Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jill Bolte Taylor

In case you haven't already seen it, here is a video that has been going around the net for a few months. It is facinating.

If you want more details, you can go to youtube and search Jill Bolte Taylor. The longer interviews with Oprah are great.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shower Cleaner

I consider daily shower cleaners to be one of the greatest inventions of the past ten years. No way do I want to go back to scrubbing the shower every week. The down side of buying the product is that I haven't been able to find refills for any brand except Method which stinks, I mean smells, like ylang ylang. It takes quite a bit of it to keep the lime deposits from our water from building up quickly so we were throwing several plastic bottles a month into the recycle bin, sprayer and all.

I have made several attempts to come up with a formula that works, including several containing vinegar (stinky and mildew started growing). None of them worked at all. Research told me that the shower spray products work partially because they contain a sheeting compound. I looked online and could find not source for such a thing. Finally, I found the answer: Jetdry....the stuff you put in the dishwasher to keep the dishes from having hard water spots on them.

I mixed up the following formula which has been working well for about ten days:

Stir 3 tablespoons each borax and washing soda into enough hot water to dissolve them.
Add 3 tablespoons Jetdry (or whatever brand you have on hand)
Pour the mixture into a 32 ounce spray bottle then very slowly fill the bottle with water.
(If you fill it too fast, it will foam up.)

I use the bottle I had left from the last shower cleaner I bought. That way, I know what is in the bottle and don't have to label it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Hinges of Hell

Central Texas is experiencing a heatwave. For the last 20 or so days, temperature as reached at least 98 degrees. Most days it has reached 100 degrees or more. Today it was offically 99 degrees. There is no relief in sight. It's gonna be a long hot one. We are thankful for all the trees in our yard, air conditioning and friends with swimming pools.

I posted this whine last night and received this in an email this morning along with a prayer request for our troops. I have no idea how current it is but it is most likely accurate:

7-Day Forecast for Baghdad,Iraq Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu 115ºF /89ºF 117ºF /89ºF 120ºF /90ºF 122ºF /91ºF 122ºF /92ºF 121ºF /95ºF 120ºF /95ºF

OK, I have no right to complain.

Into the Woods

It is official. We are empty nesters. Our babies have flown away into the woods behind the house. For the past few weeks, we have been watching the comings and goings of a pair of Carolina wrens as they built a nest and later fed the chicks in a basket of begonias hanging on our back patio.

For the past couple of weeks, we had been hearing cheeps from inside the nest. Last week, the cheeps were barely audible but over the past few days, they had been quite loud. Mama and Papa had been almost flying their wings off to keep the family fed. Some days, it was almost exhausting to watch them. There was a constant chorus of wren music. We tried looking into the plant but as it was above out heads, we could see nothing, even though we stood on a small ladder.

We were concerned about the fledging process because we did not want to let Her Dogness out of the house just in time to munch on baby wrens.

Today, as we were sitting out on the patio with Lani at our feet, we saw movement in the plant. Then, the first baby flew about four feet to the trunk of the nearest tree. Within a few moments, the next one flew out ant landed on the ground. Luckily, Lani was looking the other way. Then it hopped up on the patio and I grabbed Lani's collar just as she saw it. It hopped under one of the chairs and made several attempts to hop up onto a support bar under the chair but the bar was too thick and slick for its toes and it kept sliding off. One of the parents started calling to it from a nearby branch and it finally hopped back out into the yard. Then the next one jumped and the parents started moving farther away and calling to them. The one from the tree joined them and they all hopped farther and farther away, taking little flying jumps and they tried their wings for the first times. There was still one bird in the nest. I could see it looking out at me. It was hesitant to jump as the others got farther and farther away. I got up and took Lani in the house. One of the parents came back and encouraged it to jump and it finally did.

Mama and Papa chirped and herded the family camera and tried to get a shot of the birds but my camera has a delay and they were moving too fast.

After they were all over the fence and into the woods, I took the plant off the hook to have a look at the empty nest. It is quite a marvel of architecture and engineering. It it is a tunnel made of sticks and covered with oak blooms.

I shot this photo and returned the plant to the hook and came inside to write this post. Stephen had already come in and was back in his office. He came into the living room and was playing with Lani when I realized that Mama and Papa were back and they sounded rather upset.

"I hear the wrens again."

"I moved the nest because I'm not sure I want them to just move in and raise another family there."

"Why not?"

"I don't know."

"Where did you put it?"

"On the table."

"Why don't you hang it back up? They didn't hurt anything and they were kinda fun. Besides, a lot of work went into building that nest."

" Okay."

He goes back out and returns the plant to the hook then comes back in.

"There was another one in there."

What? I had moved the plant and did not see any baby birds. I guess it must have been hiding in the very back of the tunnel.

The plant is back on the hook and we will see what happens. In the meantime, we feel an enormous amount of appreciation for being on the patio at just the right time to see the fledges leave the nest.

I took the photo of the next down and played with the contrast in it to make it easier to see. If you click on it, it will enlarge and you can see the baby in the back of the nest. I can't believe I didn't know it was there.

Photo of wren from

Soundtrack for this post: Jerry Jeff Walker's Little Bird.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Passing through

Some of my earliest memories are of funerals. Both of my great grandmothers were still living when I was born. I remember ‘helping’ my father’s mother give Granny her pills. I also remember my maternal great grandmother residing in a hospital bed in my great aunt’s house. I have a stool on which we kids used to stand so that we could talk with her and give her kisses. I am sure that I could not have been more than four years old when both of them passed on. I remember all the family gathering at my grandparent’s house when Granny left us but I don’t have clear images of the funeral itself.

My father’s parents lived on a two lane paved road in Delta County, Texas. There were about three or four other houses close enough to theirs that the place had a name. Lone Star it was called, although you would never have seen that name on a map. It had no stores or even a post office. A couple of the houses were off the paved road. The soil there is black gumbo. You don’t want to be off the pavement when it rains. The land turns to black goo and will ball up and stick to anything and everything. Any moving object will just sink into it, not to move until it dries at which time it cam be chiseled off the wheels or the boots or the hooves.

As far as I know, none of these houses had running water except at the kitchen sink. This was accomplished by placing a water tank so that it caught the runoff from the roof and positioning the spigot so that it came through the wall above the sink. My grandparents hauled water from a well for everything else. They had a galvanized tub that they placed on the floor of the main room and filled with water from the well for bathing. There was an outdoor toilet situated a reasonable distance from the back door. A two holer as I recall.

Most of the day-to-day living took place in the kitchen and the main room which held their bed and a seating area. In the front of the house was the living room which was only used for company. There was also a smoke house and a pen for my Papaw’s greyhounds. Then there was the barn and barnyard with the milk cow, pigs and chickens. One time we drove up and I saw Papaw out by the barn. I went running toward him and was attacked from behind by a bantam rooster. I am pretty sure we had chicken for Sunday dinner that week.

Granny, my grandmother’s mother, lived with them until she died. I suppose that is why the funeral gathering was at their house, even though they had no indoor plumbing.

My maternal great grandmother, Mammy, lived with her oldest daughter in Dallas. They lived next door to my grandfather who was the youngest of 13 children. When she died, her body was brought back to Delta County for the funeral and burial. I remember her being in her casket at my other great aunt’s house….in the front living room that was only used for company. At least that house had working plulmbing even if the water was pumped from a pool that was too close to the barn yard for the water to be potable and there was an over head that caught rainwater for drinking. It was the runoff from a shed with a tin roof and had to be brought into the house in a bucket.

I was reminded of the passings of my great grandmothers yesterday as I spent most of the day in a nursing home with one of my best friends whose mother was taking her leave of this time space reality. My friend’s son was there part of the day and he had his six year old daughter with him. I knew that he wanted to be there but I was a little concerned about the child and what she would remember of her great grandmother. Will her most vivid memory be of the day she died? I tried to distract her when I could but I was busy answering the phone and doing my best to hold a peaceful space in which everyone could take leave of each other in the most relaxed way possible.

In the end, my friend’s mother waited until we had all left so that she could leave on her own terms. Early this morning, I felt a whisper of air brush across my face. I turned onto my back and saw a golden glow of light and a smile. I thought I was dreaming until I realized that I could see daylight around the curtains and that I was awake. Later I learned that she had crossed over around 6:00am.

Soundtrack for this post: Mary Melena's Sounds Like Rain

Sunday, June 1, 2008