Pick A Lettuce

April 22, 2018


Any lettuce. Yours for $3, fully organic, no dirt.

The Auqaponics system at the Center had its 1st anniversary yesterday with a little open house. Refreshments included ceviche for which several Auqaponics tilapia gave their all.





No Red Dye #40

April 18, 2018

I got an order for a baby shower cake recently that required me touse no red food coloring as the pregnant mother was allergic. That got me to learning about all-natural vegetable dyes, and look at the pretty colors I came up with. Click the photo to see the small print telling what each one is.

Today I tested those colors with a bit of white icing and they work, but the colors are muted. But I think I can work with this idea.

Making Some Progress at Getting Old

April 17, 2018

I may have already complained about this before, but in case you’ve forgotten, let me mention that I have been locked out of the online Social Security website since 2014. This happened because I could not accurately answer the identity challenge questions.  Here are some examples:

  • We have listed 4 license plate numbers below. Choose the one that belonged to a car you owned some time in the past.
  • From the list below, choose the amount of the monthly mortgage payment for the above referenced loan. (Nevermind that this loan was us cosigning for one of our children over 10 years ago, and that this loan has been bought and sold multiple times to various mortgage companies over the 10 years, and that I have never had the remotest idea of how much said child pays for the monthly mortgage!)
  • Or my personal favorite, How long have you lived in Houston? “Never” was not a choice.

Side note:  some of this information comes from public government websites; other info can be seen if you order a free credit report.  I recently ordered a free credit report and I was amazed with how many mistakes it had, but I have no idea how to actually get it corrected.  For example, it said Andrew was my spouse and that I lived in Houston.  😦

Anyway, today I drove to our local Social Security office, arriving one minute after it opened, and got a number to wait in line.  I waited about an hour for my number to be called, and then it took another 1.5 hours to get an access code which would theoretically allow me to to establish an online account.  I also was able to sign up for parts A and B of Medicare.  I did not sign up for receiving Social Security benefits yet because I’m still working and have no plans to retire for at least 5 more years.  But even though I keep working, I’ve been encouraged to get off of our company’s health insurance plan because Medicare should be less expensive.  (Still lots of this I need to figure out.)

When I got home, I went online with some fear and trepidation, but in the end I was able to get an online account.  Yay!  There are still multiple steps I have to do to be fully signed up with Medicare, but at least I have made progress today.


April 13, 2018

Who is this new girl?  She looks like a completely different person with her hair straightened.  She tried out this hairdo during her spring break while her daddy was in Ethiopia.

Not much to report on at the moment.  Gary got home safely from his trip to visit his parents in Phoenix. He reports they seem to be doing pretty well.  I worked on overdue thank you notes while he was gone. We are enjoying spring weather, but a big cold front is due in tonight.  We found a puddle of unknown liquid under the car recently and found that the pressure hose for  the power steering went kaput.  Fortunately, one can still drive a car without power steering, so we were able to get it to the garage without too much problem and they fixed it in just one day.

I managed to miss the after-Easter chocolate sales, but see what I did find for 99 cents:

I finished reading my Christmas book from Gary recently–Chasing Birds Across Texas by Mark T Adams.  It was a very readable book, and a fun adventure, but I don’t think I’d want to have that kind of stress.  I like birding for fun, but his account made me exhausted!  I’ve already given that book away to another birder friend.  At this stage of my life, I don’t keep books I’ve read unless I personally know the author.

And lastly, I should mention that that rattlesnake we buried a few posts ago became UN-buried.  I wondered why there was a Turkey Vulture and a Black Vulture circling in the backyard.  Turns out something had dug up that reptile and dragged it 15 feet from its grave (well, about 2/3rds of it)!!  We reburied it, maggots and all, and this time put a wooden gravestone on top in hopes that it will stay put!  (You know every missionary needs a snake story…)


Green Carrot Cake

April 9, 2018

A couple weeks ago I made a carrot cake for Auntie Carol’s birthday, served at our office coffee break. I became rather puzzled, not to say embarrassed, when my coworkers started asking me, “Did you put zucchini in this cake? What are the green specks?”

I didn’t know how to answer. I knew I had not intentionally put anything green in that cake, but sure enough, there were green specks. Nothing tasted bad, and my kind coworkers just smiled and ate it.

Then I went home and did some research.  It turns out that under certain conditions, carrots will turn green:

Carrots contain pigments that are sensitive to changes in pH balance. When the shreds of carrot come into contact with the alkaline baking soda, a chemical reaction takes place that causes the pigments to change color.

Check out this website to get the full story.

So, when we made the second carrot cake, the one for Easter, I told Rachel to carefully mix in the soda; that didn’t seem to help because again we had green flecks. But when I took the leftovers to coffee break I made everyone listen while I read the info from that website out loud to make sure everyone knew why they were getting green carrot cake.


April 8, 2018

It is nice to have a word to describe this bird’s condition. He is a “rare for your location” Ladder-backed Woodpecker who should have red markings but actually has yellow.  It is called xanthochromism, a condition where there is more yellow pigment than there should be.


I guess if I weren’t so lazy, I could edit this Wikipedia page and add “Ladder-backed Woodpecker” to the list of birds that have been observed with this condition.

Grandkid Tree Report, spring 2018

April 8, 2018

Each spring I look forward to new growth–in my grandkids from afar, and in their trees, up close.

Isabella’s tree–Hers in an Elm, and it has grown like crazy in these almost 10 years. Wow, has a decade already passed since I met my first grandchild? No wonder I’m feeling old… This tree is at least 25 feet tall, maybe more.

Micah’s tree–His is an Oak. I always worry a bit about this tree because it has the odd habit of holding onto its dead fall leaves all winter. I wonder, has that tree died? Did I give it too much water or not enough? Then suddenly one spring day the new buds push all the old leaves off and in another day or two the new leaves have unfurled.  This tree is maybe about 15 feet tall.

Emma’s tree–Hers is an Ash. It is still a young tree, but growing strong. It puts out its buds a bit later in the spring than other nearby trees, but at this date, the new leaves are at least half size. This tree is about 10 feet tall.  We have great hopes for the shade this tree will bring our sunny office one day, as we still miss the very large trees we’ve had to cut down in recent years.

In other news, Gary flew to Phoenix this morning to visit his parents for a few days.  I assume he got there safely, though I have not actually heard from him.  He found a good time to leave.  After 80 degrees yesterday, it is 35 degrees today and rainy.  But at least no snow like I hear Michigan has gotten.

Typhoid, Building Blocks, and Snow

April 4, 2018

Gary has just finished a course of oral typhoid vaccination in preparation for yet more traveling.

Gary helped Rachel assemble a box of cardboard blocks, a donation she is making to her church’s children’s wing. Yes, that is where she works.  I wish you could see those cute kid faces.

In other news, when Andrew woke up from sleeping after his Ethiopia trip, this is what greeted him.  From 102 degrees to this.

But Scarlett doesn’t seem to mind the collection on her low-hanging belly!

The Snake Has Been Conquered

April 3, 2018

On Silent Saturday we saw a big fat dead Western Rattlesnake in our street as we were off to church.

It stayed there all of Easter Sunday, but somehow found its way to the sidewalk on Easter Monday (coyote? teenaged boy?).  Gary called me from the office and told me not to trip on it while walking to work!

Doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, I scooped up the carcass from the neighbor’s sidewalk, and made Gary dig a hole.



It is now safely one foot under.


Happy Easter

April 1, 2018

Holy Week for us has been a marathon ending with a great Easter Sunday. We had good services at church, good breakfast, and the Sunday School kids had a good Easter Egg hunt.

made home in time to reheat the food I had prepared yesterday before our guests arrived.  The ham was decent, the potato casserole was better than last year, and Rachel’s green bean casserole is always a hit.  For desert I made this copycat cake, carrot with walnuts.  At Williams and Sonoma you can buy their 6″ version for $90.  Mine was the 8″ version and didn’t cost anywhere near that.

After dinner I was happy to get to video chat with Micah and Emma and then I called Andrew and woke him up from a dead sleep–he had just returned from Ethiopia and was sleeping.