Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekend Get-Away - New Braunfels, Texas

With little or no planning, we decided, late last week, to escape the routine and go out of town for the weekend. We tossed around several ideas, and finally decided to visit the New Braunfels area, since we had never been there. We found a reasonably-priced hotel in Schertz, just down the road from New Braunfels, so hopped in the car Friday morning for the just-over-two-hour drive to Schertz.

New Braunfels is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, and was founded in 1845 by German settlers. The German heritage is apparent everywhere you look. We wanted to enjoy a German style dinner, so I called a highly-rated little restaurant named Alpine Haus to make a reservation. I was told that they were full for the entire evening. Dan and I talked it over and decided to try for Saturday evening, so I called back. The fellow was so sorry to tell me that they were also full for that evening. But he took pity on me, I guess, and said, "Since there are only two of you, I'll make room for you tonight!"

We got to New Braunfels a little bit earlier than our reservation, so we strolled down the street and went into a couple of the interesting shops. One was a quilting shop, and the other a leather shop. Both of them gave us free "gifts" - some fabric squares at the quilting place, and two leather key fobs in the shape of the state of Texas at the leather store.

We had a little trouble finding Alpine Haus. It is located in a little old "haus" that sits behind some of the shops. It turned out to be worth the hunt, though . . . friendly folks, a great atmosphere, and delicious German food. I had schweinebraten (roast of pork) served with spaetzle and red cabbage.  Dan had rider roulade (stuffed beef steak) with German potato salad and red cabbage. Both meals
were superb. And, despite our full tummies, we couldn't resist apple strudel for dessert. Yum!

The next morning we went back to New Braunfels to explore more of the shops along the quaint main street. We especially enjoyed the old-timey hardware store and a large antique mall. A lot of the shops said they were from 1860 or thereabouts. The buildings are all historic and the original horse-rings are still embedded in the sidewalks.

Street scene
The hardware store

Barber shop

Most of the shops had original tin ceilings and decorative pillars like this


Horse rings

Many of the houses were historic, grand and beautiful, but this little tiny house with the log shed caught my eye
 We went back to our hotel for a while after lunch, and before dinner we went out for a drive to do a little exploring. The drive was jaw-dropping beautiful, with rolling hills, vibrant green fields with trees, and wild flowers of various colors carpeting the fields and sides of the roads. A few miles north of Shertz we stumbled upon the Natural Bridge Caverns and Wildlife Ranch. Sadly, things were closing down for the day. Now we have a good reason to return to this area. I SO wanted to explore both of these. They are located right next to each other, in the midst of some of the lushest, most beautiful countryside. Sadly I didn't have my camera with me on this outing, and my iPhone just couldn't capture pictures worthy of posting.

On Sunday morning we started home, driving up I-35 through Austin, and to the Round Rock area, where we stopped for church at the Westside Church of Christ. Our friends, Robert and Susan worship there, and it was fun seating ourselves behind them and surprising them.

All in all it was a very relaxing and enjoyable little weekend get-away. We knew we had to take advantage of this weekend or lose our chance, since I will be having my second (left) knee replacement surgery on Thursday. That will lay me up for awhile, so it was our last opportunity to do something for a few weeks.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Weekend with my Grandkids

The last time the grandkids were here, they had to be on their best behavior. Everyone was focused on the loss of their Nanny, and emotional tension ruled the day. Throughout it all, they were very well-behaved. So when we learned that they would be here for Easter weekend, I determined to make this visit focused on FUN.

Chris and Kelsey are smack-dab in the middle of a move, from one house to the other, so Chris wasn't able to come this weekend. But Kelsey, despite this being her third trip to our house in less than a month, packed up the kids and all of their paraphernalia, and drove to Temple so Grandma and Grandpa could enjoy them for the holiday weekend. And enjoy them we did! Here are some  pictorial highlights of our time together.


A SOAPBALL MAKING KIT (But the kids got creative and used cookie cutters instead.)

BLUEBONNET PICTURES (An annual MUST-DO for kids in Texas)

KIDDOKINGDOM - THE BOUNCY HOUSE PLACE (Tuckered out, at the end)






DRESSED UP FOR CHURCH (And showing off the stuffed animals they got from two sweet, elderly ladies from church, Miss Doe and Miss Wanda.)



No pictures for this one, but we also went to the theater to see the new Cinderella movie. I wasn't sure that Robert would want to go, and offered to let him opt out, but he didn't want to miss out on anything, so we all went. An hour or so into the movie (about the time his popcorn ran out), however, Robert was thinking he might not have made such a good decision -- too much romance and "girly" stuff for him! But the rest of us gave this sweet re-do of the classic Disney movie two thumbs up. The take-away theme of the movie is, "Have courage and be kind." You can't go wrong with that!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mom's Cranberry Orange Scones

Here is the recipe for the scones that Mom loved to bake and give away. She even baked a couple batches at my house, not long ago, and shared them with her Stoney Brook friends.

Cranberry Orange Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter
3/4 cup (more or less) cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
zest from one orange
1 egg
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I think Mom just used whole milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt).
Cut in cold butter.
Add cranberries, nuts and orange zest.
Beat egg with cream (or milk) in a small bowl and gently stir into dry ingredients (don't over-stir).
On floured surface, knead gently and form into an 8" circle.
Cut into 8 wedges.
Bake about 25 minutes.


2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup orange juice

Mix ingredients together and brush on the glaze while scones are still hot from the oven.

From the Memorial Program Handout

Margaret Clark was born June 11, 1926, to Walter and Rose McIlwrath in Enterprise, Oregon. Walter was an army veteran and worked as a miner and, later, a logger. Her mother, Rose, was born in France and immigrated to America, along with her family, when she was a child.
Shortly after Margaret’s first birthday, she lost her father in a logging accident. Two years later her mother, Rose, married Ivan Womack (known as Pop to Margaret), who lovingly and devotedly cared for Margaret as his own daughter. Rose and Ivan later had a son, Margaret’s half-brother, Ivan, known as“Bud”, who has spent most of his adult life in Alaska, where he continues to reside.
Margaret spent much of her early years living in Oregon logging camps, where Pop was the camp cook and baker. Baking was his specialty, and he later owned and operated several bakeries in Oregon and Alaska.
Margaret went to high school at Hillsboro High, in Hillsboro, Oregon. She was an especially talented soprano, often performing on stage as a soloist, singing in high school and college productions, and providing the music for many of her friends’ weddings. Later in life she sang with the Sweet Adelines. She was also quite skilled at playing the violin. Not long ago she had her violin re-strung and passed it on to her great-granddaughter, Clara. After high school Margaret attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she continued to study music.
In 1946, just before her 20th birthday, she married the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Clark, whom she first met in high school. Together they bore three children: a son, Wesley Ivan, who died at birth in 1947; a daughter, Linda Margaret, born in 1949; and a son, Robert Wellington Jr., “Bobby”, born in 1953, who lived only three short years.
In 1957 Bob, Margaret and Linda moved to Juneau, Alaska, where Margaret’s parents owned a bakery. When her Pop’s health began to fail, Margaret and Bob bought the bakery and ran it for close to 15 years before moving to Anchorage, Alaska. There they opened another bakery. Later Bob closed out his career by teaching commercial baking at the University of Alaska.
Margaret had a 14 year career with the State of Alaska. Her work days began especially early, though, because before going to the office she came into the bakery to fry and glaze the morning’s donuts. After work she hurried back to the bakery to help close up the shop and clean the cases. Despite this double-duty, Margaret’s career with the State was successful. One of her positions was Finance Officer for the Office of the Governor, where she had the sole responsibility of preparing the Governor’s budget and presenting it to the Legislative Budget Committee. She finally retired from the State in 1981, while she was serving as the Administrative Officer for the Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska State Troopers.
After retirement, Bob and Margaret moved to Oregon to be closer to her daughter Linda, son-in-law Dan, and two grandsons Chris and Tim. These may have been the best years of her life. Being close to the grandchildren was a great joy to her. She and Bob spent a lot of time with them and enjoyed taking them on camping trips to the Oregon coast.
Margaret was a dedicated Christian, with the honor of supporting Bob in his work as an elder in  churches of Christ in four different congregations in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. A few years after Bob’s death, in 1997, Margaret moved from Oregon to Carlsbad, New Mexico. It was during these years that she was blessed with two great-grandchildren, Clara Margaret and Robert Fox Judd, the children of her grandson, Christopher and his wife Kelsey. Margaret was loved by her neighbors and church friends in Carlsbad. She was well-known for knocking on neighbors’ doors and handing them a plate of her warm-from-the-oven cranberry/orange scones.
In 2014 Margaret decided that living independently was becoming difficult. With the help of her daughter, Linda, she packed up and moved to Belton, Texas, into a lovely little apartment in Stoney Brook Assisted Living, just ten minutes away from Linda and Dan. Although she lived there less than a year, she had already made many new friends from Stoney Brook and from her new church family, the Avenue T church of Christ.

A Time to Remember

Mom's early years

Mom's later years

Mom's memorial service was on Friday, March 20. It was a sweet and simple service. Our long-time family friend, Bob Waldron, and his wife, Gina, came from the Dallas area. We first knew Bob and Gina back in Juneau, Alaska, in the 1960s, when he was the preacher for our congregation. He's been present for several major events in our family life. He performed the marriage ceremonies for Dan and I and for Chris and Kelsey. In the memorial service he spoke about Mom's Alaskan years. He called her a "Renaissance Woman" and an "Adventurer," both of which I felt were really appropriate.

In the middle of the service Chris accompanied Clara and Robert to the front. Clara spoke some sweet words about her Nanny, and then she and Robert sang, "You Are My Sunshine." Chris, who intended to speak, but didn't, said later, "I should have spoken before the kids sang, because I couldn't say anything afterward." We all sympathized, since no one had a dry eye after the song.

Our local minister, Rodney Tedford, closed out the service with a tribute to Mom's later years. He knew her for less than a year, since she only moved here last summer, but had already gotten to know and love her.

Also attending the memorial were two other Juneau friends. Bea Long, who still lives there, was in Texas visiting her daughter Terri, and they made the trip up. It was a loving reunion for all of us Alaskans. I kept thinking how much Mom would have enjoyed being with these special friends and family.

After the service, our family and out-of-town guests went to the church building, where some ladies had prepared a nice meal for us. 

The family, at the funeral home. Left to right back row: Tim, me, Dan, Chris and Kelsey. Front row: Robert and Clara.

After lunch. Left to right: Tim, me, Robert, Dan, Clara, Bea, Terri, Gina, Bob, Chris and Kelsey.

Losing A Mom Is Really Hard

Mom was making slow, but steady, progress toward becoming independent again, after her fall, which is why we were so shocked to get an early morning phone call on Wednesday, March 11, saying that Mom was being rushed to Scott and White Hospital. She was unresponsive and had a very low oxygen level.

A CAT scan done at the hospital showed that she had suffered a massive bleed on the right side of her brain, which had caused swelling and damage, even to the brain stem. The neurosurgeon explained that, considering how severe this was, he did not expect her to regain consciousness. Dan and I spent the day at her side, and I was there when she breathed her last, at 10:55 p.m.

I can't begin to tell you how very supportive my family has been in helping me through the shock and loss and helping me plan the memorial service, which was held Friday, March 20, at 10:00 a.m.