Friday, February 24, 2017

A Ghost Town and Mother Neff State Park

Dan is gone for the weekend. He is at a vintage car race, working with the tech crew. He really enjoys these race weekends, and I don't mind them at all. I usually try to do something a little different with my time while he's gone. So this morning, with the thermometer reading a pleasant 70 degrees, I headed about 20 minutes west to the old ghost town of "The Grove." I think someone actually gives tours on weekends, but today I was alone with the ghosts.

From what I read, The Grove started as a town in the early 1870s, and was sustained by farming and ranching. It seems to have prospered until the 1940s, when it had a little more than 100 residents. Highway 36, which bypassed the town, was partly responsible for the little town's demise.

In the center of town still stands a 28-foot-deep well, reportedly hand-dug by resident Jim Whitmore in 1872. I've read that there is still water in the well.

Jim Whitmore's well, which served the entire downtown of The Grove.
A few years ago the entire downtown was sold for $200,000 to Fran Moyer, the granddaughter of W.J.Dube, who owned the W.J. Dude General Merchandise store and was one of the town fathers.

The center shop in the red brick building was W.J.Dube's general merchandise store

The barber shop

Different cattle brands are carved all over the front of the blacksmith's shop

The saloon. I'm sure it was a booming business in The Grove.

I strolled down this sidewalk, arm in arm with a couple of ghosts

These are the doors to the US Post Office at The Grove. Notice the stained glass panels.

Since I was only about ten minutes away from Mother Neff State Park, I decided to go take a few pictures there, as well. I hiked the relatively easy trail - probably about a mile each way - through the woods to the rock water tower that was built by the CCC in the 1930s. Climbing the stairs puts you above the tree tops. The hike was really pleasant. It was mostly flat ground, and it was comfortable T-shirt weather. The birds were singing and the butterflies were flitting everywhere.

Looking down on the stairs from the top of the tower. The shadows made an interesting abstract pattern.

On the road between home and Mother Neff I stopped and took a few more pictures.

Across the road from the Lutheran Church at The Grove were these crosses and a sheep pasture.

The sheep were really curious when I neared the fence. They kept coming closer and closer, and one of the rams was trying to poke his nose through the fence.

And closer to Mother Neff I stopped to take this big guy's picture. He was quite happy to pose for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Task Completed . . . I Hope!

Last summer, when I went to Nebraska to meet the committee of ladies who were writing a book on the history of Minatare, Nebraska, the little village where my great-great-grandfather and other ancestors homesteaded, I realized that the ladies were going to have to pay someone an awful lot of money to make their self-published book print-ready. After returning home and thinking about that some more, I offered to take on that task for them. I honestly didn't expect it to be the monumental project that it turned out to be, but I don't regret having offered to help them out.

For seven months I've been receiving chapters, one after the other, in the mail and turning them into a unified manuscript that could be taken to a printer for publication. It turned out to be 15 chapters and 350 pages. Nearly every page had at least one photo, which had to be scanned, edited and inserted into the text. My software didn't handle photos well at all. I had trouble anchoring them in place. And once the chapters were finished there was the front matter and the index to be created. Indexing a book that size is a huge job in itself, but it appears to be complete and accurate now.

Yesterday I mailed off a flash drive with the entire book on it - a little tiny flash drive held seven months of work! I sent it off with a sense of apprehension and with my fingers crossed that the print shop will be happy with the formatting. For so long, every spare moment has been spent at the computer working with the book, and now . . . it's done! It feels a little like the empty nest syndrome. My most recent "chick" has flown the nest! (And I'm praying it doesn't come back.)

The ladies are hoping for a completion date in March. I wish them all the best as they move forward with the printing.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Weekend with Our Favorite Kids!

Chris and Kelsey went to a marriage retreat, put on by their church, over the weekend, so Dan and I were honored with the "keeping of the kids."

On Saturday I took them to Spare Time, the bowling alley/laser tag/arcade facility near our house. Usually we do all sorts of "artsy-crafty" and outdoor activities when they are here, but I decided to try the arcade for a change of pace.

Playing PacMan.

Motorcycle racing.

We also went to the library, so they could check out some books for reading while they were here. Robert checked out 14 books on his own; Clara brought home four.

I set out all of the art supplies, and they spent a lot of time drawing, painting, using markers and crayons, and being thoroughly creative in other ways.

Maybe one of the most fun things they did was sort through Grandma's hotel samples. When Clara saw my huge collection, all tossed higgledy-piggledy into a big plastic bag, her organizing skills surfaced, and she was on it in a heartbeat. She directed the process of sorting and labeling zip lock bags to hold my soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, face moisturizers, mouth wash, shower caps, make-up removers and other extraneous items. They each got a plastic bag of their own to fill with whatever they'd like to take home.  Organizing is high on Clara's list of talents. On other visits she's undertaken the tasks of organizing my cookie cutters, my measuring spoons/cups, and my dishes (she loves to sort my multi-colored Fiestaware dishes into rainbow order).

A couple of Robert's comments deserve to be recorded, so we won't forget them. The first one happened one evening, when he followed me into our master bathroom. I didn't realize it, but I think it was the first time he had ever been in that bathroom. He looked amazed when he saw my BIG bathtub. That's when he said to me, "I love coming to your house. Every time I come I see something new; it's like I'm here for the very first time." 

And, when we met up with Kelsey at the Subway in Somerville, so we could make the child-exchange, we had lunch there. Robert had been saying he wished he could stay at Grandma and Grandpa's longer. But when Clara mentioned playing with their RC cars when they got home, his eyes lit up. "See, " I said, "Getting back home is going to be great." To that he responded, "My RC car is only a piece of dust compared to YOU!"  Way to flatter a Grandma!

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!