MCJULIEO's SparkPeople Blog MCJULIEO's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community More Excitement, But This Time Was a False Alarm THIS morning as I checked out from my Washington area hotel, I asked about the calls for help in the night, and while the clerk knew nothing about the incident, but one of the workers said that "those people" had been asked to leave the hotel.... Very cryptic, all in all... <BR> <BR> But I managed to reverse my tracks to get back on the Maryland bus, to catch the Washington subway, to rendezvous with the regional train, to catch ANOTHER bus to transfer to the Baltimore airport, so I could ca... Wed, 23 May 2018 22:24:03 EST Worst Wake Up EVER!!! It was 4:55am, and I wasn't planning on waking up until 7, but the words floated down to my sleeping mind, at first indistinct to my unconsciousness, but then more persistent, and urgent... <BR> <BR> "Help me! Aaaaaaaaaagh! HELP ME!" <BR> <BR> I noted the time, and at first I thought it was from one of the school groups visiting our nation's capital and staying at the same La Quinta hotel as I am... The hotel has an official "no parties rule", and the kids had been rather boisterous right u... Tue, 22 May 2018 20:01:55 EST Took It Easy Today Knowing that I still have a whole other day here in Washington, I decided to take it easy , and try to get rid of some of the soreness leftover from the activities of the last few days... So I spent the whole day at the Museum of the Bible, and just took my time , and even took a tour with one of their docents on the earliest manuscripts of the Bible, including references to Bible narratives in extra-Biblical settings.... <BR> <BR> Then, I got one of their little handheld computers with audi... Mon, 21 May 2018 21:14:22 EST Another Looooooooong Day After a rather inauspicious start at my LaQuinta hotel (30 minutes to check-in because they were having such a hard time helping the people in front of me-lost their reservations, etc., and THEN, when I finally got to my room there was an under-sink leak that was making a puddle on the floor, which they were able to fix as soon as I notified them!), but they redeemed themselves with a fantastic hot breakfast, and the best fresh fruit which really filled me up (the oranges were particularly yu... Sun, 20 May 2018 22:00:47 EST A Long, Loooooong Day I got up at 3 this morning so that I could get a good showler in. Before leaving for the airport at 4.... The air conditioning IS most definitely broken, and I could not bear skipping a shower this morning.... <BR> <BR> Got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and wound up sitting on the plane next to a sweet 9 year old who was full of interesting comments and observations... We chatted and laughed while her daddy slept through most of the flight... It's so fun when I get to schmooze ... Sat, 19 May 2018 20:40:43 EST Great Time to Skip Town It's been really hot today (predicted a new record high of 98 degrees), and I am not certain, but I believe that my air conditioning may be broken... it's a good thing that I'm scheduled to fly out of San Antonio tomorrow...!!! Washington cannot possibly be THIS HOT right now.... <BR> <BR> Hopefully, I can get my A/C repaired by the time I get back! Fri, 18 May 2018 18:55:34 EST Particulars Can Vary I'm planning a trip to Washington, DC, primarily to get to go to the recently opened Museum of the Bible one more time, and it will actually be my first time to travel completely by myself, and get myself to make all the connections myself, which gets a bit complicated since I;m flying into Baltimore and travelling by train from Baltimore to change to the Metro system in DC. <BR> <BR> Of course, frugal as I am, I'm staying at a hotel that requires an extra walk (1 mile, very do-able, if its ... Thu, 17 May 2018 22:29:50 EST First Ripe Tomato My tomato plants are loaded with green tomatoes as the temperatures are skyrocketing into the nineties... <BR> <BR> But today..... TODAY.... One of those tomatoes turned Orange.... <BR> <BR> Basically, it's ripe! <BR> <BR> The first ripe tomato of the season! <BR> <BR> And there's promise of so many more to come..... This one was freakishly early, but when the others start ripening in earnest, I should have plenty enough deliciously vine ripened tomatoes to make all the BLT sandwiches I ... Wed, 16 May 2018 23:50:37 EST Big Baptist Church Since I was in town, and had the wheelchair van, I tool my mother to one of the Big Baptist Churches in Houston for Mothers Day.... It was lovely, both welcoming and nourishing spiritually, and I say Big because, Well, it is a BIG church... <BR> <BR> We attended their traditional early service (choir was greater than 100 members), and the singing was divine.... I particularly liked one hymn that had 5 verses, The first 2 verses they sang with piano and pipe organ, then a verse with just the ... Mon, 14 May 2018 00:19:03 EST Choice I had a choice of either writing a long blog <BR> <BR> OR <BR> <BR> Playing Geoguessr..... <BR> <BR> Ooooops.... I guess that was a True Confession.... <BR> <BR> I will do better tomorrow.... Sun, 13 May 2018 00:08:07 EST Audio Books Make the Miles Fly I drove from San Antonio to Houston this afternoon, for a total of over 200 miles, and while most of them were at the speed limit, there were two stretches of construction that forced us to crawl until it was clear again. Fortunately I had some good snacks in the car (mini carrots, grapes, cherry tomatoes)... <BR> <BR> And I had stopped by the library to stock up on some audiobooks.... <BR> <BR> And while I know that this trip will be longer than an audiobook, at least I can stay awake AND ... Fri, 11 May 2018 00:27:20 EST Dodged the Bullet Today was the final gathering for Bible Study Fellowship as we finished the Book of Romans, and a couple hundred class members came together to praise the Lord for all that we learned (and applied) this year..... Rarely does a group of this kind get together in a festive atmosphere without some really seriously good snacks appearing practically on their own... <BR> <BR> Today was no exception! There were all kinds of tantalizingly tempting morsels (many of them were of the fresh home baked c... Wed, 9 May 2018 23:40:35 EST Taking Some Me Time With everything happening around me, I was beginning to feel some of the stress connected with finishing up some projects under time constraints, and getting ready to do some other projects... <BR> <BR> So I took a quick detour to play only one round of Geoguessr.... when I had tallied up my points, I realized that just in figuring out the challenge, I had swept away the antsiness inherent in a stress filled lifestyle, and I felt free to embrace the rest of my day.... <BR> <BR> It was a vir... Wed, 9 May 2018 00:03:33 EST Obsessifying Game- Geoguessr Have you played the obsession starting game, Geoguessr yet? <BR> <BR> I find myself wandering over to every so often to squeeze in "Just One More Round", and am totally hooked.. <BR> <BR> It gives you a photo of someplace in the world (and sometimes even lets you wander around (using Google street view) and you are supposed to actually guess on the given map of the world just where in the world you are.... it will give you a score based on how close your guess is to the actual... Tue, 8 May 2018 00:24:02 EST That Dark and Stormy Day Yesterday's Results Yesterday was a humdinger as far as storms go, but today dawned bright and crisp and beautiful, and my drive up to Johnson City, (yes, LBJ's Johnson City) was a lovely drive with all the wildflowers that Lady Bird encouraged planting, starting right at her own home town, in lovely array..... Lady Bird Johnson did all she could to make every place in the US as beautiful as the Hill Country of Texas while she was First Lady, starting with encouraging propagation of wildflowers... and her legacy... Sat, 5 May 2018 23:01:59 EST It Was a Dark and Stormy Day I woke up to darkness..... <BR> <BR> And it wasn't even early! <BR> <BR> It was rain, something that we, here in Texas, have a love-hate relationship with.... today it was LOVE..... the temperatures have been so mild and pleasant, we tend to forget that our rapidly growing lawns and gardens need more than just sunshine. <BR> <BR> I've been hand watering my garden and am watching tiny green tomatoes turn into small green tomatoes, and with any luck, they will be growing into BIG RED tomatoe... Fri, 4 May 2018 22:51:38 EST It's Been a Week It has been a week since I last posted a Sparkblog, and I had one all written, and somehow the cyber-ether has eaten it....... or shuttled it to an alternate dimension, ...... or somehow just plain LOST it..... <BR> <BR> And while I had a lot to say, I really REALLY want to go to bed, so, instead of trying to remember all from before, I'm going to sleep on it, and give it a go tomorrow sometime.... <BR> <BR> You all will still be around, right??? Tue, 1 May 2018 00:36:52 EST So Proud of My Mom I spent the weekend with my 96 year old (young) mother, and she got a brand new I-pad, which is a brand new technology for her... she is pretty fluent in computer-ese, as far as word processing and document production goes, but updating her computer to Windows 10 has knocked her confidence in her abilities way down.... <BR> <BR> SO, since mobility is a problem for her, and she was thinking that an I-pad might make her life a little easier, she agreed to the new I-pad and let me tutor her in... Tue, 24 Apr 2018 00:48:13 EST Earth Day, Did You Celebrate? It was Earth Day today, and since I woke up in Houston after a spectacularly stormy night, the day dawned especially beautiful.... the overnight storm must have ushered in a blast of cool clean air because it was delightful! <BR> <BR> And driving back home to where I live near San Antonio, I expected that MY part of Texas had experienced that same drenching! <BR> <BR> Alas! No! At home that front had not even done more than just a short slight mist and I had to water my garden as soon as I ... Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:14:20 EST Survived Houston Traffic I live in a small-ish town (with lots of Tourists) with an ever busy Interstate highway bustling through it, but Houston is a whole other ball game! <BR> <BR> LOTS of traffic on LOTS of lanes of freeway, and lots of people with LOTS of destinations and lots of construction closing LOTS of usually available lanes... <BR> <BR> But we survived, my mom and I, as we traversed the city from west to east and then back home again... I felt like SUCH a SURVIVOR! <BR> <BR> There's nothing like close... Sat, 21 Apr 2018 00:44:08 EST Postcard Weather There's a big golf tournament scheduled for San Antonio this week, and just as with the Final Four NCAA College Basketball Finals, our Texas weather is showing off ...gorgeous sunshine with a hint of breeze that keeps it from getting too hot. <BR> <BR> The wildflowers are still glorious in their exuberance...the bluebonnets are giving way to the firewheels, and all the yellow heliotropes... <BR> <BR> I sure am glad to be where I am! <BR> <BR> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:42:33 EST Short Blog Instead of No Blog It doesn't seem like I have much to show for my week, but I HAVE been working on eating up my decent food stores before the veggies and fruits go bad, or before the various other things lose their appeal in the freezer.... bits and pieces of a variety of things can usually go into soups, but the warm weather inspires other options... stir-fry? Curry? <BR> <BR> Even the limpest vegetables in the fridge become tasty morsels when roasted, and it is always so wonderful to have fresh pineapple a... Wed, 18 Apr 2018 23:39:46 EST Don't Be Too Late Last week I was considering setting aside some time to go visit with a friend living about an hour from here whose husband was dying, so as maybe to give her a break while I stayed with him ..... or just ANYTHING that might make her life a little less dark. <BR> <BR> We couldn't settle on a time this last weekend so I just figured that I would try again THIS week... <BR> <BR> Too Late. <BR> <BR> I just received news that her husband passed away this morning, and while I ache for her in her... Mon, 16 Apr 2018 00:58:37 EST Big Day Today It was not what I planned, but I got to spend another fabulous day on the campus of Texas A&M university, and since it was Family Weekend, the campus was abuzz with all kinds of people, most of whom were the to attend the spring intra-squad football game... <BR> <BR> I, on the other hand, actually came to College Station to see the open house being staged by the TAMU Department of Nautical Archaeology, and to hear a lecture on the research being done on the Queen Anne's Revenge, flagship of ... Sun, 15 Apr 2018 00:06:22 EST Woo Hoo! Another Beautiful Day! In spite of rather bad news (I owe a substantial amount to the IRS for some capital gains for this year), it was a beautiful day! The drive into and coming home from San Antonio was uneventful and safe, and I felt like I had accomplished a lot by conscientious eating today. <BR> <BR> Not all my plans have fallen into place (when do they EVER?), but I am content to go with the flow. <BR> <BR> The garden is looking verdant and healthy, and we have some rain in the forecast, right in time. <BR... Fri, 13 Apr 2018 00:17:29 EST Add a Bag (of Leaves) I'm still cruising for extra leaves to add to the mulch level in my garden... and I'm stockpiling bags to add as the mulch levels settle and need more volume. Today I added 7 more bags... <BR> <BR> It all started about 30 years ago when I checked out a book from the library entitled "The No Work Garden" by Ruth Stout, who totally embraced heavy mulch instead of back breaking tilling and other common gardening practices.... It turns out to have been good advice, and though I've tried other wa... Thu, 12 Apr 2018 00:55:43 EST Beautiful Stimulates Gardening Tendencies Although I really didn't need any more plants for my garden, because it was such a beautiful day, I found myself at Home Depot examining young tomato plants of a variety that I had not already incorporated into my garden plan... <BR> <BR> In a moment of weakness I actually bought 2 more plants (Super Sweet 100- a fast growing, very productive indeterminate producer) and will get them in the ground tomorrow, along with some mint that I couldn't resist. <BR> <BR> I blame it on the sunshine...... Wed, 11 Apr 2018 00:08:26 EST DONE! Woo Hoo! Tra La-La-La! I've finished my income tax compilation and handed it off to my accountant and Boy! Am I ever HAPPY!!! <BR> <BR> And I feel so relieved, I am ready to do something FUN! <BR> <BR> It just might be time to take a little wildflower drive in the Hill Country of Texas.... the bluebonnets (state flower of Texas) are blooming like crazy, and we're having a bit of a cool spell (down into the 50s at night and high temps lower than 80) so the blooms may just flourish for a bit ... Tue, 10 Apr 2018 00:44:12 EST Annual Nuisance I wrestled with my IRS forms today, so I can hand it off to my accountant. <BR> <BR> Though it's not my favorite thing, I am glad that most of the information I need is findable online. <BR> <BR> And that I have to go through this only once a year. <BR> <BR> And that I have an honest accountant. <BR> <BR> And that it's almost all done..... <BR> <BR> Whew! Sat, 7 Apr 2018 22:15:23 EST Have to Smile <img src=""> <BR> This was on the Spark feed this morning, and I had to smile since I'm carefully tending my tomato plants in my garden down here in south Texas while my daughter in Maryland is shovelling snow... <BR> <BR> We have a cold front due in tonight and our temps will plummet down into the 50s.... <em>334</em> <BR> <BR> Not bad for April.... the wildflowers are loving it! <BR> Fri, 6 Apr 2018 23:37:27 EST Midnight (Er, 7:30 AM) Skulker You know that gardens really thrive when you have plenty of mulch, right? And the easiest kind of mulch to get this time of year is live oak leaves? And since live oaks lose their leaves as the new ones come in, landscapers usually just vacuum up and bag all the leaves and then leave them out for the city to pick up as "Green waste".... <BR> <BR> Sooooooooo <BR> <BR> My mission has become: <BR> <BR> SEARCH FOR, and CLAIM as many bags of leaves as I can get! <BR> <BR> But many people are a... Fri, 6 Apr 2018 00:46:53 EST Outdoor Time It was just too pretty a day today to stay indoors, and while I needed to spend only a little time in the garden, because it was so nice I looked for excuses to stay outside and enjoy the cool sunshine (the temperature rose only to 70 today!) <BR> <BR> And after a frustrating time trying to shop online for some comfortable shoes, I wound up walking down to Gruene (famous tourist destination in Texas and just a few blocks from my house) to actually try on some shoes that I had been looking at... Wed, 4 Apr 2018 23:14:10 EST Hardest Job for a Gardener Now that we've had several weeks of warm weather, and I've got tomatoes in the ground and the seedlings of squash and cucumbers have sprouted in abundance, the hardest job of all is upon me: thinning out the seedlings.... <BR> <BR> I overplant my garden space because seeds have a way of NOT germinating, and THIS way I don't have to wait to find out that I will need to replant.... with squash, this is especially important where I live because the bugs that cut a squash plant's life short all... Tue, 3 Apr 2018 23:39:45 EST Post Easter Anti-Habit Victory Hey, I KNOW I shouldn't claim a victory for doing what I OUGHT to do anyway, but I happen to know that in the past, I would look forward to the After Holiday sales to stock up on things that didn't sell out BEFORE the holiday (especially CANDY!).... <BR> <BR> It is just a testimony to my relatively new attitude that I didn't make a special trip to the grocery store today to find some great buys on Easter candy (I DO love those dark chocolate Dove eggs!) ... <BR> <BR> I'm not saying that ... Mon, 2 Apr 2018 21:40:06 EST Easter Cantata Everything for our church Easter pageant went off great..... the children belted out their Hosanna song, everybody else did their parts, the teenagers aptly dramatically represented Biblical rejoicing, bewilderment, pain, and astonishment as the Bible events unfolded, and the choir all started (And ENDED) at the same time for all of their songs. <BR> <BR> The only casualty was the angel wings which apparently suffered some kind of mishap and never made it on to our sole angel... I don't know... Mon, 2 Apr 2018 00:02:47 EST The Dress Rehearsal for the Church Easter Pageant From my lofty vantage point of age, and with no school children of my own to corral, and no responsibilities except to sing the right alto note, I could fully enjoy the church Easter program dress rehearsal today..... <BR> <BR> Let me just say up front that my church is a small-ish independent Bible church with a simple infrastructure and usually not even a choir .... We don't "stage" big extravaganzas, but we DO like to mark special occasions with special music offerings as an act of worshi... Sat, 31 Mar 2018 23:17:20 EST Too Much of Even a Good Thing Is Still Too Much I fixed myself a gigantic salad for lunch today, with romaine lettuce as my base and gobs of fresh tomato, red bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, grapes and olives, and topped with a serving of teriyaki chicken from Panda Express..... <BR> <BR> But I got about halfway through my bowl when it dawned on me that I was comfortably FULL! <BR> <BR> I could conceivably stop eating and not start back up again until I was hungry again! What a concept, to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I am no long... Sat, 31 Mar 2018 00:46:21 EST Another gorgeous day! Yesterday and last night were full,of thunderstorms and the most spectacular ightning displays EVER, but when morning dawned, it was as if nature completely forgot what kind of power it could wield, and like the most diplomatic of ambassadors, decided to demonstrate just how agreeable it could be! <BR> <BR> Today was full of sunshine and breezes with no hint of the tempest that raged in the night.... With hardly a hint of moisture in the air, the breezes were cool while the sunshine seemed t... Thu, 29 Mar 2018 23:30:13 EST While I Was Sleeping I slept through the biggest storm of the year last night. When I woke up there were flash flood alerts all around us, the fields and ditches were holding water that desperately wanted to be elsewhere, and public school had been delayed to keep the buses safe. <BR> <BR> Fortunately, the Interstate was clear to Austin and the day stayed clear until I got a good workout in the garden with a lot of mulch that had been moved by flowing water... The really good news was that many of the seeds that... Thu, 29 Mar 2018 00:49:41 EST Stop! It's "Holy Week"! I needed to be reminded that this is not just any old week on the calendar, that I need to set aside the normal distractions of life, and switch my focus to things of eternal significance.... <BR> <BR> One of my friends sent me this: <BR> "In the midst of a lot of business and hectic schedules, I want to remind you as I remind myself....THIS is a week that we don’t want to fly by us. This is not a sequence of days that is like every other week of the year. For the Christian, this is the most... Tue, 27 Mar 2018 00:39:47 EST Conscientious I'm under my calorie count for today by eating conscientiously, with Panda Express for lunch (broccoli beef, mushroom chicken, and steamed mixed fresh veggies, all for under 400 calories) <BR> <BR> And because I had some chicken baked and ready in the fridge, all I had to do for a quick dinner entree was just to microwave it and serve with some fruit... <BR> <BR> One day at a time, and over time those conscientious days add up to great success. Mon, 26 Mar 2018 00:24:08 EST Civic Duty/Interest Today was our county political party convention, and I arrived as a delegate bright eyed and bushy tailed.... it was to be a long day of waiting, as various details had to be dealt with and various politicians made appearances to appeal for our support (and $$$),...committee reports had to be reported and resolutions had to be discussed and voted upon... <BR> <BR> But most everybody was well behaved and congenial.. <BR> <BR> And they even served us lunch (not exactly Spark-worthy, but I got... Sun, 25 Mar 2018 00:27:55 EST More Gardening The gardening bug has afflicted more people than just me..... The local nursery and the outdoor departments at Walmart and Home Depot are selling plants and dirt just as fast as local gardeners can cart them off. <BR> <BR> Today I planted squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, and cucumber seeds.... Once I get started I just can't stop! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> It just might be time to call Plantaholics Anonymous! <BR... Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:36:17 EST Glorious Day I know that the northeast is getting hammered by a blizzard right now, but south Texas weather cannot be any more beautiful right now (we will be suffering when August rolls around and we will have had 2 months straight of 100+ degree weather, but right now is perfect!) <BR> <BR> 80 degrees and sunshine with a pleasant breeze may still be a little cool for tubing on the river, but everything else outside just beckons the distractable soul, and I pity the poor school teachers who have to hamm... Thu, 22 Mar 2018 23:21:14 EST Next Step Gardening Spring is really progressing around here, with a sunshiny heat that makes me wonder if my airconditioning is broken! <BR> <BR> I went back to the nursery, and bought a few herb plants, and more herb seeds, and instead of just holding onto them, I just hustled and got them into the ground as soon as possible. Parsley and basil are really quite easy to grow from seeds , (at least they have been in the past.... I hope that THIS year is no exception) <BR> <BR> All I need to do now is keep eve... Wed, 21 Mar 2018 22:30:19 EST Hug Your Loved Ones! My daughter texted me this alarming news first thing this morning: <BR> <BR> "Shooting at Great Mills HS this morning. News is sketchy, but 1-2 injured plus a suicide. The kids we know are safe. Info is changing every half hour, so who knows what actually happened." <BR> <BR> She lives just a few miles from the school, and many children from their church attend there. <BR> <BR> The later reports sound like a school [policeman may have curtailed the shooting.... I guess we won't know all th... Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:18:19 EST Small Victories Big shocker when I weighed this morning.... I was up TWO POUNDS! With no obvious reasons, I have chosen to consider it an anomaly, and just persevere doing the things that I know are wise.... <BR> <BR> So, when I went to the movie theater today (to see "I Can Only Imagine"), I snacked on fruit beforehand so I wouldn't be hungry, and didn't visit the snack bar (although I certainly saw plenty of people with armloads of popcorn and drinks), and then afterwards went out to eat at Panda Express... Tue, 20 Mar 2018 00:25:45 EST Potluck Ambush I SHOULD have planned better for the potluck lunch today after church. I really should have! <BR> <BR> I brought a delicious green salad, and I COULD have eaten just that, but, No! I took a spoonful of this and a spoonful of that, and pretty soon my plate was full (although fully half was my tossed green salad -without dressing)... <BR> <BR> I didn't eat some of everything, and I didn't eat a lot of ANYTHING except my salad.....I could have done worse, but I certainly could have done better... Sun, 18 Mar 2018 23:55:33 EST Bushed! Tomato Bushed! Wonder of wonders! It just so happened that I was able to piggyback my request for mushroom compost on a friend with a pickup truck and a need for mushroom compost for his own garden... <BR> <BR> We worked like crazed people to unload the cubic yard of rich organic garden goodness, and after he left I bought tomato plants to sink into that perfect potting medium and seeds for cucumbers and squash, which I will plant later on this week....and since mushroom compost is VERY aromatic, I was r... Sun, 18 Mar 2018 00:20:17 EST Spring is Official It's official! The mesquite trees have started to sprout their lacy foliage, and everybody in Texas knows THAT means that there will be no more frosts, so you can put your young tomato plants in the ground.... <BR> <BR> So I spent part of today getting my garden plot ready, and tomorrow I hope to actually get an assortment of tomato and pepper varieties in the ground... It has been so warm that I'm not worried at all about a late frost... <BR> <BR> I DO love me some home grown tomatoes! Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:53:36 EST