Standing Guard

Phoebe watches over our garden

Phoebe watches over our garden

For the last several years, Phoebe comes to stay with us.  We must grow nice bugs for her to eat.  You’ll usually see a pair (sometimes two), Sitting on the posts or fence around our garden.

She sits still as a statue and then swoops down, grabs a snack and returns to watch for another.  There are times when she has to land in order to dig out one from among the grass in the lawn.  On the garden side, it’s usually much easier.

I enjoy watching these beauties as they help us by controlling the bug population.  Being fly catchers, they are also very agile on the wing.

This, of course, begs the question, “If Phoebe Bird married Brad Beebee, would she be Phoebe Beebee?”

Three Reasons

Ever have one of those days?

Ever have one of those days?

It’s nearly 4 PM and I’m still sipping on my morning coffee.  I offer three reasons for that.

1. My insulated cup keeps my coffee hot for hours.  (More than four even.)

2. I sip on my coffee.  (I don’t race to get it down.  It tastes too good to gulp it down.)

3. I got a late start.  (Yes, it was before noon.)

This probably never happens to you.  Or does it?

Good News Day

Tuesday just after noon, Sylvia took me to the podiatrist.  (I still am not allowed to drive.)  They took X-rays of my foot and it looks good and seems to be doing well.  I was able to trade the heavy boot for a light-weight surgical shoe.  As the doctor said, it’s not as comfortable as the boot, but it’s easier to deal with.

After that, we stopped at the steak house and had a nice lunch.  I’d call it dinner.  Grilled prime rib is not on our normal luncheon menu.  That was in celebration of our wedding anniversary, which is today.

That evening, a friend dropped in for an overnight visit.  We always look forward to seeing Sharkey.

Sharkey and Sylvia

Sharkey and Sylvia

This morning started with breakfast with Sharkey.  Then she was on her way east to be with friends.  Later we’ll travel to be with Sylvia’s family as we celebrate her dad’s 98th birthday.

Today is our special day as we celebrate another year of togetherness.


Happy anniversary my love.  I’m looking forward to many more years together with you.

Unfinished Business

Last week, I posted an action picture from Facebook.  I solicited captions for the image.  Vee wrote, “Call 911.”


My son, Scott, observed that the man in black hat and white shirt seems to be keeping horse and rider from falling over.  Good eyes, Scott.

My caption idea: “Old paint never liked scorpions nor spiders, and then she saw both.”  What do you think?

Today is my father-in-law’s 98 birthday.  At least that what’s on the birth certificate.  His birthday may have been yesterday.  Seems that in the excitement, no one thought to look at the clock until some time later.

Healthy Harvest

Yesterday, after a late lunch, Sylvia said she was going out to “check on the garden.”

When she returned, this was only part of her haul.

There was more

There was more

This is only part of the tomatoes.  Last evening we had our version of taco salad.  For greens, we had red romaine, Swiss chard and New Zealand spinach.

As I write this, Sylvia is processing tomatoes.  None of those are pictured here.

The neighbor that I hired to mow our lawn while I’m recovering from foot surgery, was at work while Sylvia was harvesting garden goodies.  He stopped to speak with her and to tell her that her garden looks great.  (It does!)

September Morning

September Morning

My Wake-Up Call


I heard the sound as I awoke this morning.  Was it a bird call or something else?  I put on my specs and went to the window.  There she was sitting on the satellite TV antenna.  She gave that call again.  Okay, it’s the fly catcher that’s serenading me.

As I watched, she launched and caught a bug and then another before returning to her perch.  She did this a few more times before moving to another location.

If I look out toward the garden I’m quite apt to see her or her mate sitting on a fence post standing guard over our veggies.  I’m always happy to see them or their cousins.  Good friends to have.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Wanted: Caption

I was cruising Facebook today when I saw this picture:

How would you caption this pic?

How would you caption this pic?

As there was no caption, I’m hoping you can help.

Time Flies

Nearly a week has past since I last posted on this blog.  It doesn’t seem that way to me, but my eyes tell that it is so.

Groucho said, “Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.”

Kermit said, “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”

I saw this image online today.  It captures my reaction to this past week.

Hang in there, baby

Hang in there, baby

In truth, I’ve spent a lot (too much?) time sitting with my foot elevated.  I’ve watched a lot of TV and read many pages in the Dale Brown book I am currently enjoying.

Lots of good stuff to report.  The stitches are out of my foot.  I can walk without crutches, if I’m careful.  The foot is healing nicely and X-rays look good.

Sylvia took me out to celebrate my 75th birthday.  They didn’t have a Shake n’ Steak in Hastings, so we went to the Ponderosa steak house.  Grilled prime rib, Cesar salad, and ice cream for dessert.

I talked with my sons on the phone.  Last evening, Briana (our granddaughter), called to wish me happy birthday.  It was the highlight of the week.  A little over six months on the job and she’s doing well, is active on a council and recently did a presentation to hospital staff on the need for special bracelets for certain patients.  These warn of certain conditions.  Might be “use only left arm for bp readings” or the like.  The reaction was mostly, “Why aren’t we already doing this?”

Oops!  I think I just popped a couple of buttons.  Did I ever mention that I really love Briana and am very proud of her?

More Coffee Love

Yesterday, I posted on coffee brewing methods.  Because the post was running long, I didn’t talk about the coffee itself.  Here is the continuation of that story.

The national brands you buy in the grocery store are ground from beans from many locations and perhaps several countries.  This results in a mostly consistent flavor.  It also washes out the subtleties of beans from each individual farm.

I buy my beans from Sozo, a local coffee shop (also on FaceBook)  that engages in direct trade.  That is they buy directly from the farmer/producer.  With a batch of beans all from the same place, those subtleties and nuances are preserved.  However, it is an agricultural product so it may not be the same next year.

For a few years I had been enjoying La Flor del Café from Guatemala.  I like the earthy tones that characterize Central American coffees.  This year’s crop has changed.  Perhaps it results from a change in their weather?

I decided to try something different.  I went with Oaxaca from Mexico.  I enjoy this product very much.

As I mentioned yesterday, the secret to good coffee is to use water at 197 F.  Brewing is an extraction process and that temperature is important.  Cooler and you won’t extract all the goodness.  Hotter and you also extract some bitterness.  Which explains some of the nasty coffee I’ve had in the past.

Brewing time is also important.  For my AeroPress, 30 to 60 seconds is about right.  I’ve turned the process into a ritual.  That way I don’t have to time the brewing.  By just going through the ritual motions, it times itself.

I use an insulated mug.  That way I can enjoy my favorite beverage over two or three hours.  Never leave coffee on a heating pad.  That will cook out the flavor and leave you with an inferior product in your cup.

Do you have a secret for brewing good coffee?

I Love Coffee

Our friend, Ratty, left a comment on my last post.  He mentioned that he had given up instant coffee and was doing his own brew.  That was a wise move my friend.

Here is a re-post of a piece from January 7, 2013.  I hope you enjoy it.

I had signed up for coffee tasting and brewing classes last fall. The tasting (cupping) class taught me how to evaluate coffee and identify flavors and subtleties in various coffees.

In brewing class, I discovered that rinsing the paper filter helped remove that terrible taste from the cup.  In the class we watched our teacher brew coffee using various methods and then evaluated the final product.

The vacuum pot looked like a high-school science project.  The results were just about that good.  We were told that this could produce the finest or the worst results and you could never be 100% sure which you’d end up with.

Then we tried a couple of pour-over methods.  They weren’t bad, but failed to impress.

Some were enamored of the French Press.  I wasn’t.

Then we tried the AeroPress.  Aha!  That produced excellent results.  Cleanup would be relatively easy.  The only catch?  How can you consistently heat water to 197 F?  All of these methods rely on that.

The answer is a cordless electric kettle with a temperature control.  I bought this:

I use it for my coffee and Sylvia uses it for her tea.  How handy that Sylvia has a birthday this week.  Happy birthday honey!   Thanks for letting me use it too.

The rest of the equipment (AeroPress) looks like this:

I don’t use the paper filters.  A stainless steel filter (purchased separately) keeps the grounds out of the brew.  I only have used grounds to dispose of.  These I keep to use on the garden.  The grounds help protect root crops from bugs.  Neat, huh?

I’ll not bother you with the details, but this takes no longer (may be shorter) than brewing with Mr Coffee.  There is less waste and the coffee is incredibly better!

WARNING: Use of this method can turn you into a coffee snob.  Therefore, exercise discretion before purchasing anything like this.

I have one final thought to share with you today.  The coffee beans make a huge difference.  I’ll write about that for tomorrow’s post.

To Start the Day

Adam@Home by Rob Harrel

Adam@Home by Rob Harrell

As I sat here sipping on my morning cup of brew, I came across this cartoon.  It spoke to me, as you might guess it would.

Ahh . . . morning coffee
In the cup that’s in my hand
Right way to start day

My foot is mending nicely.  When I woke there was no feeling of pain whatsoever in that foot.  I frequently have the “pinched” feeling of wearing a tight sock.  Color me one happy camper for today.  (Any day for that matter.)

Been doing e-mail exchanges with my two sons this morning.  In the words of Tony, “It’s going to be a great day!”  I hope it is for you too.