Thursday, July 30, 2015

Life with Robert

On Wednesday morning we met up with Kelsey at the Shell station in Somerville - the mid-way point between our two houses - and transferred Robert from her vehicle to ours. It's really nice of Kelsey to meet us like this, making the retrieval of Robert a 3 hour roundtrip, rather than a 6 hour one. Clara was there, as well. She reported that she had a wonderful experience at her first church camp, which just ended. I brought along the painting that I had done for her, all framed up, and gave it to her there in the parking lot. She seemed to like it.

After we got home we had lunch and then broke out the robot building kit I had gotten for Robert. Here are some of the fun results of about an hour and a half of construction. He really loves these. He needs some help putting them together, but for the most part can figure them out himself.

We played the Roads, Rivers, Rails game a few times, and we got better at it the more we played. I guess he enjoyed it, because he asked to play again the next day.

Finally, after dinner, we went to the nearby splash pad. It was still 101 degrees, so I smeared him with sun screen and told him that when he got too hot, we'd leave. That's why I thought it was so funny when he played for only about two minutes and then came and said he was ready to go because he was "too cold." I wrapped him in a towel and had him warm up a bit, after which he said he'd try it again. So back out he went, this time lasting maybe ten minutes and seeming to have fun. He attached himself to a couple of other children this time, so had some encouraging peer pressure.

Thursday morning he was antsy to go to the library, since I had promised him we would. The library didn't open until 10:00 a.m., and he could hardly stand to wait that long. But finally, we hopped into the car and drove downtown to get some books. I told him we could get a few for him to read to me, and a few for me to read to him. (He's actually reading very well now!) I asked the librarian what the limit was for checking out children's books. Can you believe it is FIFTY! No, I didn't get that many. but we came home with 13.

At the library. They have several statues of characters from books. This is the one Robert chose to have his picture taken with.

From the library we went to the train station. I thought Robert might like to climb on the old steam engine there - as it's open to the public and free. But he wasn't interested. From inside the car, where he was already reading books, he said, "No, I can see it from here." So . . . no train exploration. But the Whistlestop Park is right beside the train station, and that looked a little more enticing to him. We played for a half-hour or so.

Hot and tired, we headed to DQ for lunch. Robert is a dairy-free kiddo, so couldn't have the ice cream that came with the kids' meal, but the cashier was kind enough to offer him a slushy. He chose cherry, and it was a big hit.

Late in the afternoon we broke out the electronics kit. I really wondered if it would be too difficult for him to enjoy, but it wasn't. I read off the parts list for each of the projects we did, and Robert was good at finding the pieces. Then I showed him where to snap each piece onto the board, and in what order, and voila, we had sirens, lights, and other fun contraptions. Dan only had to come and help us out with one of the projects. Sure enough, we had forgotten a piece, leaving the circuit incomplete. That was not Robert's fault; it was Grandma's!

Dinner, watching a little Netflix (Chuggington), and reading from our library books brings this day to an end. Bedtime is just around the corner - for both Robert and ME! One of us is a little more excited about that than the other one. 

Stay tuned for the Friday-Saturday-Sunday episode of Life with Robert.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


It's a joy to have Chris, Kelsey, Clara and Robert visit us whenever they can. But once or twice a year I love to have just one of the grands come and stay for a while. That one-on-one time is super-special. And it's Robert's turn!

I always try to plan out these days ahead of time . . . so that my little guest won't get bored. As much as I loved my Grandma and Grandpa (and I loved them ever-so-much), I always got bored at their little (always too hot) apartment, especially when all the adults were talking and I had to find something to keep myself entertained. There were only a few things to play with . . . so few, in fact, that I still remember each one of them. There was a little wind-up brown fuzzy bear that walked across the floor; there were two little silver-colored Scottie dog magnets that could stick together or, turned the other way, push apart; and there was a little fish made out of a thin plastic film (an advertising give-away from Juneau Cold Storage, as I recall) which, when held in a warm hand, would curl up and wiggle a bit. Grandma also had a little painted dog, made of something like clay. It was about 8 inches tall and had a chip out of one ear. I always wondered if I had been the cause of the chip, and was never sure if I was really supposed to play with it. But I did. (Now that I put this in writing, I realize that I might never have remembered these things so clearly and dearly had there been scads of toys, so . . . )

But, anyway, I've been making plans for Robert's up-coming visit. First I took a look at "Grandma's toy box," and found that it was in sad shape for a 5-year old boy. Most of the toys were for toddlers. It was time for a refresh. So I placed an order for some new and exciting things. It kind of felt like Christmas, and when the items arrived I couldn't wait to open them up and try them out myself. (I might have gone a little overboard - but I only have ONE grandson!) One of them - an electronics kit - is probably a bit too advanced for his age, but I think with help from Grandpa or Grandma he'll have fun with it, and it will be entertaining for him and Clara for a long time to come.

A couple days ago I went to the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum to see if THAT might be interesting for him to visit. Nope. I think he's still too young, but I enjoyed it! When he's a little older we'll go together.

The interior of the old train station. I think the woodwork is beautiful.

This display told about what the different colored lanterns meant to the engineer.

This was actually a 3-D mural on the wall, made out of real train parts.

A train headlight. It was huge! As I bent down to snap a picture of it, I saw my own upside-down image in the lens.

Other things I have in mind while Robert is here include going to see the movie Minions. I know that'll be a hit.

And, if the temperatures aren't too high, we'll go play in a park or two and maybe to a splash pad to cool off in the evening.

Bring it on!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Whimsical Flowers for Clara

I tried doing a flower painting for Clara awhile ago, and it turned out awful, so I tossed it. A couple weeks ago I decided to try again, but this time make it a sort of whimsical flower painting. Here it is. I'll put it in a little white frame and give it to Clara next time I see her.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Tale of Two Cities (Towns)


Traveling home from Muleshoe, Dan wanted to drive through the town of Lorenzo. His grandfather Baker farmed cotton in three Texas communities (or possibly four). He lived in Haskell when he was married and when Dan's mother, Vera, was born. We don't know for sure whether he farmed there. By 1910 he lived in Oenaville, near Temple, where he definitely did farm. Three of his children, JM, Leo and Wiley, were born there. By 1930 he had moved to Lorenzo, where his son, Jacque, was born. And, finally, he moved his family to Muleshoe to continue farming cotton.

Before this trip, Dan had been to three of the four places his grandfather lived as an adult, but he had never been to Lorenzo. So we came home a different route than usual, just so we could see Lorenzo. It was a typical, quaint little west Texas farming town.


On our way home rom Lorenzo, as we headed south toward Abilene, we drove through Anson. Anson is the town where Dan and I lived during the 1970-71 school year. Dan was teaching school at Anson High School, and I was commuting to Abilene to do my student teaching and finish up my coursework at Abilene Christian College (now University).

We lived in a little, white clapboard house on the edge of town. It was old, but we were happy to live there. It was the first time we had lived in a single-family house. We bought paint and curtains, and lovingly decorated our little cottage. It had a washing machine (in the kitchen), which was really "up town" for us. No dryer, though. To dry the clothes we had to hang them on the lines at the back of the house. That worked okay on a good day. On a bad day, when the wind was blowing the wrong way, our clothes came in with West Texas dust all over them and, even worse, smelling like the chickens next door. Because of the dust and the distasteful aroma, I usually washed the clothes at home and carried them, wet, across town to dry them at the laundromat.

Mrs. Orr was our landlady. She was an 80-something-year-old widow lady who usually wore baggy denim overalls, work boots and a big, broad-brimmed straw hat. She loved to work in her garden and take care of her chickens - yes, those stinky chickens! She also had never heard of landlord/tenant rules. To her, "our" house was "her" house, and she came bursting in through the back door, hollering, "Yoohoo! Comin' in!", any time she wished. Back then no one locked doors, but Mrs. Orr's "visits" to our little newly-wed nest were an impetus for us to do so. That didn't really help though. She had a key in her pocket at all times, and still barged in whenever the urge struck her.

Spring of 1971 was an important time for me. I was to graduate with my degree in Elementary Ed, from ACC. And, of course, my parents were coming for the big event. No problem . . . we had TWO bedrooms in our little white house. And Mrs. Orr said she had a spare bed in her storage shed. In preparation for Mom and Dad's visit, Dan and a friend moved the bed from the shed to our extra room. It was an iron frame and an old mattress that was so flexible it could almost be folded in half. You could feel every spring, just below the ticking, and it made loud squwking noises whenever you moved on it. But it was a BED, and we were proud to beat the dust out of the mattress and dress it up for Mom and Dad's visit. It was years later when Mom told me how miserable they were trying to sleep on that thing. But at the time, they made us believe that they couldn't have been more comfortable, even at the Hilton.

So, coming through Anson on our way home this weekend, we both felt a strong urge to find our little house. Working together, we were able to drive to it with no trouble. But it didn't really look like the tidy little white clapboard cottage we had been so proud of. The dirt road it sits on hasn't changed at all, but the house has undergone years of neglect and stands unloved and vacant at the corner of 7th and Ave. G.

Muleshoe High School Class Reunion

Dan's 50th high school class reunion was this past weekend, the weekend of the 4th of July, in Muleshoe, Texas. The 50th is a BIG DEAL, so we decided to go. We left Friday morning and drove to Lubbock, where we spent the night. On Saturday morning we drove on into Muleshoe for all of the festivities.

Muleshoe is a farming community of around 5,000 people. It was named for a ranch, Muleshoe Ranch, dating from 1860. The story is that the owner named his ranch after he found a mule shoe in the soil. I've noticed that you can tell true residents of Muleshoe by how they say the name. Those of us from elsewhere clearly say, "MULE-SHOE," but the locals pronounce it "MYU-SHOE."

In 1965 the town dedicated a monument to the mule. It is a shiny, fiberglass, life-sized mule that stands on a platform, near the big grain elevators at the edge of town. He's affectionately nicknamed "The G.A." by the locals. I won't disclose what that stands for, although I will tell you that the "G" stands for "Glass" (as in fiberglass). Use your imagination.

Saturday morning we went to the Senior Center to register for the reunion events. This was a reunion for all alums, from the class of 1948 on. As Alums from the class of 1965 began drifting in, Dan found them and had a grand time catching up.

At 10:00 the 4th of July parade started. We all drug chairs out of the Senior Center and had perfect seats, in the shade, for the parade. Notice the grain elevator at the end of this street scene. It's still a prosperous business, although most of the elevators in the neighboring towns seem to have closed down.

The parade was a typical small-town parade with . . .




(One of which stopped running and had to be pushed!)








(All dressed up for the 4th)

Lunch at the Senior Center, after the parade, was really good. Juicy, tender beef brisket, pinto beans, potato salad, corn bread and cobbler.

At 2:00 Dan's class separated out from the other classes and met together at the civic center. There was a pretty good turnout. There had been close to 100 graduates back in 1965.

(Click on the class picture below to see it at full-size.)

Now I know where Dan learned to be such a TALKER! These folks spent three hours in non-stop visiting. I was really happy for Dan to get to renew old friendships, although if I'm honest, I got pretty bored sitting and listening to and about people I never knew. I was glad when it was time for the fried catfish dinner, which was catered by a Lubbock restaurant and was really delicious. It was for all of the classes. I don't know how many folks were there, from the class of 1948 on, but several hundred, I'm sure.  Dan's class talked about having ANOTHER reunion, for their class alone, this fall . . . maybe during Homecoming. 

We had planned to stay for the fireworks, which were to begin at 9:00 p.m., but both of us were pretty tuckered out by 8:00, and we still had over an hour's drive to get back to Lubbock for the night. So we decided to say our good-byes and head back to the hotel. We got a good night's sleep, and drove home the next day, taking a couple of short side-trips, which I'll write about in the next post.