This week a friend of mine died unexpectedly – a fellow sailor, a husband, and father of 3, who worked in the IT industry by day, and sang karaoke at night.

This week is also the 3 year anniversary of the unexpected death of a cousin of mine who was my age.

Mom died not too long ago, not unexpectedly, but creating a great hole in our hearts.

An aunt died without any warning signs, mourning the loss of her husband 2 years before.

My sister-in-law’s brother died this year unexpectedly as well.

The impact of all these losses piles up, in the mind.   And it causes me to pause.   And maybe because of that when I saw this quote posted this week, it touched me:

So live your life that the fear of death can never

enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion;

respect others in their view, and demand that


respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all

things in your life.

— Chief Tecumseh’s Words of Wisdom

I shall strive to do so.

A fun, full, first weekend of Fall!

We’ve been busy!  This past weekend, we made a roadtrip out to west, stopping first at William Chris Winery, where we caught up with a friend of ours that we ran into, by chance;  then we hopped over to Wildseed Farms to pickup a bunch of seed; then made it over to one of our faves, Becker Vineyards, where we had a tasting, a picnic, and checked out their new field of zinnias.  Just beautiful.

IMG_9140 IMG_9142

On the way home we headed over to the Real Ale Brewery in Blanco.  We took the river road south/southeast from Hwy 290 to Blanco, and stopped along the way several times to check out the now lazy river that was uncontrollably raging just 4 months ago, tragically sweeping away homes and families over Memorial Day weekend.IMG_9158

At Real Ale, Monte sampled a flight, and I sipped my favorite – Hans Pils.

IMG_9170 IMG_9179

Then Sunday rolled around, and we headed out to see the Anderson Mill historical site, near its original location at Cypress Creek on Lake Travis.   The Anderson Mill Gardeners do a wonderful job of preserving the site and its history.IMG_9183We made it to the boat in time to cheer the Seahawks on to their first win of the season, enjoying the recently repaired air conditioning on Nirvana (yay!).

About an hour before sunset, Kurt, Barbara, Dakota and little Leila joined us on the boat, and we motored out to the body of the lake to drift and watch the supermoon lunar eclipse.

Have I mentioned taking photos of the moon and stars on a moving boat is hard?  I didn’t get any good shots.  But I thought this one was kinda cool… you get the idea.


It was a great weekend, indeed.

Fantasy Footballin’.

I have followed football all my life.  And with the Seahawks’ great performance for the last several years, it’s all the more enjoyable for me.  The 2014-2015 NFL season was my first foray into fantasy football.  My sister invited me join to her all-ladies league.  I also joined a random league on-line with a bunch of guys.  My goal was to learn more about the current players across many teams.  Over the last few years I have had blinders on, only watching my team.

And I think it worked!  I also had alot of fun.  It sure makes for a different fan experience when you find yourself rooting for someone on a team that is one of your favorite team’s rivals.

Last year I didn’t fare too poorly.   In the all-ladies league, I just missed the championship game by 1 point (thanks SO much, Andrew Luck, for taking a knee 3 times in a row on tht last drive, losing just enough yardage to drop a point or two), so I finished with an 11-3 record, coming in 3rd in a 16-team league.    In my other league, i finished 7-6, finishing 5th out of 10 teams.

We use ESPN’s fantasy football platform.  They also have a great iPhone app, which makes it very easy to track and manage your team.  Learning the ropes on how to draft and what the league rules is pretty easy, and you can find most of what you need explained here in their FAQ.

This year, in week one, I had a lopsided win in one of my leagues and lost (by 1 point again!) in the other.  I mis-managed my bench in the game that I lost.  And in the other, one of my wide receivers was injured and will be out for about 6 weeks.   I’m going to have to make some changes between tonight and Thursday night.

Back in the real world, sadly, my beloved Seahawks played an ugly game and lost.   My heart is still with the boys in blue and green.


A great day for a sail.

Yesterday was pleasantly windy – 15+ knots.   So we set out for the lake and met up with Lori & Joe on Camelot, and Kurt & Kevin on Dancer, for a long sail towards the dam.  We managed to weave our way through the Austin Yacht Club regattas, and made it to Mansfield Dam Park and turned around.   What a marvelous day!   We had a slip up and talked all night with Lori & Joe.  Just like old times.  I miss the rest of the gang! :)

Here’s a shot of Camelot on the way back.


Quiero mejorar mi español.

In addition to my lifelong, ongoing quest to learn how to play the guitar well, I have been nursing my Spanish along for a the last 30 years.  In both cases, though, it just takes practice – which I never seem to be able to sustain for long periods of time.  My Spanish is ok, but I would really like to become fluent.   And that means broadening my vocabulary and hardening my grammar.  And practicing.

I have two Spanish novels on my bookshelf that I have started to read several times over the years, and with my spanish-english dictionary in hand, have made my way through a couple chapters.  It is hard work.  Not just for my brain, but for the manual back-and-forth effort of putting the book down to pick up the dictionary, then putting it down to pick up where I left off in the book.

So, for the umpteenth time, I picked up one of them again last week, a novel called Nada by Carmen Laforet.  I started at the beginning again.  After about 2 pages I paused and experienced a moment of inspiration:  wouldn’t it be great if I could read this book on an e-reader that would look up a word for me on the fly with the mere touch of a finger?  What a great idea, maybe someone has thought of that already!  ;)

I have a five year old 1st generation Kindle Fire with a kindle e-reader built in.  So I downloaded a sample of the e-book version of Nada for free from Amazon and tried it out.  But, alas, the device only has an English dictionary built in.  I found a helpful document that explained that, unlike later Kindles, the 1st generation Fire does not support changing the default dictionary.   Strike one.

I also have a Kindle e-reader app on my Mac.  So I tried the same thing with it.  But switching dictionaries was also not possible in that scenario.  Strike two.

I understand the kindle e-reader for iPhone and iPad may support what I want to do, but I’m really not interested in reading a book on my phone – too small.  Nor buying an iPad – too expensive.

So, then I began to research whether what I wanted to do would even be possible with a new e-reader device, like the Kindle Paperwhite.  And it appeared to be.  There were two ways I could do it.  One requires being connected to wifi to look up each word, by using the built-in “translate” feature, but that was not what I wanted.  I don’t want to have to be online to lookup words.  The other method requires downloading a Spanish-English translation dictionary to the device, and then making it the default dictionary for spanish e-books.   Bingo.  Sounded like a plan.


I am typically slow to embrace new technology and gadgets.  But when I find a use for them that is important to me, I don’t waste time!  So, I splurged and ordered the Kindle Paperwhite, which arrived yesterday.  And in a matter of minutes I was in business.   As of this morning, I am 10% of the way through the book.  And I can almost feel my brain expanding.  :)  Home run!

By the way, this is the Spanish-English translation dictionary I’m using.  Seems to work great for what I want to do.  Even better, I downloaded it for free by using the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library perk that comes with my Amazon Prime membership.

I also found a great free app for my iPhone called Duolingo, which seems to be a very decent tool for practicing and learning.  I’ve even started trying to learn French and Irish with that app.   Now THAT’S going to take a looooong time, but what the heck.   Anyway, if you have any interest in learning or polishing your foreign language skills, check it out.

Never forget. 

Fourteen years.  So much has happened.  In each of our lives.  In the world. 

But in an instant I am taken back to that day.  That morning.   Aren’t you?  The sunny, stunningly clear blue September sky.  Getting ready for the day.  

I have tried before, unsuccessfully, to write what I felt on that day.  I cannot.  It was a powerful mix of emotions.  Anger.  Sadness.  Pride. Fear.  Uncertainty.  ANGER.  Pain. 

But here is what I can share….

I watched the planes hit and the towers burn.  I called my family. I prayed. I went to work.   I talked with colleagues in NY.  TVs in the hallways were tuned to the news.   We were glued to them. Three planes.  Maybe more. The pentagon was hit. One tower collapsed.  2 towers collapsed.  Heroes on Flight 93 gave their lives to stop even more carnage. 

Flights all across the country were grounded – a business trip the next day and a flight to Seattle for my mom’s 70th birthday celebration were put on hold.  And I was ok with that. 

I went home from work.  Put a flag up in the window.  Mostly I remember the numbing, profound sense of national mourning – and pride – watching what unfolded for weeks. 

We must hold this in our hearts and Always Remember. 

There are so many memorial reminders today.  A friend shared this with me today, and it touched me.  So I share it with you here
Hug your loved ones, ya’ll.  

Labor Day weekend.

We had alot of fun with Fran and Rachel this week.   The house is guest-free again.  Well, except for the parrot we are house sitting. :)

We enjoyed a fun weekend on the lake – Saturday’s sunset:


We spent Labor Day down by Zilker Park and paddling on Ladybird Lake.  A friendly swan:


The paddling scene:IMG_4823

Then we threw some lambburgers and hamburgers on the grill to celebrate the holiday.

A short work week is a busy work week.  I didn’t make time to post til now.  I’ll try to not be so slow with my updates.  Have a great weekend!

Blue Bell fix.  

It was April 20th when Monte and I last picked up a pint of Blue Bell ice cream at Walgreens on the way home.  We each had a scoop or two and then read the news about all their products being pulled from the shelf that day due to listeria contamination, and, sadly people had died. 

Well a long 4 1/2 months later, and after a lengthy cleanup and with FDA approval, Texas’ favorite ice cream is back on the shelf.  We should probably wait a while, but we couldn’t stay away.  


The river giveth, and the river taketh away.

Well, mostly the river taketh away.

It’s a risk we deal with, spending so much time playing on the water.  And, it so happens that this past weekend I lost yet another pair of prescription sunglasses.   I was helping put up a friend’s wind scoop on the bow and the wind whipped things up and the next thing I knew they were sinking below the surface of the lake.  I summarily jumped in to try to grab them, but to no avail.

I lost a different pair of prescription Raybans on the San Marcos rapids a few years ago.  Monte lost a pair of prescription glasses there, too.  A friend lost their wedding band on the same rapids.  I’ve lost three favorite hats, a towel, and know of at least one bathing suit top and diamond earring sitting at the bottom of the lake.   And, amazingly, we lost our entire flag and flagpole that was flying off our transom – on the Fourth of July, no less!  It happens so frequently that we keep a Lost Sh#t Log on the boat.

But every once in a while, the river gives back.  About 10 years ago, I lost a pair of prescription eyeglasses in the lake.  One minute they were sitting on the cabin-top while I tightened my pony tail.  The next minute they were gone.   Over the following few years the lake alternately rose and dropped.   Until, about 3 years after I lost them, the lake was finally low enough that the place where we anchored the day I lost my glasses was high and dry.  So one Saturday morning, I announced that I was going back to that part of the cove to look for my glasses.   And I did.   I combed that dry cove for an hour or two.   I found a snorkel, swim goggles, a swim fin, numerous pieces of fishing tackle, several pairs of sun glasses, a hat, an anchor, lots of trash, AND my lost-for-three-years eyeglasses!

They were sun-bleached and cruddy and one ear piece had broken off.  But there they were!  I can’t bring myself to throw them away.  So they sit in a drawer until I take them out for a chuckle every once in a while.

IMG_9019    :)