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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category


Empanadas filled with pineapple or sweet potato are usually on the shelf at the local Mexican bakery. But what if I wanted to give them a try myself? With pandemic still in full swing or maybe even an upsurge in recent months, cooking/baking has become a renewed past-time. If I can’t go out to eat, then maybe I can experiment in my kitchen……

Diligently I sought out a recipe/instructions on the internet. I could have called my daughter-in-law but although she speaks English quite nicely, I find it difficult to understand over the phone. But I found a nice tutorial complete with videos–I could almost smell it cooking. He made a meat mixture and given that it is almost Thanksgiving, I used ground turkey meat.

Some years ago, I found myself with some time to go shopping in a Crate and Barrel store. How can anyone resist walking out of there without some small treasure at hand? I found a small press—I thought for empanadas–but now I think it might be for Chinese dumplings.

I made the dough, chilled it, and then rolled out nearly three dozen sort of circles. The guy on the video made it look extraordinarily easy–but my edges were always ragged and the shape more like an abused oval that had been through a hurricane or two.

So here they are.

They were tasty; but I think I will try to find a larger press; and someone made reference to finding the dough/crust circles pre-made—or even using puff pastry.

Cotton Fields

My grandmother had picked a stalk of cotton during one of her trips to Georgia and displayed it in a vase on top of her upright piano. In that same vase were some stalks of oats I had picked for her on the edge of one of our fields. She had covered the grains with brightly colored aluminum foil–a painstaking task occupying many hours. I always wondered where she had gotten so many different colors–purple, green, blue, red—we only had the plain silver. And now that I think back on it, I am sure she scavenged that foil from floral arrangements from the three cemeteries she maintained as one of her means of income.

I wondered what fields of cotton would look like—maybe like a field of white roses near Geough Georgia, a small town consisting of a cotton gin, a post office/general store and a school. I had been volunteered as a newly minted MD to supervise a health clinic at the school– I think they mostly talked about diet and brushing teeth.

Texas does grow cotton and here is one of those fields. Menger was a cotton farmer who developed several different kinds of machinery to process the cotton. I stood at the side of the field to take this photo; there was cotton as far as I could see on both sides of the road.

cotton flower

A fence, a chicken, two dogs and Hurricane Delta

Hurricane Delta arrived and left quickly enough but not fast enough to wear out her welcome. The wind was not too bad in comparison to Hurricane Ike or Rita or even Humberto. We got some rain but again not too bad in comparison to Harvey. And we lost power for only an hour and a half compared to Laura–most of a day, Rita–ten days, Ike–ditto.

But we were left with a large part of our fence caved in and a carpet of crepe myrtle leaves and tiny to not so tiny branches in our backyard. The cattle panels lining the back fence—a necessary item due to some of our neighbors envious of our belongings and a dog that thinks the world is hers to explore—were twisted.

I suppose we should feel complimented that we are considered to be able-bodied enough to deal with the consequences of a hurricane without assistance. I have been picking up the leaves and twigs using a rake and a wheelbarrow, spacing out the trips to the brush pile on the street. We bought a kennel for the dogs and put it together.

However, the dogs were not good sports about the kennel, whining and crying and I felt incredibly vulnerable without that fence. The dogs required walking two or three times a day plus two trips to the dog park–one excretory function apparently can only be accomplished with a bit of running about—–and I only run if someone yells fire. They also thought it was fine to just sit and survey their surroundings for long moments==my back does not enjoy standing—walking or sitting—but not standing.

So off to Home Depot to get some T-stakes, and then some effort —–actually considerable effort even using a long board and pipe as a lever—raising these long panels of fence, propping it up in several places. We did not renew our windstorm insurance or house insurance so thankfully I do not have to deal with adjusters who seemed to always tell me how over-worked and stressed they were as they handed off my claim to yet another adjuster.

We now have a fence that looks intact–but wouldn’t take much to knock it down, a chicken that lays eggs three to four times a week—she skipped the days of the hurricane and the day after—and if chickens had lower lips, hers would have been stuck out as she had to stay inside her coop until the fence was repaired— and two very spoiled dogs.

I have more sticks and branches to pick up, but my back says it is done for the day and needs to rest. I do have a few sewing projects to work on—and then it will be time to make a pumpkin pie and supper.

Postcard Day

There are so many ‘official’ days celebrating or honoring things—I’m particularly fond of doughnut day and then there’s pi day. Last week was World Postcard Day—and also home-made cookie Day.

I have long enjoyed collecting postcards and have a nice collection of the Mississippi River, bridges over it, boats in it. My favorites are the ones that have been mailed with the lovely hand-script of days ago on the backs along with the postage stamps marked with the date. It is like holding a piece of history in my hands.

I have also belonged to a group that randomly assigned addresses from around the world to send and receive postcards. It is a great hobby for someone whose work hours are erratic and whose health precludes more active hobbies.

When I heard about October 1 as World PostCard Day, I retrieved my selection of cards and addressed them to as many young people as I knew in my family. I have yet to hear if any have been received. But it was a fun adventure selecting postcards and then attaching Bugs Bunny or Disney villain stamps to each.

poatcards along with a bill or two ready to mail

Pumpkin Moon

Days seem to pass without a lot of definition and not being quite sure what day of the month it is or even what month it is seems to be a common malady in these really weird times. In times before paper calendars and watches and electronic devices, people kept time by the phases of the moon and the changing seasons whether it be fall color or rain.

Yesterday was a full moon.

A year or more ago, there was an eclipse of the moon—we observed it on the nearby beach–it was definitely very cold that night–but it was fun. The next eclipse, I took photos standing on the sidewalk in front of our house despite the street lamps. That was also a fun adventure as we interspersed it with a movie—the wonders of DVD’s and Netflix where you can stop whenever you like.

This October there will be two full moons—yesterday’s–taken from my front porch and then on October 31—the Blue Moon.

I suppose it looks a bit orange—and that is Mars just below it. Venus is also visible in the morning sky but it is hard to pick out much due to the street lamps.

Another view from my front porch

A Man and His Dog

My Dad always enjoyed the company of dogs, tolerated cats if they were good mousers, hated chickens unless they were in pieces on the dinner table. My mother was not so fond of large dogs and in their later years, they had a Lhasa Apsa.

Our first dog in this house was Babette She was originally the neighbor’s dog but with three little boys coaxing her to come play with them, the neighbor finally gave up keeping her in his yard and gave her to us. Babette was a poodle mix, loyal, and empathetic to the max. She always seemed to know who needed some extra attention.

We spent some years without a dog; but then acquired two rescue puppies after our home was burglarized and vandalized by some neighbors.

Toby, the tall one and always up for an adventure is part Border Collie and we think Lab. Dora is Australian Shepherd/Border Collie and knows her duty is to keep tabs on my husband. This includes bathroom door guarding, waiting at the door for him to return from wherever he has gone. The first time he left without her, she panicked; racing from window to window and shrieking. Now in her more mature years, she knows he will be back.

They have become accustomed to daily trips to the local dog park—and as a treat one day we took them to Cat-Tail Marsh. We walked along the dikes and then returned home–everyone was tired and ready for a nice long drink of water.

The marsh is part of the sewage treatment of the city and while that doesn’t sound very nice, it is actually a wonderfully diverse ecosystem with lots of birds and the occasional alligator.

Today I ventured out to the dog park. Toby and Dora were beyond excited over the prospect and were extremely well behaved, waiting for me to put their leashes on before we arrived and letting me take them off when we returned. We didn’t stay long as another dog arrived about fifteen minutes afterward—but I feel accomplished…..and got a nice doggy kiss of appreciation on the way home.

Powering up after Hurricane Laura

jetsam-mAccording to the National Weather Service, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Marco was responsible for the last minute wobble in Laura’s path to deviate into Louisiana instead of here in Beaumont Texas. Just east of us in Orange County and I’m told they had significant damage. We were on the ‘clean’ side of the hurricane and outside of a lot of small twigs and a carpet of crepe myrtle leaves on our lawn escaped most of the damage.

fern20jetsam-mHowever, our power went out and some neighborhoods will not have power until sometime this next week. Our internet which is quixotic in the best of times is even less reliable.

live20oak20cluster-mFriends and family have called to see if we are okay….now that we are in the ‘feeble three legged cane’ age group—although neither of us possesses such a thing. Running a generator to power our refrigerator, a box fan and our freezer took some doing including dismantling my pantry shelves to get at the plug for the refrigerator—why don’t appliance people put an accessory plug somewhere near the front of the machine?

pink20vine-mWe have power now and we are trying to clear up some of the trash left behind. I took a few photos around the neighborhood—while I could focus on the things that have destroyed or the boarded up buildings, there are plenty of those photos taken by others.

purple20flower-mIt is hard to get back to ‘normal’ whatever that is in these days. I decided I would clean out my sewing machine desk drawers—what a wealth of useless stuff I found! Instruction manuals for a DVD player long consigned to the trash as non-functional, several packages of rotary cutter blades–like most I use mine until they cut like I am chewing on the fabric instead of cutting it cleanly.

down20the20street-mYesterday I brought back an unused cart from the shop to see if I could put the bits and pieces of fabric—too big and good to toss—seems I am related to my grandmother who lived through the Depression and World War II rationing. Today I might do some sorting and see if I can use that new saw I bought to cut up some of the larger limbs so I can haul them to the side for big trash pickup day.

Tomorrow is a new day—we have tonight’s meal planned—pizza from the freezer.


You are Never Too Old

A happy childhood is never out of reach according to Tom Robbins. I have never read one of his novels; but this quip has been oft repeated.

One of the things I never did was fingerpaint. Maybe it was deemed too messy or too frivolous or too expensive. We did not have art until fourth grade and the messiest project was the one where we colored a piece of paper with our crayons, then painted it with black paint and scratched out a drawing as we removed some of the black paint.

Recently I thought I might try something new—making books. One of the projects was making paste paper. This is adult finger-painting.

The steps are simple. Start with paper–a fairly heavy paper. Wet it on both sides. Spread some paste (I used pre-mixed wall-paper paste) colored with acrylic paint( I bought a six pack of acrylic paint from Dick Blick for about $6 several years ago), then manipulate the paste/paint into designs.

I used a cut-up foam brush; the bottom of a thread cone; some sort of rubber grid from the grouting section of Home Depot and a scrubbie. The paper was ‘pastel’ paper.

I hung it to dry on my makeshift clothesline. paste20paper20lineup-m

Now I have a nice selection to use as book-covers or maybe even the pages of a hand-made book.

It has been fun learning a new craft–the terms, the forms, the artists. And a challenge to use what I have. I have no idea why I had pastel paper; I don’t recall ever working with pastels—but experimenting and learning new things is a happy childhood.

Here are closer-ups of the papers;paste20papter202-mpaste20paper201-m

A Bonsai Tree and a Fountain

Thursday I had a doctor’s appointment in Houston. I normally schedule these to include a trip to the art museum to see the latest exhibits and to check in on my favorites—Matisse’s bronze backs in the Cullen sculpture garden and the European impression wing; I’ve stopped by the Menil on occasion too–but the Menil is closed and the MFA is open by appointment. Not knowing how long a doctor’s appointment will last, I contented myself with a walk through Herman Park.

While it is not as large as Central Park in New York City, it is not small either. There is a golf course, a zoo, a small railroad, bikes for rent and many long trails and pathways for walkers and runners. The bird population is plentiful ranging from ducks and geese to pigeons and I’m sure others–but those were the ones I saw begging on the pathways. It reminded me of student days in Madison where no-one dared sit near the path–they would be covered with birds seeking bread.

img_4260-mThis tree near the ticket booth for the zoo has always fascinated me. Although it is full size, to me it looks like a bonsai tree—something a few of my medical school classmates and I tried during student days—not money involved in raising one from a tiny sapling dug from the side of the road somewhere and destined for mowing. My bonsaid morphed into miniature roses when I did my residency—but they stayed behind when we moved to Texas.

img_4262-mIt was warm—no–HOT—and this fountain looked deliciously appealing. Two paddleboats circled around it, the passengers laughing as they encountered the spray. Had I been more appropriately dressed and with a companion blessed with a good pair of calves, I would have joined in.


Southern Cooking by a Yankee at Heart

my20supper-mI suppose I could be considered a Southerner by now. I’ve lived in Texas since 1984 and 8 years in Georgia before that.

I grew up on a farm where cooking was done in huge amounts to feed threshing crews; plentiful and high calorie. Dainty salads were something in the magazines with the fanciest salads being jello molds for holiday meals.

The South has some very different ideas about cooking. In Georgia, sausage biscuits and fried okra were an instant acceptance but grits mixed into scrambled eggs doused with ketchup was not. Then there was the annual discussion beginning two weeks prior to the holiday event about the barbecue—chicken or pork, pulled or chopped, hash, and potato salad–always served with a slice of that white bread that clings to the roof of your mouth. Those in the know bought each part of their barbecue meal at separate places. Red Velvet Cake was the favored dessert and took several bottles of red food coloring.

Now in Texas there are different views about cooking with Cajun and Tex-Mex thrown in. Some places have a strong German/Czech/Polish influence with kolaches. One of the cooks at one of the hospitals gave me a lesson in how to cook okra and tomatoes—I could make an entire meal on this.

While many of us are spending more time in the kitchen, I decided I would try fried green tomatoes. It was time-consuming but not hard. We paired it with a broiled fish filet and a bowl of fresh strawberries drizzled with some of our honey. Regrettably it was the last of my tomatoes—weather far too hot for them to continue to produce—maybe I’ll get some fall tomatoes to try this again