Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Day The Music Died

What a fabulous weekend we had! On Friday afternoon we got a call from friends, Andy and Kay, asking if we could make it to the Oscar Store for dinner that evening with them and another couple. Of course we said "YES!" The Oscar Store is a unique and wonderful restaurant on Little Elm Creek and Farm Road 3117, six miles east of Temple - in the middle of nowhere! The "town" of Oscar was founded by Czechs in the late 19th century and had a post office from 1892 to 1904. In 1896 Oscar had a population of 115, and had a cotton gin, a hotel, a general store, a blacksmith and a barber. Now all that is left is the Oscar Store.

The original Oscar Store was built in 1934, but in 2005 it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. It has since been rebuilt - but still looks OLD - and reopened in 2009. They serve steaks, burgers, catfish, and other wonderful dinners. Sometimes they have live music. We really enjoyed ourselves out there, with Andy, Kay, Kelly and Trish.

Then, on Saturday morning, about 8:00, Andy and Kay showed up at our door, as scheduled, to drive us up to Granbury, a quaint little town, with an old, restored Opera House on the town square, where we had tickets to see "The Day the Music Died," a live performance by some talented impersonators of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. We had time, before the 2:00 matinee, to shop in some of the terrific little shops on the square and have lunch at The Fillin' Station, a restaurant with lots of atmosphere, good service, and great food. Then it was on to the Opera House, where we were taken back in time with some of the best and most memorable songs from our younger years . . . Chantilly Lace, That's What I'm Talkin' About, La Bamba, Donna, Peggy Sue and That'll Be the Day, to name just a few. 
 From the balcony, looking down into the lobby of the Old Opera House. It's a beautiful venue.

That's "Buddy Holly" at center mike.
Driving back home, we stopped in Glen Rose, at the Pie Peddlers, where we each, quite appropriately, consumed a slice of . . . American Pie!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year - 2017!

On New Year's Eve we gathered with friends from church for a party, which started at 7:00 p.m. and would last until midnight, when we would ring in the new year with the church bell and prayer. But most of us didn't stick around that long. We, ourselves, left around 10:30, after a great time with lots of good finger-food, games and laughs.

Dan and I played UNO for most of the evening, but when the table next to us started playing Pie Face, we all threw in our cards and gathered round to watch people get hit in the face with whipped cream. Everyone was a good sport - kids and adults alike took their turns.

Here's our preacher, Joe, after his turn. The one laughing hysterically behind him is his mother-in-law, by the way.

Unlike the adults, who hoped to escape the hand full of whipped cream after turning the handle, the kids hoped for a splat in the face on their turn. 

Happy new year to you and yours! 

Christmas 2016

Chris, Kelsey and the kids had a very different Christmas this year. For 12 days, they camped at various state parks, on their way to and from Kelsey's folks' home in Pecos, TX. They spent Christmas Eve and Christmas there, in Pecos, and then headed back east, camping at Inks Lake State Park - west of Austin - as their final camping spot.

On Tuesday, December 27, Dan and I packed up our car with a hot meal - pot roast with vegetables and gravy, pasta salad, green bean casserole and apple crisp for dessert - and with our gifts, and headed out to the camp ground. We got there around noon, and the dinner was still hot, thanks to a new casserole caddy that I bought just for this purpose. We ate first thing and then opened all of our gifts.

Dan got a new windbreaker, from our kids/grands, that he'd been needing, and I was happy to open a wind chime that is tuned to the sounds of Pachelbel's Canon in D.  I love it!

Sadly, Chris was suffering terribly with juniper/cedar allergies when we arrived. He hadn't been able to sleep the night before. Not long after we got there the same pollens attacked me, as well. I thought I'd be fine when we got back home, but apparently the juniper is doing its thing all over Central TX, because I've been fighting it ever since. Chris got so bad that they had to cut their camping vacation short and head back home on Wednesday.

I was so busy having fun that day that I didn't take many pictures. Thanks to Kelsey, who was better at playing "photographer," I was able to swipe a few photos from her blog to post here.

Kelsey shared an idea with me, a couple months ago, for a gift she thought the kids would like. They have been watching the old Gilligan's Island TV show, and have fallen in love with it (Robert even dressed as Gilligan for Halloween). She thought they would like to have some little peg dolls, painted as the Gilligan's Island gang, since they've been building "sets" with Legos and playing some of the scenes from their favorite episodes. And so, I took on that project. It was great fun, and I think the kids like them.

Left to right: The Captain, the Professor, Mary Ann, Gilligan, Ginger, Mr. Howell and Mrs. Howell.

We added to Robert's Modarri car collection, and he was thrilled to get them. We also got him a storage case for all of them.

We gave to Clara - our girl who is all into owls - a yard flag holder and a set of owl flags for all the seasons. This is the winter one.

It was a Christmas like none other for us. It seems it doesn't matter where we are for the holidays, as long as we're with our loved ones, it's GOOD.

Speaking of loved ones, Tim wasn't able to come for Christmas this year, and we missed him! But he's looking forward to a spring visit with us, and we'll make sure he gets over to the Houston area to see his brother's family.

And now we can start the countdown again. According to, there are only 356 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 39 seconds left until Christmas Day 2017! Better start shopping.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Is in the Air

Yesterday the temperature was 75 degrees almost all day long . . . until the "arctic front" moved in suddenly. In a matter of a couple hours the temperature dropped drastically. When we went to bed it had hit freezing, and during the night it dropped to 22 degrees. It was still in the 20s when we got up to get ready for church this morning, and stayed cold all day long. They say in a day or two it will warm back up.

But cold weather is what we are supposed to be having . . . it's Christmas time, after all! Just take a peek at my December calendar:

Dan and I kicked off the Christmas season with the Temple Symphony Christmas Concert, on Saturday, December 3. It was great, as usual.

Last week I had four different Christmas events to attend. On Saturday, the 10th I went to a D.A.R. luncheon. I'm not yet a member of D.A.R., but my application has been signed off on by the local folks, and it will be sent in for approval on Monday, so they keep encouraging me to come to the meetings as a "prospective member." The luncheon was really nice and included some great entertainment.

On Sunday evening, December 11, we had a church Christmas dinner. It was great fun. The food was delicious and abundant, and the entertainment included, among other performances, a few songs by the Spanish-speaking children of our congregation. They are such beautiful children, and their singing was sweet as could be.

Our congregation always participates in providing Christmas gifts for the children at Cherokee Home for Children. Here were the presents, all waiting for Santa to bag them up and take them to the children.

The Bell County Genealogy Society met on Tuesday night, and it was our annual Christmas finger-food party. I took my French cookies, as usual.

Thursday evening was "Ladies' Night Out," and 20 of the ladies from church had dinner together at Alexander's at the Inn on the Creek, in Salado. Great night of fellowship! Dan and a couple of the other husbands - Andy and Kelly - had their own, unofficial, "Guys' Night Out," and went to dinner at Red Lobster.

We are looking forward to celebrating Christmas (a couple days late) with our grandkids. Until then, I'll take a break from blogging and wish you a wonderful Christmas full of love from friends and family.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

An outdoor Thanksgiving, with Chris, Kelsey and the kids, has become our tradition, ever since moving from Albuquerque to Temple. Last year's plans were sidelined, and moved indoors, due to weather, but 2012, 2013, 2014, and this year we've been blessed with good weather and the beauties of nature.

This year we met up with them at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, near Jasper, Texas (which is about 40 miles from the Louisiana state line). We spent most of Wednesday and all day Thursday at the campground with the kids, and then, as is Dan's and my habit, "camped" at a hotel with a comfy bed and hot shower, while the kids and grands all stayed in their cozy camper trailer. 

The campground sits alongside a large lake (B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir), and several sloughs meander through the park, providing some really interesting scenery, like none I've ever seen before. I'm told there are alligators in the water, but we didn't see any.

Wednesday was pretty relaxed. It was Robert's birthday - his 7th! Although he'd had a party last weekend with some of his school and church friends, and although he had already received his brand new bicycle from Chris and Kelsey, we saved our gift for his actual birthday, when we'd be able to be with him. We got him a Modarri car kit, as suggested by his mommy. It has a little screwdriver that can be used to customize and modify the car. Seemed right up his alley! He played with it off and on all day, and into the night. 

Chris cooked up a great batch of chili and some cornbread for dinner Wednesday night. He has become quite the outdoor chef, cooking in his cast iron Dutch ovens. He puts coals beneath and on top of the pots, and cooks up some delicious dinners. 

After a good night's sleep in Jasper, we came back to camp for Thanksgiving Day. Soon after we got there, I went across the road to the restroom, and was met by a little fawn, nibbling the grass. I went back to get the kids, so they could see it. The little deer wasn't at all frightened of people. The kids walked up quite close. Eventually it did move away a few feet, but didn't run off. Clara was glad to get some pictures of it.

We ate our Thanksgiving meal in the early afternoon. Chris and Kelsey did all the preparations, and it turned out great. 

Kind of a blurry picture, but I liked it anyway.
The ecosystem in this part of Texas is so different from anything I'm familiar with. The trees are a combination of pines and deciduous trees. At the edge of the water are cypress trees, which I haven't ever seen before.

On Thursday afternoon, we all went on a little hike. The kids were hunting for a "letterbox," which was supposed to be on the trail we were hiking. They didn't find it, but it was a great hike, anyway. (I didn't know what "letterboxing" was, either, until Kelsey and Clara educated me. If you don't know, check it out on Wikipedia, here.)

Here's a REALLY tall tree we saw along the way. Robert thought he wanted to climb it, but changed his mind when his daddy boosted him up. 

Grandpa and I relaxed in the late afternoon, while the younger crew went on a second hike and succeeded in finding the letter box they were hunting for; and while they went on a short canoe trip out into the lake.


We drove home Friday and ran into rain part way home. We are grateful for the good weather we had for our time together; and most thankful for our family - Chris, Kelsey, Clara, Robert and Tim (who is still in far-away Albuquerque, and couldn't be with us for Thanksgiving). 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Bonny Good Village, Church and Festival

Over the summer, Dan and I made the difficult decision to change church congregations. After visiting different ones throughout the summer, we finally decided, this fall, to make the Salado Church of Christ our new “home.” This congregation is in the village of Salado, Texas, just a few miles south of Temple, where we live. 

We’ve already grown to know and love many of the members there. We’ve been welcomed so warmly, and invited out to lunch, into homes, and to church and community events. We've also been impressed with the preaching and teaching.

So, we are really finding it a blessing to be worshipping with the Salado church, but we are also finding it a joy to become more acquainted with and connected to the little town of Salado. What a special community it is! There are not many towns left, for instance, that still have a community-wide Thanksgiving service, with a dessert fellowship following! And THIS weekend Salado hosted, as they have done for 55 years, the Scottish Gathering of the Clans and Highland Games. 

I’ve gone to this festival before, but this weekend was Dan's first time. Two of my great-grandparents were Scots (a McIlwrath and a Patterson), but Dan doesn’t think he has any Scottish blood in him. Still, he agreed to go this year, and I think enjoyed himself. He mentioned to someone there that he wasn’t Scottish, and they asked, “Well, do you like the bagpipes?” He said he did, and the other person assured him, “Then you're Scottish!” 

The festival runs all weekend, including today. Our friends, Andy and Kay, both have Scottish roots and always take part in all three days of the festivities. We saw them yesterday, after the parade, and I took their picture. 

This morning, at church, there were a number of people wearing their tartan plaids. Some of the men were even in their kilts, including Andy, again, but this time he wore his fancy Prince Charlie jacket. He is our Sunday morning Bible teacher. I doubt that there were many, if any, other churches in America today, with a kilted Bible class teacher. He looked good!

Marching in the parade, in this photo, are more friends from church, Kelly and Trish. Kelly (second from right) is blind, but that never stops him from going and doing. He is being assisted, here, by his granddaughter. Over on the left, waving, is Trish.

I saw quite a few dogs wearing kilts, as well, such as this one. 

There were lots of bagpipes. This was one of the larger clans in attendance.

The gentleman to the left was the grand marshal of the parade.
Hay pitching. There were lots of other Highland Games in the afternoon, but we didn't stay for them.

Parade, Scottish food, Highland Games, bagpipe contests, Scottish dance contests, clan booths and vendor booths. It was a lot of fun. By next year I hope to have my own clans identified, so I can get a sash or scarf in my tartan. It will take some research. It's not as easy as just looking up your family name in a book, Ive learned. My initial research tells me I might be in either the MacDonald or Frasier clan (on my great-grandfather's side), and the Farquhar clan (on my great-grandmother's side). More research is needed.