrow I will be attempting, and that's a good word to describe what will be going on, to make orange marmalade.  I downloaded a recipe from the internet and have a bag of lovely oranges, so I 'm hopeful.  If nothing else we'll have some interesting orange juice.
Peas
















Craftwise I've been working on my ripple afghan, I wrote about it in an earlier blog where I told how I hadn't bought enough yarn to make it.  Well I thought I had fixed that problem but after Christmas when I really took a look at what I was doing I realized that again I was going to run out of yarn, and looking even closer I realized that  the afghan was getting wider  but not longer, so being unable to figure out where I had gone wrong I undid the whole thing and started over.  That was a pain, but the good news is that it is really going quickly and I should finish in the next week or so.




I've also been working on some dish towels that I sewed and stamped with lighthouse designs to embroider.  I'm not good at sitting still, if I were in school now I'm sure I'd be labeled hyperactive, except when my nose is buried in a book---I'm doing the afghan while I watch tv and I can't do that and embroider--- so I don't work on them as much as I should and they may take awhile.




That's my week so far, not counting annual exams, house refinance, grocery shopping, house cleaning, picking up new contact lens,  playing the piano  and trying to staying warm.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Knock, Knock

Yesterday while walking we saw one of our favorite birds, a Woodpecker, a Pileated Woodpecker to be precise.  They're huge, up to 17 inches tall, and the one we saw was near that size, and he was pecking away so loudly.  If I beat my head like that, and I'm so stubborn I often beat my head, I'd have the headache from h**l.
So when we got home I looked the Woodpecker up in Wikipedia to find out how he does it, and it said that their brain is smaller than other birds and their skull is thicker.  The brain fits snugly up against the skull so there's no room for it to rattle around, I've often felt that my brain rattling around was one of my problems, but I'm not sure I want a smaller brainer and thicker skull to take care of that problem.
We usually see these birds in pairs and so we always call them Heckle and Jeckle after the old cartoon woodpeckers.  There are so many trees in our neighborhood and most of them bug infested that the woodpeckers could live here  and eat happily for years.
As we continued our walk we came to a large tree that had fallen down several months ago, and it had lines of holes girding it.  Mac said that was woodpecker work.  Nice to know we're giving birds a job.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Want A Real Knife

No I'm not feeling felonious, it's just that how can I be expected to cook like Nigella, Giata and Ina if I don't have a knife like theirs.  All I have is a puny little paring knife.  I long to dice and slice with panache. If you've seen the movie Julie and Julia and saw the scene where Julia Childs goes to cooking school and realizes she doesn't know how to slice and chop you know what I mean.
Each time I watch one of their cooking shows and watch the veggies flying I sigh, turn to my husband and ask, "Can I have a knife like that?'.  He shudders slightly and always says NO!  It's not that I'm dangerous in the kitchen, it's merely that I not the most dextrous person in the world and his visions of me with a large sharp knife give him nightmares.


So for now it's just me and my itty, bitty paring knife, sigh.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

But Could I Do It For a Year?

I've just finished reading  a rather remarkable little book titled Howard's End is on the Landing by British author Susan Hill.  I've read a number of her fiction books and when I saw this one on Amazon I was intrigued.
The book opens with her going through her house looking for the book Howard's End which she was sure was on the landing but she is unable to find it, and from there the book goes on to be the account of how she spent a year reading or in many cases rereading the books she found that she already had in her house.  It's a book about authors she had met and known, the many she'd never met, but admired, and how their writing had affected her life and writing.  She explains how she came to own many of the books, and sometimes was surprised by why she'd ever bought certain titles.
For many reasons he loves the writings of  Charles Dickens, Graham Green, Thomas Hardy, P.G. Wodehouse, and most of all Virginia Wolfe.  How's that for eclectic taste?
As she moves through the year reading different genres of books, diaries, travel books, plays, biographies,  autobiographies, and fiction, she decides to pick the 40 (no I don't know why she picked 40) books she would have to keep if that was all she could have for the rest of her life.  Her book sorting was knowledgeable, humorous, entertaining and it got me to thinking about the books I  own, and whether I could just read them for a year.   I also wondered about which books I would pick  if I could only keep 40 of them .
Well, I don't know about going a year without buying a book, I tend to be a bit of a bookaholoic, but I'm going to give it a try for a month.  After deciding to give that a go I took  a look  through my bookshelves to find where I'll start and I've decided that I'm going to start with my King Arthur books, I'm an Arthur freak having read numerous books about him, visited  every site in England that people associate with him and just plain love reading about him.  Probably the best books about Arthur are the Camelud series by Jack Whyte, but I just reread them  last year, so with that in mind I think I'm going to start with The Winter King by Bernard Cornwall.  I'm not sure where I'll go after Arthur.
As for my 40 books, I'm going to have to give that a lot of thought.  The first book on her bookshelf of 40 was the Bible, not a bad one to begin with.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Is it Tuesday Already?

My Pie Birds
The weekend zipped on out of here, then  Monday was spent rearranging appointments  because of the weather, going to the one appointment I couldn't postpone because I need new contacts and you must have your eyes examined at least once a year in order to get your prescription renewed.   I just opened my last contact, and of course my vision is so bad that my contacts are a specialty order and they take a while to get here, so I had to keep that appointment.  Now it's Tuesday and   I'm not sure I'm  ready for it.
I've been busy putting things in our shop at etsy (MacQue), a few more paintings, an old Villeroy and Boch rumtopf, a piece of vintage pewter, all part of my cleaning out the cupboards.
Rumtopf
I'm still sorting out my Christmas presents and one thing that was kind of a Christmas present.  I've been baking my own bread for the  past 6 months or so and keeping it fresh has proven to be a challenge.  We wrap it up in Saran wrap, my generic name for all clingy wrapping paper, but it hasn't been ideal.  Mac looked at a lot of bread boxes for me, but I was really fussy, didn't want wood or metal, preferred ceramic and didn't want him to spend a fortune.  So he decided to let it go as a gift and I'd search for one after Christmas.
He did give me 2 pie birds, one vintage , Little Red Riding Hood, and one new one, a cardinal.
After Christmas   I got a sale catalog and found a canister that would work as a bread box, and I liked that it stood up and would take less room on my counter.  It's in the Winterberry pattern and I already had other pieces from that pattern so I'm pleased.
Bread Box



And there goes my Tuesday, another appointment tomorrow so Wednesday's shot, before you know it my week is gone.  As I often tell people I do not know how I ever found time to work.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Morning Walk With Henry

Yesterday we had to take Mac's car to have its oil changed so we went for a walk in the J.F. Gregory Park in town.  The park was part of the land bought and developed by Henry Ford in the 1920's and 30's.  He had come to coastal Georgia and fell in love with it and decided to make his winter home there so he bought the site of the  old Clay plantation and built his home, Richmond Hill, there, he also bought 85,000 acres of land on both sides of the Ogeechee River and working with Thomas Edison and others he grew crops that he thought might be useful in the automobile industry.
He basically took a wide place in the road, Way Station, and turned it into a town that became known as Richmond Hill, he built many buildings giving jobs to the impoverished locals, community centers, medical facilities and schools for blacks and whites. Ways Station changed its name to Richmond Hill in 1941 to honor him.
The park itself is the site of old rice fields and is named for Ford's land manager.




Observation Tower

Sign on Observation Tower

It's a beautiful walk at any time of the year and we have walked there often.   It has a 10 acre lakeand many rice paddy canals--I don't really know what to call them, and a 3 mile walking trail.  We spent about an hour walking there and I thought I'd share a few of my pictures from there.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The High Price of Having Fun

As I was ironing yesterday, a bit of a rare occurrence for me, I gave my iron a good look and tried to remember when I'd bought it.  But I've had it so long I have no idea when I'd gotten it.  And though I don't use it often when I need it,  I need it.  So I began to get  a bit worried.  Most of my other appliances are heading down hill, could my iron be far behind?  When I start having trouble with something the first thing I do is price a new one so I'll have an idea of what costs may be ahead.  Now I like my iron, as much as one can like something that's made to do something that you don't want to do in the first place, it's a rather nice little Black and Decker steam iron with an extra long cord.  When I priced a new one I found that I could get one for anything from $18.00 - $28.00, not bad.  That made me wonder what a better iron might cost, though in my opinion the only better one would be one that did the ironing without any assistance from me.

 The $175 Rowents
Anyway, I checked out Macy's where I do a bit of shopping and found one, a Rowenta that cost $175.00, I couldn't hardly believe it.  Granted it had a great  LED display for heat selection, 400 steam holes and an extra large water tank, all things that I so woefully I  need (HA)and dream about in my spare time, but would anyone really pay that much money for an iron?  Maybe if your maid insists on it, but I think I'll stick with my little Black and Decker.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finally!

Yes finally, I've finally found a no calorie soft drink that I can drink and it won't leave a nasty taste in my mouth, or be so sweet that my teeth threaten to leave home.  It's Coke Zero.  And though it's been around for awhile I'd never tried it thinking it would just be one more nasty diet drink.  But I was wrong, it actually tastes pretty good, and like I said, it doesn't leave an after taste.  Mac has been drinking Diet Barq's Root Beer for years but I found it too sweet, and I don't drink root beer all that often.  But I do drink Coke and quite frankly I don't need the extra 130 calories it brings.  So I'm a happy camper, I can have my Coke and not worry about the calories.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Home-made Christmas

As I said I made quite a few of the gifts I gave this Christmas and of course because my family reads this Blog I couldn't show pictures, ah, but now I can.

For my husband I made him a Journal for his Nature writing and I worked with Vista (an interesting company) and uploaded photos to make him a calendar.




For my daughter who is into everything Japanese, traveling there whenever she has the time and money I made a semi-quilted wall hanging and a bag.





Sunday, January 2, 2011

Food For Good Luck

Ever since I was a kid I've  always eaten black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring good luck throughout the new year.  My Mom always cooked them and served corn bread with them.  Most people in the south also fix greens of some kind, mustard greens, collards greens,  turnip greens , kale or chard.
One name for the peas cooked on New Year's Day is Hoppin' John, where the peas are cooked with a piece of pork and rice.  My cousin Lola says that's what she cooks.
I love corn bread, but Mac doesn't so I generally don't  cook any, nor do either of us care for greens.  But we do love the black-eyed peas, so I cooked a pot of them yesterday, with stewed tomatoes and leftover beef from the prime rib we'd had at Christmas.  I made enough for a couple of days, we really like them.
There are many theories about where this good luck meal came from and the one I know is that this was a good luck meal brought over by the Sephardic Jews who settled in Georgia in the 1730's and was adopted by non-Jews during the Civil War when finding any food was lucky.
It is said that the peas swelling up during cooking symbolizes prosperity, the greens symbolize money and the pork, because pigs root forward, symbolizes forward or positive motion.
Some of that's a bit of a stretch, but I do cook them every year and when my daughter said she hadn't been able to get any to cook and would I eat some for her I said yes, but she'd better track some down soon if she wanted 2011 to be a good year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2011

With yesterday's review of last year's resolutions it's time to look forward to 2011.  I accomplished most of my goals for last year, and with a little luck and a bit of planning I hope to do as well this year.
So here we go.

Resolution #1:  I will get all of my closets cleaned out and usable.  Mac has finished flooring the 2 closets in our master bedroom and I've gotten a start on the linen closets, with generous donations to Good Will, but there is much work to be done.  A closet shouldn't look like a landfill and doors should close easily.  With visions of Fibber McGee's closets I will get started.

Cleaned out linen closet
Bottom left needs cleaning
The tubs must go













Resolution #2:  I will get our books organized and catalogued.  I started on this last year but abandoned it before I finished, and in the meantime we've acquired about 40-50 more books.  Last year I tried to organize the books, but my better half has the habit of grabbing books, reading them and then sticking them back on any shelf in any bookcase, it drives me wild.  I have formally become the Librarian of the house, I will get the books organized by subject matter or author, listed on a computer disc, donate old books we won't reread and reshelve all the books.  Mac wants to know if I'm going to institute a fine system.

Resolution #3:  I have been making a scrapbook of mine and Mac's family for about 3 years now but haven't managed to finish it.  I wish that I'd made a smaller one, but  I will finish it this year and make a series of small ones about our daughter next.

Resolution #4:  I will do more oil painting this year, I did very little last year doing mostly water colors.  I love painting and I need to stop being lazy about it.  I have several pictures that I want to start and I will do at least 1 oil painting a month.

Resolution #5:  I will exercise more this year, I will use my exercise tapes and my hula hoop. I will spend less time in front of the computer and more time being active.  If this helps me lose weight I'll be thrilled, if it makes feel better than I'll be happy and that's my goal.



That's it, they're  all doable, we'll check back in a few months and see how I'm doing.

What's Cooking?

The kitchen smells heavenly.  I made vegetable beef soup, think it's the first time I've done that.  It's for lunch tomorrow and...