No Kidding!

You all will not believe this story!  The grown baby squirrel just tried to get back into the birdhouse.  When he stuck his head into the hole, the sparrow who has been working so hard on his “condo”, came dive bombing down off of the tree and hit the squirrel  in the head.  The squirrel fell, of course!  Since I have been sitting at my computer, the squirrel has not returned.  “Who says, you can’t go home?”


Late Spring on Riverside

It appears to be a dreary day without rain again, but I still took time to slip outside and photograph a few of our

glorious early blooms!

Scrapbooking in April

Four of us enjoyed a wonderful day at Kim’s house on Saturday.  Kelley brought her mom, Angie and Kim, Pam and I brought ourselves!  We accomplished so much.  I finished 6 pages of the  New England book from the trip my mother and I shared last October.   Six pages doesn’t sound like much, but “all the detail” takes a bit!!!!  We shared a lot of laughs and as usual, my friends were inspirational in talent.

Kelley and her mom, Angie
Kelley and her mom, Angie
Kelley at Work
Kelley at Work
Pam working her magic with paper
Pam working her magic with paper
Kim - a colorful two-page masterpiece
Kim - a colorful two-page masterpiece

TK’s Pinto Beans

BG is under-the-weather today, so I thought I would make him some good old-fashioned pinto beans for when he returns to good health:

TK’s Pinto Beans                                                                                                                                                                                                         

1 4-lb. bag of dried pinto beans

1 jar of Roasted Red Peppers, chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 small can Rotel

1/8 tsp. garlic powder ( or 1 clove of garlic)



1.  Wash and sort to remove any bad beans or rocks.

2.  Add enough water to a heavy kettle to cover 3 times greater than the amount of beans.

3.  Add 2 tsp. salt per pound of beans. ( I shortened this)

4.  Boil beans for 2 minutes.

5.  Cover and remove from heat for 1 hour.

6.  Return to heat and add embellishments.  I added 1/2 large onion chopped, one bottle red roasted red peppers chopped, one small can of rotel, and 1/8 tsp. of garlic powder.  You could add ham hock or bacon or chicken broth, if you prefer.

7.  Bring to a boil.

8.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.

Serve in a bowl, adding shredded cheese , plain yogurt and pepper, with a tortilla—yummy!

After the first meal, you can just use these beans for a base for ANYTHING & EVERYTHING!!!!


Dancing in the Moonlight

No one  can compete with  Billy Grosvenor when it comes to romance (at least with me!)  After sipping wine amidst the lit candles on the porch, we waltzed on Riverside tonight; under a clear midnight blue sky, singing                                   “Old flames Can’t Hold a Candle To You!! 



Porch sitting

My Grandfather (Dano) and Grandmother (Bubba)

Every evening without fail

Dim yellow light

Occasional visits from Butchy Boy the cat

Wanting an ear scratch or two

Frequent comments from Bubba; an occasional word from Dano

Today we sit

Same porch

BG and I

Enjoying the rhythm of the waterfall

Waterfall of Dano’s planning

Silent fish movement

Faint sweeping breeze

Thoughts of gratefulness

Their sacrifice

Their love

Their efforts


Primrose on the Creek

As Sonny, Bill and I were doing yardwork on the creek this morning, we took some pictures of the wild primrose (and Sonny, of course).  I also gathered firewood for my grandfather’s fireplace down there, and I also had to take a shot of his picnic table.  The table has survived many floods and is a wonderful “thinking” spot.

Danced all Night

We took B’s mother to the dance at the Country Club last night.  What fun it was for her and for us. BG is really worn out today after dancing all evening with two ladies.  I actually let Mimi dance with her talented son most of the night, so she could enjoy her favorite activity!  The band had a country western flavor last night, which was not the usual fair, but Mimi talked the band into playing “New York, New York” anyway!

Tax Planting Day

As  a “tax baby”, one tends to prefer the calmness of the outdoors to discussions of taxes due, taxes avoided, tax-paying refusal, tax politics, etc.  I enjoyed a wonderful special day with BG yesterday, planting perennials and other “pretties” in our yard.  Gardening is truly good for the soul.  I tried the art of dog grooming in the afternoon.  The “buzzing” clippers worked great, but the artist needs a little practice.  Maxwell looks SO MUCH BETTER, but is a little choppy on his back. 

I travelled to Italy, reading EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert, and today, I still have to travel through India and Indonesia by the time of my book club tonight!  Do you think I will make the deadline?  I plan to enjoy the journey, anyway.

Today, I spent the morning at Kasi’s Salon, getting my hair cut fairly short again—love it!  I was feeling rather droopy before, and now I am ready to dance Friday night, lighter on my feet-hah!

Sunset on Riverside

An Arbor

An Altar

A Night Sky at Sunset

Memories of a Backyard Wedding

A Moment Undefined by Words





Squirrel Meets World

We watched from the window in the house, as Baby Squirrel #1 ventured half of his body out of the house, stretched and stretched, successfully pulled his entire body out, grasped the roof of the house and then, suddenly fell all of the way to the ground.  He just lay there a minute kind of stunned and then started clumsily climbing the tree.  That’s when I got the photograph; Half way up he started whistling for his mama.  He looks bigger in the pictures than you would expect, but his tail is shorter.  He has huge feet!  This will probably be the final post regarding this creek adventure. I hope you have enjoyed it!

My Heart Story

As I reflect upon my life, I feel the continuing need to share “My Heart Story” for those who may benefit from the Ross procedure, as I did.  In 2006, I was diagnosed with a heart murmur, not rarely found in routine physical examinations.  However, in 52 years, noone had ever diagnosed this problem for me.  I proceeded with a number of typical heart tests  (EKGs, ECHOS, etc.) and was found to have a possible bicuspid aortic valve (which I would have been born with), and an “almost closed”  Aortic valve.  At the time I was diagnosed, I was one of those people who was walking four miles per day and could have died instantly, with noone knowing why an active, hard-working 52-year-old left this world.  Following several heart tests, I was told by a local Cardiologist that I could receive a mechanical valve locally and go “from bad to less bad”.  That was NOT GOOD ENOUGH for me!  So, my husband Bill and I embarked upon a long journey of research regarding Aortic Valve Stenosis and its treatment.  What we discovered on our journey was a rare, but successful surgery, known as the Ross procedure, which we posed to our local Cardiologist during our next visit.   At that time, the Cardiologist informed me “My Dear, you don’t need a Ross procedure”.  My husband was very affirming that I was not a “My Dear” and that further research was warranted.  When the Doctor dismissed me, his patient, as a “My Dear”, we knew we were on our own.

In our research across the internet, we discovered a very accomplished surgeon, Dr. John Oswalt, from Austin, Texas, who was very knowledgeable and experienced in performing successful Ross procedures.  We also discovered that Dr. Oswalt occasionally officed and worked in San Angelo, to help people in a region served by his father in the past.  We learned that he was one of a very few surgeons internationally, who was very accomplished in the Ross procedure for Aortic valve replacement.  We met Dr. Oswalt in San Angelo and after reviewing my echo, etc., he recommended the Ross procedure for me.  Dr. Oswalt performed my open heart surgery on July 5, 2006 at Seton Hospital in Austin, Texas. 

” 1967, Dr. Donald Ross, an accomplished surgeon in England, was the first surgeon to perform an effective aortic valve replacement as an alternative to the traditional mechanical valve being used. Ten years ago, John “Chip” Oswalt, M.D., an accomplished surgeon in Austin, Texas, became the first in the state to perform this same aortic valve replacement procedure. Dr. Oswalt says, “It’s an ideal operation because it doesn’t place anything inside that obstructs flow. It’s very physiologic in that manner.”

Known as the “Ross Procedure,” this complex operation takes about three hours to perform as opposed to the two hours needed for a mechanical valve replacement. The surgeon takes the pulmonary artery artery and valve and moves them over into the aortic position for the valve replacement. A human cadaveric pulmonary valve is put in place of the patient’s pulmonary valve.

The Ross Procedure is used primarily for neonates, infants, young people who are very active and don’t want to be on medication (blood thinners) for the rest of their lives, young women in their child-bearing years (this procedure allows them to have children), and middle-aged people who are active. Patient qualifications include how long the valve will need to last (older patients could have a mechanical or pig valve) and possible use of blood thinners. It is used in young children because the living valve will grow with the child. No other valve replacement option can do this. It offers a lot of versatility because it is flexible living tissue. In theory, this procedure should last a lifetime.

Dr. Oswalt, president of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons and a partner in Heart Hospital of Austin, is the lead surgeon on this procedure and is well respected for his work. He has performed an estimated 150 procedures in Central Texas and across the United States. Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons are among the top four in the nation for highest volume of the Ross Procedure. Dr. Oswalt often treats patients who live outside Texas. Dr. Oswalt added, “I get a lot of patients who decide to come here and have the surgery from around the United States because of reading about the Ross Procedure on our website.”

Because he is such a leader in the Ross Procedure, Dr. Oswalt is often invited to different hospitals across America to help surgeons perform their first Ross. He trains and participates in Teaching Symposiums as well. Dr. Oswalt comments, “I not only enjoy the opportunity to teach someone, but I really enjoy seeing other hospitals, their operating rooms, how they do things, and being around other surgeons. In addition to teaching, it allows me to learn a lot.” The symposiums often involve a live teleconference in which 100-150 surgeons view Dr. Oswalt on a monitor as he performs the Ross Procedure. They can interact verbally with Dr. Oswalt as he is operating which allows for very direct surgical teaching.

This procedure took about twenty years to catch on in the United States because American physicians wanted to see Dr. Ross’ data to verify that it was an effective valve replacement procedure. Twenty years ago, American physicians had developed a replacement procedure using pig valves, which took 15-20 years to follow-up. They realized it was failing after 10-15 years and an alternative was necessary.

The Ross Procedure carries a higher risk for patients than mechanical valve replacement because it is a double valve replacement rather than a single valve replacement procedure. The patient can expect to stay 3-4 days in the hospital. The healing process involves the bones healing rather than the heart.”  The quoted segment is from surgeon

John Oswalt’s website:  www.john-oswalt-ross-procedure-cardiac-surgeon-heart.php

Dr. Oswalt emphasized to me that he could not believe more surgeons did not recommend this procedure, because it allows young, active females to have children, as opposed to other procedures that prevent them from being able to have children in the future.  For me, an active, middle-aged female, it has made it possible for me to maintain an active life without being on Coumadin for the rest of my life.  I am so thankful for our persistance in finding Dr. O. and his knowledge and talent. 

Dr. Oswalt has also been invited internationally to present trainings on stitching procedures for heart surgery.  Once Dr. O. entered my heart, he realized I had a misplaced superior vena cava and that I was born with a hole in my heart. He told us that there was a possibility my aortic valve was not bicuspid, but that one of my three leaflets had filled in the apparent  hole in my heart, leaving the appearance of a bicuspid valve and preventing  more obvious symptoms of my problems throughout my life.  I needed his “expert stitchery” and God’s blessing to have the strong heart I have today.  He is an extremely, talented surgeon and his charm and expertise will convince you of his art.  He saved my life ; the result made it better, and I will always be  indebted to him.


The Secret of the Sea by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As I continue to scrapbook our trip through New England, I find that poetry by Longfellow describes our view of the power of the Atlantic so well.  Also, I though this poem was fitting, as I watch the Tale of Pirates on the Current News:

THE SECRET OF THE SEA by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Au!  what pleasant visions haunt me
   As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
  All my dreams. come back to me.
Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,
  Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the singing of the sailors,
  and the answer from the shore!
Most of all, the Spanish ballad
  Haunts me oft, and tarries long,
Of the noble Count Arnaldos
  And the sailor’s mystic song.
Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
  Where the sand as silver shines,
With a soft, monotonous cadence,
  Flow its unrhymed lyric lines;–
Telling how the count Arnaldos,
  With his hawk upon his hand,
Saw a fair and stately galley,
  Steering onward to the land;–
How he heard the ancient helmsman
  Chant a song so wild and clear,
That the sailing sea-bird slowly
  Posed upon the mast to hear,
Till his soul was full of longing,
  And he cried, with impulse strong,–
“Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
  Teach me, too, that wondrous song!”
“Wouldst thou,”–so the helmsman answered,
   “Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
   Comprehend its mystery!”
In each sail that skims the horizon,
  In each landward-blowing breeze,
I behold that stately galley,
  Hear those mournful melodies;
Till my soul is full of longing
  For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
  Sends a thrilling pulse through me.