Tuesday, December 30, 2008

School Days, School Days

It's been several years since I've registered for classes at LVS Online; but since I'm doing some photography of the various fused glass items, I realized a refresher course was in order. I've been quite satisfied with the instructions at LVS Online , the fees are more than reasonable, and the classes are fun.

I'm considering taking a Writing Composition and/or an Effective Writing class.......it's been more years than I dare mention or even think about since I've been in any English class! :D I'll probably be horribly embarrassed with the numerous corrections on everything I submit. You are never too old to learn. Besides, I'd like this blog to be grammatically correct and more interesting: a blog you'd want to return to read.

If you want to exercise the mind a little, check out the courses at LVS Online. The course categories are diverse from Arts & Humanities to Business to Academics to Photography to Scrapbooking, and so forth. And, btw, I'm not getting paid for this advertising! I found the classes to be very basic but interesting. Basic is what I needed in the classes for which I registered. I took a digital photography class, a couple of html classes, and a graphics software class. However, if you do register, give them my name....I will get credit on the next class. Hey, can't help a girl getting a little advantage every now and again. :D

Monday, December 29, 2008

Extreme Drought Conditions

Since we are on a rainwater collections system for the house, I started keeping a rain chart a couple of years ago. We would almost run out of water, necessitating us to switch to the well, when we would get just enough rain to allow us to stay with the rain water. Our well water is not good. Yuk! According to my records, we've received a little over 11 inches of rain this year.

Our top soil is powdery; when the wind blows, top soil accumulates on the porch; and if the wind is high, the top soil stings as it hits your face and arms.

I put these two pictures in to show how very, very dry it is around here. Looks awful, doesn't it?! We do not water our yard because this area without drought conditions borders on a shortage of water. We consider it irresponsible to water a yard considering water shortages and since there is a population explosion, with no end in sight, in Central Texas which extends to San Antonio and beyond. While it is winter and dogs have a tendency to tear up a yard, there is no grass. We had drought resistant Bermuda planted, but after a year of very little rain, there is nothing but powdery dirt as you can see from the picture on the right.

According to my rain chart, we experienced biblical rains of about 40 inches in 2007 and this year less than 12 inches. The NOAA has a Palmer Drought Index, which I found particularly interesting. Check out their website for your area of the country. Not only will you find what your area has experienced but predictions for the upcoming months.

It is also a little discombobulating to look out a window to see waves of dirt blowing by in the wind. If one dusted every time the furniture needed it, there wouldn't be much time for other things to do because it would be every ten minutes. You learn to live with it, set your daily/weekly dusting schedule, and keep it. At least that is what I do. :D

We've had magnificent days, crisp, cool, sun shining; but when we have the gray skies and a cool front coming, that is all we have -- gray skies, wind, and cold air -- no rain! We did get about 10 drops of rain with a little snow on December 9, totaling about 3 tenths of an inch. I took the picture to the right just before dawn and liked the light shining on the overturned livestock tank sprinkled with snow. All in all, though, magnificent days are wonderful but too many in a row can have disastrous affects.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

God Calling

When working on this blog today, I ran across in the "Add a Gadget" category Reminders from God, which comes from the one book I try to read every day. What is so totally unique about this book is that the authors refused to be named and requested they be called simply the "Two Listeners." I find that incredibly heart warming in today's world where everyone is an author hawking their newest book in every venue they can possibly enter.

Reading the Foreword by Ed Young, Jr., and the introduction by the editor, A. J. Russell, about these two ladies who were ill and in desperate poverty brings you to begin each day with this spiritual treasure. The book is found on Amazon at a very reasonable price. In fact, I bought ten of them in July or August to give to anyone who might be in need inspiration or to anyone I know will appreciate the book. I have one left. :D

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Man's Best Friend

One of my email friends put a picture of the newest addition to their household, a totally precious, 11 week old, white Lab puppy. Another email friend suggested she read "Marley and Me," which took me back to when my husband and I read the book. Here's my response as I reminisced when we first got Luc, our white Lab.
At 8 weeks, pic to right, Luc's propensity to steal was evident and hasn't changed with age.

Yes, yes, yes....we could so definitely identify with the Marley and Me book. Steve and I were on our way to Colorado when I read the book out loud in the car. We laughed so hard. Listen, by the time we got the book Luc had almost killed me three times.

Once on a walk and as I was bending over to do something for Luc, I heard hooves clomping behind me -- turned around and one of the cows that hated Luc was headed straight for us. She was trying to trample him. I didn't have enough time to grab him and get out of the way so I waved my arms and yelled at her. Fortunately she stopped. She's tried several times since to trample him when I was very near.

The next time, I was at the back of our property clearing a path along the creek bed -- hubby was at work and had no idea where I might be. Anyway, as I was cutting some brush along a very narrow path with a 3-4 foot drop off to one side into a dry creek bed filled with big rocks, Luc ran up then placed his paws on my chest. (A no, no but he was still a bit of a puppy and not fully trained in "no jumping." ) I happened to grab onto a small branch with the thickness of a little finger before being knocked over into the very, very dry, rocky creek bed.

Luc detests getting a bath -- tried bathing him with me standing in the bath tub so I could keep him from jumping out. Not a good idea because the tub gets very slippery with soap flying everywhere. Then next I leashed him and tied it around the peach tree. I just got him wet when he decided this was not his cup of tea, started acting up, ran around the tree several times, tying me up next to the tree in the leash, I ended up falling down on him and and laughingly started trying to figure out how to get us both untangled. hahaha

Come to think of it, he's almost killed me four or five times. lol

We still have three temporary fences around the air conditioner, the telephone house connections, and the satellite dish. All the trouble though is worth the joy he brings to the "ranch."

Bad doggy with a stolen pillow. The plaid pillow close to headboard is his favorite to steal when he wants attention. It is my most expensive since it coordinated with the "missing" comforter, it use to have tassels, and is in desperate need of a cleaning, which I've not figured out how to do. I removed our comforter and replaced with washable blankets every time I change the linens. When I know company is coming, I retrieve the comforter so "they" don't think we are complete "house" Neanderthals.

Luc is Marley reincarnated. I can hardly wait to see the Marley and Me movie that is scheduled to come out soon.

Life is good and am looking forward to the coming New Year. So, all, Happy New Year! May it bring happiness, prosperity, and good health to all. God bless the U. S. A.

Friday, December 26, 2008


I just returned from starting an above ground garden. We've a lot of left over landscape timbers that we bought 26 years ago when we first moved into our house. We used the timbers to hold the top soil brought in to start a yard. As the grass grew, we removed the timbers and stacked them off to the side. Well, true to my dad's DNA, I saved them for such a time as when they would be needed again. While we've use an odd timber or so for this and that, we've at least thirty with which to build this garden even though the timbers have been lying around 26 years. :D (As an aside, we no longer have grass since we are in one of worst droughts since the 1930's. In fact the top soil was stinging me as I worked because the wind is up and the top soil is powdery.)

I also started a compost pile with the pulp residual from juicing. And, since we have cows, we've left over hay the cows haven't eaten along with more than a few cow patties. We should have some very rich compost by spring or early summer. And, of course, there is always cow patty tea for watering. I placed the garden near the rain water collection system so I can use the water by attaching a hose to the filtering tank which is drained onto the ground anyway. Gad, I'm getting so green! :D When hubby gets home this afternoon, he is going to see "cut timbers for garden" on his honey-do list. I'll tackle just about anything but no thanks to a circular saw.

Did 35 minutes on the elliptical...got to wrap my mind around doing no less than 45 and should do 60 minutes. Worked on photographing the pendants, etc., but I still feel something is not quite as it should be. I'm waiting on a particular camera accessory to arrive and hope like crazy it gives me what I'm looking for....I feel I have to do too much touch up on each photo before putting it in this blog or ultimately my website.

We keep getting "red flag" warnings from the Weatherbug...like I don't know the wind is still up to a pretty good speed. The skies stay gray a good part of the day, clouds swoop by, but still no rain! Yikes. Central Texas is about to become a desert.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Whew! Dinner's done, china and silver washed and returned to their designated places, pots and pans washed, dried and put up. Oops, forgot to take a picture of the table -- next year. Speaking of next year, if the boys do not come, we are going to ask some people who are alone for Christmas dinner. Too many things were going on for us to think about it.

I can now get back to photographing the fused glass pendants, trays, etc., and start working on my Plum Wild Glassworks website. I also need to start testing various fusing techniques to make the back splash for the front bathroom. We changed the vanity top for a Silestone top, added a vessel sink, and a new faucet. We did the same for the master bath but had a matching back splash made for that bathroom. I was a little intimidated by the thought of doing a back splash for both baths; as it is, I have 60 inches for the front bath and had I added the master bath it be an extra 12 feet.

After the back splash, I need to paint and probably will have to either buy or make a new shower curtain. I made the curtain that is now in that bath and would like to use it if I can find a coordinating material to add a valance which will go to the ceiling. We been remodeling our house over the last five years with the baths being the last major upgrade. We stripped the wall paper off the walls, textured, did a faux finish, replaced carpet with tile in most of the house, and then re-carpeted the bedrooms, put granite counter tops in the kitchen and on an eating bar, new drapes, and had an antique leaf pine mantel made.

I've always loved my house -- I was the general contractor for it -- but love it more. While I knew nothing about building, I do have exceptional organizational skills. The head carpenter was 72 years old and had been a carpenter for 50 years so he made sure those building details were in order. They never missed a day for lack of materials at a time when there was a building boom here in Central Texas; and when the cabinet maker tanked, he took up the slack to finish the cabinets. The cabinet doors are not as fancy as I hoped, but the doors are nice and they work fine. :D Who knows, I may get a bug for new cabinet doors! First I'm going to change out the knobs and pulls...may even do fused glass ones.

Christmas has come and is almost gone. I'm looking forward to what the new year will bring.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

I just couldn't stand it, so I did some actual closeups of the Christmas stockings. Aren't the details wonderful?!

I have patience when working on things that I enjoy but patience for sewing such as that on the stockings is not in my DNA.

Hubby and I made a pack last Saturday giving each other permission to ask if we have done certain daily tasks. He has been saying that he wanted to get back to singing every day but hasn't stay with it. I get to ask him if he's practiced his music and if he has done his stretching exercises. Now this is not a wife bragging but his voice is of the same quality of an Elvis, a Waylon Jennings, or a George Jones. Needless to say, country music is his forte. By the same token he gets to ask me if I've done the elliptical, some weight training, and have I done my stretching exercises. We decided that if we only do five minutes we will consider that a success for that day because it maintains the discipline. Generally though, no one stops at five minutes and will do much more, but if the most done is five minutes, well, it is a success.

I talked with my oldest son who is in a holding pattern in Houston before leaving for Iraq. His job description is operations specialist, whatever that means. Wes loves new experiences and is truly fearless. He has his pilot's license; and when he was working at UTMB in Galveston, he thought nothing of hanging out of a helicopter to film certain conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

He will get a week or so R&R every three-four months.

I have mixed emotions about his going; but since my youngest son, Paul, spent about 26 months in Iraq beginning December 2004 to Spring of 2007, I am a lot more relaxed about his going than I was when Paul went. I asked the Lord to place a hedge of protection around Wes, as I did when Paul went, and look forward to hearing about Wes' experiences. KBR, his employer, takes very good care of their employees. My youngest son had nothing but good things to say about the company.

I did about 40 minutes on the elliptical this morning plus some stretching. I'll get back up to 60 minutes within the next time or two on the machine. I can do it physically, it's the mental determination to spend the extra time. :D I play aerobic music on my MP3 through the speakers on the Nordic Track elliptical; I usually have a book opened to read or to look a pictures to get ideas for my next fusing project; and have the TV on. I make sure I have plenty of choices to stay distracted and/or interested in something other than what I'm doing.

If anyone is interested in getting an exercise machine at home I can't say enough good things about the Nordic Track. BTW, I'm not getting paid for this advertisement! The equipment is well made here in the US (so I understand) and there are quite a few models from which to choose. Take a look at their site; when I bought last summer, shipping was FREE. They have good deals.

It will be just Steve and myself tomorrow for Christmas dinner. Today I'm baking the pumpkin pie, preparing the stand-by green bean casserole, fix the potatoes..........I'm doing a turkey breast in cranberry sauce and (get this) onion soup mix in the crock pot tomorrow. Hubby picked up some cornbread dressing and gravy from HEB yesterday. I have my mother's dressing recipe which in my opinion is the best in the world...it takes several days to make...so I tend to opt out and get hubby to buy it. The next time the entire family is together, I'll do Mother's dressing.

I've got to pull out the china and polish the silver before tomorrow. I'm hoping I ironed the Christmas table cloth after last year's dinner. I'll probably get the table set tonight. Nothing is prettier than a table for a Christmas dinner.

May the peace of the Lord be upon all.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Christmas Eve

The past few weeks have been extremely busy what with the little craft show done on December 6, my oldest son preparing to leave for Iraq for the next fourteen months, checkup appointments with doctors, Christmas parties, and lastly decorating for Christmas.

As I write I'm listening to a truly beautiful album, A Celtic Christmas, performed by The Festive Players. I bought two Christmas CDs last year; the first one was awful and I did not get around to opening this one. Wow. I should have! It's my kind of music, traditional instrumental renditions of Christmas music, not the contemporary sounds. lol

Christmas on Mercer St., December 6, 2008
The craft show went well. The weather was outstanding, we had a fairly good crowd, and, of course, sharing the booth with a friend made for a delightful day. Her sister joined us in our little venture, along with my friend's daughters. I bought seven of her decorated Christmas stockings; pictures to follow. A good friend of mine came by and rearranged my table much to my delight. She has the gift of decorating and made a so-so table have a little pizazz. I should gotten closer when taking a picture; however, I made mental notes on what she did. Next time it'll look much better.

Here are the beautiful stockings:

Fireplace at the Ranch

Just wish I could zoom in a little closer to show the stocking details. My dear friend did a fabulous job. We didn't have time to get the names on each stocking but that is on the to-do list for next year. The nutcrackers are wonderful, but so too are the Christmas tree stockings.

I've been working on my camera skills to start posting jewelry pieces and various other glass fusings. But, I'm not there yet! I have a Nikon Coolpix 4300 digital camera which I bought about 5 years ago. My oldest son put me on to what kind of light to use when photographing objects. However, I did a little research today and found some accessories I wanted when I first purchased the camera. Of course, all technology is obsolete a day after the purchase so I got the items at terrific discounts since it has been at least five years. There is a method in my madness after all. I also ran across a tipster that told me how to use the photo editing software to accomplish what needs to be done before posting on the web. The accessories should arrive by New Years. Here is a link to one of the retailers that has all kinds of memory, compact flash cards, etc., Memory Suppliers, http://www.memorysuppliers.com/.

While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, a man in front of me gave me the website address for the Palmer Drought Index, NOAA. This index shows the entire country and we, here in Central Texas, are in what is above an "extreme" drought to "unusual drought conditions. There may be one other small area in the US designated as unusual drought conditions. It is so bad that our top soil is powdery. We've had an unusually cool weather off and on since the middle of October but NO rain. This area is in serious trouble.

Oh, well, it is not like we've not experienced this severe a drought before.....I keep thinking of the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. I wasn't around to see it but I've read and heard about it from my parents and my husband. His family (eight total, six kids and his parents) left the Texas Panhandle in a 1934 Ford for Oregon in 1937 to escape the drought. If you've never seen that model of Ford, look it up. My husband just announced to me that "they are not very wide."

Until the next time...God Bless and Merry Christmas.