Life in the A-Frame

Life in the A-Frame

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sigh of Relief

I have finished A Thousand Splendid Suns and......I'd like to recommend it to you all. I almost didn't pick it because of my experience with the author's first book but I am so glad I did. It had a wonderful ending, even though the journey was tragic and unbelievingly realistic. It was worth becoming an empathetic voyeur for a brief time. The story of how these two women, from different backgrounds, became "family" is a universal theme that I couldn't ignore. So, I have spent several hours doing research on Afghanistan and I'm completely intrigued. I'm learning about the history,culture and food. I wonder where this leads?

I would welcome ideas.

Oh, and I would really be interested in some book suggestions. What do you recommend?

I'm still reading and still holding myself together

I am 3/4 the way through my book and I still have things in perspective. Yes, some of the events have been tragic, and there is foreshadowing of extremely heartbreaking situations, but I am beginning to really cheer for the 2 main characters. They have just received potentially good news ( a return from the dead so to speak). However, the Taliban has just come into power.
Dare I hope?

I  figured out why this book has not been such emotional torture for me, the way Kite Runner was. In Kite Runner, the main characters are children, totally helpless, vulnerable children, with their entire futures shaped by the events in their childhood.

This book has a major difference for me. The 2 main characters are women, still vulnerable in the Afghanistan society, but not completely helpless.

I have a glimmer of hope for them. I'll finish the book this morning, so I'll let you know soon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's time for: an intense experience

I picked up this book from the library yesterday. I read the author's first novel, Kite Runner, a few years ago. He is an amazing writer but the plot was very hard to handle emotionally for me. It left me heartbroken and despondent the entire time I was reading. I experienced grief and hopelessness as if the events were really happening in front of me. That is a mark of a great storyteller. I never wanted to experience that again I go. On the cover, this book is proclaimed as "the saddest story yet". Great, wish me luck.

File:A Thousand Splendid Suns.gif
I read about 100 pages yesterday and I've been sad but I'm still able to put the story in perspective (as in,....fictional). I have a feeling that I'll be in trouble (deep empathy) when the Taliban comes into power. Why do I do this to myself?
Here's some information if you think you'd like to read this novel as well. Experience it with me if you will.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner. It focuses on the tumultuous lives of two Afghan women and how their lives cross each other, spanning from the 1960s to 2003. The book was released on May 22, 2007, and received favorable prepublication reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, as well as reaching #2 on's bestseller list before its release.
The title of the book comes from a line in the Josephine Davis translation of the poem "Kabul", by the 17th-century Iranian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi:

Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

Time magazine's Lev Grossman placed it at number three in the Top 10 Fiction Books of 2007, and praised it as a "dense, rich, pressure-packed guide to enduring the unendurable". Jonathan Yardley said in the Washington Post "Book World": "Just in case you're wondering whether Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns is as good as The Kite Runner, here's the answer: No. It's better."

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What's for Christmas Dinner?

Here's what we had for Christmas dinner last night. What did you have?
Mexican shrimp cocktail with large chunks of avocado.

 Rib eye steaks that Mike grilled outdoors while it was 35 degrees. Thank you, honey.

A gift to myself: I spent a quiet Christmas morning in the kitchen making authentic Sticky Toffee Pudding while Ky played the piano then drew at the kitchen table. It was one of the best cakes I've ever made. I had always heard of it but had never tasted it. I cooked the toffee sauce until it was a little too thick but of course, it didn't change the taste. I will be making this again. Tell me about your special meal this holiday.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas shoebox swap: Joy!

It is really joyful, especially this time of year, to make a new friend. Thanks to All That I've Been Given at I got to participate in a Shoebox Swap. My new friend Helen ) and I were matched to swap gifts. This was a lot of fun! Look at the sweet items I received.

 Everything came in a pretty tote. I'm sorry to say that I sent her things in a plain shoebox. I hope what was inside made up for it. I was making gingerbread the day I received this and look at these 2 gingerbread garlands. Helen, how did you know?

 Look at this sweet face!

 The tote itself is a beautiful gift.

 Yes! This is a Starbucks card and a coffee cozy. I've already used them Helen...and there was a Starbucks chocolate bar included but I bet you can guess what happened to that. I forgot to take a picture before I ate it----while I was reading these:

 Little Christmas books in the Mitford series. Thank you!

I already have  been using my candy cane soap and Vanilla hand sanitizer.

Thanks for this opportunity, and Merry Christmas to all my friends, old and new!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Treasures

This little family of snowmen decorate one of our shelves for Christmas. My daughter made all four. They have a lot of personality, don't they? Look at the one on the right. Her beautiful ponytail cascades over her shoulder as she sweetly gazes down upon Mr. Santa Bear.

 The large one in the middle stands there, very sophisticated because he knows he was made by the "older" artist. Ky had gained a lot of experience and technique by then, making him entirely from paper mache. The tall one with the jaunty hat is not jealous. He is special too, made at a church event.

 This  little guy is one of the oldest, made by the artist when she was a second grader. Look at his shiny green eye. The other eye is missing but still twinkles from tiny drop of dried glue. The little body is a painted baby food jar that used to contain hot cocoa mix.

This picture is the perfect background. Of course, you can tell that she had not yet developed a love for Santa Claus. Don't worry, she spent a total of 5 seconds on his lap, just enough time for her to start to cry. I love that the photographer snapped the picture quickly, before I even knew it, and didn't torture her by trying to get her to smile. I also love that my son sat there, not scared just patient, with his little hands folded. That is very precious to me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Perfect Moment

You can bask in the peace if you want to.....I did. Shhhhhhhh, don't wake anyone up, especially the cat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How I spent my birthday

It was a beautiful  night for my birthday celebration.I enjoyed supper at my favorite restaurant, warmed on the outside by a fire and  warmed on the inside by the Christmas decor. I tried the fettucini alfredo with chicken (I'm definitely having that again!). Then we went to "Central Park" and looked at the lights. I posed for pictures there but my favorite part was standing still, listening to nothing while the lights shone above me. In that quiet moment, we noticed the dozing, floating family of ducks and geese. I didn't disturb them by flashing my camera. We had dessert at home. I decided not to get a picture of us eating ice cream, on the couch, in our pajamas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Birthday Cross

A really pretty cross arrived in the mail for me! My son and his girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday. I couldn't get the colors to show very well but it has a very pretty blue background. I now have it hanging in my kitchen window to remind me of them, and my birthday. I feel very loved.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ky makes Baked Eggs in Phyllo Squares

 My daughter made her own version of a recipe we saw on Martha Stewart. It was really delicious and easy. Our version is much simpler but if you would like Martha's original recipe click here:

Baked Eggs in Phyllo Squares
6 sheets of phyllo dough (found in the freezer section)
1 stick melted butter
8 oz. whole milk ricotta
10 oz. box of frozen spinach, thawed (squeeze out all the moisture you can)
1 small clove of peeled garlic
salt to taste
6 eggs

Place the ricotta, garlic and spinach in a food processor and mix until you have a smooth paste. Salt to taste.
Unroll the phyllo sheets and keep covered with plastic wrap while you work so the dough doesn't dry out.
Brush a cookie sheet with butter, place 1 phyllo sheet on the pan, brush with butter.
Make a stack of 3 sheets layered with butter.
Cut the stacked layers into 6 squares with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
Place 1/3 cup ricotta filling in the middle of each square.
Use a whole egg to press an indention in each mound of filling.
Place an egg yolk into each indention (save the whites for another use).
Make another 3 sheet stack of phyllo brushed with butter. Cut it into 6 squares and place over the egg and cheese. Our mounds were very large and our squares were over stuffed. My daughter folded up the edges to cover the mounds of cheese. We found out that the cheese doesn't melt and run, so you really don't have to worry about enclosing it in dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes. You can leave the eggs soft or cook them hard.

 Bake until the pastry is golden.

We wanted soft eggs but overcooked them a little because we wanted the pastry to be browned. The eggs were firm and it was really good.

We heated up the left overs the next day and it worked well. I think this dish would be very impressive for a Holiday brunch.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nice and Cozy

My dog and cat shared a warm, cozy spot for their nap. There was still a little room for me! The trick is drinking coffee and trying to use the computer at the same time. They were so calm and peaceful, I didn't want to disturb the moment. The cat is actually a little bigger than Amos now. The two of them are more likely to be wrestling than resting together. It was great while it lasted.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pre Thanksgiving exercise-or-I can still bat!

I knew my nephew and my son could do it...

I knew my niece could do it...

And I was happy to find out that I could still do it, too!

I rarely missed a pitch. Of course, the pitches were thrown by my son and another one of my nieces (why does it look like she is laughing here?).  In other words, the pitches were delivered very gently. Then I briefly played first base and was I ever thankful that no one had to throw me the ball. I guess I'll have to find out if I can still catch during the next game.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday in the Country

We are having a very nontraditional meal today with just 3 of us. We currently have 80 degree weather but by 3 pm, a strong cold front is supposed to blow in. We have moved in some wood and cleaned out the fireplace in anticipation of our first indoor fire this fall. Tomorrow night, the forecast is 29 degrees. Mike's side of the family comes on Saturday for our "real Thanksgiving". We have a niece and a nephew who have never been here and we are going to show them a COUNTRY, good time. That means a visit to the shooting range and a fire in the outdoor firepit, and maybe a hayride to the cemetery way up on the hill. We will have meat to grill and a whole bunch of dogs running around. Sounds like Thanksgiving to me!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preview: Thanksgiving menu!

 Cream biscuits

 Pumpkin cake roll

cornbread dressing

Just a few contributions to family meals that I've cooked this week. All of it was extremely rich. All of it was very tasty. I'm likely to make these dishes again. What are you cooking this week?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Outcome of the game

The Texas Aggies beat Nebraska last night!
         Gig 'em Aggies!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The 12th Man

I'm proud of my Alma Mater . And now, my daughter is attending Texas A&M, and she loves it. I couldn't resist posting this "advertisement". Gig 'em Aggies!

The Legend of the 12th Man:
In January of 1922, Texas A&M took the field against mighty Centre College, the No. 1-ranked team in the country, in the Dixie Classic (now known as the Cotton Bowl). The Aggies fought hard and kept the game close, but as the game wore on, the strength and power of Centre was literally taking its toll. Before long, Aggies coach Dana X. Bible realized he was running short on players. Desperate for bodies, the coach recalled that a deep reserve by the name of E. King Gill had been sent to the press box before the game to help reporters identify players. Bible sent word to the press box that Gill was needed.
Gill responded. In dramatic fashion, he descended the grandstand, reported to the sideline and even suited up--just in case he was needed. Gill never actually took the field that day, and the Aggies pulled off a stunning 22-14 upset. But the great symbolism of Gill coming out of the stands to stand alongside his Aggies struck a chord with the Texas A&M faithful. Just like that, the 12th Man legend was born. "I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not,” Gill said afterward. “I simply stood by in case my team needed me."
When coach Jackie Sherrill arrived at Texas A&M in the mid 1980s, he seized on the 12th Man legend by creating the 12th Man Kick-Off Team, a special teams unit made up completely of student walk-ons. Besides being ridiculously popular with Aggies fans, the idea actually produced on-field results: Sherrill’s 12th Man unit held opponents to one of the lowest kick-return averages in the old Southwest Conference. After Sherrill’s departure, coach R.C. Slocum changed the tradition by allowing just one 12th Man on the kickoff unit. Later, Dennis Franchione revived the 12th Man unit, but only used it on rare occasions.
It’s unclear what new Aggies coach Mike Sherman will do with the 12th Man tradition. But this much is certain: Aggies fans will continue to take it very, very seriously. A large sign running along the upper deck of A&M’s massive Kyle Field proclaims the stadium as “Home of the 12th Man,” and visiting teams aren’t likely to take issue with that. Aggies fans take pride in standing throughout the entirety of their home games and making as much noise as humanly possible. As a result, Kyle Field is recognized as one of the loudest stadiums in college football and one of the toughest venues for visiting teams to play.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Anderson Ambush

My cat, Anderson, has such a hard life!

Cats Sleep Anywhere

Cats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair.

Top of piano, window-ledge, in the middle, on the edge.

Open draw, empty shoe, anybody's lap will do.

Fitted in a cardboard box, in the cupboard with your frocks.

Anywhere! They don't care! Cats sleep anywhere.

Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Aunt Pam's Delicious Pie

Pam is Mike's sister. On our last visit, she had made this apple pie in a cast iron skillet. It was so delicious. That is her pie in the pictures. I didn't get the recipe from her then but I believe that this recipe is the one she used.

Grandma's Iron Skillet Apple Pie

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 45 Minutes Ready In: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

Servings: 8

"A modern version of an old-time favorite uses premade pie crusts to make this three-layer apple pie, baked in a cast iron skillet."


1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

5 Granny Smith apples -- peeled, cored,

quartered, and thinly sliced

3 (9 inch) refrigerated prerolled pie crusts

1 cup white sugar, divided

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

1/4 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon butter, cut into small chunks


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Place 1/2 cup butter into a heavy cast iron skillet, and melt butter in the oven. Remove skillet and sprinkle with brown sugar; return to oven to heat while you prepare the apples.

3. Remove skillet, and place 1 refrigerated pie crust on top of the brown sugar. Top the pie crust with half the sliced apples. Sprinkle apples with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon; place a second pie crust over the apples; top the second crust with the remaining apples, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Top with the third crust; sprinkle the top crust with 1/4 cup sugar, and dot with 1 tablespoon of butter. Cut 4 slits into the top crust for steam.

4. Bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2010 Printed from 11/13/2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Traveling buddies

Our little dog Amos is our most loyal friend.Wherever we go, he goes most of the time. If he can't go, it hurts him. He doesn't understand why he can't go with his group. When he does get to go, his behavior is excellent, especially in the car. I took some pictures of him while we were traveling. Here, he already has figured out that we are on our way to see "Aunt Pam".

We put a large, black cushion on the seat so that he can see out of the window. Occasionally, he stands on the cushion and rests his head on Mike's shoulder. That way they can both watch the  road.
He is patient at this point but as soon as we arrive in Pam's town, he gets very excited and starts looking out of the windows and groaning occasionally as if to say "aren't we there yet?" And when we arrive, he is the first one out of the car.He is our little traveling buddy (and Mike isn't bad either).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Song for Veteran's Day, Poignant

I was very affected by this song by my friend, Dean Ferrell. The video and lyrics will touch you.
One more chance to think about the Veterans today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's day

A small man, quietly smiling stood outside of Walmart. He wore a hat and a vest with some type of insignia. I exchanged a few dollars for this Memorial Poppy. I thought of my Grandpa for some reason, and of Mr. Cox who was on the beach at Normandy on D Day. They were veterans of the same war. My Dad and Uncles, Mike's Dad and Uncles, friends at church and two of my nephews are also veterans. Several members of my family never came back from WWII. They all hold a place of honor in my heart.
Remember Veteran's Day. November 11.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reader's Haven pick for November

Us pillars of the earth.gif
Join me at my book discussion site  for my November discussion. The Pillars of the Earth sweeps through 12th-century England in an era of raging civil war, telling of a group of men and women whose fates are linked to the building of a great cathedral, a site of bloodshed and treachery. A masterpiece of raw courage and passion from the author of Eye of the Needle (from Google books).

They sat down by a stream at midday. They drank the pure water and ate cold bacon and crab-apples which they picked up from the forest floor.

In the afternoon Martha was tired. At one point she was a hundred yards behind them. Standing waiting for her to catch up, Tom remembered Alfred at that age. He had been a beautiful, golden-haired boy, sturdy and bold. Fondness mingled with irritation in Tom as he watched Martha scolding the pig for being so slow. Then a figure stepped out of the undergrowth just ahead of her. What happened next was so quick that Tom could hardly believe it. The man who had appeared so suddenly on the road raised a club over his shoulder. A horrified shout rose in Tom's throat, but before he could utter it the man swung the club at Martha. It struck her full on the side of the head, and Tom heard the sickening sound of the blow connecting. She fell to the ground like a dropped doll.
Tom found himself running back along the road toward them, his feet pounding the hard earth like the hoofs of William's warhorse, willing his legs to carry him faster. As he ran, he watched what was happening, and it was like looking at a picture painted high on a church wall, for he could see it but there was nothing he could do to change it. The attacker was undoubtedly an outlaw. He was a short, thick-set man in a brown tunic with bare feet. For an instant he looked straight at Tom, and Tom could see that the man's face was hideously mutilated: his lips had been cut off, presumably as a punishment for a crime involving lying, and his mouth was now a repulsive permanent grin surrounded by twisted scar tissue. The horrid sight would have stopped Tom in his tracks, had it not been for the prone body of Martha lying on the ground.
The outlaw looked away from Tom and fixed his gaze on the pig. In a flash he bent down, picked it up, tucked the squirming animal under his arm and darted back into the tangled undergrowth, taking with him Tom's family's only valuable possession.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reason why I like October #2: Halloween

I still love Halloween. Especially the memories: 3 little sisters dressed as pumpkins for the Halloween parade, trick-or-treating in "town" and going to all the houses (even to people we didn't know), visiting both sets of Grandparents while we made the rounds in their neighborhoods, stopping at the neighbor's house to sit by their fire and sample a tiny taste of their homemade pear wine, acquiring a whole paper grocery bag full of candy each.
Even at my age, I still like to dress up in costume. I like to go into "town" and hand out candy to little kids. If we can't do that, then I like to have a wiener roast and then watch a scary movie. I like to pretend. I like to feel a cool breeze on a completely dark night. I like to remember.....

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hunter's Moon

                                                      Cooks Point Tx  Oct.22

From Wikipedia:
Oct. 22, 9:36 p.m. EDT -- Full Hunters' Moon.  The hunter's moon—also known as blood moon or sanguine moon—is the first full moon after the harvest moon, which is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox.

Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes of a few hundred years ago kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.
With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it's now time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox, as well as other animals, which can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Extraordinary Light of the Morning Sun

Very ordinary things become beautifully illuminated and extraordinary in the first burst of morning sunlight.

Wild, native Persimmons

Johnson Grass with full seeded heads.

A broad Mesquite tree on the fenceline

Perennial, beautiful purple native Liatris

Native grass in full seed that is my lawn
The morning colors are vivid and the shadows are intense. The first sun hits the tops of the trees, leaving the rest in dark coolness.