A Reminder

Every time January 20 rolls around, it brings me up short for a few minutes. Twenty-two years ago, on this date, I was in a serious car accident after falling asleep at the wheel with three of my kids in the car. I am so thankful to be still here. And I always, always wear my seat belt. I am also much better at staying awake while driving these days, but if I feel sleepy, I always pull over and rest!

Today the weather turned much warmer after our very cold week. The low tonight is only supposed to reach into the 50s, and tomorrow it may hit 70 degrees! East Texas weather can just about give you whiplash.

I was not as productive as I had hoped, but I did get a lot of editing done. I also cooked ten pounds of chicken, made low-carb crumpets, strung another length of beads and did some knitting. I am so ready to be done with the beads.

Parting Shot:

Mercy in kimono

My mother has been very anxious to see a photo of the kimono I made Mercy for Christmas.


Class Day

I feel like I should have more to say. I spent the morning grading and getting ready for my class, and doing school with Jasper. Lucy also went off to her class.

I am enjoying this month with my students because we are reading and talking about the Arthurian legend, and that’s something I can discuss for hours at a time.

As soon as class ended, I was on my way to the other side of town to take advantage of a half-price sale on silk flowers at Hobby Lobby. I bought out their stock of the flowers Mercy wants to use for decorations at her wedding!

Then I returned home to make supper. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make chocolate chip banana pancakes when you are fasting? Very hard.

I’ve been trying to finish a knitting project and am getting close. Today the temperature rose into the forties and tomorrow should be similar. There are a few patches of snow and ice left, but they’re mostly gone.

When Icicles Hang By the Wall

We had another very cold night last night, but today the sunshine and slightly higher temperatures melted much of the snow. We did have some pretty impressive icicles though:

1-17-18 icicle

Although temperatures were in the teens this morning, the roads were mostly clear, so I was able to have the class I had planned for yesterday. One of my students came over so she and Jasper could learn the note taking system they’ll need this semester. Jasper really, really hated it. Nothing I said could convince him that there is ever any point in taking notes at all.

I got some editing done and plenty of shivering this afternoon, along with watching a couple of webinars. I continue to learn whatever I can to improve my health. This week is a fasting week for me, and I can’t say I’m enjoying it. I have never felt the euphoria that others report, my blood sugar often doesn’t stay where it should, and I have waves of intense hunger. Sometimes I just go lie down and cry because I know I can’t cheat. It isn’t easy and I’m discouraged by the fact that it’s not easier by now, and that I still haven’t been able to get off all my meds despite my herculean efforts. I have to keep reminding myself where I was a year ago. I really have come a long way.

Life Comes to a Screeching Halt

Everything stops around here when we have snow, and today we had snow over a covering of very slippery ice. All schools were closed. My husband went to work, but was home by 11:00 as the university was closed.

This is what greeted me when I opened the back door this morning:

1-16-18 Jack in snow

Yes, that is all of two inches of snow.

We were a little worried about poor Jack out in the cold, until I hit on a solution. I have a heated rubber foot mat that can go under a desk, but I haven’t used it recently because I do most of my work in my chair with my feet up. So the kids set up the mat next to the back door stairs, where there is an outlet. Once he realized the mat was warm, he was quite happy to stay on it!

The kids, of course, spent a fair amount of time outside playing in the snow. Ten years ago, I would have been up at dawn and outside taking photos before everyone else got up and ruined the pristine surface of the snow. Today, I was content to huddle in my chair underneath a blanket and admire the snow from afar! All the activities I had planned to participate in were canceled.

When the intrepid mailman delivered the mail, one of the things that arrived was a larger-than-normal hot water bottle I had ordered some time ago during a previous cold snap. What a fortuitous happenstance! Within minutes of receiving it, the hot water bottle was filled with the hottest tap water and warming my back. It stays hot for quite a few hours!

The temperature was in the teens this morning and never got out of the twenties all day. There were many, many accidents on the roads in our area. Several police departments issued warnings to stay off the roads.

Since nothing melted, and since tonight temperatures are supposed to approach single digits, most area schools have been closed for tomorrow as well, including the university. (In the case of the university, it’s because the faculty doesn’t want to drive in to the campus. Most of the students are already there.)

Although it is chilly even in the house, we will be fine as long as we don’t lose power—which is apparently a real threat when so many people are trying to stay warm at once.


Crumpets & the Threat of Snow

Our city has been in panic mode today, because snow is forecast for tonight. This morning, I went to Sam’s Club to buy laundry detergent. I didn’t expect it to be busy on a Monday morning, but it was. Lots of people in there stocking up.

Since my husband works for an educational institution, he had today off for Martin Luther King day, and I thought it would be fun to make the family a special treat, so I made crumpets this afternoon. However, by the time they were ready to cook on the griddle, the house appeared deserted, and as we all know, crumpets are at their best when fresh and hot. Miraculously, Lucy and Jasper both appeared in time to help themselves to hot fresh crumpets!  Walter and Spencer had theirs later. I just sat around feeling sorry for myself. They looked so good!

1-15-18 crumpets

Later in the afternoon, Lucy and I had to go to Walmart to pick up a few things, and again it was full of frenzied folk stocking up for the looming catastrophe.

Now I admit, it will indeed be a catastrophe if the power goes out. Otherwise, the kids will have a great time playing in the snow and many hot drinks will be drunk. The university and the local public schools have already preemptively closed for tomorrow, so it could be a very nice little break. I personally am a little frustrated because I had a very busy day planned for tomorrow and I have a feeling that everything I was going to do will be canceled.

The snow sure will be pretty though, right? If we actually get any . . .






Visitors & Flat Tires

Well, I don’t know what happened yesterday. I plumb forgot to post! The day started off very cold and I really didn’t want to have to go out to Aldi—but with a chai party this weekend I had no choice. I did see an amazing sight on the way, though:

1-12-17 ice tree

There were several other places where the sprinklers had been left on, but this was the most spectacular one I saw. Several other photos of it popped up on Facebook too!

After finishing up school with Jasper, I spent the entire afternoon running errands. I will have a lot of errands to run in the coming months as I take advantage of weekly coupons to get things for Mercy’s wedding. This time I also took advantage of sales to get art supplies for a class Lucy and I hope to go to on Tuesday.

Shortly after I returned, Spencer’s friends Jayme and Raymond arrived. They are our friends Don and Gwen’s sons, and when they were here a couple of weeks ago, Spencer was away. Since Spencer had to work late, I went out to get pizza and tried to keep them entertained until Spencer got home.

This morning they all slept in, but eventually they all got up and had breakfast and watched some soccer. The visitors had to leave early in the afternoon, but first we took some photos:

3 amigos a

Meanwhile, after Lucy and I made a brief trip to campus, Walter noticed that we had a flat tire. He was able to get the spare on and drive the car to the tire place, only to discover that all four tires were in really bad shape and needed to be replaced. This was not exactly a surprise, but it wasn’t welcome news either. We have had the car for two years and have put many thousands of miles on it. I knew those tires couldn’t last forever! But we certainly weren’t expecting to have to spend so much money on the car right now either.

Lucy and I made the chai party food this afternoon, and Walter and Jasper set up outside. It’s very cold, so we had three fires going instead of the usual two. Despite the low temperatures, we have had a good turnout. I stayed out there until my feet got numb . . .


Back in Teacher Mode

Today was the beginning of the semester for my English class, so it was a busy morning preparing. Jasper also had some assignments to finish up because he missed a couple of classes when he had the flu.

Three of my students dropped out over the break, which is about typical. I always miss the ones who leave, but on this occasion the silver lining is that we can all fit around my dining room table now!

We started off by watching a documentary that we didn’t get a chance to watch in December because of my illness. Also, it makes a gentler start to the new semester.

Normally I send the kids outside for recess, but this afternoon it was pouring down rain so they had to stay inside. I don’t think they minded.

Since class ended the temperature has dropped dramatically and there is talk of possible snow tonight. I started a new knitting project, making three current projects now. Not sure when I think I’m going to get all that knitting done!


A Farewell and a Hello

So, late last night our internet came back. Hallelujah! I need it for researching and preparing to teach my classes, and I have a class tomorrow.

Yesterday started with a goodbye to Mercy. She and Jasper walked to the donut shop to get their breakfast, and then Daniel arrived. Mercy’s stuff was loaded into Daniel’s car, and after a round of hugs they were off to Dallas to have lunch with friends before Mercy’s flight. I hated sending her off still sick.

Here at home, Jasper and I got some school done and more Christmas stuff put away. I strung another length of garland.

This morning, I had a lot of getting ready to do. My two maternal aunts (plus one uncle) are on a road trip from Austin to Nashville, and they had said they would stop here for lunch. I did what I could to organize things while still making food. I made my favorite quiche recipe—with shiitake mushrooms, bacon, and Swiss cheese. I tried a low-carb gluten-free crust recipe and was not impressed. I think next time I will just make it crustless!

They arrived shortly after 1:00 and it was so good to see them! My aunt Ruth I see almost every year because she lives in Nashville. (My daughter Mary also lives there and my parents are a two-hour drive away.) My aunt Glenda lives in the Pacific Northwest and I don’t think we had seen each other for eight and a half years! So we all had a great time catching up over lunch. I honestly believe I have the best aunts in the world. Walter missed lunch because he had a meeting, but he made it back before they left, so had a chance to at least say hello.

My kin were only able to stay till mid-afternoon, as they planned to continue on to Little Rock. Jasper and I had some schoolwork to do. I didn’t have to cook supper because there was quiche left over.


This is the entry I wrote on Monday but was unable to post due to lack of wi-fi.

Yesterday was very different from our normal Sunday routine. We had promised Spencer we’d visit his church so we could see and hear him play in the worship band. He has been begging us to visit for months, but that would have meant our church wouldn’t have had an accompanist, so yesterday was our first chance.

Spencer’s church is aimed at young people, and is very “hip,” but there were a surprising number of middle-aged folks there also. I knew that I would not know any of the songs, so I pre-emptively played and sang several hymns at home to fortify myself before we left.

It was very, very different from the church we’ve been attending, but the enthusiasm was endearing. The church is passionate about investing in and helping the community around them, and I love that. Spencer did a great job playing the guitar. The sermon was delivered in up-to-the-minute lingo, but that didn’t tarnish its relevance in any way.

After the service, the pastor’s wife made a point of coming to meet us and raved about what a great guy Spencer is. She couldn’t get over how tall we all are (a common reaction). I’m so glad we were able to go.

Mercy and Daniel were very busy with various social activities during the afternoon, but they returned in time to have supper with us.

Today is Mercy’s last day here, as she flies back to Russia tomorrow. I called first thing this morning to get her a doctor’s appointment. She has been sick with a sinus infection since Thanksgiving, and it hasn’t gotten better during her stay in the USA. I was so relieved that I was able to get her an appointment before lunch. She ended up getting two injections. I assume they are faster-acting than pills and time is important since she’ll be on a plane tomorrow. I really hope she starts to experience some relief.

She had a very busy afternoon, but eventually she had a free time slot to spend with her mother. We went out for coffee (for her), only to find that the place we had chosen is closed on Mondays. Fortunately there was another coffee shop nearby, so we went there instead.

Then we went to the craft store to look at possible wedding ideas. We found the exact kind of flowers she wanted, so I can start getting them little by little when I have coupons or they are on sale. We also found a lantern she wanted for half price and used a coupon to buy some lights. So we have a little start on the wedding decorations!

Back at home I made hamburgers for supper—something Mercy doesn’t get in Russia—and Daniel joined us. Our internet was out all evening so I started restringing the bead garlands for the Christmas tree. Over 20 years ago, I strung them on fishing line, and it has held up very well, but recently I had the bright idea of stringing them on 15-foot lengths of 19-strand beading wire, and putting a lobster claw clasp at both ends. That will make it much more manageable to put up one strand at a time and then just clip the next one onto the end and keep going. In theory.



I had planned to sleep in this morning, but it didn’t work out due to having a bad night with arthritis. Still, by the time I got up, Mercy and Daniel were well on their way, having left South Carolina at 5:00 a.m.

Later in the morning I went out in search of puff pastry. I had decided to make Galette des Rois for the first time in years, to celebrate Epiphany. I had already ascertained that Walmart did not have any puff pastry.

Thankfully, I found some, and also materials from which to make the crown to go on top. I delegated the crown making to Lucy so I could focus on making the galette. It turned out pretty well:

1-6-18 Galette with crown

And when we served it out, Jasper’s piece had the hidden treasure so he was our king for the evening:

1-6-18 King Jasper

Mercy and Daniel finally arrived at about 10:30. It’s going to be a very busy couple of days before Mercy flies back to Russia on Tuesday!