Thursday, January 31, 2008

In Good Company

Which Great US President Are You Most Like?
created with
You scored as George Washington

1st President, in office from 1789-1797
Born: 1732 Died: 1799

George Washington


Theodore Roosevelt


Abraham Lincoln


Ronald Reagan


John Kennedy


Dwight Eisenhower


Franklin Roosevelt


Lyndon Johnson


Woodrow Wilson


Thomas Jefferson


Harry Truman


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Meme

DNR, from What? tagged me with a meme.

The rules are:

* link to the person who tagged you ,

* post the rules on your blog,

* share six non-important things/ habits/ quirks about yourself,

* tag at least 3 people at the end of the post and link to their blog,

* let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Only 6? There are a lot of people (my family lately, it seems), who would tell you that most things about me were non-important. But, since there are NON family members who may not agree with my family's assessment:

1) I I mean I REALLY dislike the taste of cilantro and bell peppers.

2) In my opinion, small dill pickles are the perfect side to a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

3) I was 12 before I knew people made burnt orange clothes, cars or any other item..on purpose.

4) I grew up near Texas A&M University (thus, number 3)

5) I sometimes get motion sick in elevators.

6) I like flying kites.

Hummm... who to tap on the shoulder.....


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Under Cover

I took a peek under the covers in my back yard. The plants I worried about most are under covers and they're doing pretty well. I need to go back tomorrow and water them again, as the pots don't get a lot of water, even though we've had a couple of inches of rain.

Another Houston Gardener has smaller version of this plant. She got hers from a store, I was lucky enough to have a start of mine given to me by my neighbor. It's about 3 years old now, and beginning to show off it's more tree-like form of grayish stems. I think the pot it's in sets it off very well. No, that's not terra cotta. It's actually an old tire, painted and turned into a planter. I've a couple of these, 'Pup got them from a family he'd helped several years before we met.

The disappearing fountain's pump is turned off for now. The water in the reservoir is the heat storage for the covered area.

The Pinata rose isn't under cover, but it's still blooming, but close to the end of a bloom cycle.

The good news is that it is using this time to grow new foliage and shoots.

And, what would a January report be, if I didn't show the tomatoes. The plants are doing fairly well, I'm not getting a lot of fruit out of them now, but really, my main goal is to overwinter the plants so that I can get an early crop out of them this spring.

The occasional ripened one is just good fortune.

I wish this one would start to ripen. It's about as big as my fist and I've got sandwich dreams ready for it to star in...

OH, by the way....

Plant's aren't the only green things taking shelter under the frost cloth.

Hello little fella!

Not so happy to see me as I was happy to see him. I think I woke him from a nap. He was all grumpy.

Happy almost end of January!

Friday, January 25, 2008

January Tomatoes Update


Remember these?

Here they are again.....

one needs to ripen a little more, and one is still green but ready to ripen. The other two are...or rather WERE......quite delicious.

Some of the other's are ripening too, but it was too cold for me to want to be outside much today, and it was raining. Yuck.

Warmer weather is supposed to be coming soon. I can't wait.

I got some pansies from the store, at the "rescue me, they're going to compost me!" rack. I paid about $3.00 for about $20.00 worth of flowers. Now, all I have to do is plant them.

Till then, they're hanging out in the black cauldron in the front yard. Makes a nice cheery, colorful statement.

More pictures tomorrow or Sunday.

A House at the Beach

Now would not be the time to have to sell a house, especially a house that was meant as a second home, or vacation home. Heck, now is not a good time to own stocks either. I'm not liking the way my very small portfolio keeps taking hits just about the time it FINALLY recovers to a number that matches what I first put into it. Problem is, with the time involved, even if the amount had gone up 50%, I still have lost real value.

House prices have fallen. Oddly enough, the valuation they use for computing the property taxes........has not fallen. Go figger.

I wonder what real estate agents are doing. Are they hurting? How are they moving houses in areas where they're laying off people, or where people are just generally nervous about things? What about the houses that are being foreclosed on? Are they being bought?

Even our neighborhood has seen an increase of houses for sale. And, it's taking longer for them to sell. I think some of my neighbors might have done the home equity loan thing, with the home equity based on those tax valuations rather than the real market cost. Not a smart thing to do.

I guess all in all, this would be a good time to be a buyer and a bad time to be a seller. Even for the high priced homes down on the beach on Galveston Island, or on the West Coast, or on the East coast (like the houses here: Wilmington real estate).

Fortunately for 'Pup and I, we are neither buyers nor sellers. We owe far less on this house than it's worth, (both tax valuation and real market valuation) and when we refinanced about 5 years ago, we got a very low mortgage rate and a low house payment.

My mom asked me how long we had to pay off the house. When I told her, she was a little shocked. See, we're not really worried about paying it off in ten years. We've no children to leave our property too, so a fixed, low payment is far better for us than aggressively trying to pay off the house. I don't think she'd ever looked at it that way. But, we kept our house when two of my siblings lost theirs when they were laid off a few years ago.

All in all, I think we chose correctly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weather, Looking Back.

After some rainy weather, we had some bright, clear days. Not now, of course. Now, it's raining and going to be raining for a week. Still, that's the nice thing about a camera. It lets you decide what weather you want to look at.

A bee's eye view of my pink rose. Alas, except for the Pinata rose, all my other roses are in between blooms. On the upside, that means in about 2 weeks I should have a whole yard full of blooming rose bushes.

The lavender colored rose I (FINALLY) got in the ground in November, was blooming in early January.

This little flower has been trying to open for about a week now. It's still not open. Stubborn little cuss, maybe it's waiting till no one else is blooming so it can be the star?

The geraniums keep blooming. We in gets a little warmer--March or so-- I'm going to prune the plants and root the cuttings.

I have some Asiatic Jasmine that grows through the back of the fence, into the front yard. This variety is very fragrant.

On the more serious side, my Hot Stuff Niece called me today. My mom is ill again, with pneumonia. She's not in the hospital, but is coughing and weak. To make things worse, HSN is also ill, with the one variety of flu that wasn't covered by the flu shots we got.
Mom hasn't been eating, and HSN has been calling me the last couple of weeks to tell me that my mom's blood glucose level has bottomed out several times. HSN is able to get her to eat, and stabilized until my sister (HSN's mom) can get there to take over.
While I am very proud of HSN, I am a little......angry at my mom. When she was at my other sister's house, recuperating, she would eat properly and follow doctor's orders. Now she's at home, she is choosing not to do the same. It isn't fair to expect my mentally challenged niece to have the responsibility of keeping my mom alive. She's already been through losing my dad, and finding him after he'd passed away. I don't. want. that. to. happen. again. Not with my mom, for whom my niece WILL feel more responsible. She was able to understand my dad's death. He went after a long fight with cancer, and she wasn't under the same pressure to keep him alive. We knew the end would come, and we were able to prepare her for it.
My mom shouldn't be making HSN feel responsible for HER life. HSN is essentially a 10 year old in a 25 year old body. She shouldn't have to be the one who grabs my mom as she goes down.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Meadow

One of the things I teach at the Learning Center is a vocabulary series. The first two books require mostly verbal and minimal writing responses from the students.

One of the lessons recently included the word: meadow.

We talked about what a meadow was, and things you might see in a meadow. We talked about flowers, grass, bushes, rabbits, cows, sheep, horses, people having picnics...... All in all, a lovely discussion.

Then, the students got to draw a picture of a meadow and write a sentence about one of the things they put IN their meadow.

Why yes, the student is a little did you know?

Just goes to show you, a kid is a kid, no matter where he's from.

I'm so proud.

Walrilla's Wonderings: "Lt. Dan! You Got Magic Legs!"

Looks like Walrilla's going to be dancing with his wife soon!! The rest of us will just be dancing with joy and celebration.

Walrilla's Wonderings: "Lt. Dan! You Got Magic Legs!"


I do not like going to some commercial sites. They have an unfortunate feature that allows for pop up ads to fill your screen. I don't like pop ups. I've got a feature installed on the computer that doesn't allow them to be seen, but it means that sometimes, when I'm on OTHER sites, where I have to access another screen...and it's in a pop up...I have to make a concerted effort to get in. It's a minor irritant, but like all irritants, it is----IRRITATING!

Who ever came up with pop up ads, may your toe nails fall off. To those who have made such things as a popup blocker, may you have prosperity and joy. And, keep your toe nails.

Shoes'n Stuff

Now, I want to know. Who buys shoes online? There are just some things you ought to be in person for the correct fitting. I've a weird shaped foot, I have to try shoes on. I've a foot that matches the rest of me...short and wide. Sigh.

So, while I like to order some things online, like seeds and my medications, even things like Sports Authority coupons won't be enough to get me to order.

On the other hand, if I would be a lot cheaper.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tick Tock

I am allergic to most metals, even surgical stainless steel. This is a real challenge and a bit of a pain in the backside, as I used to have the coolest costume jewelry, especially earrings. I used to pair the earrings with one of the lessons I might be teaching in the class that day. The kids started noticing and they'd try to guess what the lesson would be. It was an effective "hook" for the lesson.

I always wore a watch too. I preferred watches with clear faces and sweeping second hands so I could time myself and the lessons. There is only so much class time and so many lessons to teach and learn, I made sure to budget the day.

Then, one day....I developed an infected earlobe. It was painful, and it was so swollen that it looked as if I had a quail egg attached to the bottom of my ear. Turns out, I was allergic to the post of the earrings I'd worn. So, no more earrings.

Then, I developed a rash under my watchband. I switched from a metal band to a plastic one... then from plastic to leather. I tolerated the leather best, but I'd still break out where the buckle of the strap touched my skin, and eventually, even under the watch face itself...surgical stainless steel.

I have a hard time even tolerating sterling silver. Gold, on the other hand, I can tolerate, and so it is the metal of choice. It's also kind of expensive, so I only have a few pairs of earrings.

Fortunately, I'm still able to tolerate necklaces. I think it's because the metal is never held in one spot or tightly against my skin. This means that I can now wear a watch of sorts, as long as it's in the form of a necklace. I even have some lovely ones. A lot of them need new batteries just now. I need to remember to try to take them somewhere to have the batteries changed (I need to make sure the right kind of battery is purchased for each watch.

I still look at regular watches though. The big, glittery, holiday themed watches would be fun to wear to the tutoring center. And, I'd really like to have a good Ebel watches, or Longines, or a Cassio. It wouldn't have to be a diamond watch...tho I do like sparkly things...

A girl can dream, can't she?

In the Dark of the Morning

I've been staying up a little to late every night. Or rather, I've not been going to bed at night at all, instead, I've been going to bed in the dark early morning hours. Partly it is because I work from 4 in the afternoon to 7 in the evening, and when I get home at 8 pm......I'm still pretty well overstimulated from teaching some very interesting and energetic human beings.

So, I watch a lot of late night (early morning) television.

Some of it, I even try to stay up for, like the series Scrubs. I missed that series when it came out, and didn't really "discover" it until it was on late night reruns. After that, however, it seems that the programming goes away, and infomercials take over. (We don't have cable...won't have it until some debts are paid off.)

There are adds for exercise machines of all kinds, diet aids like hoodia and hydroxycut, miracle kitchen aids who promise to make dinner so easily you'd think you were Ward Cleaver coming home to June, and endlessly innovative ways to soil and then clean clothing.

The variety never ceases to surprise me. I know these ads must be effective, or they'd not be running. But I guess I'm not their target audience. I just don't find most of the products appealing. Perhaps I've become a cynic?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Back Yard Update

I took a peek under the frost blankets around the pond. That's a little impatien blooming. The water in the small pond and the half barrel keeps the micro climate under there at a nice warm temperature. This is the only frost blanket that is also covered by a plastic tarp. Some of my tenderest plants are under there. I noticed a fair amount of little critters hiding out there too.

Under the frost blanket around the water jar fountain, the reservoir there kept the plants nice and warm too. It was so warm that the butterfly weed, which HAD NOT bloomed all this summer......Bloomed! I think I'm just going to keep the plants under cover for now. 'Pup and I put these on with the help of HSN, and doing it again, if we had to do it quickly, would be very very difficult. Besides, the plants seem to like it.

(K---I've got a very vigorous gloriosa shoot, about 4 feet long hiding out there too. This spring, I should have more of the flame lilies blooming)

My pink Jasmine (thank you Livey!) froze down last winter and I never got any blooms. I replanted it in the back and it's thriving. I didn't cover it at all, and it made it through quite well. With any luck, I'll have a fragrant seat this spring.

My impatiens in this bed were very leggy and I didn't cover them either. The tops froze off, but they seem to be regrowing from the bottom.

I didn't cover the Pineapple Sage either, and the dang thing didn't even pause in it's blooming. I think the back yard must have had several areas that stayed a little above 32 degrees. Perhaps the brick walkways and the ground were warm enough to keep some areas warmer.

The hyacinth bean vine's leaves were mostly brown and dead now, but there are odd shoots that are still blooming. The vine is still alive and some of the bottom leaves are still viable. I wonder if this vine will make it through the winter? I'm not going to cover it, as I've collected quite a number of seeds, and can replant easily. I'd like to have it in a sunnier place too.

See? The vine is growing new shoots and leaves. I love winter in Houston. You just never know what to expect.

More pictures tomorrow...or Tuesday.
'Pup's having a bone scan tomorrow. The doc wants to find out why he's having so much pain. He's going to have a bone density scan eventually as well...but the doc said he'll have to wait. Seems with all of us baby boomer women achieving a certain age, bone density scans are all the rage.
I have had both tests done a few years ago when we were trying to find the source of my back pain. I've a little arthritis, but a pretty sound and dense bone structure. Still, I'm eating my cheese and yogurt and drinking my milk. And, because I like to garden, I get enough Vitamin D to use all the calcium I take in.
Which, come to think of it, might be part of 'Pup's problem. He's been going to work before dawn and when he's come home early (he doesn't have any more math tutoring students--our regular math tutor is back), he tends to stay inside. We've been trying to take the dogs to the bark park more often. It's good for them and for both of us.

Roses..Part One

Okay, Blogger's being a pain in the backside tonight, and gmail chat keeps going down......

I was going to include another one or two rose pictures, but I'll try again tomorrow.

At least these came out well.

Presenting: The Pinata climbing rose, having a very good bloom.

The roses seem to love these cooler, drier days.

Friday, January 11, 2008

January Tomatoes

I uncovered the tomatoes to water them today. The ones in the pots didn't make it. Oh well. I got a couple of the small tomatoes from the Mexican miniature and I'll see if I can sprout them and grow some more.

There were two tiny ripe ones on the badly frost bit vines. I saved them for seeds.

Some of the others in the ground were doing much better.

This is a variety called Texas Wild.

Growing in the same raised bed are some other cherry tomatoes called Million ..something or other.. I really need to write these things down.

A note for myself. This bed was covered with one white plant cover, but it was big enough that I was able to fold it in half and get two layers of insulation. These plants have done the best. I think the other tomatoes are going to get a second layer as well. The fabric lets light in and lets things "breathe" under there, so they can't cook the plant.

The other bed with tomatoes (three plants) fared not so well as the cherries. The Health Kick tomato vine is alive, but badly damaged. It has/had several fruits that might continue to ripen.

The Big Boy tomatoes are just fine. There are a couple of small, (3 or so ounces) on the vines and they promise to keep growing and producing.

So, January tomatoes are doing......okay. I'll make a few more modifications with the coverings and I think they may make it to spring, unless we have an extended time below freezing. We had that last year (@ 30 hours) and that's when the bougainvillea got frozen down to the ground.
Oh, the bougainvillea is bit badly again........but. It came back last spring and bloomed. I have ample reasons to hope it will do so again.
More rose pictures in another, later post.

Just for Me

I saw the prettiest piece of jewelry today. A lady had on a bracelet at the bark park. We'd taken the dogs there again this evening about an hour before it gets dark. 'Pup got home and we loaded the dogs and drove right over there. The dogs get really excited when we get their leashes now.

Anyway, the lady's bracelet was made of interlocking rings, very similar to a puzzle ring, only it was a bracelet. It was made of wood and was very pretty. I admired it and asked the lady where she'd gotten it, and she told me it was a one of a kind, that she'd had it made for her.

I'd like to have something unique like that. It doesn't have to be made of gold, or be fancy, like diamond pendants, or rings.

Something made just for me would be far more precious.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bark Park

It was a beautiful Sunday. We took advantage of the warm weather and took the dogs to the Bark Park. Both Butch and Chuckers are liking this bark park thing. They were a little skittish the first time we took them, but they've now been often enough that they feel comfortable with the park and have become a lot more socialized with the other dogs.
Uhmm.. Chucky is the dog presenting his back end to the camera....sigh

Chucky likes trying to get to know all the other dogs. He's a party animal.

I think the fact that Butch and Chucky have bonded into a pack has helped too. They both seem more relaxed since they've really started hanging together.

Charles loves running. Our little back yard is mostly garden and just doesn't give him enough room to really stretch his long legs. Butch isn't a runner. No, he's more a...sleeper.

When we get to the area of the park we usually use, the area with the agility equipment, Butch immediately runs up one of the ramps and sits on the platform on the top. He then happily and loudly proclaims to one and all that he IS King of the Mountain.

This assertion is challenged by the other dogs wanting to use the ramp. 'Pup has had to convince Butch that sharing the "mountain" is in his best interests.

Chucky found a friend today, another male dog about his size and age and shape. They spent a lot of time running, chasing and wrestling each other. They had a good time.

Even Butch ended the day running a little.
Well, okay...lumbering along might be more accurate.

A few more trips and the dog might actually start to enjoy running.

Television Plans

Before our lives turned upside down, when I had to stop working because of my back, and then 'Pup got laid off...I had a plan for when we'd make major purchases.

It got a little off track.

When HDTV's first started becoming fairly common, they were still way more expensive than I'd have been willing to pay. And then, there was the fact that they were pretty much unproven technology that had a lot of improvements to be made in the years coming. And, if they followed the usual trend of new technology, they'd get better, slicker and CHEAPER in years following the first few years they were offered.

So, I'd planned on waiting until at least 2007 or 2008 to buy a HDTV or LCD TV. I wanted them to get smaller and a lot cheaper.

They have gotten smaller, or thinner rather...and they're cheaper...but still a bit more expensive than I think they need to be. Plus, our finances haven't fully recovered to the point where I can plan the major purchases yet.

I'm willing to take a bet that when all the television signals go HDTV and pretty much all the televisions will be HDTV or LCD screens then the price will go down. It may take a couple of years and we may have to buy or rent the boxes to translate the signals for the televisions we have now...but the one thing we CAN afford to do is WAIT.

And so, we shall.


I owe two friend some baby gifts. See, one of them had her baby just before we met online and the other....well...she had her baby when 'Pup and I were at our lowest economic ebb.

Things are loosening up just a little. I think I might be able to swing a gift or two. I'd like to make something handmade. Barring that, I might shop and ship online.

See, my friends aren't here in Houston, or even Texas. One is in the Midwest and one is on the west coast. Late night conversations with them have helped me get through a lot of hard times. I'd like to think I've helped them a little too.

I'd like for anyone reading this to think about one of my friends just now. She's been going through some hard times physically and is recovering from some surgery. It's going to be a long recovery period for her.

Someday, I'd like to take those baby gifts and deliver them in person.

Workin' it Out

In the post below I said I wanted to start exercising. And I do.

I also admitted I'd tried to exercise in water, but that it had hurt too much, but that perhaps, maybe I could try it again.

I know that 'Pup needs to work out of the water.

I tried exercise bikes the last time we went to the exercise club we used to belong to. 'Pup could use the bikes pretty well, as well as the treadmills and some of the weight machines. I want to use the bikes. You can watch TV while pedaling, something you can't do in the pool. It's warmer out there too.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate cold water? I do.

I've had to do a lot of the walking in the heated spa tubs. Problem is, it's a smallish tub.

I need to quit making excuses


I didn't make any New Year Resolutions. I didn't make any last year either, except that I did resolve not to make any. And, as I broke the resolution by MAKING it, the pressure was off for the rest of the year.

So, no resolutions.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to make some changes in my life.

I'd like to be less...sad feeling. I've been having problems with that lately. I suspect I've...reached the age of crone hood, menopause is upon me, and I'm a bit moody at times. Mostly the mood is bad, by the way. Except at work. The students usually make me feel pretty good.

I need to exercise more. So does 'Pup. He's been putting back on some of the weight he lost. Christmas carbs have been our downfall.

'Pup's been good about walking more. For one thing, his arthritis hurts a little less if he can keep moving, so sometimes he just makes the laps around the work areas at his work.

I need to start working my arms and upper body. I'm thinking of using some plastic bags and some cans to use as weights for a while, to see if I can keep up a routine. If I can, then maybe... MAYBE I'll think about getting some realweight accessories as a more "professional" exercise routine.

I'd like to try to get back into a gym. I tried exercising in water soon after the surgery, but I was still in a lot of pain, and it hurt to even get undressed and dressed. I'd like to try it out again. I think I'm ready.

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago, 'Pup and I were busy planning our wedding. My mom had told me she was against me getting married. We'd not known each other long enough, 'Pup had health issues, and I think she wanted me to stay closer to HER home. At any rate, she wanted nothing to do with the wedding, at first. She did come around a bit later, as she saw that it was going to happen with or without her.

So, 'Pup and I did the wedding planning, starting with setting the date, (easy) after school was over for the year. Then we decided on a where, his mom and dad's farm near Wimberley, Texas. That led to picking out the invitations.

We'd made the decision early that it was not going to be an elaborate wedding. Both of us were just too old for the full out elaborate royal court style weddings we'd attended in the past. Things were going to be simple. No dance, no alcohol ('Pup's parents wishes too), and no gifts.

We didn't need gifts. We were about to combine two households. We didn't need a third......anything.

We also kept the wedding party minimal. I had a matron of honor, one of my sisters. 'Pup had a best man, a long time friend. No maids of honor, no groomsmen.

We did make some wedding party gifts, but there were no elaborate groomsmen gift or bridesmaid gifts to deal with...'cause we were paying for this ourselves and doing it on a budget.

Oh, my mom and dad came on board eventually. My dad gave me away (I was fortunate to have the husband of an older friend of mine volunteer to step in if needed.), and my mom and he helped plan the final details of the wedding.

I think the turning point was when I asked my mom if she had anyone she'd like me to send an invitation they were going to be sent out in a couple of weeks...


"Nawww, now me? I don't hold no truck with such things, but..." (one of my favorite Southern/Texan phrases--it usually precedes a tall tale or a ghost story.)

There are a lot of trucks around here. And by a lot, I mean that it seems like one out of ever 4 or 5 vehicles, even here in the suburbs, is a truck of some kind. My dad drove a truck, by preference, for the last 30 years of his life. Before that, he sometimes had a truck too, but with five kids, it was usually a better bet that he'd be driving a van or station wagon.

One thing he usually wanted way back when, but couldn't afford was a truck bed liner. See, he liked his truck and tried to keep it nice. And it was nice, except for the fact that it smelled like pipe tobacco. It was, after all, the one place he could smoke in peace.

When I met 'Pup, he was driving a small pick up truck. His truck had a liner in it. He liked his truck, but it was a bit dinged up from where a lady had sideswiped him. Still, it ran pretty well.

It was where he first asked me to marry him. Come to think of it, it was where he asked several times for me to marry him. 'Pup is persistent with things he wants.

I kept saying no.

Well! We'd only met three times before that evening he first proposed. 'Pup also makes up his mind about what he wants pretty quickly and said he'd been looking for me for a long time and wasn't interested in waiting even longer for us to be married.

See, he just kinda knew we'd get married.

I took a little more convincing.

It took a trip to Corpus Christi, a Chinese buffet and a fortune cookie, a scene from an old movie and a dog to convince me.

More about them another time.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Why is everything suddenly centered? What did I do?

We're going to have highs in the high 70's, maybe all the way to 80 degrees tomorrow.



Which literature classic are you?

J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings. You are entertaining and imaginative, creating whole new worlds around yourself. Well loved, you have a whole league of imitators, none of which is quite as profound as you are. Stories and songs give a spark of joy in the middle of your eternal battle with the forces of evil.
Take this quiz!

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