Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way
Walnut Room? This way, please.

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.  (texascattleraisers.org)
  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 (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ant01), 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).

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mom gets her first selfie!

My mother loves pajamas.  She has so many pairs of new pajamas with the tags still on them that it prompted me once to tell her I thought that was a sin.  Yes, I, the liberal black sheep of the family used the sin word to my mama.  About like it does most people, it did not phase her; apparently, we can justify our own sins much easier while condemning others, but, hey, that is a whole other story and out of line with the post.  I took her to Walmart and of course, as Walmart does, they hung all the enticing stuff on the end of the row so you had to go past it to get to the milk and eggs.  She stopped her cart.  "Oh, look at those pajamas.  Aren't they pretty?"  Yes, they are.  She looked wistfully at me.  "But I don't need them, do I?"  We have been working with Mom about not being so wasteful with the money for things that are not at all needed.  No, ma'am, you really don't.  You have pajamas in the drawer that you have never worn, with the price tags still on them.  "I know."  We went on to collect our groceries and pay out.

 The rest of the evening, I could not stop thinking about it--the wistful and longing look, the sadness.  Mom does not have a lot of pleasures left.  Her vision loss prevents her from reading much, which she has always loved.  Her hearing loss coupled with the vision loss keeps her from watching TV, and the hearing loss makes it hard to converse.  Her physical disabilities prevent her from much activity or getting out of the house to do much of anything.  Now, granted, she does NOT need any pajamas; she has probably 50 pair that have never been worn and still have tags on them.  But still...

Yesterday when I finished the chores in the house, I had to go to Walmart to pick up wrapping paper and ribbons so I could wrap my sister's birthday present and leave it for her.  I bought a pretty colored bag and tissue paper in addition, and the pajamas Mom had admired.  Then, I picked up a corresponding pair in the same design for myself.  I gave them to her, put on mine, and said, "Let's do a selfie in our new pajamas!"  I had to try several to get us both in the picture.  At one point, she said, "Just get Diane to take it."  MOM!  Then it's not a selfie!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Reprieve

 I woke to the sound of rain on the tin roof outside my bedroom door--nothing brings back pleasant memories like that sound.  I immediately was grateful that I had pushed myself to finish staining and sealing the deck yesterday.  I peered through the door, and yup, the newly completed work was doing its job.
 I had been tempted to wait until this morning, and now glad that I did not as otherwise, this chore could not have been completed before I return to Mississippi.  Instead, it was a joy to look out and see the water beading rather than saturating the wood--which had taken a beating during the winter ice and the need to salt the deck to prevent falls.
I do have to say that by the time I had finished this job yesterday, I was not just tired, I was in some fairly significant pain.  It took about 2 and 1/2 hours.  I can't get on my knees due to the prosthetic in the left knee.  I am not supposed to bend from the waist due to the hip prosthetic, at least, not for extended periods, and believe me, when I do it, I know.  Long before the deck was done (and I was counting the planks I had left after each strip!) I was in some pain.  I tried sitting on a stool, but that still meant bending forward and down.  I tried sitting on the deck, which was easier, but involved twisting and turning, which brought its own share of problems.  Mainly, I alternated, with standing and stopping to stretch every couple of planks.

After cleaning up my tools, I managed to take some ibuprofen and eat a few bites of potatoes and fresh garden squash, then sat on the opposite--still not stained!--deck and drink a glass of iced tea.  I looked out at the green of the yard and the pasture, the green trees, feeling thankful for all the recent rain.  I had taken Mom over to the bank in Newcastle (where they have had their account since we lived there when I was a child) and we marveled at how the two Graham lakes are full--back to capacity for the first time in years.

On my list this morning was another outside paint job, an outside plumbing repair, and more mowing in Rio's corral and the yard.  Those tasks will not likely be completed now, though I may have to just pull on those rubber boots and dad's flannel barn coat with the hoodie and tackle that plumbing job anyway.  Some things just can't wait.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ode to Colorado Mountains

Sis and her grandson, waiting for the fireworks in Gunnison
Tristan driving the 4-wheeler in the mountains 
 It is hard to believe my great nephew is this grown up.  Sis took him with her camping in Colorado 2 years ago, and he had such a good time he has wanted to go back.  She and her husband always went camping there with his nephew and family, and I am glad she is still going with them on the annual outing.  She said this might be the last year Tristan wanted to go, now that is he moving into his teen years, but then, our family on both sides has pretty much always been family-oriented hanging out on vacations, so I guess only time will tell.

I on the other hand, am just hoping for a calm and quiet day where I can get a few more things crossed off the "to do" list.  I have amazed myself with all I have accomplished, and that I have moved forward and upward in my caregiving skills this trip--doing things I have not done before, but with a calmness and peacefulness and sense of competence.  I am in a newfound place, and it reminds me of how important it is to support people where they are in the developmental process, and that most of us, most of the time, do the best that we can with what we know and the skills we possess.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Crossing chores off the list: Labors of love

 On my May trip, Sis and I bought primer and paint with plans to tackle some of the long overdue needs on the exterior of the house.  Dad was always so meticulous in taking care of things long before they became a problem or potential problem.  Obviously, this door is past potential to full-blown problem.  I scraped and sanded, and cleaned off paint/wood dust.  Even though I had started early, right after feeding Rio at 7, it was too hot to paint by the time I finished the prep.
 One primer coat went on Tuesday, and the second Wednesday.  My plans were to finish the paint today, but unexpectedly, I was on the road after feeding Rio to make the hour and a half drive to Abilene and check on R's dad and auntie.  That took the day, and I arrived back here at almost 7 tonight.  Rio had been fed, but I took him out his watermelon treat.  I hold out a slice of the rind with a little melon left.  He can take two bites (amazing how he knows just how far to go to get the melon and rind, but not the peel!) before I put it down on the ground and let him finish away from my fingers.  In the morning, first coat of paint goes on, and scrub the deck so I can put the first coat of stain on Saturday morning. 
Driving back from Abilene this evening, I had a sudden epiphany about workspace.  I realized the little table (my dad built this years ago from left over parts) next to the bed would be just the right height, and that I could pull up the chair and it would be much more comfortable than working from bed with the computer on my lap.  It is usually too hectic in the kitchen so when I need to work, I always go to "my room."

I was right.  The small lip on the table edge is exactly the height of the lap top when it sits in the "tray" and thus, gives me a wrist-rest which is sooooo comfortable.  Oh, happy day!