Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye, 2007!

The sun set on 2007 for the last time tonight on the Texas panhandle. May your 2008 be as beautiful and as peaceful as our sunset was tonight.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

First Shots

Today we went to Buffalo Lake NWR near Umbarger, Texas, so I could work my shutter finger and try out my new XT. We were lucky and found 12-15 mule deer laying in the tall prairie grass. At first, one pair of ears is all we saw, but soon they were not alone. Here are some shots I got. Click on them for a larger view.

I used a 75-300mm lens. The close-ups were taken at 300mm, handheld in windy conditions.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Impulse Buying?

I sometimes kid a female friend about shopping, but last night I proved that I am prone to a bit of impulse buying. So, I guess can be a target of those ribbings, too.

Many of you know that I am a bit of a photographer wannabe. Well, last night I went to Wal-Mart to get some Cokes ("pop", "soda", and "soft drinks" for non-Texans) and water. Well, I often wander through "guy stuff" when I'm there and last night was no different. As I passed by the photo department, a camera caught my eye. Earlier in the day I had been thinking that film has been getting to be a bit of a PITA, sadly. Too many times, the photo shops' developers are down, they don't have my CD's ready when they say they do (often the next day!), the images are seldom what they should be (exposures never consistent), and when things go wrong at the developer, I get the runaround and even lies. It gets old. Anyhow, I fought with myself for a while as I drifted around the store getting what I came for. The end result is that I caved in. Yep, I went digital. I bought the Canon Rebel XT 8mp. Maybe I shouldn't have with all that's going on in my life, but I did.

For me, it was a big step. I've been a film fan forever, and now this! Egad!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Past

Christmas once again has past. As it passed through, it left a lot of love and tranquility - peace, if you will. This was another very pleasant experience for me. My past life was full of stress and turmoil at this time of year. It was not an enjoyable experience. For the last three Christmases, each has been increasingly pleasant, stress-free, and just plain fun.

I think somebody read my mind. Being a Coast Guard veteran from back in the early/mid 70's, I kinda like USCG militaria. Santa brought me a beautiful wristwatch with the CG insignia on the face.

He also brought me a "Grandpa" pocket watch (I think my grandkids had something to do with it.), a CD of one of my favorite groups (Celtic Woman), and a new wireless mouse for my notebook PC that I've been needing. That Santa's really something, ya know?


I know the New Year will bring more pleasantries to my world. I have been blessed greatly, and I know I have many more to experience. Here's wishing you all a very

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Kringla Goof?

I mixed up another batch of kringla dough today - for baking tomorrow for our Christmas get-together. I might have screwed up a bit, but we'll have to see. The recipe calls for buttermilk, and without thinking (hey, I'm a guy) I grabbed the 2% milk instead. I didn't realize it until it was too late. The dough was already mixed and in the fridge. Buttermilk is only 1%, so maybe it won't make much of a difference. I hope it will be ok. If they turn out better by some miracle, I'll take note of it and change the recipe. *G*


(Update: Monday, 24 December)

I just finished making that batch of kringla, and this is the result:

The dough was lacking "body", and was much like thick mud in consistency. It was much stickier than when using buttermilk, and was much more difficult to roll out. At one point, I got a phone call right as I finished rolling one out, and after only one or two minutes, it had flattened itself on the waxed paper. You can imagine. Maybe if I had to use 2% again, I might try using less of it. I don't intend to substitute like that again if I can help it. One mistake like that will stick in your head for a while, I'm sure. :)

The final product looked the same as if I'd done it right. Tasted the same, too. So, if I don't tell anybody what I did, they won't know. *G*

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

“Merry Christmas!”
Those words seem to stir uneasy feelings in some. They even bring out hate and violence in some. Why? How can the implied wishes of well-being, peace, and love be offensive to anybody?

The time around the Christmas season (December and January) finds many religions and good people celebrating important things with respect to their beliefs and in their lives. It might be the birth of Christ, standing up for what it right, or even the writings of their Holy Book. No matter what the celebration is rooted in, these celebrations are all good. They are the positive aspects of humanity – goodness, peace, and love. They are all based on God in one way or another, and/or things He has done. Whether He gave a virgin a child, allowed one day of oil to last 8 days, or inspired the first words of one's belief to be written, it makes no difference to me.

With that in mind, if you choose to wish me well, do so in any way that has meaning to you. Accept my well wishes to you in the same light. Wish me “Happy Hannukah” or “Happy Holidays” if you like. I might return the wish in kind, but I will most likely wish you “Merry Christmas” in return. Feel free to translate it into the way you believe. Celebrate the way you wish. Let us all have tolerance and respect for the many different ways that others choose to celebrate.

As for me, I believe that God is the Creator of everything, and has a Son that was born to a virgin, and that His Son's birth is the sole reason we celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December every year. You may believe as you wish. :)

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Have a happy and safe holiday season.

The First Day Of Winter

It's finally here - the first day of winter. Overnight, it brought us North winds of 36 mph (frequent gusts of 45 or more) and blowing snow. Not much snow yet, only about an inch or so. I expect a little drifting but I haven't seen any yet. The driveway is pretty clear with the wind blowing it all away, but the roads look like they've frozen over. Maybe later we'll go out and "play" in it - after they get it cleaned up a bit.

This image is from one of our local TV stations' webcams, captured this morning at about 8:40am. Too bad you can't see the wind. It's howling! They are talking about us on The Weather Channel as I type. They are saying gusts over 50 mph now.

I still have someone to buy some small things for, for Christmas. I know what I want to get, but I should probably be alone when I do. Kinda hard to keep secrets sometimes when shopping together. I almost blew it for a friend yesterday. I got a little close and saw "stuff" in the shopping cart, but none of it registered. I just wasn't paying that close attention, so the surprise is intact. I gotta be careful about that. :)

As for today, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

Happy First Day Of Winter!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kringla Time!

I'm half Norwegian. Both my maternal grandparents were Norwegian. When we were kids, we looked forward to visiting Grandma, partly because she always had goodies waiting for us - the fresh-baked, homemade kind. Her cinnamon rolls were to die for! If there weren't so many waiting for us, there would probably have been a few fights along the way. *G*

She liked to make Norwegian/Scandinavian treats for us - mostly lefsa and kringla. I think my favorite is still Kringla. I made my first batch ever last year around Christmas time, and did some more tonight. I think I'm improving a bit. They were a bit more uniform this time, and none of them were dark on the bottom. I even boxed up half a dozen or so to share with a friend. I'm not at all embarrassed to let others see them. They actually looked pretty good! (Taste good, too!)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or oleo
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

Mix sugar, butter, unbeaten egg. Add buttermilk and soda, then flour, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Must keep dough cold as you work with it so just take out of the frig. what you need at a time. Roll out small pieces like a pencil on a floured pastry cloth. (I used waxed paper. If you do, you will probably need to tape it down so it doesn't slide around.) Can make them into a circle, a bow shape, or a figure eight shape. Mine are pretzel shaped, like my grandmother did. Bake at 400 F on an ungreased cookie sheet until very lightly browned, only about 8-10 minutes. Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen. Serve spreading butter on the bottom. (You can put anything you like on them, but I eat 'em up plain.) Double ingredients for about 5 dozen. You can freeze them and warm in the microwave oven for "drop-in" coffee friends.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Meme

1.What is your favorite Christmas carol/song?

If I had to pick one, it would probably be Believe as done by Josh Groban.

2.White lights or multicolored?
I like both, but multi-colored are "comfort food".

3. Do you have a cut tree, live tree or an artificial tree?

4. Eggnog, mulled cider, or hot chocolate?
Decisions, decisions, decisions.

5. Do you decorate your house with lights?

6. Do you write a Christmas letter?

7. Do you like receiving Christmas letters/photos?
I enjoy getting anything in the mail from friends and family.

8. What is your favorite Christmas story/movie?
Home Alone or (believe it or not) It's a Wonderful Life.

9. Have you ever made a gingerbread house?

10. Poinsettias or holly?
No preference here.

11. Do you display a nativity scene?

12. Do you bake Christmas cookies?
I need to get started on my kringla.

13. Ham or turkey?

14. In what languages can you wish someone a Merry Christmas (without cheating)?
Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad

15. Do you know all the words to Jingle Bells?
I think so

16. Do you put presents under the tree?
Yes and antique toys

17. How do you eat a candy cane?
Probably not.

18. What is your biggest holidays pet peeve?
Saying "Merry Christmas" is not cool to many people. I don't care for intolerance.

19. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Getting together with family.

20. What was the best present you ever got for Christmas?
Freedom, on Christmas in July.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ice and Snow

Last night, things got a bit chilly for us. This morning, we woke up to ice - mixed with a bit of snow, but mostly ice. We're supposed to get some more tomorrow. Maybe we'll get lucky and get a "snow day" and get to stay home.

I ventured out a little while ago to check out the situation. Not real bad. The ice is the crunchy/crusty kind, but where traffic has been on our street, it's been slicked up a bit. I headed out to get he salt left over from last year, break it up since it clumped up in storage, and start de-icing. It's been said that I live for wintry weather, but not really. I just don't let it bother me at all. I was born and raised in Iowa, so nasty winter weather isn't a big deal - just takes a little adjustment.

Hopefully, things won't deteriorate and get too icy. I don't care what kind of vehicle you are in, nothing does well on ice. Unfortunately, some people think since they have a 4WD, they are immune to going sideways - and they find out otherwise. No, it's not just 4WD owners. They're great when they are driven properly. A lot of people over-drive situations. When icy, it all comes to light.


Some friends came to the panhandle from Tennessee this weekend. Together, three couples enjoyed a Lone Star Ballet production of The Nutcracker. This is the second time in my life I've seen it. As usual, it was a great show. The props/scenery were beautiful! Unfortunately, they don't permit photography or videos, so I can't show you what they looked like. Surprisingly, there were a fair amount of kids at the ballet, and most of them stayed awake through it all. It was really entertaining, with appropriate humor interjected in both acts. I loved it!