Thursday, July 31, 2008

These are a Few of my Favorite Things Game

Sandi set herself to play a game/meme that Susie Q of Rabbit Run Cottage posted. Don't exactly know why I like these long lists of things to fill out, but I do. And I keep on doing them, in emails, on applications, and on blogs. So here I am doing one again. :)


Sport: Ice Skating

Yatzee Color: red

Movie: I cycle between 3 favorites: Twister, The American President, and Practical Magic

Broadway Play I've Seen: Phantom of the Opera

Song: Because I've been playlisting there are too many possibilities, but the first one that came to mind was, "What Kind of Fool Am I?" Still looking for this one for the playlist.

Favorite City Visited: Asheville, NC - it had this "walk me" feel in the Biltmore Village part of it.

Favorite Foreign City Visited: Nassau, Bahamas which is the only foreign city I've visited.

Book: If by favorite you mean I reread it, that would be the Bible. Other books get read and put on the shelf.

Children's Book: The Dragons are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky

Poem share from above mentioned book -
The Dragons Are Singing Tonight

Tonight is the night all the dragons
Awake in their lairs underground,
To sing in cacophonous chorus
And fill the whole world with their sound.
They sing of the days of their glory,
They sing of their exploits of old,
Of maidens and Knights, and of fiery fights,
And guarding vast caches gold.
Some of their voices are treble,
And some of their voices are deep,
But all of their voices are thunderous,
And no one can get any sleep.
I lie in my bed and I listen,
Enchanted and filled with delight,
To songs I can hear only one night a year--
The dragons are singing tonight.

~ © Jack Prelutsky

Classic TV Show: My Favorite Martian

Recent TV Show: Charmed

Actor: Mel Gibson

Actress: Sandra Bullock

Perfume: Moonlight Path

Food: After yesterday's supper - Pot roast w/ potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. Yumm!

Dessert: Cherry Pie a la mode if Dark Chocolate Lava cake isn't available.

Chain Restaurant: Churches but that's too fattening so I frequent Pizza Hut instead.

Local Restaurant: Ernesto's

Car: that's the car I own, a Toyota Camary. :)

Condiment: mayo

Kitchen Appliance: dish washer

Home Appliance: toaster oven

Beauty Product: Origins

Favorite Clothing: This terry knit top that has hooks to close and 3/4 sleeves. Pale green. Warm, comfy, and can be discrete or not so much.

HGTV Show: don't have cable

Food Network show: don't have satellite either

Author: Susan Palwick whose writing has a conscience.

Male Songwriter: John Denver, his songs were playable for the amateur.
Female Songwriter: don't have one of these.

Holiday: Christmas

Christmas Ballet: The Nutcracker - you mean there's another?

Disney Character: Mickey Mouse

Alcoholic Drink: Coffee w/ Irish Cream

Non Alcoholic Drink: Milk, coffee, and tea in that order

Magazine: Body + Soul

Animated Movie: Aladdin

Mini Series: 10th Kingdom

Season: Spring and Fall

Male Vocalist: don't have just one

Female Vocalist: don't have just one of these either

Musical Group: Now this I do have, Peter, Paul & Mary!

Day of Week: Sunday

Household Chore: Wiping off the kitchen counters - the whole place just looks better.

Ice Cream: Rocky Road

Candy: anything with more than 65% cacao in it.

Artist: Michael Whelan

Quotation: my current signature which my sister gave me. It is from an 8 year old child with cancer: Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning how to dance in the rain.

So there you have it. If you like these things and want to play along feel free. I thought it was very clever of Sandi to have her title link to Susie Q's blog. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yesterday's Radio Plays

Just added Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by the great Otis Redding to the playlist. Man, that brings back memories! I was in high school when the song came out, attending boarding school in Beaumont, TX. There were about 5 or 6 girls in the house that was our dormitory. We would often go downtown with one of our dorm mothers to get a soda or just walk around and window shop. Of course, we listened to the radio whenever we could. I had a small portable one that was red and ran on batteries. I had gotten it with S&H Green stamps. But the best radio was the one in our dorm mother's car. She loved to take us driving.

This was way back in the 60's and some of the places we shopped had music playing over loud speakers. Such was the case with our favorite soda shop. We were sitting inside on a warm spring day when we noticed that Dock of the Bay was playing. It was in the Top 40 at the time. When it ended the DJ said "let's hear that one again" and the song played a second time. This was probably uncommon in radio land, where playing a large variety of popular songs is your bread and butter. Then, without saying anything, he played it again. And again, and again, and AGAIN. In fact, he kept on playing it until it had played 57 times in a row!

That was probably a history making event. Being teenaged girls of course we commented on it to all our friends. Even at the age of 16 we knew it was a very unusual happening. I wonder if anyone else remembers that and if it went down in some long forgotten journal. Otis is great no matter how many times you hear him.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Playlist Addition

Did you notice the music playing and the purple player on the right sidebar? I've added a play list to the blog. I've seen these on so many sites and so enjoyed the music provided that today I decided it was time for one of my own.

When picking out songs for this one I wandered through the files on my computer for suggestions. I can't pull from that. The playlist site I used requests that we use only authorized files. So you select from those it can find on its search engine. Some of them are actually posted by the artists or from promotional sites. Where possible I tried to use those. When that, usually very obvious option, wasn't provided I listened for the one which seemed to have the best sound coming through my speakers. I hope you enjoy the songs I've chosen. There's only 10 on the list but it allows for 99, so I'll probably add more.

Something I discovered while working on this was that making a playlist, especially a public one, is a work of art and emotion. You choose songs that affect you in some way hoping that they also affect others. So the choices are very personal. Some bring memories of my childhood, a few are from current artists that I like, and some just make me want to get up and move. The Nat King Cole solo of Unforgettable presented a hard choice. When I considered putting up one that had him singing a duet with his daughter Natalie, because I like the unique historical perspective it provides, it didn't have the quality of sound that his older solo version had. So I went for sound over what may be uniqueness. When I was a child I learned how to play Autumn Leaves on the piano. Somewhere I have guitar chords for it too. It reminds me of my late Aunt Jeanie who taught me how to sing it. Girls who sat along the wall at school dances always identify with Janis Ian's song At Seventeen. I guess the grown up kid in me just plain old loves Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan. It talks about a lot of my favorite things. Even though he's modern, Michael Buble takes me back to the big band era and my nights spent in a ballroom dance studio learning how to waltz, foxtrot and swing. If any of my choices trigger a feeling or memory please share.

Monday, July 28, 2008

For Those Who Couldn't Be There

Last night many people gathered at Church of Reconciliation Episcopal to listen to San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (SAVAE) perform their wonderful music. It was beautiful, inspiring, and very much a spiritual experience. They take from the past, especially our religious past and bring it to us now with exquisite harmonies and native, sometimes antique, instruments. The above video is just one example of their excellent craft and we all enjoyed hearing them perform this number, Asi Andando, in our sanctuary. The video was posted to You Tube by Covita Moroney who is both a member and producer of some of their CD's. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Quick Shares

Click to Mix and Solve
This was today's Jig Zone puzzle. It's a pair of medieval shoes. If you go to renaissance fairs you can still get a pair of these hand made and fitted to your feet. A friend, who is a strong member of Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), went to the Houston, TX fair with me and ordered himself a pair. They aren't cheap and take a fairly long time to be delivered because they hand make them. I was impressed. Someday I want to own a set of these shoes. Of course I'd also like a set of San Antonio Shoes (SAS) custom made boots too. I think the factory still does this. They are pretty dear too, but you probably get them quicker than the medieval ones because they are a business with a factory to cut the leather and can use a sewing machine to do the stitching.

Just got off the phone with Mom. Their power came back on Friday afternoon. The cable is working too. Yay, things are getting back to normal. They had to throw out some food that had spoiled in the refrigerator. Interesting note on survival: Mom said that she was surprised the food in the veggie drawer was still good. Apparently the lettuce was still crisp and she had Dad go and get her some tomatoes (now on the approved list again, Yay!) and enjoyed her first salad in a while. They are still drinking the water they put aside before Dolly's arrival because the water is still threatened. Other than that they seem to be fine!

Mom and I talked about the houses I'd lived in as a child. We remembered gardens she had grown and I told her about Sandi's tomato crop. Mom used to have a nice vegetable garden back behind the garage before I was old enough to be in school. I didn't remember that one. Or not much...some vague visuals are returning. But I did remember spending time with Grandma and Granddaddy helping out in their garden. They had a really good one with lots of veggies in it. Grandmother even grew an asparagus plant or two which, if I recall correctly, are perennial and take about 2 years before you can harvest a crop from them. That's certainly faster than the 5 years it takes for an avocado tree to mature.'s amazing the things you learn and remember from growing up in an agricultural area with two agricultural study farms in the area sponsored by two different universities (Texas A&I and Texas A&M).

Mom also suggested that in writing my resume I might be able to use my blog writing experience as part of my skills repertoire. I don't think of that as "work experience" but I guess some folk might. So I'm asking anyone who reads this blog: Do you think it would be okay to include blogging in your list of experiences or skills? And if so how? I know professional journalists often blog for their company. Is this an up and coming skill or just a hoped for one?

Oh, and one more notable thing I discovered. While talking to Mom about books and the public library I checked out hers. They have a nice website and when I searched their catalog for a book I was going to suggest to Mom not only did I get the book's catalog page but a Discover Tag Cloud with tags for related topics that might be interesting to the reader. What a cool use of technology for a library and a great way to encourage broader reading!

Peace! Hope! & Joy! Wishes for a good week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

While I Wasn't Watching

Sandi snuck an award in on me. Actually that was me not reading my name in the post where she awarded it. How can you miss your own name? (shrug) Well I managed to. And here's the award Sandi gave me.

Thanks Sandi! This ones really good! Secret share: When I first found faith I asked God to teach me how to love. Maybe he is doing just that through my friends and blog buddies.

There was one rule to go with this award: **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same** Well, I'm working on that list. Sandi gave it away to so many but I don't guess that someone getting it twice hurts. So who can I give this too? Well, I guess Susan, San, JS, Paschal, and I'll add others as the idea arises.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Yup, stole the signature idea from you too. LOL That was so much fun creating! Thanks for leading the way! :) (now I gotta find html emoticons to put in)

Dibs and Dabs of Stuff

This morning I'm grinning from ear to ear. San awarded me the "Just Plain Fun to Read" award. Yay! Thank you San! It's proudly displayed on the right sidebar.

Thursday evening I rediscovered the public library. Wanted something new to read. Didn't want to face the dangers of walking into Barnes & Noble...or any other bookstore for that matter. So I stopped by on my way home. While there I picked up a copy of the latest book by the late Madeleine L'Engle, The Joys of Love. Apparently this had been in the possession of her family and is published posthumously. At my friend Micheal's suggestion, I'm trying out a book by Lois McMaster Bujold, Cordelia's Honor. Michael and I've been functioning as good personal libraries for each other lately. That's a great way to save and keep in touch with friends. The third book I picked up, and am in the process of reading now, is Maria V. Snyder's, Poison Study.

Getting books at the public library has been added to the lifestyle changes list.

With books I'm like a kid in a candy store. It can be hard to choose. When I have more than one new book I sometimes use a method for choosing which to read first. Two or three of the most interesting looking (it's a mood of the moment thing) get into bed with me and I read a few lines or a page from each. The one I get hooked by at the time is the one I start with and read for the next few days. That's what happened last night with Snyder's book. I was hooked in the first paragraph. Wow! Talk about good writing. You wake from a nightmare caused by experiences you lived through. You're in prison. You're walking towards your own execution thinking "how nice to have it all over," and then boom, you're getting offered one of those jobs which might kill you, but while you do it your still alive. Who couldn't get hooked by a book that does that in 6 short pages?

While at the library, I proudly noticed that Susan's book Shelter was on the shelves. Yay, my friend is known locally too!

Michael is teaching me how to play Dungeons & Dragons. This is apparently going to take some time because the game isn't being played yet. He is in preparation still because he's writing the scenario and needs to gather a team of players to play it. What we've been doing towards my part is design my first character. The story is set in an alternate US history. It has lots of cultures in it and I'm a Half Elf, Asian-American, Female Sorceress. So far we've done the creation dice rolls that tell you what your strength, knowledge, and some other stuff are. Then we added the extra points by race and selected weapons I'm supposed to be good with. Those were longsword, rapier, and short and long bow. Now I'm in the process of reading through a list of feats to choose one which I can have as a starting feat. Why they call these feat I've no idea. They seem sort of like talents to me. But I'm new to this and maybe talent has another meaning in the game.

And on a frustrated but also affectionately amused note, now that my desk top has been cleaned and decluttered (for the most part), Hyram has decided that it is his favorite perch again. So he keeps jumping up in the middle of the desk. And I keep shoving him over to one side. His tail flicks a lot and when it disrupts mouse movements I lift him down. He turns around and jumps right back up. So we're in the battle for computing/cat perch space right now. I love that he wants to be close to me. I love how he purrs when he's up here even while flicking his tail swiftly and roughly. But I don't love to have my mouse, in my hand at the time, flicked by his tail so that my efforts to work are disrupted. Oh well! Maybe someday I'll get a deeper desk and have more room for him. I'd give him the entire side of this one but so much of the back edge is lined with stuff that he'd knock off and I'd then have to crawl under the desk to retrieve them. At least Hooboo hasn't decided he wants the space too so there are no cat fights going on while Hyram rests on his new throne. :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Puzzle Share

The rain has stopped both here in San Antonio and in the Rio Grande Valley. Things are looking up. If the rain brought your garden much needed moisture then perhaps your yard might look something like this soon.

Click to Mix and Solve


Thursday, July 24, 2008

So Far, So Good

Just talked to Mom on the phone. They seem to be doing ok. It must have been a corded phone because they've been without power for the past 3 days. Their door is sandbagged to prevent water from coming in. The branches blown off the two trees in front of their cottage filled up two pickup truck beds. They're eating food that doesn't need cooking. Mom doesn't know how much longer the food in the refrigerator will be good. And of course it is warm in their cottage with no air conditioning. But hey, things could be worse. Now we know they can reach me if needful. If it gets worse (with flooding it might) Dad can still get in his car and come up here. And somewhere he found an old battery operated radio and was listening to that when I called. They don't sound concerned about surviving. The last report I read had a lot of good info so if you want to read it go here.

Hurricane Dolly Update

One of the first things I did this morning was get online and check the news. As of 7:00 AM Dolly was right over the Rio Grande river. Here's what things look like from a radar perspective.

Update: This is a later image from AccuWeather because the cut and paste (from earlier this morning) was changing as the situation changed. That was really cool but it wouldn't have given the historical info I want this post to have after it is all over. So this one is more current. You can click on this to see it bigger and this one shows the names of the towns.

As you can see she is sitting right over the river. What you can't tell is that Rio Grande city is right smack dab in the middle of her and McAllen is in the middle of the trailing green. My folks live about 3o minutes from McAllen. So Weslaco and all those Valley towns got a lot of wind and water. And it looks like they are still getting it. Corpus Christi was on the upper green edge, that inlet along the coast just above the top, and it got lots of wind and water too. The news report before I went to sleep last night showed a reporter in Brownsville outside in the rain and horrific wind reporting live as damage occurred.

Dolly downgraded to a Tropical Storm after she hit land. That doesn't make me feel much better. She is still dumping lots of rain on the south Texas area and the water she dumps above the Rio Grande Valley will flow down river to inundate that are even more. Talk about rivers rising and flash flooding occurring. Yep, I'm worried.

There is a really good article by the Environment News Service in Austin. It tells you what's been happening, lists most of the preparations, and lists what areas have a disaster proclamation from Governor Perry. One of them is Hidalgo county where my folks live. Here is a map of the expected course Dolly is going to take from KRGV Channel 5 web page.

As you can see she is going to continue up the river. That doesn't bode well for the area. I think that south Texas along that river will be in trouble for a while. If you want to see some more news, especially videos of the news coverage from the Rio Grande Valley local TV station here is a page that may be active for a while.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's Raining. It's Pouring. The Old Man is...(er) isn't Snoring

Above is a National Geographic wallpaper photo of when Hurricane Allan hit Texas. I lived in Kingsville then and helped with the safety and recovery measures.

Hurricane Dolly is hitting the south Texas coast today. That's big news for Texas. Even though a good bit of our border sits on the Gulf of Mexico not that many hurricanes come straight into Texas. But when they's a doozy. Since I was born in 1952, there have been 9 hurricanes affecting Texas of which 6 actually made landfall on the Texas coast. There is a nice history list of them here.

San Antonio is getting 80% chance of rain today too. We are the disaster staging area. The last few times a hurricane hit the south Texas coast it bundled into Mexico shortly after landfall. That's what they are predicting this time too. The odd thing about our area is the Rio Grande river is the border between Mexico and Texas and it rides straight down to the coast where Dolly is supposed to hit. A bit of legality here...if the river bed shifts so does the Texas border. Citizenship issues have come out of river shifts before. Between Weslaco and Mercedes (5 miles away) there is a flood plain that I saw filled once when I was a little girl. There are 2 dams in place to help manage the water rise but you never know. South Texas soil has a fair bit of clay in it and the water table is only about 50 feet down.

When I was in high school hurricane Carla came into town and Weslaco got enough wind that it blew a huge branch down from one of the trees in the house we lived in back then. My folks still live in Weslaco, about 8 miles from the Rio Grande River.

When San Antonio had their 100 year flood way back in 2002 all the water ran down to the coast and inundated that area for a lot longer than it did San Antonio. I have friends who live in Corpus Christi and when I drove down to see them Lake Mathis, that had been small with campgrounds all around it, was a huge field of water and no one was living there anymore. It stayed that way for over a year. A lot of Corpus Christi has bay water inlets and such. You can drive back a fair bit from the city and find water ways and such. So even if the hurricane doesn't stay long in Texas the rains up and down the coast are going to make things a mess for a while. Sandi was the one who reminded me that, because of the drought Texas has been experiencing recently, the water will likely stay on the surface and cause more damage.

As I mentioned, we pretty much expect the hurricane to turn aside and affect another country even more and those people will be really hurting too. So I'm praying for the residents of Mexico too. In some cases what affects Texas will affect Mexico too. Where will the people of Mexico go?

If the dams on the river break my parents will evacuate. They'll leave in their own car. If that happens I hope the highways are still drivable. My parents can also move onto higher ground by moving from their cottage to the main building of their retirement community and going up a few floors. That would at least avoid the water which probably won't get as high as Katrina's waters did. There are of course other concerns like power outages and clean water shortages but I think my folks are savvy enough to have planned ahead. Dad is a strong one for safety measures.

If this sounds like I'm fretting a bit, I guess I am. And I can't do anything other than keep my hands together in prayer and monitor the news. So you know what I'm gonna do? Pray, keep the TV on, and try to enjoy the rain that is going to hit San Antonio. I just hope my nerves over my folks being down there so close to the gulf doesn't spoil the fact that rain, normal rain that is, is my favorite kind of weather. All prayers for those along the Texas coast and in Mexico appreciated. Peace! & Hope!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Growing into Loss

When I was in high school my grandfather on my father's side passed away. When Mom called to tell me about it I wanted to attend the funeral, but it wasn't convenient because I was attending boarding school in San Marcos at the time and the funeral was in Kingsville. So the idea of my grandfather being gone was somewhat unreal to me. I never got to consider the expected need for closure with that situation or make any. It was so distant that I didn't even mourn. I tell myself that my grandparents are in my heart and live on there and that I will see them when it is my time to go. It feels like they are on an extended visit and they'll be back soon...that time being unfathomable because it would be when I get to where they are.

If you've got a long, close history with someone this can be a reasonable reaction. It isn't the expected one, but it falls in line with what we are taught in church or myth surrounding death. So the first time I ever grieved was when I had a friend dying of cancer. I still miss her but the pain has settled down to a conversational thought tossed heavenward knowing that she is looking in on me from time to time. I knew her for 3 years and it took me 2 to delete the folder with all her emails in it. Why didn't I feel that way about my grandparents? I guess because I'd always had them close enough to go visit that expectation held on in my reaction to them being gone.

Ever since my first experience mourning the loss of someone I've found it hard to hear of someone else getting ill with cancer or something else that could take this familiar, loved face from my world. It's like the idea of loss suddenly became real. So I had a hard time yesterday when a friend at church said she read the obituaries daily looking to see if anyone she knew had gone on. When someone I know gets sick I get so sad and hurt so inside that I have a hard time dealing with it. I wondered how others dealt with that pain. I know several people I care about at church that are getting on in years and becoming frailer every time I turn around. The idea of them not being there is scary. I wonder what I can do because the idea of cringing and hiding away from the pain that the thought of them passing on brings is instinctive, but the desire to be close to them while they are here is critical to my loving them.

And that's what my friends and I discussed last night in my Cursillo reunion. There are apparently stages of mourning and one of them has some pamphlets that she will give me shortly to read on the subject. It felt really good to have someone to talk to about my concerns over my emotional reactions to pain and fear of loss. I felt like I'd been taken into a group of wise women and was being supported and brought up in a very loving way. We all cried for those we loved and were concerned about losing. We talked about ways we could be close to them while they are still here. I may be making one or two changes in the ways I interact with my church to support my being close to those I love because of that conversation. And I feel really wonderful about the whole thing. Even though I cried I know I am loved and understood by those women, and I'll be better at loving people I know who may not be with me that much longer.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Best Gift of All

Sandi gave me several awards. San gave me a several too. My mom brought me up right. You return a gift with a matching gift as well as a hand written thank you card. Call me an award shopping clutz but I had no idea where to find one that was new and fit my idea of what I wanted it to say. I did keep trying though...every time I looked at one of those lovely awards with pride. Finally, today after typing in several different keywords I found an award that I felt was suitable and that I meant with all of my heart. So, for all their love and support, to my friends San, Sandi, Susan, JS, and David I give the Forever Friends award.

I love you guys! You're the BEST! Hugs!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Minor Blog Changes or 50 Ways to be Sneaky With Your Life

On the left sidebar I've added a list of minor lifestlye changes I'm currently making. Some of them are for greening. Some are for health. And some are for personal environment. A few of them are familiar ones you keep hearing others suggest. I swung them to my own idiosyncrasies.

Examples: Instead of parking as far away as possible I just stopped trying to be closest. Or, instead of doing tons of crunches and squats I've changed my desk chair for a balance ball. Thank you, JS! That was a strategy I learned during my student teaching days. It works on abs, legs and thighs, and posture. It also helps you focus or burn energy if you happen to be ADHD. I also take gummy vitamins because I hate swallowing pills. Not every pill comes in gummy or liquid form so I take those I need to with a thick milk or soy smoothie thus adding necessary calcium and other good live/active cultures into my diet. Another source of calcium is added to my coffee while making it into a mocha drink. One bulb at a time I'm making my apartment greener by using CFLs. I can't see any good reason to replace a bulb early. It would then require some form of recycling which has its own expenses. So I just wait...the incandescent bulbs burn out fairly rapidly.

Popular life change philosophies often seem to say you need to push to make yourself better. One my childhood messages would add: "And if you haven't pushed to success you haven't pushed hard enough." I hate that attitude. It makes me want to cringe, sit down, and be lazy. So I sneak these pleasant little changes into my life. Why suffer? Life should be fun! Got a good sneaky idea? Let me know! If I add it to my life I'll include it on the list. Oh, one more way to save and recycle...use those one use soap filled buff puffs for cleaning your face and then scour the bathroom sink with it. Then it's good to toss and you've not used any nasty cleaning chemicals. May a green, peaceful, positive lifeforce be with you! Joy!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wanna Take a Stroll with Me?

The pictures of my lake are all resized and a few are slightly corrected. Because of the early morning hour, not many of them needed any changes. I actually like the colors better this early in the morning. It was about 7 AM. The contrast seemed to need a little help in a few of the images. Maybe that's because we have haze even on good days here in San Antone. So, "Shall we go for a walk?"

"Of course, we can take our cameras with us. Why not?"

When you leave my apartment headed for the complex office, or the lake, you pass through a rather large, for being inside of a city, valley. The trail is paved and the inclines from street level going down into the valley and back up to the levy surrounding the lake are gentle but steep enough to give you some good exercise. There are 18 acres on this apartment complex and we take up one side of the lake.

The valley has some south Texas xeriscaping and here is an example of some of it. These are the fading blossoms of a choke bush. When it is spring and they are new the stems you see are colored a lovely bluish purple.

We also have some trees similar to those which line the downtown Riverwalk. There's enough water in our area to keep these trees green and when it rains there is runoff through the valley. Even with all that moisture some trees don't do as well as others.

Our trail is lit by lanterns such as this one. As you can see from the clouds behind it we were hoping for rain that day. The rain didn't happen that week, but we've had several days of rain this week and are expecting a little more.

We're almost to the office by now and while the complex is nice it isn't my favorite photographic subject. I dropped the rent check off via the drop slot and turned around to find this view.

Some of our neighbors really love their flowers and plants. This one obviously has a green thumb and so does their neighbor.

Then I noticed sad evidence of mankind. Why on earth would someone set a can standing upright on the ground beside their truck and then back out of the parking space to just leave it there?

Ah, here's our first view of the lake. You can tell that we've had quite a few dry days by the water level. When it rains the water, of course, fills the lake. Sometimes it even overflows. I wonder what this level of water does to the fish and birds that live on this lake.

We keep this playground for the kids who are too young to understand about animal safety. Thanks to regular hand feeding some of our bird residents are overly friendly to people and this can be intimidating to a small child. I didn't spot any of the usual apartment complex barbecue grills around on my walk but I know there are some near here, so this probably serves as a good visiting place for mothers to send their children while the dads do the grilling.

Just past the play ground you can look back and, again, see the lack of water the season has brought us. Looking at this wall I'm reminded of images I've seen of renaissance castle walls and how the community might put up some barriers at different height/stages for defense of the residents.

As the trail curves around the lake we come to one of the first landscaped seating areas that are so popular with visitors. Some of them are a bit back from the water but most of them, like this one, are set right along the edge of the lake.

Don't you just envy the people who live on the other side from us. This shot is taken from within that seating area looking up at the apartment of the person who lives nearest it. Man, what a great backyard.

Some of those seating areas are bigger and nicer than others. I think there are about five around the entire lake. Most of them are on the side of The Regatta, the complex on the other side of the lake from my complex. This one is really nice and lush when the lake is full.

Once inside that gorgeous rest spot you can look across the lake to the deck which is on my side. That too attracts visitors and not as many ducks or geese.

The lake has its share of the squirrels which love the oak and pecan trees so prevalent in south Texas. Here's one of them that didn't seem to mind being photographed. I took three pictures of him trying to get him centered in the view finder. Then he did this (see below).

He just spun ninety degrees towards me and I swear he was saying, "You lookin' at me?!" I got this last shot which was kind of blurry and then backed carefully out of his territory.

I didn't get a picture of the bridge that crosses our lake at the far end, sorry. But this is a nice panoramic view of what you can see when standing on it. If you want to see it bigger just click on it.

Here's what you can see looking the other direction from the bridge. That's a street, which runs behind the lake, and the beginnings of the Northern Hills country club, which has its own golf course. I like to take the drive up that street when coming home because it has a pretty view of the back side of the lake.

Past the bridge you can see a long and winding path which curves around the end of the lake and then splits off to go in two different directions. One of them heads back along the lake. We'll take that one. The other goes off into the valley to get you back home to my group of buildings.

Walkers around our lake make lots of friends. This shot interested me because you can see some of the measures we have taken to ensure the permanence of the path. Those white tubes sticking out under the asphalt are for drainage during times of frequent rain.

Periods of drought leave their effects too. Here's a pretty deep crack in the trail from the settling caused by dry soil as you head back up the levy to the edge of the lake.

At this end of the lake there used to be a huge bunch of reeds growing in the water. Within those reeds resided a white crane(?) or waterfowl of some sort. I don't know the exact name but I recognized the type by the long legs and its tendency to stand on just one of them. Plus it was a water feeder and stayed pretty much within those reeds. It was a solitary bird and I didn't see him this time. I think he left because they decided to clean out the reeds. Probably this was done for safety. I'll miss the old fellow. Hope he's okay.

Benches like you see there used to hang on chains from frames. They're still nice places to sit on and are more off the path than the swinging seats used to be.

A few steps further along the trail we'll come to the deck we saw from the other side of the lake. This is a popular viewing place and the breezes are very nice standing at the edge of it. Once we've moved to the side of it stretching over the lake you can see this.

This panoramic view took 10 images to create. Most of them were taken with the camera held vertically so that you had a tall narrow view. I only left out one image which showed a wooden post that was part of the deck/pier structure. Because it was so close to me it threw the auto focus off and everything behind it in that one image was blurry. Fortunately the images on either side were overlapped enough with it that nothing else was lost. Once again, if you want to see this image larger just click on it. The panoramic views really look best if you see them larger.

Turn around and here's what the deck/pier looks like from the lake edge. Rather pretty isn't it? I like the fact that it is in several levels and there are lots of places you can lean on to rest and enjoy your view or a conversation with a friend.

Here's a last view of the deck as we head off on the home stretch. We've come 3/4 of the way around the lake and the rest isn't as pretty as what we've seen although it still has spots of interest. But now we're getting close to human habitation again and I like it better without all the buildings. Don't you?

Here's the view of the valley between my building and the lake's levy. We're headed back home now and as you can see there's that tree we saw earlier which I hope recovers but suspect will probably be chopped down.

The entire walk around the lake is about 3/4 of a mile. If you include my valley it gets closer to a mile and maybe an extra 1/8th. The area is very populated with people and kids. Sometimes the grass grows a little taller than is easy to mow. I saw this once and the result was that some small rodents had taken residence in the valley. I became aware of the rodents when I noticed a bird of prey, probably a hawk, hanging over the valley. He would drop down into the grass to catch something and then rise to a nearby tree to consume it. You always think the chase is going to be so swift but his actions were very slow and lazy. Either the rodents were slow or he was a very good hunter.

Well, I've enjoyed our walk. We should do it again sometime. :) Joy!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Got up at the near crack of dawn to feed the cats and clear the floor. The carpet cleaner is coming today, so I wanted to have everything I could lift out of the way to provide complete access for his steam nozzle. The chairs are turned upside down on the dining table. Kind of looks like a restaurant after hours from some old movie I saw once. The bentwood rocker is on the brick area in front of the fireplace. The exercise ball is on top of the rocker. It looks funny but it keeps the cats from using the rocker as a leaping point to get onto the mantel which is filled with tiny, breakable if they fall things. Several filing containers as well as the trash can are in the kitchen. Stuff such as my guitar, music books, and some other boxes are stacked on top of the bed. Even the sofa is covered with stuff right now.

Hooboo has been encouraged to go outside this morning. Hyram can't because he has no front claws, so he will be put into the bathroom when the guy arrives. That will provide him with access to his cat box and some water for the short time the guy will be here cleaning.

While clearing the floor I discovered several things/areas that can be worked on in the reclamation of my environment project. Plus I found my art supplies. Maybe I can get back into drawing at some point.

Because every available surface is covered with stuff right now the only place I can comfortably sit and wait is the computer chair. So here I sit, typing away on the keyboard and thinking of getting that book off the bed to read for a bit. That plus pouring another, my second, cup of coffee.

The photos for the lake tour are getting there. I've done the stitching of the panoramic views and renamed most of them.

Took Susan's "Anniversaries" story with me to my PC session. He loved it and wanted to keep it! Of course he can keep it, I saved a copy to my computer as a word doc.

And on Thursday, I have two appointments for checkups, and the bug guy is coming. I think it's going to be a busy day.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Friday, July 04, 2008

A List of Lists

Like most lists this one started one day and got carried over to another so some changes have been made along the way. It kept growing a bit too. :)

Recently Accomplished
1. cleaned the bathroom for all household residents -ummm...that would be me and two cats.
2. learned how to back up a registry - this is in prep for fixing Zoom Browser - the fix didn't work - so add call Canon to the to do list.
3. grocery shopped - forgot ice - getting friend to deliver
4. laundry - and the store was out of my favorite size of detergent - go to another store
5. JigZone puzzle - plus a couple of sudoku and a mindless maze puzzle downloaded from Big Fish Games
6. coordinated 4th of July evening plans -this took 3 phone calls, two emails, two maps, and a trip to the grocery store - plus the gathering was 1hr 33mins away so I needed gasoline.
7. decluttered some of desk surface - patience, persistence, and several small trash cans full
8. backed up the photo files - one blank CD and Thank God for Nero - test old discs to see if they can be recycled because "Nero has erase disc" functions.
9. car filled - not quite $4/gal. but it's getting there (3.919) Eek! Wonder if is really worth the investment.
10. walked enough to qualify for exercise although not as much as yesterday.

Recent Joys
1)Got bills and rent paid. The rent took me over to the complex office early so that I could beat the associate there.
2)Then...because it was early, pretty cool, not too bright, and the lake was right there...I walked the lake circuit with camera in hand. And boy did I have fun! I treated the walk kind of like San did her gallery. When I get the pictures all renamed, resized, and any adjustments made (Gads I must have taken a gillion of 'em) I'll post about the whole walk. It was really nice. And you know what? The batteries got replaced on the walk, but not the memory card...amazing how much 4 Gigs will hold.

To Do List
1. get carpet cleaned - phone call to complex office - make that a stop by the office :) I was out and about.
2. have bug man come - same as above
3. register vehicle - check bank account before you go...too late to register by mail. Oops, my bad! - Wow, the lady at the vehicle registration office was really nice. New tags! Whew!
4. get Zoom Browser fixed - call Canon's 866 number on Monday
5. throw away about a zillion pieces of useless paper - ongoing process
6. read several books, magazine articles, and web pages I've bookmarked for interest
7. post pictures from last Thursday's circuit of lake to blog. That should be fun! :)
8. take registration form to church office and get my Celtic Daily Prayer book back while I'm there.

Post that inspired me recently: Susan's Anniversaries. Note to self: don't forget to send this link to PC.

Web page that was most recently useful: AARP's National Employer Team page. - Keep going back...this has lots of good tools and several really useful websites to use plus a list of employers to search in each industry. Also helpful is their Choosing A Career page. It has lists and assessments you can do to help you get ready for a change or just a really good search.

1. light bulbs for bathroom mirror (Is it uncouth to replace decorative globe bulbs with curly florescent ones? There wouldn't be a cover over the bulb. Which would probably look ugly. But would be GREEN!)( heck with it...removed the pretty, burned out bulb out and put in my only remaining curly, florescent one...Voila! We have light and who cares if it looks pretty. No one wants to bathe in the dark! And candles are against the lease...darn it!)
2. kitty litter & more cat food (Why is kitty litter an end in and of itself when cat food seems to be a commodity you replenish?) Done!!!
3. more coat hangers - can't believe I ran out of those...did someone buy new clothes when I wasn't looking?
4. get car to shop for tune up - at the price of gasoline these days I think this is going to be as necessary as the basic utilities.
5. phone cord for answering machine...Hooboo keeps playing it to disconnectedness
6. another excuse for continuing the slightly but not too energetic activity program that I'm hoping will keep on going. Read something on the Eating Well web page that talked about how to know when you're ready to start getting fit and how to keep it up. One of those things was gathering support from friends. Gee...wonder if I know anyone who would like a walking buddy.

Personal Goals
Reclaim my environment.
Declutter - part of process towards the above.
Recover old values and eradicate unnecessary or faulty ones - that could be a post in and of itself.
For crying out loud, stop apologizing for everything!
Stop over quantifying everything! (And would that include making lists of numbered items?)

Present Activity
Working on that lake tour post! :)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Puzzle Challenge & Happy 4th of July (anticipation)!

Because my good friend Sandi likes roses I thought I'd share this pretty puzzle of a rose with two buds. Because she gently teased me on my last puzzle share about the difficulty of solving one at 48 classic pieces, I've changed the cut. Friday is the 4th of July and our national Independence Day so I chose an appropriate theme for the choice of cut. As it turned out the puzzle was in the shape of the US, an added bonus. Everyone needs a good challenge from time to time so I'm setting you one. Work the puzzle and tell me your time. Mine was 12:20. That's not very fast, but 5th graders would beat me in geography. If you feel really daring change the cut and number of pieces to what ever looks fun, work it again, and then come brag about your puzzling skill. Better yet, go to JigZone and find a puzzle you love, work it in any format you desire, post it to your blog and then come tell me. I'll come work it too. After all, summer is for fun and puzzles are for sharing!

Click to Mix and Solve

This challenge is open to anyone, but I want to specifically tag a few friends: JS, Murat11, Sandi, San, and Alt. And remember folks, if you've an elderly parent or family member who introduced these to you as a kid, they make great mental acuity exercises. So send them along to that family member as an ecard. Mom & Dad get one everyday. An added bonus is this daily ecard has turned out to be a nice way of keeping in closer touch with Mom. I pop little snippets of news about my life in every one.

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone has a great celebration!