Monday, April 17, 2017

Pictures of a Happy Easter

Chris, Kelsey and the kids arrived on Friday, around noon, to spend the Easter weekend with us. Our house changed, within seconds, from a quiet, low-key, kid-free zone into a place full of life and energy. We loved every minute of their stay, and the time went by too quickly.

This is Clara's last year in elementary school. Middle school, here she comes! She's at that in-between age, where she still enjoys all the fun of being a child, but also shows glimmers of evolving into a bright, compassionate young lady. She reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, whose size keeps changing when she eats the special cake or drinks the mystery cordial. At one moment she's a kid, and the next she's a grown-up.

What's great about Robert is that, although he's all-boy, at seven years old, he is still very affectionate and doesn't miss a chance to tell me, "I love you Grandma. I love you soooo much." He warms the cockles of my heart!

On Friday night we dyed Easter eggs. Not surprisingly, Clara was more into it than Robert, but in between his other, more rambunctious activities, he kept coming back to do another egg. He even got his daddy to join him in decorating a couple of eggs.

Saturday was kind of quiet, but Kelsey and I did take the kids to a park to run off some energy in the afternoon. 

Another Alice-in-Wonderland moment - Our 11-year-old Clara looks a little over-grown for some of the play equipment.

We were all entertained on Saturday evening by a guest band, "Cheese and Sprinkles," featuring Maggie Claire and DJ Fox, playing their paper plate/rubber band banjos, and singing original compositions. 

The final bow.
After the performance the kids ran free for a few minutes, before bath time.

On Sunday morning the kids woke up to find their Easter baskets filled with fun little gifts and candy-filled plastic eggs hidden all around the living room and kitchen. Kelsey and I were really surprised to see these hidden eggs, as we were holding back a cache of eggs for the kids to find outdoors, after church. Apparently Chris, all on his own, came prepared to help the Easter Bunny hide these indoor ones! 

All ready for church on Easter morning.
While I finished up the mid-day dinner preparation, on Sunday afternoon, the kids watched "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown," and Chris and Dan hid the outdoor eggs. The kids had a great time searching both the front and back yards for all of them.

After dinner it was time to pack up all the bags and load them into the car, and then say our good-byes. As soon as their vehicle left the driveway, Dan and I looked at each other and sighed . . . back to our tranquil every-day life. Nothing left but putting the house back in order and looking for the next excuse for getting together. 

The first chore I took on was to clean up the kitchen and run the dishwasher. Later that evening, as I was putting away the clean dishes and silverware, I opened a drawer and saw one sweet reminder of a perfect weekend . . . one Easter egg, still waiting to be found.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Visit From Dave and Karen

Our long-time, very special friends, Dave and Karen from Alaska, showed up on Thursday of last week. They make an extended trip to the lower 48 every year, and usually include us on their itinerary. Last year was a shorter trip, and we didn't see them, so it had been way too long between visits!

We had such a good time together. On Friday we took them down to Salado, where Kay and Andy met us for lunch and took us on a tour of the wonderful art galleries, antique shops and other quaint, interesting village attractions.

Sunday was the first time Dave and Karen had been here since we started worshipping with the Salado church, and we were so happy to get to introduce them to our new church family.

On Monday we drove to Waco in separate cars, so that Dan and I could come home at the end of the day, and Dave and Karen could head on up to Steve and Sharon's (mutual friends) in Gilmer, TX, where they'll stay for a while.

Dave and Karen were excited to go to Waco to see Chip and JoAnna Gaines' Magnolia Market at the Silos. We hadn't gone there before, ourselves, so it was fun for all of us . . . well, to be honest, it was more fun for the girls than for the guys. We also walked a block or so down the street to a place called The Findery, with similar products at more attractive prices.

This was the line when we got to Magnolia Market, as they were just opening the doors. It moved quickly, and we didn't have to stand in line long.

After taking in the shops near the Silos, we drove on out to Homestead Heritage Farm. I've blogged about it a number of times (see here), but it's always fun to take friends there for their first visit. We ended our time there with a late lunch in their wonderful cafe. Most of the food they serve is homemade and the ingredients come from their own farms. 

There is a new Basket shop at Homestead Heritage, to go along with the Fiber Arts, the Forge, the Grist Mill, the Woodworking and Pottery shops. 

Our timing was perfect. Had we waited until today, we wouldn't have been able to do any of these fun field trips. We have been under severe weather watches/warnings/alerts: wind warnings, flash flood warnings and even a tornado warning overnight and continuing this morning. Between the sirens on our weather radio, the thunder and lightning, wind and rain, I didn't get much sleep last night, and we are pretty much house-bound today. So I'm glad Dave and Karen got to enjoy the nice weather we had, instead of this severe storm, and had decent weather to drive on up into East Texas yesterday.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The On, Off, and On-Again Trip to Oklahoma

Dan has had his trip to the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, near Jennings, Oklahoma, planned for a long time.  It was another of his Corinthian Vintage Auto Racing (CVAR) events, at which he works on the tech crew. He had his hotel room reserved and his calendar clear . . . and then he got a jury summons in the mail that looked like it might keep him from going.

Upon appearing for his first day of jury duty, and being selected as a juror, he was given information indicating the trial would, in all likelihood, run long enough to conflict with his trip, so he canceled his hotel reservation and called the fellow he works with to let him know that he wouldn't be coming.

But, alas, the trial was a quick one! Once again Dan was free to go to the races. Luckily he was able to re-make the hotel reservations (even got them for a wee bit lower rate), and his trip was on again. He left Thursday morning and got home about 9:00 p.m. yesterday (Sunday).

The best part of the weekend, for Dan, was the pre-war race car event.  He was like a kid in a candy shop, getting to put his hands on and inspect the engines and bodies of these amazing vintage cars, two of them having actually raced in the Indianapolis 500, before WWII.

Knowing his aversion to taking pictures, I texted him and urged him to take some, and he did! He even took a couple of videos. (I'm proud of him.) Looking at these beauties made me wish I had been there to see them in person.

Looking at a car from this perspective means very little to me, but Dan was really excited about the "beauty" of this straight-eight engine. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Genealogy Saturday

Saturday my friend, Kay, went with me to a Genealogy seminar, which was hosted by the Williamson County Genealogy Society at the Round Rock United Methodist Church. The presenter was none other than Josh Taylor, host of TV's Genealogy Roadshow.

There were at least 200 people in attendance. The Methodist Men's Group cooked and served lunch - homemade lasagna - and cleaned up afterward. Way to go MEN! The facility was a perfect place for a large group like this, and the outdoor grounds were beautiful. At every break Kay and I strolled around outside. The weather was sunny and warm.

Our own Bell County Genealogy Society had eight members who attended the seminar.

This massive tree gave shade to the courtyard

Both Kay and I fell in love with this statue of a little boy reading

Just Call Me "Admiral"

Friday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, was a special day for me. In my mailbox I found my copy of the book that I prepared for the printer (See here), Minatare Memories: A Historical Account of the Tabor-Minatare Community of Western Nebraska. I was so relieved, after sending off a flash drive with the entire formatted book, to be told by the print shop that it was perfectly print-ready! And now I have the finished product in my hands.

The authors are having their book launch this coming Saturday, and they are quite excited. There will be book signings, newspaper articles, radio and TV interviews, and public meet-and-greets. They already have so many pre-sales that they believe they will have to do a second printing right away.

Along with my copy of the book came a surprise. It was a certificate, signed by Nebraska's governor, Pete Ricketts, appointing me an "Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska." This is an honorary title bestowed, by the Governor, upon individuals who have contributed to the "Good Life" of Nebraska. I consider it an honor :-).

The text of the certificate describes my authority this way:
And I [the governor] do strictly charge and require all officers, seamen, tadpoles and goldfish under your command to be obedient to your orders as Admiral - and you are to observe and follow, from time to time, such directions you shall receive, according to the rules and discipline of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Last night we met for dinner, at Olive Garden, with two other couples from church and then went to the Willie Nelson concert at the Expo Center. In honor of the Bell County Expo Center's 30th anniversary, they sold all tickets for only $30 apiece. The tickets went on sale on December 2, and were gone 11 days later. Sadly, Dan and I were too late, and missed out on tickets.

But thank goodness for good friends! Andy and Kay had bought tickets for themselves and two other couples from church, but in the end, one of those couples couldn't make it, so we got to buy their tickets from Andy.

I was really looking forward to it. I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of Willie, but over the years he's done some songs that I really love - Always on My Mind is at the tip of my list. And, as I've said several times, "He's almost 84 years old, and he's a legend who won't be around forever." 

I guess he's already been "killed off" by Facebook and the Internet a number of times over the past few years. Those hoaxes prompted him to write one of the fun songs that he sang last night: "Still Not Dead Again Today.":
I woke up still not dead again today
The internet said I had passed away
Well if I died I wasn't dead to stay
I woke up still not dead again today.

I showed up to the Expo Center with my compact Sony camera, with a fully charged battery and its incredible zoom lens. Willie stepped on stage and I pulled it out to take my first shot . . . and that's when my camera gave me the sad message: "No Memory Card." I had left it at home (not the first time I've pulled this trick). I was so disappointed. Our friend, Andy, overheard me tell Dan that I forgot my memory card, but apparently misinterpreted what he heard. He said, "I think Kay may have one in her purse." Yea! Strange that she'd carry one in her purse, but what a lifeline that would be. Andy leaned over to Kay and whispered to her, and next I saw her digging in her purse. In no time she proudly held up . . . an emery board! I actually started to reach for it, and then burst out laughing. That Emery board just wouldn't fit in my camera's card slot! Ha! It was sort of like playing "gossip."

So, long story made short, all I had to take pictures with was my iPhone. I didn't get any good pictures of Willie, but got a few rather fuzzy ones.

The concert was really good. I had come with fairly low expectations, but he definitely exceeded them. He sang song after song, with almost no break between them. It was over an hour's worth of pure Willy Nelson. He did sing my fav, "Always on My Mind," along with some other old favorites, "Georgia on My Mind," "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," "Funny How Time Slips Away," and, of course, "On the Road Again." I was tickled at how he juxtaposed some great gospel music alongside of "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die." LOL

I'm really glad we got to go. Thank you Bell County for selling such reasonably priced tickets to everyone. And thanks to Willie & Family for a pretty amazing concert.

The Expo Center was filled to capacity. We had pretty good seats, just to the left of the stage.
Our seats were just to the left of the stage. This picture was taken from my seat.