Friday, February 28, 2014

Skywatch Friday

Even though we've had snow and ice this winter, the is a much more accurate of a winter sky in North Central Texas.  Not a sign of a cloud, and the atmosphere is extremely dry because, as usual, we are in drought mode.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I have many letters from my daddy, John McBee Ficke, telling Mother he wanted to get me a horse as soon as he returned from World War II.  And he did just that.  This is several years later, 1951, at 934 West Long in Stephenville, Texas, as Daddy leads my first horse, a Shetland named Dolly, around the back yard.  Beside Dolly is one of the many of her foals, name not remembered.  She always threw palomino foals, as did my later barrel pony, Sis.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reflections on the World as it Turns

Here is my column from last Sunday:

Last Sunday we had our family dinner, and as I looked out at the bird feeders I saw many, many goldfinches.  I turned to Raf and told him I wondered if they were tanking up for their trip back north for the spring and summer.

We went to Fort Worth Monday, and when we got back I noticed there were no goldfinches.  By Tuesday I knew it was true, the goldfinches had left for their long flight to Canada, and along the way they will begin to change their dull tan feathered coat for their bright yellow one that we never see here in Texas.

However, over the past couple of weeks we have noticed a new lodger in our back garden.  A couple of years ago we got an Eastern Screech-owl box from Jim Dillard.  Yes, the same Jim Dillard who writes for the North Texas Star.  He makes great bird boxes!

We had our yard man, Felix McLemore of Classic Lawn Care, place the box at the height prescribed by Jim, and it sat there.  Then two weeks ago, we noticed what we thought was a squirrel putting its head out of the owl box hole, but, on closer examination with binoculars we discovered it was, indeed, an Eastern Screech-owl.  We watched him for two days, and then we didn’t seen him for several.  Then there he was again, and we watched for about forty-five minutes until he flew.  Beautiful.

Now it’s been the better part of a week, but we feel sure he is still there.  Jim tells us it’s mating season for Eastern Screech-owls, so, for all we know, his mate may be in there with him.  I know it seems early, but this is when it begins.  Also, I have read that these owls mate for life, although sometimes there are two females to one male.

When they are nesting, the male bring food to his mate and the babies.  They eat insects. worms, rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits and small birds.  Sometimes they are quick enough to catch bats.  They often cache extra food in tree holes that will last up to four days.

They lay from two to six eggs with one brood a season.  The incubation period is from 27 to 34 days, with the nesting period lasting another 30 days.  When they hatch, the owlets are covered with white down and their eyes are closed.

This year, too, we have had an enormous number of cardinals, as well as our other usual birds.  There were sometimes as many as 25 cardinals eating at one time.  When our guests visited from California, it was amazing.  They had never seen cardinals before!

Are you a bird watcher, or are you interested in birds in the back yard?  There’s a new application for your cell phone or pad.  It’s called Merlin and has been developed by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.  You can find this free app called Merlin.
We did have a marvelous Valentine dinner on the 14th, too.  I must tell you about it.  We ordered steak and lobster from the Brazos Market and Bistro on Oak in Mineral Wells, Texas.  If you hadn’t had their food, you are really missing out!  Our meal included asparagus, potatoes, bread, and a special treat, cherry liqueur soaked fresh cherries dipped in chocolate.  Yum!

Oh, and, by the way, if you haven’t eaten at the Hogg Pit on Highway 281 at Carter Road, you are truly missing out on the best barbecue in town, in my opinion!

See ya next time.  It’s going to be warm and cold again this week, so watch out!

Monday, February 24, 2014

First Sign of Spring

 The flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra la!
 Our first Spring flower!  Just one!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Good Weekend of Work, Play, and Worship

Today we attended Mass at All Saints Anglican Church in Weatherford, Texas.  This is the church where we were confirmed many years ago.  The rood screen at the front was one that Raf helped install when we were here.  It's a beautiful, small church, and the oldest Anglican church in Texas west of Fort Worth.  The Mass is sung and the Spirit of God can be felt all around.

This was just one thing we did in a wonderful weekend.

Yesterday, we went to Weatherford to eat at the Golden Moon on our way to watch our grandson Tim's basketball team from Westlake Academy play in the state finals.  Westlake came in second in the state!

 The Golden Moon has been in Weatherford for decades, and we have eaten there since it opened.

Tim is in the middle in this photo facing to the right.  He is a senior this year and will graduate in June.

Last night going home we drove by where we had our wreck in November...November 1, 2013.  It was scary for me, but thankfully I have a husband who puts up with me and my fears!  We made it through the traffic circle (roundabout).  At the time of the wreck I was trying to take a photo of the Parker County Courthouse.  I did it this time!

After Mass today we ate at Olive Garden, and, frankly, I think our local Pasta Fina is better!

Yesterday I completed this Little Sweetie dress for my oldest, closest friend's granddaughter.  It was fun to make...made of cotton.  I think the edging set it off very well.

The buttons were mother-of-pearl which are antique buttons Mother had.

Now, to get back to making afghans!

See ya!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Story of the Traveling Mucinex

Oh where, oh where, has my Mucinex gone, oh where, oh where can it be?

I don't often do the grocery shopping alone, but I did last Wednesday evening.  Raf and I ate at the new Chinese place in town.  Can't think of the name, but the food was good.  It doesn't have much of a variety. 

But, I digress. . .

After we ate, Raf went to the photo club, and I went to Walmart.  It wasn't a lot of food I had to get, but there was some medicines, and one was Mucinex. 

Right now, here in North Central Texas the allergens are blowing up all over the place.  The cedar is popping, and the dust from Kansas is landing in our yard, so we need Mucinex!

Now, three days later, the Mucinex is nowhere to be found.  We've found all the other medicines, but Mucinex has made an escape. 

Thankfully we have some from the last box, but these boxes are EXPENSIVE (yes, I shouted), and I really don't want to spend more money for the same thing!

Oh, well.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Skywatch Friday - Sky Ball

Back in the summer, I took this photo of the sky looking into my gazing ball.  What do you think?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday

This was taken at "the farm" in Miami, Texas, where the nieces and nephews worked every summer for our Aunt Marguerite.  This was about 1958.  I am on the left.  In the middle is my daddy's youngest sister, Silva Louise Ficke Dillard, and on the right is my cousin, Wilma Lavern Hall Powell.  Both Silva and Wilma are no longer with us.   Lovely women, weren't they?  Of course, I was the shortest!  I was also the only girl with red hair!

Wordless Wednesday - Healing Scar

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cleaning my Office/Studio

 Well, today I began the tedious, slow process of cleaning my office/studio.  I actually got one desk cleared - and most of the file boxes planted in a better place.  I am a thrower awayer, so the trash can is now full.  I would love to keep boxes for Turtle, but Turtle doesn't like boxes and won't go near them.  Oh, well.  Here is my computer/writing station.

To the right of the computer and up is a shelf.  I often have things from that shelf on my desk because, while Turtle does not like boxes, she loves shelves.  As Jackson Galaxy says, she is arboreal.  She could walk on the ceiling if she could!
Finally, this is where I am working on a journal as a gift.  I will not go any farther, as the rest is a mess - including all the button I have to pick up because Turtle was able to open the button drawn and throw it to the table!


I have worked today also writing my Reflections column for the Index, washing a load of clothes, reading my Bible, and voting.  Today begins early voting.

As I have done much of this, I have listened to Nora Jones on my Pandora.

Hope you had a good day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fort Worth

Today was the first time we have been to Fort Worth since our wreck three and 1/2 months ago. It went better than I expected. Got the things done we needed and then saw a wreck right where our wreck was. It looked terrible...a motorcycle!  This was at the circle around the Parker County Courthouse. 

But we accomplished many things.  Got a replacement for my phone.  Got a new dripper for the birds. Went to Central Market for special food.  Ate at Kincaid's.  And we went to Asel Art off 7th, 825 Foch Street, for some supplies.  The art students who man the place were making paper bag puppets.  They are so cute!  This is by far one of the best art supply stores in the area.  It's right in the museum district.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Morning Prayer

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall show forth your praise.
Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God.

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People together, all kneeling
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our
   own hearts,
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to
   have done,

and we have done those things which we ought not to
   have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen. 

Worship the Lord in the beauty of his holiness: O come, let us
adore him. 
 The Song of Zechariah     Benedictus Dominus Deus
         Luke 1:68-79
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, *
    for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us *
    in the house of his servant David,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, *
    which have been since the world began:

That we should be saved from our enemies, *
    and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers, *
    and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham, *
    that he would give us,
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies *
    might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, *
    all the days of our life.

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, *
    for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord
            to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people *
    for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God, *
    whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death, *
    and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

The Apostles' Creed

Officiant and People together, all standing
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried.
    He descended into hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

The text of the Creed on page 96 may be used instead.

The Prayers

The People stand or kneel
Officiant      The Lord be with you.
People        And also with you.
Officiant      Let us pray.

Officiant and People
Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winter in Texas

We took drives yesterday and today and look at our Texas winter - under no snow and ice.  The temperature was in the 70˚Fs both days, but the air is till very dry.  Yesterday we drove the Lake Mineral Wells State Park, and today we drove to Graham, Texas.

We are in the midst of a huge drought, and here in the first photo you can see how dry it is.  This is Rock Creek which connects to Possum Kingdom Lake, but there's no water in the creek, and the lake is way down.

However the bare trees give us a good look at tree structure, and the beautiful green of a Live Oak tree contrasts with the bare ground and dead grasses.
Here is a small Live Oak trying to spring fort from under a huge rock.  I love the color and shape of the rock, and I love seeing the shadows.  Just a few days ago there was no shadow because of the cloud cover.
When our grandson, John, was small he would see these sorts of places as "somebody's home' - meaning, perhaps, a snake or a mouse.  I think he might be correct!

Anyhow, we had two beautiful, sunny days.  Now, don't get me wrong - I would much rather be cold than hot, but after numerous days of snow and ice, it's nice to see the sun!  I just hope in August I can say the same thing!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Skywatch Friday, February 14, 2014

Last night the Texas sky was clear for the first time in weeks, and we almost had a full moon (full moon is tonight - Valentine's Day).

Today was almost clear, with whispy clouds overhead, and Lake Mineral Wells could be seen through the winter branches of the oak trees.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014

Saturday my uncle, Elmer Dillard, will be 91.  Here he is in about 1944 with my aunt, Daddy's sister, Silva Louise, and me.  Elmer was stationed in Midland throughout the War.  He is a wonderful uncle - and oh so handsome!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Freezing Rain is Happening NOW

This morning the sun tried, but failed, to peep through the cloud cover.  We had awoken to ice pellets on the ground, and all the schools around us had canceled class for the day - ours however kept to its schedule.  But now, at 2:52 pm freezing rain is falling from the sky, and I am concerned about how they are going to get all the children home.  The temperature is 30˚F and falling.

Our weather map looks like this, and we are on the western edge of the last cluster.

Wunderground keeps us well abreast of the weather in our area!

I just heard from a blogging friend, Tony Kelly, that in Pennsylvania they have sunshine and were able to tramp around Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania.  No so here in Texas!

My wish is that when it's August this year, our days will be cooler, as I have never seen this sort of winter in my 71 years!

Hope wherever you are, you're warm, well, and happy!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Last Sunday's Reflections

Today was massage day, and that is about all I do on massage day, so here is yesterday's column from the Index.

I remember the winter of 1947.  I was five years old, and my daddy had just returned from World War II and from confinement in a tuberculosis unit for veterans.   I hadn’t really seen much of him since I was born.  We lived on West Long Street in Stephenville, Texas, and my friend Helen’s family lived two doors down.

That winter it snowed.  In fact it snowed so much you couldn’t see the grass, and the streets were deep with snow and ice.

As we were Texas families, we, of course, did not have sleds.  In fact, I don’t think I even knew what a sled was at that point in my life (remember we had no television back then, either).

So Daddy and Mr. McCleskey got wooden boxes, probably ones they used to harvest vegetables from the garden.  They fixed runners on the bottom of the boxes and tied ropes to the side of the boxes at the corners, so that when they pulled the ropes taut they would form a triangle with the boxes.

They set Helen and me in the boxes.  We were covered head to toe with heavy coats, mittens, woolen hats and scarves, and they pulled us all around West Long Street in those boxes.

Now, while Mr. McCleskey had grown up right in Erath County, Daddy was from the Texas Panhandle - Wheeler, in fact, and he had had to work on the ranch in snow and sleet and so forth.  Therefore, he had a little bit better idea of what to do in the snow, I suppose.

I do remember that Daddy always told me to keep my mouth shut and never breathe in cold air except through my nose.  I don’t know whether he got that notion from growing up in the Panhandle or from walking across Europe in winter, but, either way, I was admonished if I breathed through my mouth in the cold!

I know there have been other snowy winters in my life, but I do believe we will all remember this winter in particular as being, if not the coldest, one of the strangest winters in our lifetimes.

In Texas we come to know that if we don’t like the weather, we can wait a day and it will change, but this winter has seriously proven that to be true.  I just hope that with all this cold winter weather we may have cooler summer weather in a few months.  Either way, I do like cold better than the 114˚F weather of the summer!

Now for a quick recipe.  You like baked chicken?  Here’s a no fuss, no muss way of doing it, and it is delicious.

Get a whole bird, rinse and pat it dry, being sure to removed the innards!  Make balls of three large bits of aluminum foil and place in a triangle pattern in the crock pot.  Rub the chicken with whatever run you like - garlic salt and paprika, onion salt, chicken seasoning or whatever - and place the chicken breast side up in the crockpot.  Cover and cook for about seven hours on low.  Check with a meat thermometer to be sure it is 170˚F.  And serve.  It is truly yummy and moist.

Until next time - stay warm!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Sunday with a Chance of Cold

Once again, after a temperature of about 65˚F yesterday, we have icy fog, drizzle, and cold wind.  We went to church at All Saints' Anglican Church in Weatherford today, and the drive was dull, but the worship was splendid.  (Their website has not been updated recently.)

What a wonderful sermon we heard by Father Eric Vowles as Jesus calls us to be both salt and light.

Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under the foot of men.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid."  Mattthew 5:13-14

It is always such a joy to worship with people of like minds and hearts.  This is the church in which we were confirmed, and it holds a special place in our hearts.  It's only 18 miles east but in a different town, so we attend it, and St. Luke's here, and St. John's in Fort Worth.  

After Mass we ate, once again, at Little Panda, and, once again, the food was delicious!

Now I have enough food for tomorrow's lunch after a Sylvia massage!!

I don't believe in fortune or luck but rather in blessings, so I will pray for many blessings on each of you.  Have a beautiful "rest" of Sunday!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Mish Mash of Things

As you can see, this is a much better photo of the owl.  Raf has a great zoom lens for his camera.  The owl stayed there until almost dark, and we were trying to watch all the time, but he flew out, I guess.  Today it is bright sunlight and temperatures are soaring into the 50s, and we have not seen him as of noon.  I hope he has not left for good!  It was spectacular having him here!

I've been working on these two afghans since January 1.  Do you like the colors?  The bluey-green one is made of homespun by Lion Brand, and it's extremely heavy.  The other, which is complete, is not as purply as it seems's blues with a tan.

Our "Christmas Cactus" has become a pre-Lent, Valentine cactus.  As you can see, all three colors are showing - red, pink, and white, and one of the whites is really a tan color.  That's probably because it's mixing with the red and pink!  What do you think?

I snared this graphic from the net to wish you all a wonderful weekend and a blessed next week!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Skywatch Friday< Feb. 7, 2014

Our Texas sky today is gray with snow on branches and ground.  I would not have taken another shot, and nor would I not normally post a fuzzy photo, but we have just discovered that our owl house, which was put up two years ago, has an inhabitant!  An Eastern Screech-Owl.  I know it's hard to see, but we have cultivated songbirds for years, hoping for this little owl who sometimes sounds like a pony.

He's been here for two days now!!!


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