Saturday, February 27, 2010


Do any of you guys believe in the supernatural? Ghosts, spirits, witches: stories of such exist in every single culture, both extant and extinct. Some of these legends and phenomena have become so widespread that the entire world is aware of them. Who is not familiar with stories detailing ghosts who haunt a beloved home or heard of the "evil eye"? Then there are the lesser known tales, stories that circulate only within a community and never gain a widespread audience. One such tale is the legend of the lechuza.

Here in South Texas, there is no one who has not heard of the lechuza, a witch who travels at night in the form of a large owl. The witch, or bruja, is always a practitioner of evil magic and flies about to cause mischief. Some people say that she hunts unfaithful men, others say that she is looking for unprotected children to steal. Either way, her intentions are never good. Should a lechuza sit outside of a home, the inhabitants will have sickness or death befall them. Vehicles traveling at night will suddenly lose power as an owl flies past, a sure sign that the owl was actually a shape-shifted witch.

You can imagine that, given these stories, South Texans are afraid of owls. I have a friend, well, more of an acquaintance at this point I suppose, who swears that he saw a lechuza when he was a boy. According to him, he was walking home one night from visiting a neighborhood friend. The sun had already set that night, but he says that he wasn't worried. His neighborhood was very quiet and safe. Just as he was about to cross to the next block, he noticed a large number of crows sitting in the trees all around him. His eyes scanned the trees in disbelief at the sheer mass of birds. He was used to seeing the grackles since they were always to be found on his side of town, but still, there were simply more than he had ever seen at one time. And then he saw it.

Sitting right in the middle of the mass of black birds was a large owl. Now, that was definitely not something he had ever seen. Grackles avoided owls at all costs since the larger birds frequently made meals out of the black feathered birds. An owl sitting with grackles was not natural. He says that as soon as he spotted the owl, its eyes fixed upon him and wouldn't look away. Feeling a shiver of warning run down his back, he took off as fast as he could, running past the mass of birds towards home. As he passed the unnaturally still birds, they exploded into the air and began to shadow his steps until he got to his porch. He told his parents what had happened, but when then went outside to check, there were no birds to be seen. He swears the owl was actually a lechuza, the grackles her familiars.

Though you might consider the legend to be fun, there is a downside to this belief in the lechuza. Owls are not safe in South Texas. There are many people who will shoot at any owl they see, afraid that it is, if not an actual bruja, at the least, a harbinger of doom. And though this happens more in the country than in the cities, the fact that South Texas is primarily country is not a good thing for the owls.


Friday, February 19, 2010


I have always loved looking at dragonflies. When I was a child, my older sister and I would make the short walk to a creek that ran near our house and sit on the steeply sloped banks. She would remove her shoes and put her feet in the water. I, being the panicky germ-o-phobe, would leave my shoes on, but would sit next to her on the grass.

The water wasn't very deep, and we could see the bottom of the creek, the rounded stones, the strange little lobster-like creatures that I later found out were called crawdads. I remember there being a thick tall grass that grew in the water and along the banks. I am certain they weren't cattails, but they were very similar. We had to be wary of the tall stalks; the edges of the leaves tended to be rather sharp and would slice through the skin of our hands if we weren't careful.

In my mind's eye, I can still see the colorful dragonflies flitting in and out of the tall grass , buzzing and darting about, rarely settling anywhere for long, but providing flashes of color and excitement to the creek that was otherwise various shades of green. At times, they would even seem to land on the surface of the water, though I suppose they were simply hovering.

The creek no longer runs past my parents' home. The city has since dug it up and paved it over with concrete. Instead of a living ecosystem, the small creek has been converted into a drainage area for rainwater. For a while after the improvements were completed, the dragonflies would still hang around the area, sometimes coming into my parents' yard looking for water. But I haven't seen one now for years.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Must Live My Favors

I must live all the favors God has given me today. A favor cannot be saved. There is no bank where one can deposit favors received, to be used in accordance with our will. If I do not make the most of these blessings, I shall lose them forever.

God knows that we are artists of life. One day he gives us a chisel for sculptures, another brushes and canvas, another a quill to write with. But we will never succeed in using chisels on canvas, or quills on sculptures. Each day has its own miracle. I must accept the blessings of today, to create what is mine; if I do this without objectivity and without guilt, tomorrow I shall receive more.

by Paulo Coelho
found for free at Freebooks

Each of us is blessed with gifts, gifts which can take many different forms: athleticism, intelligence, a sense of humor, or luck. The question is, what are we to do with them?

The warrior of light knows that he has been given gifts today to be used today. You might say that each of us must be a channel for blessings. As we receive, so must we pass on. As to how we are to use our gifts, I couldn't say because each person has their own destiny, their own strengths. All I can say for certain is that you must know yourself, recognize what your blessings are, and use them accordingly. Very vague words, I realize, but each person's path is their own. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Creamed Rice or Rice Pudding


1 cup rice
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt


1. Add the heavy cream, milk, water, and butter to a pot and heat until steam begin to rise.
2. Add in the rice and salt to the liquid and bring to a light boil. Stir rice continuously until it is tender and the liquid has thickened.
3. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla. Stir to dissolve all of the sugar and remove from the heat.

1. You can add in dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries, when you first put in the rice.
2. You can also add fresh fruit on top of the cooked rice pudding. I added a few pieces of banana in the picture above.
3. You can add 1 tsp of cocoa powder to give the pudding a light chocolate flavor as I did in the pudding above.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Qualities of a Warrior

The warrior of light has the qualities of a rock.

When he is on flat terrain, when all around has found harmony, he remains stable. People may build houses upon that which he created, because the storm will not be destructive.

When, however, he is placed on uneven terrain, and things around him do not show any respect or equilibrium for his work, he reveals his strength, rolling towards the enemy which threatens peace. At such times, the warrior is devastating, and no one can detain him.

A warrior of the light thinks of war and peace at the same time, and knows how to act according to the circumstances.

by Paulo Coelho
found as a free download at Freebooks

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Creamed Corn


2 1/2 cups of frozen sweet corn
1 1/2 tbs minced onion
2 tbs butter or Smart Balance spread
approx 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk, or half and half, or cream
1 tsp all purpose seasoning (I like Paul Prudhomme's Vegetable Magic)
3-4 tsps corn starch
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Melt butter in a pot and saute the onions until transluscent.

2.  Once the onion is translucent, add in the frozen corn and cook for a few minutes until all excess water is evaporated..

3.  Add in enough cream/milk/half and half to cover the corn completely. Bring to a boil.

4.  Add in the Vegetable Magic/all purpose seasoning. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
5.  Dissolve the corn starch into milk and add it slowly into the corn. Be sure to watch the thickness of the creamed corn. Too much corn starch will cause the milk/cream to clump up and become too tight. No one likes gloppy corn.

6.  The cream should be thick enough to coat the corn but should not look like library paste either.

Properly made creamed corn should be sweet, well seasoned, and luscious. I recommend real butter, half and half, and the Vegetable Magic to achieve that, but as always, to each his own.