Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Plans

I just read Kelsey's last four blog posts, which went up one-after-the-other on Saturday and Sunday. When I finished reading them, I found myself breathing faster and my heart beating harder, out of sympathy for her amazingly crazy schedule this spring.

If I close my eyes and think way, way back, I do remember the days when our kids were in school, and the frenetic schedule that came with being a mom. I especially remember going six-ways-to-Sunday during the period when we had not only our two sons at home, but also two Japanese exchange students, Takashi and Fumi. Talk about a crazy (but wonderful) time of our lives. That was before there were mobile phones, with the at-your-fingertip convenience of a calendar and contacts. I finally gave up carrying a purse, all together, during those days and opted for a large, leather, ring-bound Franklin Planner. I put plastic zip pockets in it to carry pens, keys, my driver's license, credit card, a comb, checkbook, colored pens and a dollar or two.  I added an address book section, so I'd always have my contacts with me. I color coded everyone's calendar events (that's what the colored pens were for), and actually ran out of space to write on the extra-busy days.  I called my planner "my brain" and knew I'd be in BIG trouble if I ever lost it.

But now I'm retired. My kids are grown and don't live with us. They are responsible for their own schedules. Dan and I live a quiet life. Occasionally we have as many as TWO events on the same day, and at the close of a day like that, one of us is likely to mention what a "busy" day it was.

This summer, though, holds the promise of some busier times. Robert will be coming to visit us for a few days in June, and when he's here, we TRULY are busy. I'm in planning mode, right now, so that Robert will have fun and won't be bored during his stay.

We're also making some changes in our house this summer:

What has been our guest room, with a queen-sized bed, will be turned into the grandkids' room. We'll move their bunk beds in there, In the room where the bunk beds are now, we'll be putting a queen sized cabinet bed. It's sort of like a murphy bed, but is a stand-alone (not attached to the wall) cabinet, out of which a bed unfolds. When the bed is not in use (95% of the time), this will provide a space for me to have a table for my painting and other crafts.

Then, in the living room, we will be changing out the TV and TV-stand (Dan REALLY wants - and deserves! - a bigger screen), and possibly getting some more comfortable furniture in there, as well. What's in our living room now looks fine to the eye, but it's not all that comfy. I don't even like to sit in there to watch TV in the evenings.

And then, I have an adventure lined up for the summer. You'll need to know the back-story for this one: A year or so ago, I was contacted by a lady in Nebraska, named Wanda. Wanda is working with a committee in Minatare, NE, that is writing a book about the founders and early settlers of Minatare. Because my great-great-grandfather, Wellington Clark (mentioned in this earlier post), who homesteaded there, was quite instrumental in founding the town, she was asking for my help in filling out his story. Wellington Clark was married twice. I am the direct descendant of him and his first wife. But, as it turns out, his second wife, Lillie Wynkoop, was the sister of Wanda's grandfather's second wife! Ha! We can't quite call ourselves "cousins," but at least we do have some sort of convoluted connection there! Wanda and I have corresponded off and on over the past few months. I've learned a little about her and know that she lost her husband six years ago and that she's considerably older than I.

So (back to the story of the upcoming adventure), early this month I received a nice, hand-written letter from Wanda in the mail. (Wow! something besides junk mail and bills in my mailbox!) In it she said, "I want to invite you to come to western Nebraska and be my guest. Together we can explore the land of your ancestors." She has even offered to take me up into South Dakota, while I'm there, to see Mt. Rushmore! What a gracious, hospitable lady she must be. And, I have decided, with Dan's blessing and encouragement, to go, in July. I'll be driving. It's a thousand miles each way, and maybe longer, if I decide to take a little detour into Kansas, on the way back, to see where my maternal grandfather and his family lived and are buried. Doing this on my own is truly an adventure . . . hopefully a happy adventure.

So, though there's no need to buy a new Franklin Planner, my summer is shaping up to be a bit busier than usual.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I'm Just a Sucker for a New Camera!

I've had the itch, for some time, to have a small, compact camera that still has the settings and features I need. I get tired of toting a big, heavy camera and lenses all the time. I will, of course, keep my Nikon DSLR for "special" purposes.

Most of the compact cameras don't have a view finder -- just a screen on the back to frame the shots. A view finder was high on my list of "must haves," and I finally settled on the Sony Cyber-Shot HX80.

My new camera arrived yesterday, so after dinner I took a drive out toward the farming community of Rosebud, to give it a trial run. We've had a lot of thunder storms this spring, which have dumped great quantities of rain, so everything is really green now. As summer weather arrives, the greens will be toned down with a lot of brown.

Here are a few of the test shots I took. I think this little camera is going to be just the ticket, at least for now!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dan - A Son of the Republic of Texas

After a lengthy process of providing stringent documentation, based upon my genealogical research, Dan received his card and certificate today, naming him a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT). The SRT consists of members who are direct lineal descendants of those that settled the Republic of Texas prior to February 19, 1846, when Texas merged with the United States as the 28th state.

Dan's membership is based on his great-grandfather, John Henry Short, born in Washington County, Texas, on July 4, 1844. 

A Day Out with "The Bag Ladies"

My dear friend, Wynn, who used to live here, contacted me on Monday, asking if I'd join her and her three friends from Huntsville (they call themselves "The Bag Ladies") for a couple of days of fun in Waco and McGregor. Sadly, I already had a dentist appointment scheduled for Tuesday, but happily agreed to join them for the McGregor portion of the adventure, on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, while I was in the dentist's chair :-( they went to Magnolia Market - the marvelous shop owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, from HGTV's Fixer Upper. I've been wanting to visit there, so was really disappointed to miss out on that part of the trip. Here's a photo of Wynn and the Bag Ladies at Magnolia Market. Wynn is on the far right.

Left to right: Jenene, Yuka, Dorothy and Wynn

But Wednesday turned out to be tons of fun. We met at The Cedar Chest Antique Mall. It's huge, and we spent a couple hours there before heading an eighth-mile down the road to check out The Cedar Chest Too. Yes, as big as the Cedar Chest is, it has had to expand into a second building.

After a morning filled with nostalgia - "My Grandma had one of those"; "Did you have a poodle skirt when you were in grade school?"; "Oh, look, I had a doll just like this!"; "Don't you think this would be perfect in my kitchen?"; "How cute! I could make this!" - we went to lunch at The Coffee Shop Cafe, also in McGregor.

Dan and I have eaten at this wonderful cafe for breakfast a couple of times, but this was my first time to try lunch. It was really, really good. Too bad we were all too full for dessert, because they are known for their amazing pies. McGregor is less than 10 miles from Crawford, Texas, which is where George W and Laura Bush have their Texas ranch. The Bushes have dined often at the Coffee Shop Cafe, and there are photos and memorabilia of George W and Laura all over the shop, including a check they used to pay for one of their meals.

After lunch we went over to the Magnolia House. This 1800's house was restored by Chip and Joanna Gaines (of Fixer Upper fame), and converted into a bed and breakfast.

Wynn and me
Behind the house is another Gaines fixer upper, where the bed and breakfast managers/caretakers live. While we were standing there, gawking at Magnolia House, dreaming of what it would be like to spend a night or two there and taking lots of pictures, a man came out of the caretakers' house. He was trying to get some yard work done, but it was pretty hard to ignore the five of us. Dorothy was the bravest and she called to him and started asking questions. His name is Rob, and he and his wife are the caretakers. He is such a nice fellow, and before we let him get back to his work, we twisted his arm and convinced him to join us for a picture. What a good sport!

Now I might have called it a day at this point, but these ladies are DEDICATED shoppers, and headed to yet another antique store. After spending 45-minutes-or-so there, I told everyone good-bye and thanked them the wonderful day, then headed south on HWY 317, for home.

It was so nice of these ladies to let me crash their "party". It was a special treat to spend the day with Wynn, but it was also great getting to know her friends - the fun-loving Bag Ladies. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Finishing Up an Old Painting

Over a year ago I worked, in my art class, on a painting of a Santa Fe window with flower boxes (you can see it here). I really struggled with it, changing out what was in the lower part of the windows multiple times, and eventually leaving the windows bare. At that time my teacher suggested some lace curtains or something like that, but I had HAD IT with that painting, and called it done. Ever since, though, it's been calling to me, from its corner of the closet, saying, "Finish me!" So I finally pulled it out last week and started putting some loose weave curtains in the window. Now I feel better about calling it finished. I think adding the curtains helped the reflections and the inside details of the upper windows pop a little, too.