Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Wacky Women's Waco-Wednesday

A little over five months ago our long-time friends, Ken and Gloria, who live near Seattle, Washington, surprised me with a visit. I say "surprised ME" because, sadly, Dan was out of town, so he didn't get to see them. It was a wonderful visit, but so short that it just made me want to spend  more time with them. Gloria and I were very close back in our Oregon days, when we were both busy rearing our "chicks." I hadn't seen her since she came to New Mexico, in June of 2008, and we had a week of fun, exploring the Albuquerque and Santa Fe environs together and catching up on what life had dealt us since our families parted ways ten years earlier. She's one of those amazing friends with whom I can just pick up right where we left off, no matter how long it's been.

So, you might understand how thrilled I was to hear from Gloria again, a couple weeks ago, asking if I was up for a couple of "girl days", since she would be in Dallas in early March and was willing to make the trek down meet me in Waco - less than an hour from my home. I couldn't say "YES" fast enough.

We met there, at the Hampton Inn, on Tuesday, March 6. We spent that afternoon talking up a storm and relaxing in our hotel room, and then went out that evening for a Mexican dinner at On the Border. The next day, Wednesday, would be our only full day in which to play and explore Waco, since Gloria had to leave Waco on Thursday morning to catch her flight home from Dallas. We vowed to make the most of our Waco-Wednesday.

After Wednesday's breakfast, we drove to Magnolia Market, because Wacoites Chip and Joanna Gaines' fame has spread even as far as Washington State, and Gloria was anxious to visit "the Silos." We didn't buy much, because Gloria's suitcase was already really full, and she didn't want to stand in line to have things shipped home. Also . . . beautiful as the displays and products are, Chip and Joanna are REALLY PROUD of their merchandise, making it all a little "spendy." None the less, there's no better place to get decorating ideas.

The City of Waco operates a free shuttle service in the Silo District, making it really easy to get around Downtown Waco. After shopping the Market, we hopped on the trolley and rode a couple blocks down the street to The Findery. The Findery is "more of the same," so to speak. It's full of home decor merchandise and ideas. Its original red brick building is only the beginning, because one more block down the street is their huge warehouse, which is also full of design ideas.

By the time we finished with The Findery, it was lunch time, but we decided to make one more stop before heading out to Homestead Heritage Village for lunch. I really wanted Gloria to see the old suspension bridge and the amazing bigger-than-life-sized bronze sculptures, depicting a herd of longhorns, the trail boss and cowboys about to cross the historic bridge, which was a part of the famous Chisholm Trail.

These kids were playing on one of the longhorns. We asked their mom's permission to take a picture.

From the bridge, we drove out to the Homestead Heritage Village. I've written about it before (here), so won't go into great detail this time. We ate a tasty lunch at their cafe, then roamed from building to building, talking with artisans who were working there and appreciating the many crafts.

The Basket Shop

This young lady owns the Basket Shop and was just starting a basket made of Texas pine needles.

Glorious Gloria!!!

A couple of ladies were working in the Pottery Shop

The waterwheel that provides power to the gristmill. This gristmill building was originally built in 1770, was dismantled and restored in this location in 2001. It continues to grind grains - three types of wheat, corn, oats, rye spelt, rice, buckwheat and soybeans. They grind with natural granite stones.

We both enjoyed our Wednesday together, and ended the day with a fabulous dinner at Heitmiller Steakhouse - a new favorite of mine; one I want to return to with Dan.

Thursday morning arrived all too soon. Gloria had to be on the road no later than 10:00 a.m., so we ate a leisurely complimentary breakfast at the hotel and said our good-byes. Gloria and I share so much in common - our history, our humor, our interests, our love of family, and our faith. She's definitely more of a sister than a friend! Until our next reunion, Gloria, God bless and keep you!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dave and Karen's Annual Visit

It was great seeing Dave and Karen again. They usually come to the "lower 48" for three months to escape the worst part of the Alaskan winter. Sadly, Texas hasn't been showing them its best weather this time. They've seen lots of wind, rain and cool temperatures. They're moving on to East Texas for the next couple of weeks, so maybe they can catch some sunshine there.

Looking good, after dinner at the Oscar Store, where one never leaves hungry!

And here's the one that Karen snapped of Dan and me, as well.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

An Outing to Coupland, Texas

A couple weeks ago we had some frigid weather. One morning it was 11 degrees, and for a few days it didn't get above freezing. Not only were the temperatures in the basement, but the wind was also blowing, making it pretty miserable to be outdoors. When it gets that cold here, everything just shuts down. All of our community activities are canceled. Dan and I even tried to make a bank deposit and found Bank of America closed due to weather, even though the roads were clear.

On Wednesday, seeing the sunshine, blue skies and the mercury rising to the mid-sixties, I felt an urge to go on a little photo-shoot to enjoy the great outdoors.

Coupland, Texas, is a tiny town of about 300 people, an hour south of us. I've been wanting to take my camera down there ever since Andy and Kay drove us, one evening, by the outdoor sculpture garden, where artist, Jim Huntington, works his magic on carved stone monoliths.

On the way to Coupland, I stopped several places to take some shots of the winter landscape of our area. I said something to Dan the other day about everything turning brown here, in the winter. He disagreed, and said it was actually yellow. Not to give in too easily, I said, "Okay . . . kind of a yellowish-brown," to which he replied, "No. It's brownish-yellow." It's kind of funny that we have nothing more serious to debate, in our comfortable retirement years, than what color the grass is. We finally settled on "golden."

I also stopped at another tiny town, Bartlett, on my way down, to snap a few images of its old west architecture, which harmonizes well with its worn brick streets.

This building was abandoned, but I noticed that, upstairs, "Dentist" was painted on the window. Made me wonder if Doc Holliday had ever practiced in this Texas town.

I was fascinated by the stonework incorporated into the brick architecture of this building.

I arrived in Coupland around 1:30 and found 77-year-old Jim Huntington hard at work on two different sculptures. He was embedding copper strips in some of the veins of the stone. I asked if he minded if I took pictures of his sculptures, and he said that was fine. So I roamed around on the acreage, fascinated by his works of art. Below are a few of the photos I took.

This one reminded me of the "pleats" on the throat of a humpback whale.

This is a shot, looking skyward, from inside the tube of the sculpture shown in the picture above.

This one resembled river rapids.

And I couldn't help think about the wing of an eagle when I saw this one.

Inside his studio, there were hundreds of pieces in progress, including this one. The dark gray section looked like a huge Bird of Paradise leaf.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas 2017 - Katy, TX

Christmas this year was about as good as they come - with the exception of one missing family member. Tim didn't make it to Texas this year, and was definitely missed.

I got up at 6:00 on Christmas morning and crept down the stairs to find this sweet little package on the sofa, sleeping in the glow of the Christmas tree lights. I'm told that he actually came downstairs at 3:45 to ask if he could look in his stocking. When he was told "Not yet," he went upstairs and woke Clara to let her know that they COULDN'T look in their stockings yet.

Finally, around 7:45 a.m., after gathering in front of the Christmas tree for a photo, everyone got the "okay" to begin passing out and opening gifts.

Clara got a beautiful charm bracelet and several special charms. She was also really pleased with the owl wall decor that Robert made, with a little help, at his Daddy's workbench and using Daddy's tools.

Robert got a Lego kit to make an RC tracked racer. Probably his favorite gift was an aquarium for his bedroom and a gift card to equip the aquarium and buy fish.

For breakfast, Clara made Monkey Bread (seems an appropriate breakfast for the monkey pictured above!), which we enjoyed along with some hot cocoa.

Later that day, for lunch, Chris prepared cold-cuts, including a variety of natural cheeses and cured meats. He taught us a new word, inviting us to enjoy his charcuterie spread.

That evening we talked with Tim by phone, and let him know that he was missed. After the phone call, it turned into "pile-on-Daddy" time.

Clara eventually left the pile and climbed into an easy chair to listen to music on her new MP4 player. This was a birthday gift (Dec. 8), not a Christmas gift. However, there was a speaker for it under the Christmas tree!

But Robert never made it up off the floor. It had been a very long day for him - starting at 3:45 a.m. - and sleep came easily, for both Robert and his Daddy.

The day after Christmas Robert was eager to go to PetSmart to pick out some fish for his aquarium. When we got there, and talked with one of the employees, he told us that the aquarium water needed to sit for a minimum of 24 hours - and maybe as long as several weeks - to be safe for the fish. So Robert picked out some gravel, a beautiful hidden-hole statue, a plant, and a moss ball.

The fish will come later. I thought he might be disappointed at not getting any fish right away, but the moss ball turned out to be almost as good as fish. Robert named it "Mossy," although we tried to get him to name it after a Formula1 race car driver - like "Stirling Moss" or, maybe, "Felipe Moss-a."  But Mossy it was, and he proclaimed his love for Mossy numerous times that day.

On the 27th everyone went to Schlotzky's for lunch. There we took one final photo with the kids, and then left for home. We've got the best grandkids ever! What a joy to share the holidays with them.