Fog this morning, rain and clouds the rest of the day. I love it. Good day to stay home and take stock of everything with which we are blessed. Happy Sunday!
It is 26 degrees at our place this morning. Yes, it does get pretty cold in North Central Texas during the winter. There's some frozen precipitation to the south west that may move our way later this morning.
I put seeds on the ground out front and out back for the juncos and dove. Some of the other birds prefer to eat off the ground also. The cardinals are already feeding on suet. It is said that when a cardinal visits you, it is a loved one saying hello from heaven. I have a pair that visit every day. There are three male woodpeckers, two hairy and one downy. I think the two hairy woodpeckers will eventually fight it out for territory. Right now, they are happy to share the suet since it is spaced out in five to ten foot intervals. There's a feeder just outside my office window that is a hit with the Carolina wren. They don't have to share it with the other birds. There are four dove fighting over a foothold on a feeder that is really designed for cardinals. They are large dove and it is an 8" ring. They have to sit on it sideways.
I fixed Stan French toast made from a really long slice of French bread this morning with sausage and orange sections. He ate and is still in bed happily watching the news and Olympics.
I took Walter chocolate chip cookies yesterday afternoon. He wanted to know how to make the oatmeal cookies I made a week or so ago. I came home and told Stan I need to make him a couple of dozen oatmeal.Well, off to a busy Sunday.
The news from the dermatologist for Stan was squamous cell skin carcinoma. It's very shallow and will only require another good scrape. His podiatrist scraped and sliced on his foot and now he is back to daily bandage changes and weekly visits to avoid surgery. His shingles are just about healed. What a winter for my sweetie. Back to being sure he gets his 50 grams of protein every day so he will heal.
I will be heading to the grocery store today when it gets a bit warmer to get the supplies for lasagna, beef stew, and several chicken soups. I'll probably get a few trout filets for Fridays. Sprouts usually has trout, but I like to have several week's supply, just in case. I'm going to do individual ramekins of quiche Lorraine for one meal. My mother used to make it for Christmas Eve and he liked it as much as a man can like quiche.Well, it's 10:00 and time for his morning snack!
I made a cup of coffee and called my sister yesterday evening. We had a wonderful catch-up chat. She hadn't told me that her shoulder had been bothering her. She really isn't one to complain. Mostly, she reports how much progress she is making in recovering from a stroke almost a year ago. During her annual check-up, she mentioned her shoulder. A CT scan and an MRI later, they discovered a small rotator cup tear. She was referred for physical therapy and is already feeling a little better.
My freezer went out the first part of January. It is a really large, 6' one. We were debating whether or not we should replace it or not, but Stan decided to see about a repair. Ace's Appliance fixed it for us at 1/4 the cost of a new freezer. I actually think it is working better than it has in years. He told us that it is old enough to be a lot better than what is being sold now. I was going to give up making large batches of soup and having chicken pre-cooked for quick evening meals, but now I can plan by the month instead of the week. That really makes cooking and shopping a lot easier. I like to purchase a huge package of chicken breasts from Sprouts and dump them in the crock pot when I walk in the door from shopping. I usually shred it and separate it into recipe-size portions. I do the same with my homemade spaghetti sauce. I do plan to store quite a bit less now since I am retired and I no longer have to do most of the week's cooking on the weekend.
It has turned cold again just as I was fretting the end of winter. We need good winters in Texas to ensure fewer mosquitoes and other pests.
New visitors to the feeders this month have included ruby crowned kinglets and Carolina wrens. We have also identified three species of woodpeckers and some brown thrashers have returned intermittently. The juncos, common and house sparrows are all very healthy and maybe a little overweight from all the seeds and suet we've been providing. We don't even want to talk about how plump the dove are!
We watched the fireworks at Reunion Tower from the warmth and safety of our living room last night. We drank a very small glass of plum wine and celebrated another year's end. It was a good year. I retired, we did a little local traveling and attended several events. My last surgery was in March and I'm about as recovered as I probably will ever be. I will always, apparently, have significant pain in my left foot, but it's manageable. Some days, it isn't much of a problem at all. It does require care in walking and the wearing of a support stocking for longer periods of being on my feet.
It is 14 degrees outside right now. At 5:00, I put food and peanuts out front for the birds because it is well lighted. Around 7:00, I heated water and put it in the bird bath to thaw the ice. The birds will have a brief period where they can get a drink before the surface freezes again. I put seed on the ground for the juncos and dove. They seem to prefer eating on the ground. The cardinals prefer the ground food as well, but when the squirrels take over, they will use the feeder.
What does 2018 hold for us? We do plan to travel this year. We also plan to spend more time at the lake. Now that I am "recovered," from all the foot surgery, I plan to return to walking and being outside more.
On of my goals is to ride my three-wheel bike to the park more. It was a retirement gift from Norm Steadman, a long-time tenant of the airport. I absolutely love it. He acquired it from LTV when they phased them out. That was about 30 years ago, I think. It is quite the antique but he got it working properly again. Stan put a new seat on it for me and it is just wonderful. It has so much character and history. For the rest of my life, I will think of Norm whenever I look at it.
During the holidays, I started baking again. In the 70s, I made lots of fancy stuff and had lots of dinner parties during my college years. I worked 25 miles from home for the last two and a half decades. The drive took at best an hour each way, sometimes quite a bit more. I was also in school in the 90s and after the turn of the new century, getting a second Associates Degree, this time in Marketing and a Masters degree in Public Administration. My GPA for all these classes was 4.0, a little better than I did when I started college at when I was 17. All that took time away from my hobbies, like crafts and baking.
I took a lot of classes in programming, systems, and software applications. I used what I learned to improve the processes for my job. I wasn't able to pass on sufficient knowledge to my replacement for my innovations to be useful to her. She, like me, will develop her own way of dealing with the requirements of the position. It's good to approach work that way - you need to wrap your mind around a task and find a way to get it done that fits with your own unique skills. I love using formulas in Excel and creating Access databases. Not everyone, however, has my education and experience and love for problem solving.
Now that I've retired, I plan to use those skills to plan our adventures and make our home more efficient. I, who was meticulous about balancing my checkbook every month, haven't bothered with one for years. I created my budget in Excel and use it to balance bank accounts. I pay almost everything on line, so it really is easier.
I use really wonderful recipe software for meal planning, Living Cookbook, but unfortunately, they went out of business, apparently due to a divorce. They were so good while they lasted. You could email a problem to them through the software and they would send you the code to fix it. We have a large group on-line for those who morn the loss of our leader. I now have time to really get organized in my meal planning and grocery shopping. I will have to be much more careful, however, because we lost our freezer in December. We have a large freezer with our refrigerator, but it's tiny compared to what I'm used to. I won't be able to do large batches of soup, huge lasagnas, etc. any more.
This will be the year of the great garage sale, hopefully. When one has 10-11 hour work days with the commutes (Stan worked a little farther from home than I did), you aren't as organized as you would like to be. I have decorations for every holiday, I just can't get to them easily. We will organize and downsize this spring, hopefully. We usually did one garage sale in the fall and donated all the proceeds to charity. When we worked in Grand Prairie, we donated to GP United Charities, then Lone Star Park Charitable Foundation. I am more into the Tarrant County Food Bank and Salvation Army now. I do still have a soft spot for GP United Charities. I volunteered at their facility during Katrina and Rita and really got a sense of how much they do for the community. They are pretty much no frills and all assistance.Well, the sun is bright, the temperature is way too low for Texas, the Cowboys won their last game of the year, and we are warm and happy. What a great start to the year.
I've been pretty busy between Christmas and today. We had some work to do in the sun room to finish getting everything ready for the really cold weather. We had new feeders to put out for the birds. I got caught up on some things that needed doing around the house. I scanned more photos from the massive hoard from my mother, my dad and from our own years of non-digital imagery. It's a lot of work.
I went out to feed the birds this morning and it was 30 degrees and a fine mist was falling. The water dish for the birds had a thin layer of ice. The sparrows have discovered the three-tube feeder Marty gave us for Christmas. It is under the eve of the house so they are a little protected from the mist. I put out black sunflower seeds in the flat feeder out front and on the ground under the squirrel-proof feeder in back. The squirrel is currently on the ground out back with the male cardinal waiting for him to leave so he can get to the feeder. Both cardinals seem to really like the feeder. I have a seed bell to put out but we didn't get to it before it got too cold.I did a little embroidery yesterday. It is harder now that my hands are older and my right hand is a little sore today. I'm going to keep at it because it is something I enjoy. I have some counted cross-stitch patterns picked out to do but don't have any of the right kind of cloth. I'll get to that when the temps get above freezing! Stan said he isn't going out again until March. He forgets we live in Texas where we can get 80 degree days in January-perhaps not this week, however.
Stan and I have been sick for about two weeks. I started getting better a few days ago, but I relapse when I get up and do things. Stan went to the doctor yesterday and got a shot, antibiotics, and prescription cough syrup. He's better today than he's been in weeks. We also went old-school on the OTC meds. We went astray with Nyquil products because they help you sleep. Turns out, for real relief, Alka Seltzer flu and cold actually works better for us.
Stan went shopping for my presents this morning and said he has more to do this afternoon. I got the stocking stuffers for Stan and my sister and finally decided what to get for my dad. That's always the hard one.All I need to do now is pick up the tamales and enchiladas on Sunday and Christmas Eve is on!