Saturday, July 28, 2018

Happy Birthiversary

Dan's and my anniversary; Kay and Andy's anniversary; and Dan's, Kay's and Andy's birthdays all fall close together on the calendar. We've been trying, for a month or so, to get together for a celebratory evening, and finally found a clear spot on our calendars. So, Thursday evening we all went out for dinner at Olive Garden. (This dinner was thanks to Tim, who earlier in the year sent me an Olive Garden gift card.)

Our server asked us if we were celebrating anything special, and we explained that we'd had two anniversaries and three birthdays among us in the past month or so. So, after a scrumptious dinner, she brought us complimentary desserts. Kay's and mine both were decorated with "Happy Birthiversary."

After dinner, we came home and played the new game that Dan got from Chris, Kelsey, Clara and Robert, for his birthday, Ticket to Ride - Europe. It's a great game, and we all had fun playing it. Andy caught on quickly and, in the end, was the hands down winner!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Little Bunny Foo Foo (Remember That Camp Song?)

This little fellow has come to our yard for brunch the past couple mornings. He's very small -- about the same size as the male grackles who also visit each morning. But he's brave! When one of those birds gets too close to his personal space he leaps into action and chases them away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God!

Dan and I had waited eagerly for this past Saturday evening.

Back on June 1, if you recall, Dan's new 8" telescope arrived. He eagerly set it up and ran a few tests. Everything looked good ... for a few days. And then, after he did a software update, the electronics failed. He contacted the company, and they had him return the mount for repair. We were so disappointed, because a star party was coming up and we had been looking forward to trying out the new scope for the first time. Instead, we went to the event but took the old scope he's had since the '70s.

We patiently (at times not-so-patiently) awaited the return of the repaired mount. It finally arrived, and everything was working "stellarly" (pun intended). So on Saturday evening, July 14, we loaded all the gear into the car and headed out to the Turner Research Station for this month's "Starbecue." It was great fun. We grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and feasted on watermelon, sides and desserts. Then the club members began setting up their equipment. By nightfall I believe there were 12 to 15 scopes set up. The red arrow in the photo, below, points out Dan's scope.

At dusk we saw the thin, waxing crescent moon. 

And then it was dark. Only red lights are used on the field. Dan's first field test of his new telescope was very successful. We observed Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. We saw several nebulae, star clusters, individual and double stars. Toward the later part of the evening I was thrilled just to lean back in my lawn chair and spend time gazing up at the Milky Way and the vast ocean of stars visible at this dark sky site. I could have stayed there all night long.

It was after 1:00 a.m. by the time we got home and closer to 2:00 by the time we were ready for bed. That made getting up for class and church on Sunday morning a little tough, but we did it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Quotable Grandson

Here are a few wonderful quotes from Robert's visit:

Robert: Did you know magic is real?
Grandma: What makes you say that?
Robert: Well, God created everything, and that's magic!

Robert: Grandma, did you know if you say pineapple before you sneeze, you won't sneeze?

Robert: My dad can do anything. He's awesome.
Grandma: Yes he is. I raised a good son, didn't I?
Robert: Yes you did!

Robert (in his prayer before dinner): "I'm thankful for animals, plants and fungi."

GRAND Is the Time Spent with Grandkids

I always look forward to having the grandkids come visit for a while in the summer. Sometimes we have them one-on-one, which I like since they are four years apart, and that way we can focus on one at a time. But this summer we brought both of them home with us, last Sunday, and it was a great success.

We drove to Houston on Saturday, and celebrated Grandpa (Dan's) birthday. The kids had baked him a delicious pound cake and gave him a present, the game Ticket to Ride - Europe.  Later that evening they lit off the last of their 4th of July sparklers.

We went to church with Chris, Kelsey and the kids on Sunday morning, had lunch together afterward, and drove home that afternoon. After dinner, an hour of Netflix, and a good night's sleep, we were ready for a Monday adventure. We drove down to Georgetown - less than an hour away - and went to the Inner Space Cavern. This cavern is one of the best preserved caves in Texas. It was discovered by a Texas Highway Department core drilling team in the Spring of 1963. They were drilling to find out whether the ground was stable enough to support a large I-35 highway overpass. Currently I-35 passes over the cavern, and the caves extend both east and west of the highway.

The kids really enjoyed the tour. Our tour guide, Rachel, was funny and full of facts and stories. At one point, as we were pausing to view one of the cavern rooms, I heard Robert carrying on a detailed scientific exchange with her, about some of the animal fossils that were found.

The path through the cavern is downhill all the way, but that means uphill all the way back out. It wasn't too bad except the last steep incline before exiting. There were places where you had to watch your head - and Dan missed one of those places and whacked his head a good one.

The rules at Grandma's house are a little bit relaxed, so each evening, before bed, we watched a couple of Netflix episodes and had a small bowl of ice cream. One series they like is "Who Was ..." and the other favorite was "Nailed It." I also let them play some games on my iPad each morning, before breakfast. I know this is not something they get to do much at home (and I approve of that home rule), but . . . it's Grandma's house and, therefore, Grandma's rules - at least for a few days in the summer.

On Tuesday we went to Summer Fun, a family-run water park in Belton, just 10 or 15 minutes from home. This was a big hit. Dan and I enjoyed relaxing in the shade and watching all of the fun. Clara and Robert stayed together the entire time, and got a little braver as time went on. Their favorite was the big inner tube slide.

Before dinner, Clara asked if she could make a card, using my Cricut Maker machine. She had watched me make one the day before, so I figured she could handle it. I sat beside her for most of the project, and she successfully made a beautiful card for friends who had recently lost a loved one. (How tender-hearted of her to think of them!)

Wednesday was an unscheduled day. We started off with a half-hour romp at the Whistle Stop Playground.

Then we went to McWha Used Books, in Belton, where they found some books to take home and read..

Mid-afternoon Clara reminded me that I had said they might be able to bake something, so we pulled out the bowls, cups, spoons and ingredients and baked a pan of brownies, which we had later in the evening while we watched the movie, Looney Toons: Back in Action. 

Finally, well past their bedtime, Grandpa Dan set up his telescope and showed Clara several planets and one star. Robert was not tall enough to see through the scope. We'll have to remedy that for the next time. 

They are in bed now, and in the morning we'll drive to Somerville, where Kelsey will meet us for a "kid-swap." It's been a blast. (And yes . . . I'm tired!)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Remembering Our Long-time Friend, Stan

We've known Stan and his wife, Kathy, since 1978, when we first moved to Salem, Oregon. Our boys were ages 5 and 2 at the time, and Stan and Kathy had two children about the same age. Stan was the preacher for the congregation we attended, and we spent a lot of time at each others' houses. Our children played well together, and so did we! We shared meals, had picnics and outings, and even spent many evenings playing the Dungeons and Dragons board game together!

But, as happens in this life, Stan and Kathy moved on to other places and took on other adventures, and so did we. It was 38 years ago that we went our separate ways, and as far as I recall, we only got together one time after that, while we were both still living in Oregon.

We kept up with each other through Christmas cards and family newsletters, but eventually lost touch because of yet another move. Recently I found Kathy on Facebook, and we reconnected. They were living in Fort Worth, just under three hours away from us. Dan and I excitedly talked about going up to see them sometime this summer.

Then came the shocking email from Kathy, last Friday. Stan had suffered a massive heart attack the day before (June 28), and died! Dan and I were both truly grieved to hear this. We made plans to drive to Fort Worth for his memorial service on Sunday afternoon.

Stan's memorial service was one of the nicest ones we've ever attended. Stan was a good and faithful man. He was father to four children (two came after they left Salem) and grandfather to five. He was a fun-loving, caring, godly man. Even though we have not seen him in many years, we feel the loss that his departure has left.

Our only regret is that we put off making that visit we had talked about. Good bye Stan - until we meet again in that perfect reunion.