pasture gate with sunflowers

pasture gate with sunflowers

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kitty Update

 This is my favorite time in kittyhood, when they get big enough, strong enough, and curious enough to start investigating their world and playing.  Mom can get a little annoyed, but she mostly does what cat mothers do--ignore them, push them off her face, or get up and herd them back, standing between them and danger.  In between, she cleans them, feeds them, and takes naps with them.  Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it?
 They are currently in the "let's climb up on something and jump off" stage...
 ...preferably, jump off onto another kitty...

...easily distracted by a new exploration option...
 ...or dead leaves...
 ...and loving this new idea of eating something called "kitten food"...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Welcome home from Texas present

  Shortly before J and I left for Texas, I had a little bit of a meltdown during cooking.  Our old vent hood was a combination microwave/vent hood, and it had worked neither as microwave or vent hood for a couple of years.  I don't think I have to tell you what searing a steak in a cast iron skillet without a vent hood does.  A tiff ensued regarding the smoke produced by said searing.  I turned off the burner and moved the skillet, and said fine, I was done cooking--"not my fault there is no vent hood!"  The stand-off lasted for 2 weeks, and then I left for Texas. Well, another two weeks later, Welcome Home!
 It was wonderful to sear meat, with the ability to suck out the necessary resulting smoke and heat.  (A good sear means a very hot skillet, and reduce the heat once both sides have been quickly seared.)  Not only the vent, but the accompanying light was very welcomed--the better to see the oil spatters on the stove top!  That is my fresh rosemary sprinkled across the top--yes, another of those "no skill required" to grow in a pot, but pretty, smells wonderful, and delightful on chicken with tomatoes and mushrooms.

Nary a meltdown or ensuing argument since the return home.  Sometimes, a strike is a good thing.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dueling Monitors

 I have been glued to the computer screens this week, analyzing data.  My first draft of results and discussion is due....tomorrow!  I have been glad of two things this week: that the University of Texas at Arlington required us to take a full semester course dedicated to qualitative research, and that I have dual monitors, which is so efficient when one needs several documents open at the same time.  It is good to be married to a computer genius.  I used to secretly snicker at R and J (the son who is also a computer genius) for having 2, 3, 5, or more monitors.  If I had a bigger desk, I would get a third one! I am almost done with all the coding, trending, patterning, aggregation, meaning-making, interpretation, triangulating, fact-checking, reviewing, reflexivity, linking and so on and so on and so on, and ready to start writing up the results (what the data tells me/us) and the discussion (what it means and what we need to do with it).  I love playing in the midst of words, trying to make sense of them.
I took a little break to sit out on the porch and watch the kitties play (new pics coming soon!) and then prepare dinner.  Lamb chops with wilted power greens and home-made from scratch basil pesto with fettuccine, made from the basil I grow--yeah, I know it is not that hard to grow basil, but it is the closest I come to gardening, and fresh grated parmesan cheese.  I love to eat pretty food.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Meet the new kitties!

 Mama Callie IV was not at sure she was ready for the babies to have their first photo shoot.  You want to do what? Up until she became a mother, she was not at all overly friendly, and rarely wanted human contact.  She has now turned into a petting addict, and is always coming up wanting to be petted.  It most likely is hormonal and will go away, but one can never tell.  She is also very protective of the babies although she is now content to allow me to pet them or pick them up.

Mama Callie is most likely what is called a "tortie" (tortoiseshell) which is a brindle coat with patches of red, brown or black, chocolate, cream or cinnamon.  They are allegedly "sassy" with some Tortitude.  The true calico generally has lots of white.
 They are quite excitedly--though cautiously--exploring their new surroundings and happy to be able to navigate outside the box that sheltered them at night or when Mama is eating.  They can quickly scamper under the flaps of the box to hide from me (the gray one is especially adept at it as he or she is the shy one).
 Yellow tabby is becoming more adventurous and now makes no fuss about being petted or picked up, and will wander out onto the porch a couple of feet.

 Little gray is not at all certain of what the world outside the boxes holds, and not at all sure if he or she is interested in finding out.  While Gray is the largest of the litter, size is no indicator of the personality in this case. 
 Research also turned up that Gray is likely a Dilute--a pale or lighter version of the original color pattern, used to describe calicos and torties.
 In kind of an unusual twist to the history of the calicos torties on this hill, the mid-sized cat is the most adventurous, interested in everything (must be the Tortitude), and still has a bit of an aversion to being held--although she will also eye everything from that advantage point and check it out.

But, enough is enough, and Mama put her foot down--shoot is over, time for mid-morning snack for the kits.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Friday night in Jackson

 I am in Jackson for the NASW board meeting today and decided to come down yesterday afternoon and spend the night.  I am getting to be such a sissy about getting up early to drive for 2 1/2 hours in the early morning to make a meeting, even one that thoughtfully starts at only 10 a.m.  I had a bit of research to finish in Jackson on the New Deal work, so I arrived late afternoon, and worked on the paper part of research until time for the 5 pm traffic to subside, plus, some of that hot afternoon heat to cool a bit.

At 7, I headed toward downtown, and yes, thoughtfully, the streets were pretty much deserted.  I could hear live music booming from somewhere up the block, though I could not see it.  It reminded me, though, that I love the city and miss the things a city provides.  Yes, I love my little Taylor hillside, and yes, there is live music in Oxford, but something about being in The City makes it seem so much more funky and urban...probably because it is urban!
I was on the final site to photograph for the piece I am working on, and stepped to the crosswalk to head back to my car...the only car parked on the entire block.  Apparently, after 5, downtown Jackson pretty much goes home.  While waiting for the light to change in the crosswalk, I admired the silhouetted clock tower against the fading yellow sky.  I have always liked the image produced by anything against the late evening sun, but windmills, water towers, and clock towers or bell towers are in the favorite zone.
And yet, at the end of that street as the fading light streamed back through the edges of buildings, the effect is like a trick of the mind.  That clock tower that kept such a lonely vigil from my first perspective, is surrounded by the unabashed adoration of the waning sun in the last few minutes of day.
 Bold and powerful strength standing watch over the emptying downtown, assuring us of continuance on the morrow...
...but, I still prefer his goodnight face.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Mural, Graham, Texas

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association: To Honor and Protect the Ranching Way of Life, was founded February 15-16, 1877, at the courthouse in Graham.  Forty area cattlemen established the group under the name of the Stock-Raisers' Association of North-West Texas to fight cattle theft.  Their mission:
Protecting the stewards of land and livestock in the Southwest.  (
  The Jacksboro Frontier Echo reports the proceedings of the Stock Men's Convention at that place under the caption, "Fun for the Cow Boys," but the proceedings seem to have been of a serious character and evince a determination on the part of the stock-raisers to protect their property and see that the laws are enforced.  The principal business of the meeting, however, was declared to be to devise plans for the most speedy and economical way of rounding up and getting together cattle, those present agreeing to work for the interest of each other and for the good of the cattle-raising business generally throughout the county, and to gather all cattle in their respective ranges belonging to persons in other localities, and hold the same in readiness for the owners at such times and places as are specified in the proceedings.  This system of co-operation seems to be well calculated to promote the interests of stock-raisers. (The Galveston Daily News, April 13, 1877, p. 3)
 Stockraisers of Western Texas are going to have a meeting in Corpus Christi on the twentieth of July.  Their object is to take some action in regard to fraudulent branding and stealing of stock.  This evil is now regarded as great...How demoralizing has been the stock business in Texas. (The Austin Weekly Statesman, July 19, 1877, p. 2)
In 1893, the organization was renamed Cattle Raisers Association of Texas and cattlemen from another regional association joined.  The current name was adopted in March 1921, when they merged with the Panhandle and Southwestern Stockmen's Association founded in 1880 by Charles Goodnight, one of the founders of the Goodnight-Loving Trail. Their special rangers became peace officers in 1893. (Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association).
In 1943 the secretary of agriculture had made the association the brand-inspection agency for Texas cattle, a responsibility that significantly expanded its operations.  In 1966 mechanization of the mammoth TSCRA brand records was initiated.  Machine were installed that quickly transcribed and record brand inspection information received daily form inspectors at markets throughout Texas.  Inspection records relating to missing or stolen cattle could also be retrieved speedily from the brand files.  This mechanization was a great aid to association inspectors and other law enforcement officers in the detection and apprehension of cattle thieves and was regarded as one of the most significant strides in this field in many years.  (Larry Marshall, T. C. Richardson, and Dick Wilson, "TEXAS AND SOUTHWESTERN CATTLE RAISERS ASSOCIATION," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed July 12, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.)
The artist, M. H. Henry, was a cowboy and rodeoer, born in 1923.  He was interested in "drawing" and picked up pencil stubs during the Great Depression to draw on barn walls, planks, or any other things he could "get ahold of" (Denise Gamino. February 11, 2008. The cowboy life, in paint. Austin American-Statesman).