Tuesday, June 13, 2017


It's been a long time since I posted any of my artwork. There's a reason for that . . . I haven't been doing any art work for several months.

Much as I appreciate and love my art instructor, Barbara, it seemed it was time to move on to a different venue. Barbara didn't seem too eager to teach watercolors, and that's what I really want to learn. 

Since we've started worshipping with the Salado church, I've gradually becoming more and more involved in Salado village activities. There is a group of artists known as Salado Village Artists (SVA), who meet once a week to work on their individual art projects. Some of them do watercolor, so I joined SVA and am hoping to get some encouragement and instruction in watercolors. During the month of June, they offer an "art camp" for the Salado school children. Today I stayed to help out with that. What a fund day; I love working with children!

Anyway, this painting is NOT watercolor -- still acrylics. But I had been out of practice for so long that I thought doing something I was familiar with, in order to get back into the swing of things, was a good idea. 

I did this painting with a dear friend in mind - Bea, from Juneau. I hope to take it to her when we go up there later this summer for my 50th high school reunion. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Day with Kelsey's Family

Once again, Kelsey invited us to join in on the fun of her family reunion (her mother's side of the family). So yesterday morning we headed south to Wimberley, where the family gathers at (Texas State) University Camp. The campground itself sits on the Blanco River, which is the attraction that keeps the kids and adults alike occupied for much of their time there. I didn't do a headcount, but I think there were 10 or 12 kiddos there this year, including, of course, our two grands, Clara and Robert. We only stayed for the day, but the family stays for three nights, in the bunkhouse, which is attached to the kitchen/dining area.

We had a great time, watching the kids swim and play, eating lunch and dinner with the family, and catching up on all the news.

I spent a good part of the day sitting in a lawn chair, under these very trees, talking and laughing with Chris and others.

We arrived back home as it was getting dark. We saw the sunset as we were a half-hour or so from home.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

As I put my small American flag out in the front yard yesterday, in honor of Memorial Day, I couldn't help thinking of all the veterans in Dan's and my families, including, of course, both of our fathers: Walace Hiram Judd, who served in the Navy during WWII; and Robert Wellington Clark, who served in the Navy during WWII and Korea.

But this year I am also remembering my patriot ancestor, Bela Davis (12 Apr 1753 - Oct 1800), who fought in the American Revolution. Because of him, I am honored to have recently been inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution (Betty Martin Chapter of Temple, Texas).

Bela Davis is my 5th great-grandfather. He was a young Massachusetts soldier - a private in Captain John Jones' company and Ephraim Doolittle's regiment. Because of brave men like him, we live in this independent country, the United States of America.

I am his descendant as follows: I am the daughter of Robert W Clark; granddaughter of Wellington W Clark; great-granddaughter of Carrie E Tankersley Clark; 2nd great-granddaughter of Rosalie Ann Davis Tankersley; 3rd great-granddaughter of Isaac Roswell Davis; 4th great-granddaughter of Bela Ward Davis; 5th great-granddaughter of Bela Davis, who served in the Revolutionary War.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tim and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Vacation

Ever since Christmas, we've been planning for, and looking forward to, a Spring visit from Tim. He decided not to come at Christmas, because he would only get to see his niece and nephew - Clara and Robert - for one day, and he wanted to come when he could spend more time with them.

He finally settled on coming May 13 through May 22. I made hotel reservations in San Antonio, so we could go have some fun there before heading to Katy to visit with Chris, Kelsey and the kids. We'd spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning in Katy, giving Tim lots of time with them. What Dan and I were most excited about was that we'd all get to attend a concert that Clara would be performing in on Saturday, as a member of the Katy ISD Elementary Honor Choir.

You know that old adage that begins: "The best laid plans of mice and men . . . " Well, Tim's visit was living proof of that.

Tuesday before he arrived (on Saturday), I came down with a terrible upper respiratory bug. It laid me flat. I was feverish, had a headache, coughed day and night, had a sore throat, and was short of breath and light headed. I finally went to the doctor on Thursday. She did a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia and a strep test. Both were negative. She sent me home with a couple of prescriptions to help control my cough and help me sleep. All I wanted was to be well by the time Tim arrived on Saturday.

By Thursday afternoon, Dan started having the same symptoms. When Saturday arrived, I convinced myself that I was feeling better. I had an important meeting to attend that afternoon, so Dan pulled himself up by his bootstraps and made the trip to the Austin airport to get Tim. We all got back home about the same time.

The next day was Mother's Day. Tim and I went to church, while Dan stayed in bed, realizing that he wasn't even close to being over his illness. I really wasn't well yet, either, but I was in denial, knowing I had to make the best of Tim's visit. Tim enjoyed visiting our new congregation, in Salado, and meeting some of our friends. But we didn't do anything special for Mother's Day, since Dan was at home in bed, and I really wasn't feeling that well, either.

Dan and I tried our best to avoid passing on our germs, but that just wasn't in our control. By Tuesday Tim came down with the same bug. We ended up canceling our hotel reservations in San Antonio, but held out hope that we could still go to Katy later that week and see the kids. On Friday I might have been well enough to go, but neither Dan nor Tim could have made it. Our last chance to go came on Saturday morning. We could have gone just for a one-night stay, and gotten to attend the concert. I asked Tim, who I knew would be most disappointed at not seeing the kids, what he thought we should do. I was proud of him; he very unselfishly replied, "The responsible thing is not to go." I knew he was right. Sharing these germs with the Katy Judds would have been wrong, so we let Kelsey know that we were not coming. We kept our germs at home and talked with the kids via Skype that evening. Kelsey said Clara's choir performance was amazing. We ordered a video recording.

On Sunday, I was the only one well enough to go to church. And on Monday, we all drove to Austin to put Tim on the plane and send him home to Albuquerque, probably back to 75 percent wellness.

I felt so bad for Tim. He had taken his vacation days to come see us and to be with the kids, and all he did was get sick and try to get well. Even a one-day visit with Clara and Robert at Christmas would have been better than this. It wasn't what any of us wanted. As Dan said, at the airport, "We'll have to do this again . . . without getting sick."

No pictures to post. They wouldn't have been pretty pictures!

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.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Ghost Town and Mother Neff State Park

Dan is gone for the weekend. He is at a vintage car race, working with the tech crew. He really enjoys these race weekends, and I don't mind them at all. I usually try to do something a little different with my time while he's gone. So this morning, with the thermometer reading a pleasant 70 degrees, I headed about 20 minutes west to the old ghost town of "The Grove." I think someone actually gives tours on weekends, but today I was alone with the ghosts.

From what I read, The Grove started as a town in the early 1870s, and was sustained by farming and ranching. It seems to have prospered until the 1940s, when it had a little more than 100 residents. Highway 36, which bypassed the town, was partly responsible for the little town's demise.

In the center of town still stands a 28-foot-deep well, reportedly hand-dug by resident Jim Whitmore in 1872. I've read that there is still water in the well.

Jim Whitmore's well, which served the entire downtown of The Grove.
A few years ago the entire downtown was sold for $200,000 to Fran Moyer, the granddaughter of W.J.Dube, who owned the W.J. Dude General Merchandise store and was one of the town fathers.

The center shop in the red brick building was W.J.Dube's general merchandise store

The barber shop

Different cattle brands are carved all over the front of the blacksmith's shop

The saloon. I'm sure it was a booming business in The Grove.

I strolled down this sidewalk, arm in arm with a couple of ghosts

These are the doors to the US Post Office at The Grove. Notice the stained glass panels.

Since I was only about ten minutes away from Mother Neff State Park, I decided to go take a few pictures there, as well. I hiked the relatively easy trail - probably about a mile each way - through the woods to the rock water tower that was built by the CCC in the 1930s. Climbing the stairs puts you above the tree tops. The hike was really pleasant. It was mostly flat ground, and it was comfortable T-shirt weather. The birds were singing and the butterflies were flitting everywhere.

Looking down on the stairs from the top of the tower. The shadows made an interesting abstract pattern.

On the road between home and Mother Neff I stopped and took a few more pictures.

Across the road from the Lutheran Church at The Grove were these crosses and a sheep pasture.

The sheep were really curious when I neared the fence. They kept coming closer and closer, and one of the rams was trying to poke his nose through the fence.

And closer to Mother Neff I stopped to take this big guy's picture. He was quite happy to pose for me.