Thursday, January 31, 2008

What did I miss??

Your Language Arts Grade: 98%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

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Friday, January 25, 2008

It's a winter Friday Five

From way up in the snow belt, Singing Owl wants to know:

1. What is the thermometer reading at your house this morning?
I think it was in the low forties this morning, and never got past 42. Hey, to us, that's pretty chilly!

2. Snow—love it or hate it?
Love to look at it, don't mind playing in it if I'm dressed appropriately, HATE to drive in it!

3. What is winter like where you are?
Winter in Houston is a series of three- to four-day cold snaps, followed by a return to temperatures in the 60's or 70's. It's been drizzly and chilly all week, but tomorrow's forecast is for temperatures back up into the 60s. We usually have at least one or two nights below freezing every year, when people scurry about covering tender plants before bedtime, but some years we have no freezes at all.

But there is always an exception to the rule: the great White Christmas of 2004! Snow began falling in big fat flakes as we were on our way to church that Christmas Eve. I still remember the extra excitement and joy in the air that night. We only got a light dusting here, but oddly, Victoria and Corpus Christi, which are much farther south, were covered in snow!

Here are a couple of scenes from my yard, that Christmas morning:

Go ahead and laugh, Snow Belters! But we thought it was great.

4. Do you like winter sports? Any good stories?
I like to watch all of the winter Olympics. No stories; I'm a miserable skier, and would rather be in the lodge with some hot chocolate!

5. What is your favorite season, and why?

Spring and fall are beautiful here, and I enjoy the change. I especially appreciate our brief autumn, when temperatures finally drop into the 70s after five months of summer!

Bonus: Share a favorite winter pick-me-up. A recipe, an activity, or whatever.
Dreary, drizzly winter days are a pleasure when I don't have to go anywhere and can hang around the house making soup. Here's a recipe we've enjoyed this year, that makes good use of the lovely kale we've been getting from the co-op:

1/2 lb. smoked sausage (kielbasa or similar), sliced thin
2 to 4 cloves garlic (all 4 if you dare)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 cup lentils, picked over and washed
3 cups water
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch kale, stems and center ribs discarded, leaves chopped
2 T. balsamic or red wine vinegar

In a 6-qt. stockpot brown sausage in a little oil over medium heat, and transfer to paper towels to drain. Cook garlic and onion in the oil (add a little if necessary) until onion is softened. Add lentils, water, stock, and sausage and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Add kale and simmer, uncovered, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Makes about six cups.
We think this would be a good basic lentil soup without the kale, but we haven't tried it that way yet.

Have a relaxing weekend, and stay warm!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Guest blogger: Amie

Hi, everybody! I want to thank all of my human and animal friends for your prayers. I appreciate that a lot. Mama and Daddy are still concerned, because the vet told them that he doesn't know what I have--he says I don't have cushions after all. I don't understand that, because I have lots of cushions. It's a good thing, too, because lately I've been more tired than usual. I have some new medicine to take, and some really yummy stuff on my food called VAL Syrup. (Grendel, it's like gravy!) Mama says I have to go back to the vet in a month for more blood tests. I'm not going to worry about that now.

Well, enough about that. The important thing to blog today is that my friend Scout tagged me for a meme! Here are the rules:

- Link to the person that tagged you.
- Post the rules on your blog.
- Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
- Tag six people and at the end of your post, link to their blogs.
- Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

It says person, but obviously we're including animals. So here are my six things:

1. I can wag my tail really, really fast when I'm glad to see someone.
2. When my belly was shaved recently, Mama discovered it was covered with freckles. (She's been calling me Frecklebelly ever since. I wish she would stop.)
3. My favorite foods are cheese, eggs, pumpkin, and yogurt! And something Mama thinks is really gross, and she says we don't need to discuss that.
4. I used to sleep in Mama and Daddy's room, but when they went away for a long, long time I got into the habit of sleeping by the front door. Even though they're back now, I still sleep by the front door.
5. I am a three-year survivor of mammary cancer. Mama thinks that's important, but I don' was a long time ago, after all.
6. I only have one canine tooth now, and no incisors on top. It doesn't matter, though. I can eat anything I like. I can still chew up a bone!

A lot of my friends have already done this. I'll tag Beatrice, Elizabeth, Newman, Whistle (or anyone else at his house who would prefer to play), Josie and Boudreaux, and Tiria! If you don't have time to play, it won't hurt my feelings. But if you'd like to play, have fun!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Five: Read any good books lately?

RevHrod asks:

  1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why? Like a number of people, I would have to say Barbara Kinsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Her account of her family's attempt to eat locally was so enjoyable (and sometimes hilarious), and while I don't have the acreage to grow all of our vegetables like she did, I've made a strong effort to eat more locally this year. The organizer of our co-op has provided us with local yard eggs, and we are finding more local sources of fruit and vegetables (because it's nice that the butternut squash is organic, but it traveled here from Chile, out of season...what's wrong with this picture...), and now we even have a nearby source of grass-fed beef. I can't help but think that makes a difference--if not so much in reducing our carbon footprint, at least I know it is making a difference to a few local farmers. And we're eating well, too.
  2. What is one of your favorite childhood books?

  3. Oh, I didn't know where to start...the Little House books, of course...lots of horse books, like Misty of Chincoteague...the Sue Barton series...then I thought of something special. Our public library had an encyclopedia of seashells, with magnificent color plates. I had never seen a beach when I started reading this book, but I checked it out again and again, learning about bivalves, univalves, lion's paws, alphabet cones...such wonderful pictures, and in later years when I did have a chance to find shells on the beach I remembered what I had learned. Now whenever I see the beautiful shells on permanent exhibit at our natural science museum, I remember how I first came to love them, long ago.
  4. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell!
  5. I've always been partial to the Gospel of John and its witness to Christ--the seven signs, all the "I am" statements, the mysticism of its approach--all of this has been meaningful for me.
  6. What is one book you could read again and again?
  7. Just one? Impossible. Let's see, I've read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over..Lord of the Rings...Wise favorite Elizabeth Bowen book, The Death of the Heart...Irvin Yalom's tales of therapy, Love's Executioner...many more...
  8. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?
  9. I'm not familiar with any Lenten-specific devotional books, although I'm sure there are many. I will have to see what other people recommend.
  10. And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?

I wish I could write a good book about Zorra and Amie that dog lovers would understand and enjoy. I'd like Jon Katz, who wrote movingly about his life with his rescued border collie in A Dog Year, to write the blurb.

(Sorry about the wierd formatting and font. Blogger and I fought it out and Blogger won.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good news

The specialist found no tumor and said her organs all looked normal. Like our regular vet, he suspects Cushing's disease, which is fairly common in old dogs and can be treated with medication. She'll need some more blood work to confirm that diagnosis, and I hope we can get that done by the end of the week. Thank you all so much for your prayers. I appreciate that more than you know.

Amie doesn't want me to show you, but I will tell you that she is now sporting a stylish new "do" just like Cub's!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Prayers requested

Amie had some routine blood work on Saturday when I took her in for her annual shots. Today the results were back, and we learned that two of her liver enzymes are very seriously elevated. We are seeing a specialist for an ultrasound tomorrow at 2:00.

Those of you who pray for animals, please remember my dear girl. Thanks.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Totally theoretical question:

OK, all you RGBP Presbies:

Let's say you are looking for a new call. Let's say you circulate your PIF and it comes to the attention of a certain PNC. Let's say one of the members of that PNC is, in fact, moi, and let's say that as I read your PIF I begin to suspect that you might be, well, you.

If that unlikely event should occur, how would you like me to handle it? Out myself to you, and recuse myself from the committee's discussion of your PIF? Say nothing at all? Other options?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

And the seasons, they go round and round

We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in the circle game.
(--Joni Mitchell, as those of a certain age know well)

Well, the tree has been hauled off to the park for recycling, the ornaments and garlands are all packed away, the wreath is off the front door, and the furniture has been put back in its customary location. Will we be able to keep Christmas in our hearts as the days go by?

Our hymns and sermon this morning were all very Epiphany-oriented, but we managed to squeeze out just a little more Christmas with our anthem, "Break forth, O beauteous heav'nly light/And usher in the morning...". I'm grateful for the opportunity to sing Bach, and to give thanks again for God-with-us.

Such a hectic Christmas this was, with my MIL's surgery. She is slowly improving, but will need several months to heal from this drastic operation. She will begin physical therapy this week. My sister-in-law left this morning, after a week--we were sorry to see her go, for many reasons. Along with all of the week's caregiving activity, the three of us found time to watch several movies (300, Marie Antoinette, and Pan's Labyrinth--how's that for diversity?), accompanied by good homecooked food and fine Italian wines. Yesterday we took a break and went downtown to see Lucy. The exhibit includes magnificent icons and other artifacts from the Ethiopian church, and those were as interesting to me as the anthropological aspects of the exhibit, including Ms. Lucy herself.

And now another busy and trying week begins. Neither major surgery nor major caregiving is for sissies. I would appreciate your prayers this week for the fruit of the Spirit--for all of us.