Friday, December 30, 2011

Year-end Roundup

Another year behind us…and more uncertainty ahead. I wonder if I’ll even have an Internet site where I can post my thoughts at this time in 2012. The more I read and hear, the more I fear that the second Tuesday of November will be the tripwire for the future of our country. If we continue down the path of socialism I foresee attempts to split the country in two, or to change that path with social upheaval that could make the Arab Spring look like a family spat.

As I sat watching several chipping sparrows, goldfinches and one busy titmouse at my bird feeders this morning, I was thinking that instead of retiring I should have kept a job so I could get more done around the house. The more time I have off, the less I seem to get done. It’s hard to imagine how I managed to accomplish so much and still work a full-time job all those years. Without having to plan my day as I did when I worked, I now find it too easy to sit down with a good book or a crossword puzzle when I should be working on my honey-do list.

We should be breaking ground on our new house in a few weeks. Everything has ground to a halt during the holidays, but should start moving again when the world gets back to a normal schedule. The drawings have been reviewed and corrections are to be finished this week. Then we can get the permits and process the loan and insurance paperwork. The builder estimates it will take about three months to build, so we might be moved in by the first of May.

I was doing some research on the itty-bitty town of Ponder, where we are building. Not much history there, with the exception that Bonnie and Clyde once tried to hold up the town bank, but discovered that it had gone broke a week earlier. There are fewer than twenty businesses listed with a Ponder address, but the steakhouse boasts that it is a favorite eating establishment for the Hollywood-type known as Meatloaf, and his pictures on the wall speak to their honest claim. I wouldn’t know the guy if he walked in and stepped on my foot, but I guess you grab all the celebrity association you can find.

Weatherwise, the year is going out gently in this part of Texas and I’m not complaining. The temperature was near 70 today, and I actually worked up a sweat doing a few chores outside. You can’t beat that kind of weather at this time of the year, and the forecast is the same for tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Wish

I guess I’ll never understand some atheist’s rabid opposition to any religious sign or symbol being displayed on public property. You might have read about the dust-up over a manger scene on county property in the little town of Athens, TX, just a few miles down the road from here. There is talk of lawsuits, and last week several thousand people gathered for a demonstration in support of the display. No matter what happens, the only lasting result will be more bitterness, hatred and distrust.

Even if someone doesn’t share the beliefs of those who erected the display, why do they object to a symbol that represents goodness? Is there something threatening about joy, peace and love? It’s not as if the government is dictating that anyone must pray to a deity, or submit to any doctrine. I’ve never seen the three wise men carrying signs telling everyone to become a Baptist. A manger scene should be no more offensive than hanging a welcome home banner on public property proclaiming love for the community's high school football team. I know the Constitution doesn’t address sports teams, but here in Texas, a winning football coach is next thing to a god. Some folks might object to a banner like that, and I’m not a fan of football, but I’m certainly not offended by enthusiastic fans celebrating their excitement.

Religion is faith in something you believe to be true, but can’t be proven scientifically. It’s an individual’s unwavering trust that our presence on earth is not happenstance. If tenants of these scientifically debatable beliefs advocate honesty, respect for others, love, and helping those who can’t help themselves, why is advocating that belief so offensive?

My personal opinion is that Christians would be better served by being more humble about practicing their faith. They should accept the fact that there are millions of Deists, Jews, Agnostics, and others who don’t share their religious beliefs, but are tolerant and willing to coexist on this earth peacefully and respectfully.

Atheists would also be better served to practice their no-God beliefs a bit less stridently. I wonder if they even realize that their theory that a higher power doesn’t exist, is also not provable and is just as offensive to believers to have it constantly shoved in their face. Tolerance is a virtue we can all use more of.

No matter what you believe, or don’t believe, Christmas should be accepted as a beautiful story, and should offend no one.

Merry Christmas

Christmas Question 2011

Are you better off now than you were three years ago?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Surprise from the Garden

I didn't plant watermelons this year, since squash beetles ruined all my vine plants last year and I wasn't ready for another round of disappointment.

After I harvested the last of my meager crop of tomatoes and peppers in August, a volunteer watermelon plant sprouted next to the tomato plants. I decided to let it grow, but did nothing to help it survive.

Two melons developed, and before the frost hit I picked the biggest one. To my shock, it was ripe and is probably the tastiest watermelon I ever ate! It must have been a hybrid that reverted back to it's original form, because it has far more seeds than those typically sold today, but the exquisite flavor makes spitting out a few more seeds a minor problem.  

The bell pepper plants also decided to yield a fall crop, so despite the losses from the brutally hot summer, I did manage to harvest a few early Christmas presents.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Late Fall in East Texas

As long as I'm posting pictures of our late fall...this one was taken at a friend's rural home and it made the local television website. We don't often get to see displays this brilliant.

If The Weather Doesn't Cooperate, Just Wait a Minute

The hot, dry summer and fall created confusion for many of our plants. The trees turned brown and shed most of their leaves a month before their normal time to drop, but when the rains came last month, some trees began growing replacements. Those new leaves displayed far more fall colors than is normal for this part of the country. The are also more than a month late, and only now have the trees seriously begun shedding their leaves.

The shrubs and flowers are also perplexed. Our single rose bush has been totally ignored since I planted it under an oak tree three years ago. I'm not a rose fan and only planted it because it was given to us. It normally bears a few pathetic looking flowers in summer, but by November it didn't have a leaf left, and I was certain it was dead. It has never bloomed in the fall, but this is what it looks like today, after after several frosts last week.

It looks as if the Texas sage is also getting ready to bloom again. It loves hot summers, but it's awfully late for it to bloom.

The heat killed most of our encore azeleas, but one keeps trying despite being baked all summer and now frozen several times.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Maybe This Would Work

Dogs and Storms

As much as I appreciate the rain we've been receiving recently, I have also come to dread the thunder that goes along with it. Not because it bothers me, but the dog is driving me nuts!

She tries to get away from the noise, but doesn't know how to do it, or where to go. If I let her, she will climb on my lap when I'm in the chair, or stand on my head when I'm in bed. She's too big to fit under the bed, and she didn't like being alone in the closet, but I'll be darned if I'm going to spend the night in the closet with her!

I don't understand what makes one dog instinctively fear something that another dog totally ignores. Our sweet Belle, the big, loveable Shar Pei we lost last year, had no fear of thunder and could sleep right through a storm, but if she passed gas and it made a little noise, she would leap up and run out of the room in a panic.

Dogs are wonderful, but sometimes very puzzling.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New House Progress Report

It appears we are on schedule to begin building our new house sometime in January. We met with the builder yesterday and picked up the drawings. They had a few errors and omissions, so we'll have to mark them up and return to the draftsman. With everything drafted on computers in this day and age, he should have them ready within a day.

The cabinet distributor also sent their detailed kitchen cabinet drawing and a bid, so now we have numbers to compare to other sources. Except for their installation cost, the price actually came in below my estimate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Potpourri

Despite all my good intentions, I've been terribly guilty of not posting regularly, but the world situation has been such that about all I want to do is assume the fetal position and whine. However, that won't help anything, so I'm once again going to try being more diligent when it comes to blogging.

Winter finally arrived in East Texas. We had our first frost last week, so I had to pick the last of my tomatoes and green peppers. I also picked one volunteer watermelon that was almost full size. I haven't cut it open yet, but I doubt it will be ripe.

Our severe drought was also eased with a few good rains the past several weeks and even more forecast for the next week. The soil is well soaked, so now we need a few gulley-washers to help refill the lakes and ponds.

Some of you know that we'll be moving back to North Texas as soon as we get a house built. We closed on a two acre lot on the outskirts of the tiny town of Ponder, in Denton, County, about nine miles from the city of Denton. We got a call from the builder yesterday that the plans are ready for review, so we'll probably be breaking ground soon after the first of the new year. It will be smaller than the house we live in now, and will be even more energy efficient. It will also have a backup generator and will be wired to make it easy to install solar power at some later date. Since the current president boasted that his policies will make energy prices "necessarily skyrocket", I'd like to be prepared as much as possible.

I've been slowly restoring the old '56 Plymouth I bought over a year ago. Most of the chrome parts have been replated and the stainless steel polished. The body has been stripped and will be taken to have the rust removed by a chemical dip. I had planned on doing that by now, but since the shop doing the work is located near Fort Worth, I'll wait until we move so I won't have to haul it twice.

The new home will have a large heated and cooled workshop, so restoring cars won't require suffering from extreme summer heat or winter's chill. Yes, I'm getting soft in my old age, but why suffer if you don't have to.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ode to the Welfare State

If you think the welfare state is something new, this shows how old the political cancer is in this country.

I Must be on the List

Now that the Senate passed the bill that allows American citizens to be rounded up and held indefinitely without benefit of constitutional rights, I guess I'm automatically on the government's list...the list of potential terrorists. From what I've read, if you have more than two weeks worth of groceries stored, own more than one gun, have anti-government stickers on your vehicle, have posted comments criticizing the president, or have served in the military, you can make the list. Since I'm guilty of all of the above, I probably rank quite high on the list. Well, now you feds can add one more for insulting congress, because every senator who voted for that bill is a traitor to America. Yes, Texas' two senators voted for it and I will do everything I can to see them defeated for any elected office they seek in the future.
Edit: I'm reading conflicting reports that Rand Paul was successful in defeating the controversial part of the bill.

Speaking of those wonderful folks along the I received notice of the 3.6% increase in Social Secutity benefits and the insurance rate change that goes along with it. I will now be making $57 less net income per month after the raise. No, it won't require me to eat dog food, but I don't think I can stand another raise.

It's time to impeach Obama and the Supreme Court, recall Congress, fire every bureaucrat, and flush the moral and ethical pollution that permeates our goverment.