life_at_the_manor


Roses in December
December 5, 2007, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Prairie days, Roses

Madame Alfred Carriere is in bloom today. She has had roses budding and open in every month this year. She’s big and floppy and untrained, brushing up against the bedroom windows in the wind.

The Thomas Affleck rose bushes are low and young. Thomas Sr. was about a year old when he was mowed down accidentally.  As I fussed about the mowing and insisted the tractor mow only about 15 feet from the house, I noticed that Thomas Sr. had sprouted from the roots. By then I had already planted Thomas Jr. about two feet away. Now both Toms have one or two blooms.

Old Blush by the red barn has a few late flowers. Star of the Republic is covered with fading blooms. At least I think that’s Star, I should go look at the tags on them.

I cut the two Mermaids back to a few sticks even though it’s the wrong time of year for pruning. They don’t care, they are full of super-spiny glossy new growth.

La Biche  is the furthest rose bush from the house and probably the most neglected. It will get pruned back when Spouse has the chainsaw out early in the spring. Cutting its old thick canes back will make it bloom more. It’s too far from the house for me to water it, so it just gets one fertilizing a year and then neglect.

Spring and early summer, when we were in Spain, were very rainy and damp. Bindweed grew all up through Climbing Cecile Brunner and almost strangled all of her. I pulled out the bindweed, cut back the strangled branches, and now I am hoping enough is left of her to recover. This was the first rose I planted when we moved to Texas 12 years ago. I would hate to lose her.

Roses in December help me to be less depressed about the short cold days of winter.

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Shameless bragging
November 16, 2007, 6:32 pm
Filed under: Personal

This morning I weighed myself. I weighed only 138 pounds, the least I have weighed that I can remember.

Then, up in Taylor, I celebrated by buying a pair of size 10 jeans.

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Dinner and tour with Luci
November 11, 2007, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Personal, Prairie days

Good friends D. and J. went to a silent auction to raise money for a local public radio station. They bought lunch for 10 with Luci Baines Johnson Turpin, the daughter of Lyndon Baines Johnson, followed by a personal tour of the LBJ Library. Richard and I were fortunate enough to be among the friends invited.

We all met at noon at the entrance to the LBJ Library after winding our way through the construction fencing around the reflecting pools that were leaking into the underground sections of the library.

Luci came in right after us and greeted the library staff as old friends. Luci was dressed simply in black pants, black jacket, and a white jersey top. Her hair was pulled back in a low pony tail. She really does have that distinctive widow’s peak. She carried a purse and a bag that looked as if it might hold a birthday present. She welcomed us, told us we were in for a special treat if we ate lunch quickly, and escorted us to the private dining room at the top of the library.

Lunch was served, chicken breasts in white wine with a dab of white cheese and sundried tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, and a bed of rice, iced tea, rolls and butter. Dessert was apple pear cobbler with vanilla ice cream followed by coffee. While we ate Luci went around the table asking us each to introduce ourselves. She practiced our names.

Then Luci led us through the Library. She stopped at pictures and talked about their background-what that picture meant to her, how it came to be taken, what moment in history it depicted. She’s done this tour many times before. Her words were sure, she really cared about family and the contribution they had made. All the guests were of the same generation as Luci; we had lived during the same events but knew them through different perspectives. And, all of us had been to the LBJ Library before.

She started at the beginning, her grandparents out west of Austin in what is now Johnson City, TX. She moved through their history to the Senate and Presidential years. It was history on the run.

We listened to the story of Luci’s mother and how her nursemaid had named her Lady Bird when she was a lively infant. Lady Bird Johnson is almost the patron saint of Austin. When she died several months ago, the lake at the center of the city was named Lady Bird Lake almost immediately. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a beautiful resource here. We all wanted to hear these stories.

When she spoke of the assassination of Kennedy, we were all moved. Luci had been a student at the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. Her parents were away on a trip to Dallas. An announcement said that there was a shooting at the presidential motorcade. No other news was given. As all the girls filed into the auditorium for an assembly, Luci saw a Secret Service agent heading toward her. She ran to him, flung herself at him and sobbed, “No, no!” He kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” She thought he was saying her parents were wounded or killed. He didn’t know she was worried about her parents.

We all did remember where we were when we heard the news about Kennedy. D. and J., the friends who had bought the luncheon and tour were at a hospital giving birth to their first child when they heard. I was teaching a second grade class.

The tour mentioned Vietnam only as a time of trouble and concern. We moved on through LBJ’s decision not to run for a second term. We finished up at the replica oval office. We looked at the three television sets where LBJ watched the network news, the news ticker tape, the presidential seal in the carpet, the flags given by the military service.

Too soon our afternoon was over. Then Luci opened the gift bag she had carried all afternoon. She gave each of us one of the presidential pens that President Johnson had given as souvenirs. Luci said they were almost the last of a dwindling stock. We shook hands goodbye.

Then Richard and I went to the Library’s gift shop, bought “Future President” tee shirts for our youngest grandchildren, and went home.

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A week late
November 7, 2007, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Personal, Prairie days

Story of my life…a week late to national blogging month.

But, I have managed to make some disciplinary changes in my life. I’ve been faithful about testing my blood sugar every single day. I have been losing weight, maybe only an ounce or two a day, but steadily.

I’ve been a good exerciser. A good treadmill walker, a balanced diet eater.

On the other hand, I should have studied more for my Spanish test, kept the house cleaner, been more cheerful about life in general.

For the first time in about a year I forgot to clip the pedometer on the waist of my pants this morning. On a typical day getting up, having breakfast, and the other at home after the shower things and going to exercise get me to about 4,000 steps. When I write down my steps tonight in my weight, glucose, and steps journal I will just add those 4,000 steps to today’s total.

Maybe I will set my own month of blogging. Today to December 7th. Let’s see.

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Truthtelling
November 2, 2007, 12:02 am
Filed under: Personal

This blog started as an inchoate group of nature rambles and as a trip diary. I’ve avoided personal information, telling about myself, discussing my family, my health, or my unvoiced thoughts. No more.

I’ve been living through a minor depression – not deep enough to seek formal help, not severe enough to cause others to worry – just enough to add some uncertainty to spouse’s life.

Yesterday I decided to end it all, the depression I mean, not life. I said it wasn’t serious.

Just over a year ago I went to the doctor for my annual checkup. I was new to Medicare and wanted to start out healthy. The employer I retired from still provided health insurance, but for a high price. My goal was to avoid medication except for the Fosamax I was already taking. I couldn’t blame myself for having small bones, being short, white, and getting older. I didn’t want to be like my mom who had broken many bones before Fosamax was invented.

The doctor sent me for those miserable blood tests. After I was about 7 gallons low, he said I was heading toward type 2 diabetes and had to do something about it. I cried.

My grandmother had been diabetic and took insulin injections. When I was a child my family would take my grandmother to Boston to Dr. Joslin at the Lahey Clinic. It was a favorite outing. My dad took us riding on the Boston trolley cars while my mom sat with grandmother at the doctor’s office. My father also became diabetic later in his life. He did not diet, exercise, or take any care of himself. He did give up smoking a pipe after he caught the mattress on fire and filled the house with smoke.

I cried and thought of my friend Mada who was diabetic, had lost two legs and most of her vision and was ill most of the time. I cried more. I weighted 177.7 pounds on the scale we bought. About 2 weeks later I went to Mada’s funeral and cried for myself more than for her.

The doctor sent me to a nutritionist.  She helped me see how much I was eating and how little exercise I really was doing. I cried there some more. I lost some weight.

This summer the doctor gave me some medication to try. He handed me a glucose test meter and told me to use it. Ouch. For a week my fingers were black and blue. It’s hard to squeeze blood from my fingers when they flinch from the nasty lancet. I got better at it. I joined an online diabetes community. I studied everything I could about the disease.

This morning I weighed 142.4 pounds. I bought the beginning of a new wardrobe. I can’t lick this disease but it is not going to lick me. Now I have to stop typing and go walk today’s 3 miles on the treadmill while I watch CSI.

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Learning how to do it
October 8, 2007, 12:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

This entry is a test of how to do it. There is no useful content in this post.

I want to be able to create attractive content, but am not ready.

I am listening to thunder now and seeing some lightening. On the prairie a lightening storm is beautiful and frightening.

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Texas Highways – Caracaras and other birds
October 2, 2007, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Ham radio, Prairie days

The caracara, Caracara cheriway, is also called the Mexican Eagle. One web site describes the caracara as a sluggish scavenger. We don’t see caracaras often around our home on the prairie. Occasionally one is perched on a power pole looking for a dead armadillo.

As we drove along last weekend I saw more caracaras than I have ever seen. Sometimes three or four would be feeding in the middle of the road and wait until the last minute to avoid my car.

Saturday evening I almost ran over several who just did not want to miss their dinner.

The usual white cattle egrets accompanied the cattle in the fields. We often wonder whether the egrets have a hierarchy that apportions two egrets to each steer or whether the egrets freelance.