Friday, October 5, 2018

Great News from Tim

Tim has hoped to become a home-owner since before Dan and I moved from Albuquerque to Temple (that was in 2012). And he has finally achieved his dream. He purchased and moved into a beautiful 3-bedroom home in Albuquerque.

Waking in his new bedroom, the morning after his move-in, he snapped this "Albuquerque Dawn" scene from one of his windows. I'm so happy for him!

We plan to visit him sometime soon. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Road Trip 2018

This was the front of the invitation I made and sent to Clara for this year's Road Trip.
This past weekend was the weekend I anticipate all year long - the one when Clara and I take off on a Friday afternoon, stay a couple nights in hotel rooms, and visit the sights of someplace new. So far we've "done" Waco, San Antonio, and (this time) Austin! 

I came to Houston a day early, to go to Clara's volleyball game on Thursday evening. She has just started playing 7th grade volleyball. In fact, I think this was only her second game night. Clara's team, the Gators, have a little work to do in order to become stars, but they are winners in my eyes, anyway. And doesn't Clara look GREAT in her uniform?!

On Friday, by the time we made it to Austin and checked into our first hotel, Clara was hungry. This girl, who will be 13 in December and is a good deal taller than I now, can really put down the chow! I used to get by with kids' meals at Chick-Fil-A, but now she's into "real food." We went to Applebee's and started with her favorite appetizer - mozzarella sticks -after which she ate most of a broccoli/chicken Alfredo dinner.

That evening Clara completed her homework, so it wouldn't be hanging over our heads all weekend. 

We got up around 7:00 on Saturday, which was going to be our busiest day. While we were eating our complementary breakfast at the hotel, Clara asked if she could try a cup of coffee. In the absence of a parent, a grandma gets to make decisions - so I told her, "Go ahead!" She doctored it up so it was more milk and sugar than coffee. She said she liked it, but only took a few sips before giving up because it was "too hot."

After breakfast we drove to the Capitol complex. This was not only Clara's first time to visit the Capitol, but mine as well. We were both quite impressed. It's a spectacular building. We took a guided tour. Our guide, Georgia, knew how to keep us all interested, telling stories and making Texas history come alive.

We toured the senate and house chambers.

The Texas star at the top of the dome measures 8 feet across. The dome is 218 feet high - equivalent to a 20-story building! The public is allowed to go up the stairs or elevators to the fourth level, which is mighty high! 

Clara climbed the stairs to the 4th level of the rotunda. Can you see her, waving at me, way up there (below)? 

And then, we switched places. I rode the elevator to the 4th level, and took another picture of Clara standing (below) in the center of the star, with emblems representing the six flags that have flown over Texas.

What was amazing to me was that, as large as the above-ground Capitol is, the Extension, located below-ground, is larger. It is beautifully done, though, with lots of natural light because of sky lights and an open-air rotunda. In the photo below, the upper fence of the rotunda is at ground level, letting light into all the under-ground offices/suites/rooms.

The grounds of the Capitol, with its 25 species of trees, are spectacular too.

After completing our Capitol tour, we ate a quick lunch and then headed to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I really have to go back there on a sunny, spring day. When we got there, rain was threatening. I had signed us up for an art class, and by the time we were dismissed from it, the rain was coming down heavily. So we didn't get to walk all the trails and see the fall foliage that was in bloom.

Our art class, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was a 3-hour alcohol-ink class with Houston instructor/artist, Andrea Patton. We each designed three tiles, using the alcohol-inks and the methods Andrea demonstrated for us.  It was a wonderful, artsy afternoon in a fantastic setting.

Here are a few of the tiles our class made.

We called it a day after dinner at Arby's Saturday evening. We watched America's Got Talent before bed, and Clara was inspired by a fantastic violinist. She, herself, is becoming quite the violinist in her school orchestra.

Sunday morning we got up, ate breakfast at our hotel, and drove to church. I had the address for the Southwest Church of Christ, and we found it without any trouble. People were friendly, and the worship service was uplifting. Take a look at the blue sky with fluffy white clouds. That's what the weather was like as we entered the church building.

Afterward, we ate a quick lunch and headed to the Lady Bird Lake dock area for a boat tour for which I had already purchased tickets. But by the time we were supposed to board, this was the weather we were getting. We sat in our car for a while, to see if it was just a passing shower, but it seemed it was going to stick around. Before long even the city streets were getting deep with water in places. So, reluctantly, we gave up and called the 2018 Road Trip over. It really was a success, despite the boat tour being rained out. We arrived back in Houston, at Clara's house, around 4:00.

When we got there, we found Robert and Chris deep in a game of Pokemon - Robert's newest interest.

I spent the night there, so got to visit with the entire family for a while, and left early this morning. I  arrived home, and to a big Dan-hug, a little before noon. I will sleep well tonight, thanking God for both of my amazing grandkids, and especially for the time Clara and I spent together on our 2018 Road Trip.

(I just realized I didn't get a single picture of Clara and I together on our trip 😔)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Summer Catch-Up Post

It's been a while since I sat down to post a new blog. I can't say nothing has been happening, because I've been whining, almost daily, about my calendar being too full. However, the busy-ness I've been experiencing hasn't always been blog-worthy. None the less, I'll try to do a quick summary of the past month.

Once a week I do volunteer tutoring for the Temple Literacy Council. My current student, whom I will just call "R" is a young mother of two little boys, from China. She is a delight! She's smart, her English is better than that of most of my ESL students in the past, and she has a great sense of humor. She is way past just learning grammar and vocabulary, and wants to understand colloquialisms, idioms and word plays. For instance, yesterday she asked me to explain the English phrase "to go off" or, the past tense, "went off."

At first I didn't see why this was confusing to her, and explained "went off" as in "the power went off." This she already understood. "But," she asked, "what about 'alarm went off'?  "Oh! Yes," I said, "'went off' sometimes means something stopped working (such as power), but sometimes means something started making a sound (such as an alarm)." Easy, right? Sometimes it means "stops" and sometimes it means "starts." Then she brought up a phrase she'd heard about her boss . . . that he "went off' on someone." Isn't English fun?! Maybe not, but my student, "R" is a lot of fun!

"R" has also had problems ordering from a menu, so we took our class outside the classroom last week and went to a Mexican restaurant, where she sampled enchiladas and a taco. She liked most of the food alright, but not the re-fried beans at all.

Next week we will begin reading and discussing Old Yeller, which I've found, in the past, to be a great book to use with my ESL students living here, since it is easy reading, exposes them to lots of colloquialisms, and introduces talking points about Texas history.

On Tuesday, August 14, we got a call from our friend, Andy. He wanted to know if we wanted to join him and Kay and another couple of friends, Trish and Kelly, in a drive down to Hutto, to The Texan Cafe, to celebrate Trish's birthday. We almost NEVER turn down an invitation to have fun with friends, so I cut short my afternoon MahJongg playing, and we went down to Hutto. The Texan is famous in the area for its pies. We all had dinner and pie to celebrate.

Here's Trish wearing her flashy, lit-up birthday card glasses, given to her by Kay and Andy.

Each fall I try to take Clara on a weekend road trip (last year we missed out, partly due to Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding). One year we did all things fun in Waco. Another year was San Antonio. And this year we'll be doing Austin. It seems like such a simple thing, but I spend a lot of time planning and making reservations. We'll be doing a tour of the Capitol building and visiting the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where we'll take an art class. On Sunday we'll go to church and enjoy a boat tour on Lady Bird Lake before heading back to Houston. It's still a couple weeks off, but keep watching for a post with lots of pictures.

Next year will be our 50th anniversary. Since we've talked about going on a European trip of some sort for years, we decided 2019 will be the year to DO IT. We have been working with a tour agent, who has helped us book our adventure of a lifetime. For now, the rest remains a secret.

Our ladies Bible study, which happens on Tuesday mornings during the school year, was dismissed for the summer. But that doesn't mean we can't get together! So every Tuesday morning this summer those who can meet for brunch at McCain's Bakery and Cafe in Salado. It's been great fun.

I've been invited to be a "sub" for one of the Salado MahJongg groups. This group meets every Tuesday afternoon, sometimes having lunch together first, and at other times just meeting to play for three hours at the Salado Library. I love being a sub, because I don't feel compelled to be there every week, but there's almost always a seat for me when I want to play.  I amazed myself and everyone else the first time I played with this group - winning six games in a row, then losing one, and winning one more before end of day. I told them not to expect this ever again, and I was right about that. I typically win two or three games out of the eight or nine that we usually play. I first learned to play MahJongg with our Japanese exchange students, back in the late '80s. Picking it up again has been a challenge, because I am now playing the American rules, which are quite different from the Japanese rules.

My book club meets once a month, and I always look forward to it. It's such a fun group of people - sharp and witty and friendly. We usually meet in the Library board room, but once a year, in the spring, the whole group comes to my house, where we watch some old black and white movie that was first a book. Last year it was The Maltese Falcon (1941), and this spring we read Now Voyager, and then gathered to watch the movie at our house.

My involvement in the Bell County Genealogical Society has become a little overwhelming. Besides being one of the VPs (for publicity), I also chair the research committee. Requests come to us for help researching other people's ancestry from Bell County. Sometimes the request is simple - find an obituary from, say, 1901. At other times it's a request that involves much more time and effort. I'm thinking about asking to be relieved of the chairmanship of this committee. But I have a hard time giving up or saying "no," so am not sure I'll follow through.

My friend, Kay, and I have way too much fun together! She needed to go to Austin the other day, to the Apple Store at The Domain. So I tagged along and we made it a day of shopping, eating and talk. The Domain is a huge outdoor shopping center in a park-like setting. There are somewhere around 100 upscale retail stores and restaurants. It also has residential units. Kay and I did a little dreaming about what it might be like to actually live at The Domain. But, when day's end came, we were kind of happy to get back to our less glitzy, more homey neighborhoods.

Kay, as we were eating lunch on the outdoor patio of one the many restaurants.

Today I had lunch with a another friend from church, Jan. She is a fun, warm, firecracker of a gal, whom I love spending time with. What was nice was that while she and I had lunch, our husbands got together somewhere else and did the same. In fact - SURPRISINGLY - I'm back home, but Dan and Larry are still lunching!

Next week our D.A.R. monthly meetings resume, after the summer break. One more thing to go on my calendar.

Have I mentioned that I love being retired!

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!