Festival of Hope

October 19, 2014

Last night we participated in the 2nd annual Festival of Hope. It was a time of choir singing and storytelling, games for the kids, food vendors, etc. The weather was good, if a bit warm. The sun was in our eyes for the first hour, but by the time we sang it was OK. The point of the event, sponsored by our church, was to raise money for our local food bank, Duncanville Outreach Ministry. We were happy that Rachel joined us for the choir part, and we really enjoyed the DHS choir who performed both with us and by themselves–they’re really good.



I won a computer at the raffle. I would have preferred winning the airline tickets, but… The computer is an old XP system. I’m hoping I could actually make it work well enough to use it in my Sunday School class, but it might not even be good enough for that! We’ll see. It is sitting on the dining room table right now.

Speaking of unopened computers, Gary got a very new, very high end computer for home, but he hasn’t had time to turn it on yet! At least he is now home from travels and probably we won’t go anywhere until we go to Portland in early January. We’ve begun corresponding with the church there as to which Sunday is better for them–Jan 4 or Jan 18. The Sunday between those two dates is when Gary will be giving his presentation at the LSA annual meeting.

Gary’s Home Again

October 16, 2014

His short trip to Austin went well, and he got home safely this afternoon.

Has anyone else been noticing how depressing the news is these days? The ebola news from the Dallas hospital has been kinda scary (that was the hospital where Isabella was born). I mean, if we have two surprise cases of ebola in an environment where the doctors and nurses are trained, the equipment is wonderful, the supplies are abundant and people are educated–if the disease is still transmitted so easily in these circumstances, can we even begin to imagine what is going on in West Africa?? It doesn’t take long to do the math…

Yesterday morning my colleague and I skipped work (our husbands and bosses were out of town) and went birding. We saw 30 species at Cedar Hill state park, including a Spotted Towhee. A few ducks have arrived, and I managed to ID a Vesper sparrow and a Savannah sparrow (verified by the eBird police).



Grandkid Update, Part 2

October 15, 2014

It seems that David and Sarah must have gone to Washington last weekend as I found these nice photos on Maureeen’s Facebook page and stole them. Looks like they had a fun time. I miss them all alot. It seems Emma’s hair is the same color as the pumpkins.





I’m still asking for photos of kids with Wendell and Judy–did no one take any, or am I just talking the hand?

Gary called from Austin tonight. Should be home tomorrow afternoon.

Grandkid Update, Part 1

October 14, 2014

Gary got home from Bangkok safely late Sunday afternoon. Today he left again, this time just a short trip to Austin. The car almost ran out of gas on the way to the airport, but I did make it to a station after I dropped him off. Has anyone noticed that the prices have dropped?

I went to the office after dropping him off, but the internet is down, so I can’t do any work there! I’ll come home a blog instead.

Andrew sent me this photo of Isabella with yet more teeth missing. Does she know those spots are called gums? If so, somebody tell her this joke:
Q. What do you call a bear with no teeth?
A. A Gummy Bear.


A few hours later: Andrew tells me we have an updated photo with even more teeth missing! No corn on the cob for this girl.

photo (1)

We Are the Proud Owners

October 11, 2014

…of a new cat. Delilah by name. Not sure I like that name. She looks more like a Panther or a Morty.
This cat belonged to the friend I mentioned in the last post who passed away this week. So far I can’t find Delilah. I think she crawled up inside the box spring under our bed.

Rachel’s plans to go boating today fell through due to a 30+ degree drop in the temperature, but I went birding anyway. The coots are back! Also the cormorants and grebes.

And don’t you just love a determined and tiny little flower that pops up is pretty head right in the middle of an ant pile?

If my math is correct, Gary should be just getting on the plane in BKK right now to start his journey home.


October 9, 2014

We still have hummingbirds. I’m still making nectar and saving them from spiders.



I have only heard a tiny bit from Gary in Bangkok. I know he got there safely and easily, has a nice private room, and is waking up too early. He gets home Sunday and leaves again on Tuesday, but for a shorter trip. Speaking of waking up early, I got up to view the eclipse, but my photos were terrible:

Rachel is busy with her job and keeps thinking it is going to slow down now that beginning of the year crunch is past, but so far it hasn’t. She did get a nice end-of-year bonus and a little raise. I was proud of her for using some of her savings to make a chunk payment on the principal of her mortgage payment. She and I went out to eat because the restaurant was donating a portion to our church’s fundraiser. I had yummy chicken under a brick. Not sure what that means, but it was good.


Our friend Stan was scheduled to come stay with us next week, but called and canceled. He said “old age” was stopping him. Sad. Speaking of old age and sad, one of our single choir members passed away this morning after a short bout with a very aggressive cancer. We may end up with his cat.

How Does She Do That?

October 5, 2014

Last Sunday our church deacons hosted a Taco lunch for the church and for entertainment they had someone drawing caricatures. It was a lot of fun. She did my face in about 3 minutes, and then add Gary’s in another three. I’ve always been amazed how portrait artists can look at a person and then make them recognizable on paper, both caricaturists and painters. How do they do that??




For the children there was face painting:

Gary is off to Bangkok early tomorrow morning and will be back next Sunday. That is a long ways to go for such a short time. We needed to get the storm mess cleaned up before he left, so we worked on that Saturday morning. Gary crawled up on the roof and refastened the ridge cap thingy. There are friends of ours who are still without power.

Camping Trip, part 3–the Birds

October 3, 2014

A week ago we were camping and I got two lifers. The second one was a warbler, and I think it was a Nashville Warbler. Of course, it didn’t hold still very long, and they are quite difficult to ID.

The first one, I didn’t see at all, but I did hear it–Eastern Screech Owl. The first night I heard it call three times, one time very close to the tent at about 1:30am. Everyone else was asleep. The second night it called again, near daybreak, and Gary was awake to hear it too. When we got home we looked up all the possible owl choices, listened to each of them and decided what it was.

We saw a few birds and got a few photos–Downey Woodpecker, Osprey, Eastern Phoebe, and Green Heron.

We still have humming birds here on October 3. Still warm and we still need rain. But yesterday we got some heavy rain for a few minutes preceded by 5 minutes of very high winds. We lost a couple branches and several trees at the Center went down. Rachel was without power for over 12 hours so she slept here last night and worked here until noon. Here’s a very short video of the rain in the front yard.

Camping Trip, Part 2–Plants and Animals

September 30, 2014

The lake level at Cedar Hill State Park is quite high in comparison to other area lakes, but the ground itself is very dry and cracked. We really need rain! Driest September on record, they say.

Anyway, here are some plants we saw: The first two in the collage are the before and after photos of the same plant. This plant, whose name I do not know, has caused my sock drawer to be depleted since the stickers are almost impossible to remove from knit or elastic fabrics! I also don’t know the name of the lovely purple wild flower, but I furshur know what poison ivy looks like, even in the fall!


This little fella got in the car because we forgot to roll up the windows–baby Texas Spiny Lizard.

We saw this clever spider on our hike. It makes a funnel and the insects just fall on in.

Saw these sets of tracks along the lake–I’d guess raccoon.


And here is the Western Diamondback that Gary saved me from! Gary was ahead of me on a hiking trail and saw it slither on the path. He stopped and put out his arms so I would stop too, ever saying a word. Later he mentioned that he couldn’t tell the head from the tail!

September Camping, Part 1–Camp Food

September 28, 2014

Gary and I went camping for two nights this past week. We took half of Thursday and all day Friday off work. This timing is necessary due to all the church commitments on Sundays that are hard to hand off to others.

There was a huge difference in the look and feel between the two nights. Thursday we had the entire place to ourselves, which was really nice. Rachel joined us for dinner and spent the night, then ran off early Friday to get back to work by 8am. But by 8am Friday the weekend crowd started to show up. In some cases folks would come in and set up their tent or camper, then leave for the day and not return until evening. Our quiet little spot had a three Indian brothers on one side and Boy Scout troop on the other. I told Gary from now on we are going to camp only during the middle of the week so we can have some peace and quiet!

We usually try to prepare all meals over an open fire, though we saw neighbors with gas grills, gas burners, electric kettles and microwaves! We loaded up an old bird seed bag with firewood–this meant no-mess cleanup of the car.
Our campsite had a nice little “kitchen counter” retaining wall that was very handy.

Our first dinner was grilled shrimp and grilled veggies and corn on the cob. The corn didn’t work so well, but the other things were great.

Baked apples for dessert, followed by s’mores, of course.

Friday morning breakfast was French toast and sausage, but we were in such a hurry to eat so Rachel could drive home to work by 8am that we didn’t take any photos. Lunch was grilled chicken sausages–very spicy fajita seasoned.
Dinner was red potatoes cooked in foil packets with onion soup mix flavoring and bacon, and grilled chicken. The potatoes turned out better than the chicken. But not to worry about going hungry because our nice Indian neighbors brought us each a plate of spicy Indian curry, fried fish, rice and one of those shrimp cracker things

Breakfast on Saturday morning was an experiment, not one I’m likely to repeat unless desperate. I had seen a YouTube of an outdoors man making fried eggs and bacon in a paper bag so I had to try it too.

Step one: cut the bacon in half and use a piece to grease the inside of your bag.
Step two: line the bottom of the bag with 4 half-slices of bacon.
Step three: crack two eggs on top.
Step four: close bag and place on hot coals.
Step five: wait 15 minutes
Step six: eat

This process did actually work, and we did eat the bacon and eggs. But the bacon stuck to the bottom of the bag pretty bad, so it was hard to deal with. I have no idea why the paper bags didn’t catch on fire!


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