Hanging Out in Texas
Don and I spent a little time in January, relaxing in the Hill Country.
I did some reading and a little trail running, at our quiet hotel...
I also acted like a kid and went down the windmill slide. Our hotel was wonderfully off-season-empty, but I still felt like I needed to sneak up those stairs before a worried staff member caught me. "Sorry, no one over age 60!"
We were close to San Antonio, but we didn't even drive into the city, to wander shops and restaurants along the winding Riverwalk.
Instead, we wandered backroads and found cafes and dance halls, curious shops and fun people.
Back in Sugar Land, I tried to let the new decade motivate me. I created the longest to-do list in history. (instead of resolutions)
At the end of the month, there were very few checks on my list. That's because I kept going back to the things I liked best on the list. Read More Books and Play More Piano!
A decent first month in 2020!
I love a little whimsical decorating at Christmastime! I knew the kids weren't going to be in town this year, but I had some fun making the house festive anyway.
The kids weren't around to help put up the tree... or to blame, when I knocked it over. Oh dear.
Reading, Playing, Baking...
It was nice having a lot of home time, this year. I actually got around to reading some of my favorite Christmas stories. Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" with a cup of coffee, on a balmy morning! Perfect.
I had a little fun playing some carols and baking cookies. I fumbled with graham crackers and a glue gun and invited the neighbor kiddos over to make candy houses.
It was nice to have a few toasts with friends at the house.
I shared some wonderful feasts, with old neighbors and new neighbors.
Christmas in Nola
Our quiet house felt cozy and festive, but we decided to shake things up and celebrate Christmas Day in New Orleans.
We spent two nights at The Monteleone, in the French Quarter.
On Christmas Day, we walked our bags a few blocks to stay in the ultimate Christmas Hotel!
Who does that? We do. Two hotels... twice the fun! At both places, I had to get up at 6:00 am, to get festive photos without crowds.
For someone who loves an old fashioned Christmas, it actually sounds awful to spend a 3-day Christmas, in a city known for partying and drinking.
But the city was as welcoming and happy as I've ever seen it. No bachelorette parties and frat boys were spotted. The weather was pleasant and the locals and travelers we met, were all pleasant to talk to!
On Christmas morning, we made it to Jackson Square just as the bells of St. Louis Cathedral were calling folks to 11:00 mass.
We spent Christmas morning enjoying the sounds of music and bells, church folk and street entertainers. We wandered and absorbed and best of all, talked and FaceTimed with our kids on the west coast. What a treat to hear their voices and feel connected on Christmas morning!
On December 26th, we headed back to Texas.
That evening, we had more Christmas and a few days later, we ended the decade!
Cheers to December and to 2019!
In mid-November, Don and I headed off on a visit to see my Dad in Missouri. We included Oklahoma on the route. Fun to see good old Tulsa, where our family lived in the 1990's.
We spent some time exploring with dear friends, Dan & Kim. We drove to our old neighborhood where our 2 families once lived. We took in Tulsa's latest surprise, the amazing Gathering Place! What a beautiful park on a lovely day, with such special friends.
In Missouri, we spent some time in the town where I have the deepest roots. I never lived in Springfield, but I have endless Christmas and Summertime memories of the town where all my relatives lived.
We enjoyed one evening with a cozy gathering of some of my cousins, aunts and uncles. We spent another day with my 91 year old dad, driving out Route 66 and taking in a little history at a local museum.
Curious Stops in OK, MO & AR
Our route to and from Springfield gave us some options for interesting overnights.
We stayed in a Frank Lloyd Wright "skyscraper", a 1912 Tudor hotel, an Ozark cabin and a midcentury modern hotel. All fun.
We sampled some local favorites at small town diners. Massive pancakes and spaghetti with pickles... hamburgers covered in gravy.
We had a memorable meal at 21c Museum Hotel in Arkansas, where we shared our table (and cotton candy dessert) with one of their penguin mascots.
In a few small towns, we found some wonderful stairs to climb.
I don't think they burned off many of the road food calories we consumed.
We found a few good chairs here and there.
But we never sat very long...
It was November, but it felt like Christmas in Missouri and Arkansas.
I used to complain about early decorations, but it was cold and the festive decor fit!
Thanksgiving for Two!
We made it home just before Thanksgiving. Our feast for two could have felt lacking, but we had lots to be thankful for.
We toasted to the fun we'd had in recent months with family and friends. Most of all I felt thankful, knowing our kids were sharing the day with family in Oregon and California. FaceTime and texts and phone calls made them seem closer.
One nice perk... the post feast clean-up was a breeze!
With the Kids!
We started the month with a reunion in Sacramento, where Scott and Chali live.
Jamie and Heidi flew down from Portland and we had a few days celebrating all together.
We celebrated with wine and we celebrated with tiny hats! Don & Heidi both had birthdays.
We celebrated in the vineyards in Napa and Calistoga. We celebrated with pumpkins at "Apple Hill". It was a warm and wonderful few days!
Two on the Road
Don and I spent about 2 weeks exploring Northern California and Oregon. We had summer temps in the wine country and winter at Mount Hood, OR.
We drove down shady US 199, through the Redwoods and we absorbed brilliant fall colors, in Oregon. We enjoyed a misty morning in Mendocino and total sunshine in San Francisco.
We spent a weekend in Portland with Heidi and Jamie. The city has some pretty amazing options for food and drink. We made use of some spectacular scenery in and outside of the city.
Between visits with our kids, we met up with a couple sisters! Jennifer, Kate and their new pup Charlie, hosted us in Eugene, OR.
In Sunnyvale, CA, we spent an evening with Don's sister Jane, our grand-nephews and their parents. All visits were way too short, be we felt lucky to have them.
Later in the month we caught up with Scott and Chali again, in Sacramento.
The 4 of us drove 2 hours and spent 2 days enjoying some hikes and views in South Lake Tahoe. It's hard having our kids so far away, but it's pretty special spending time with them in their beautiful states.
We finished up our trip in the Bay Area, where we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.
On the evening of October 20th, we threw on our tiki attire and headed to our hotel's Tonga Room to begin our fun. Sadly they were closed for a function, but we got our photo taken and found fun elsewhere. Happy 40th to this guy!
What an exhausting and wonderful month. So grateful for all the time we spent with family!
There were no big travels for me in September. I had to find a little fun closer to home!
It was wonderful getting back to routine, volunteering with my senior groups. You're never too old for flamingo puppets... or unicorns.
Sometimes Don and I just have to pretend we're traveling, with a little Day Trip Dining.
We love a small town cafe, especially when it has a cool sign, announcing Pie Happy Hour. We were too early, but lunch was good!
Another day, we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant, just 20 minutes from our house. The decorated building was pretty festive! When Don needed his Spanish skills to order, we felt like we'd taken a trip across the border.
Work and Play
This month at the cabin, we got a lot of chores done. The beekeeper's hat was very helpful, with our spider issues.
We had some downtime, too. No TV at the cabin, so I spent a little time browsing through old hotel & motel postcards. Sadly, not one of these fine places is still open for business.
Work and Play, in Sugar Land
It was chore month in Sugar Land, too... back breaking, furniture moving kind of work. I did get to sit though, when I enjoyed my first job playing plumber. Don coached. Later came the reward.
I don't have photos of all we accomplished, but I have photos of both of us... accomplishing nothing.
It was a miserably hot September. I don't feel guilty!
It was a hot August in Texas, but we hung in there. We didn't leave the state, once.
We enjoyed some good rainstorms and rainbows, some sunsets and just a couple sunrises.
I dusted off my quilt and got back to my volunteer groups. My first theme was puppets.
Paintings and Statues
I got in a little exploring, outside of Houston.
Fort Worth had an exhibit of Monet's later works. The town of Hutto had hippos. Lots of hippos!
Small Town Dining
Don and I had 4 memorable lunches in 4 small towns. Llano, Fayetteville, Hutto and Columbus.
We discovered more art while driving Texas highways. We didn't have to leave the car to enjoy the barn art,
Sorting and Shopping
Mostly, this was a month of sorting through junk. Don and I have gotten serious about facing all our stuff. We've been making decisions about what to do with it.
Whenever we got stumped, we took a break and went shopping.
We didn't buy giant chairs or sharks at Gallery Furniture, but we did buy. We also bought a few un-needed items from an antique store... and Goodwill. We are a bad pair. Maybe we'll be better in September.
U of M Memories
Don and I were in Ann Arbor over the 4th of July. We spent some time wandering campus and remembering. Both of us have strong connections to the town and university, going back to the fall of 1973.
Don was a freshman at U of M, that fall. I had just moved to town, as a high school junior. I spent a lot of time around the university, since my dad was UM faculty and my siblings were UM students. But I never met Don on campus, during the 2 years that we both lived in Ann Arbor. We met a few years later, in St. Louis and bonded over our Ann Arbor memories.
Dining in Ann Arbor
Don and I had only 2 days to enjoy and absorb Ann Arbor. We explored and dined and best of all reunited! My dear, high school friend and her mom, met us for dinner one night.
I last saw saw Lorie, nearly 15 years ago, when moving my daughter into her U of M dorm. It has been about 45 years, since I've seen Lorie's mom. The reunion couldn't have been better. It's impossible to explain in a brief post, just how special it was to see my unique friend, Lorie! I'm so grateful that we 4 had time together.
After our short stay in Ann Arbor, Don and I spent a week enjoying the cool breezes and sunny skies, in Northern Michigan.
We posed with some of Michigan's farms and beaches.
Food and Drink
We ate German food (and fried chicken) in Frankenmuth. We sampled wines in some of the 100+ Michigan vineyards.
Best of all, we spent time with family, in Northport! My brother and his wife, opened their home to my other 3 siblings and spouses. We spent some time exploring nearby parks and small towns. But mostly, we enjoyed each other. When you live in 4 different states, you never take these reunions for granted!
Back to Texas
It was hard saying good-bye to Michigan. The weather was sweltering, by the time we returned home to Texas. But this sweet Texas Bambi, standing near the Mickey Mouse cactus, made me happy to be back home.
July was good!
Beginning in Colorado
We began June in Colorado. After spending the last week of May with snow and mud, we were thrilled to see flowers and leaves on trees.
Meandering Back to Texas
Don and I took 10 days, wandering home, from Breckenridge. We stayed in some curious, luxurious and quirky hotels and motels. We dined in retro cafes and dim saloons. We watched the scenery and seasons change. Best of all, we met interesting people and had fun reunions with good friends and family. And... what a treat to meet and feed the donkeys of Cripple Creek!
Fun Back Home
The rest of June was spent catching up and attending to the chores we've put off for so long. But, we did spend one morning with Van Gogh at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts! What an amazing exhibit... with a some playful, posing at the end!
Gateway to the West
In early May, I flew away from the drenching rains of Sugar Land, to meet up with my dear friend in St. Louis. The old Gateway City, was also swollen from rain.
Busy with Milissa
Milissa came in from Chicago by train and we spent 3 days exploring. We wandered from Union Station to the Arch. We visited the Art Museum and ate Italian food on The Hill. We rode the trolley... drank coffee and martinis... talked and talked and laughed into the night.
I had some time alone in St. Louis before my late flight on Mother's Day. It could have been a little lonely, missing my own kids... while visiting the city where they were born. But I loved my day. I spoke with my kids on the phone and I had a picnic in one of Mom's favorite parks. St. Louis was her home town and I felt like she was right there with me!
In mid May, Don and I stuffed the car, for a road trip to Colorado. The wind pushed us through West Texas, right into New Mexico. The gusts halted for a moment, one evening in Albuquerque. Then the winds blew us right into Colorado.
Snow in Breckenridge
Inches of snow fell the night before we headed to Breckenridge. Luckily the roads were clear by the time we got close.
Don and I planted ourselves for one week in Breckenridge. (Unusual for us!) Our kids and spouses were able to free up schedules for a quick visit! Even our nephew and his wife came for a night!
Mud and Snow!
Memorial Day was full of flurries and there was a light layer of fresh snow 2 days later. We attempted a muddy hike... and we dreamed of the Tropics, at a local Tiki Bar!
We didn't have enough time. We never do. But we were all together for a few days and that got the summer started off, just right!
62nd Birthday at Hamilton Pool
I turned 62 in early April. Nothing special about that, so I had to add some fun. Don and I grabbed the picnic quilt and headed to Hamilton Pool, just west of Austin. The old "swimming hole" was pretty peaceful on a weekday in April.
Don made it classy, with Mimosas. I made it less classy, with my choice of foods. We food shopped at Buccee's Gas Station/Store... which is a very Texas thing!
April gave us some good weather for enjoying the parks. Later in the month we visited Enchanted Rock... which is much more enchanting in person than photos. Don and I did some posing with the pink granite.
The most fun part of April was a whirlwind road trip with our friends Susan and Pat. They were game to have us pick a route that included lots of curious, quirky, historic and fun stops.
Nearly 1,000 Miles
In 5 days, we cover 955 miles. We started near the gulf and circled back to the Hill Country. We hiked and roamed an antique store or two... ate BBQ and sampled Texas wines. We hit towns with wonderful names, like Comfort and Blessing and we gabbed and laughed the whole way! Yay for April and Yay for our fun traveling friends!
This March was a quiet one, compared to last year. Don and I celebrated our own little Mardi Gras, with Hurricanes, Jambalaya and King Cake.
I gathered on Fat Tuesday with my senior groups and we went way beyond Mardi Gras masks. Our mask theme turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected... and lot less serious than this photo suggests.
With no travel and no huge events, Don and I had time for some good home cooking. Don smoked pulled pork and made a mountain of blueberry pancakes. My food contribution in March? I bought us a green Krispy Kreme to share on St. Patrick's Day!
Getting Stuff Done
More home time, meant I stopped procrastinating on a few things. I finally scheduled an eye appointment after 8 years and got some progressive glasses. I needed more help than glasses, with some of my sorting jobs. I finally faced the boxes of slides. I pitched plenty, but I also made some incredible finds. Cheers to all the images I didn't know existed!
About 2 years ago, my post chemo hair was just long enough for a tiny trim. Since that time, I've gone in regularly to get a little help hiding my gray hairs and to get "the burnt ends" snipped off. After 2 years of trimming, I got my first haircut! The curls are really gone now!
I'm ready for April!
Happy Chinese New Year!
We stayed close to home in February! On the 5th, I celebrated the Lunar New Year with my volunteer groups. Then Don and I celebrated in the evening, with our own feast of Chinese food!
The weather was warm on Valentine's Day... about the only warm day all month. My neighbor Mara invited friends for brunch. What a spread of food!
In the evening, the weather was still warm enough to sit outside. Don made an exotic Lapu Lapu cocktail, for sharing. Then we grilled shrimp kabobs.
Our only travel this month, was 2 nights at the cabin. We spotted our first bluebonnet of the season... at the top of the hill, at sunset.
I spent a good amount of time this month, sorting through old boxes. I got bogged down with old letters and memorabilia. I had a few laughs over old dolls. So many boxes were sent off to donation centers... but I hardly made a dent!
The Academy Awards gave us one more excuse to celebrate. Don and I "dressed" for the occasion and set out a spread of food. We gabbed and laughed throughout the entire awards show, without falling asleep. We vow to see more movies this year.
Don and I spent a couple weeks in January, traveling the Southeast. Our only night in Georgia was spent in an historic hotel on Jekyll Island... where I dreamed about living in one of the nearby grand cottages.
On a different island, we met up with our dear friends and once neighbors, The Harts. We spent a few days exploring Hilton Head and nearby Beaufort, while catching up and reminiscing about raising our kids together, in Tulsa.
Food and Shelter in SC
After a week of absorbing the flavors of South Carolina and dreaming about more homes I'd love to own, we headed south.
MLK Day in St. Augustine, Florida
On MLK Day, we were in St. Augustine, where we joined locals in a silent march. We walked on the very route that Dr. King's feet and other peaceful protesters marched, 50+ years ago.
Our travels continued in Florida, where we learned more history.
We headed down the coast and up the gulf side, of Florida. Each of our six hotels offered up its own contribution to Florida history. Stock car racing and railroad history... even early film history, before Hollywood!
Sunrise & Sunset
Most of our stays were near water, with sunsets on the gulf and sunrises on the coast. I'm pretty sure I was cold when I took all these photos, but that's okay. I sigh when I see the pictures, I don't shiver!
It was a chilly, but fun January.
December always goes way too fast. I made sure to start on the first day, with a little cookie baking. Throughout the month there was just enough holiday socializing... and plenty of downtime for Christmas movies and books.
In early December, Don and I pulled the old "Bambi" out of storage and drove 2 hours to Goliad State Park. The park is home to the old Spanish Mission Espiritu Santo. What a treat to cook dinner outside, then wander up the lit pathway to see the glowing church.
This was our first Christmas, with both of our kids married and living on the west coast. Don and I expected to spend a quiet Christmas in Texas, but the 4 kids came up with a plan. All 6 of us gathered in Portland for 4 festive days of celebrating!
On Christmas Eve we dined out, high above the twinkling city lights. On Christmas day, we hunkered down in our sweet Airbnb, with clever, humorous and thoughtful gifts... games... movies... food and drink. It couldn't have been better.
Don and I ended the year back in Texas, with a spectacular sunset on New Year's Eve. We toasted to the great year we've had, but we didn't get around to resolutions... or even midnight.
But, it was a good December and a good year!
Beginning the Month in Mexico
On November first, Don and I spent the evening in Cozumel, experiencing some of the traditions of Dia de Muertos. Days later we experienced a little Mayan history, visiting the ruins on the mainland, at Tulum and Coba.
After the beautiful sunsets in Cozumel, we got to enjoy sunrise on the mainland. The skies in the east were still colorful in the evening, too.
Back in Texas
Back home in Texas, Don and I got back to routine. We still found time for a little exploring, though. One day, we stopped to enjoy murals, on a small town market.
Another day, we checked out a bridge... that is now gone. Floods swept the bridge away a month ago, near our cabin in Sunrise Beach. We were glad to see some signs of rebuilding... eventually.
Towards the end of the month, we spent a couple days at the cabin. We celebrated Thanksgiving just ourselves... for the first time in 37 years.
The cabin has no TV, so we celebrated with a fire and books, puzzles and food. We did however embrace our technology and Skyped with our kids in their new homes out west. It was impossible to feel any gloom about our first Thanksgiving with no kids... when we were suddenly laughing and gabbing on the phone.
Lots to be Thankful for in November!