And one burgee will rule them all…

Monte recently relaunched our home-built 17′ Wittholz-designed wooden catboat, Cupholder, in Lake Travis. We spent countless hours making her, and even more sailing and playing with her on the lake. It’s nice to see her back.

Ten years ago I made nautical signal flags, aka burgees, of the letter B for ours and our friends’ boats on B-dock. Somewhere along the line, Cupholder’s was misplaced. So this morning I made another B-dock burgee for her.

Nice. Very nice. 🙂

Hot fun in the summertime.

Fran and Aaron came down to Austin for a visit. They just returned home yesterday. Whoooo, it was HOT while they were here. But they were troopers and hung in there, as we spent most of their time here outdoors.

We spent a couple of days and a night playing on the lake on Nirvana. We spent another morning sailing the newly relaunched Cupholder around as well.

We played multiple tournaments of corn-hole and pool and mario karts. And we sampled a good bit of Tex-Méx, BBQ, and backyard grill-fare.

We spent a day down at Barton Springs Pool, hitting Sno-Beach on the way home for the best sno-cone evah.

We walked 9 holes of golf. And then topped it all off with a few rounds of Rummikub and some beer at Live Oak Brewery, which is thoughtfully placed just across the street from the Austin airport.

They braved it all. We had a blast. Keeto can’t wait until they come back again. 🙂

Fireworks, family, friends, and fun.

The last few weeks have flown by.  We’ve enjoyed family in Colorado, friends and family on the lake in Austin, and are looking forward to the next adventures on the horizon.

We hosted a boatload of friends and family to watch July 3rd fireworks on Lake Travis… Photo credit to Julie 🙂

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Then Monte and I headed upriver with Kurt & Kevin, to Mile Marker 47, up near the northern end of Lake Travis.

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We anchored off Grelle Park for two nights…

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Saturday, we motored farther north to around mile marker 50 before turning back and sailing down to Bar-K Park to anchor on Saturday night.

All told, we spent 4 days and 3 nights on our lovely lake.  Keeto accompanied us; a most pleasant sailing companion.

We ended the long weekend floating with Marty & Sue, and are now home doing laundry and laughing at good times had by all.

 

EP.

A week ago, Monte, Susanne and I headed out from Austin, on a road trip to Estes Park, Colorado, to join in Dan and Erin’s wedding celebration.  We left at 4AM CDT, and pulled in to our destination at about 7PM MDT.   It was a long day of driving, but getting there made it all worth it.  I’ve never been to Estes Park before, but it is BEAUTIFUL!   It lies at an entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, surrounded by mountain peaks and streams, and is teeming with wildlife.  The town offers nice restaurants, breweries, music, festivals and all sorts of activities to tire you out.

We wore out our hugging muscles, but a good time was had by all.  After several days of visiting and sight seeing, we said our goodbyes and dropped Susanne off at Denver International Airport and then continued to made our way home.  We stopped overnight in Amarillo and then popped into Lubbock the next day to look for burrowing owls and to tour a winery, in the heart of Texas wine country’s vineyards.

A view of Lake Estes with the town of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains in the background…

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We drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park, but the Trail Ridge Road was closed at Rainbow Curve, so we had to turn around at about 10,800′. We couldn’t do the complete drive across the Continental Divide.  But, the views were spectacular.  We got snowed on, and took way too many pictures.  I saw several lifer birds, a heard of elk, a bunny, and a varmit or two.

A picture of a snow flurry passing down a canyon near the Fall River entrance…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leaving Amarillo in the morning, we drove along historic Route 66 and made a stop at Cadillac Ranch. I wish I could have seen this back in its hey-day.  Now the cars are covered with ever-changing spray paint grafitti.   Sadly, you can see all the trash left on the ground by the “artists.”   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stopped in Lubbock for lunch, and a tasting at McPherson Cellars Winery.  We also successfully tracked down some burrowing owls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I enjoy road trips.  I enjoy seeing family.  When they can be combined, it’s all the more special.

Florae.

Susanne is visiting us in Austin this week. We’ve enjoyed catching up. Today we took a trip downtown to the Zilker Botanical Gardens. Pretty things:

And, I cannot go to Zilker Park without stopping by Sno-beach for my favorite!

Family time.

I enjoyed my extended weekend in Seattle. The wedding was the reason for the visit, but we used it as an excuse for multiple family gatherings. Noreen and David hosted rehearsal dinner on Friday, a post-wedding-reception evening party on Saturday, and a backyard BBQ with yard games on Sunday. They allowed for good visits with all my siblings, nieces and nephews, and a grand-nephew in one place – a first in a very long time.

The weather gods didn’t smile on the outdoor wedding, as it rained all afternoon. But, it was a truly lovely service and reception. God bless Neil and Miranda’s marriage. ❤️

When Memorial Day finally came along, we drove up to Paradise on Mount Rainier. It has been over 40 years since I last visited the park. We hiked a bit up the mountain, in the snow, and took in the views. It wasn’t a crystal clear, blue sky day, but it was majestic, nonetheless.

Mount Rainier National Park lodge at Longmire…

Just a pretty little waterfall…

And a prettier, bigger waterfall…

The view from the hike above Paradise, at about 6000’…

Now, I’m on my way back home. My flight flew past the north face of Mount Saint Helens. You can see the blast damage to the cone on this side of the volcano from its 1980 eruption. 

Mountain peek.

I flew to Seattle for my nephew’s wedding this weekend. I was looking forward to the stunning fly-by of Mount Rainier, but the clouds were high and thick and did not afford the usual view. I snapped a picture as we flew over the 14410′ high peak at about 17000′. Can you spot the top of the peak?

All moms.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who made us! I enjoy seeing all the photos posted by those marking the day, whether they are daughter, son, husband, mom, father, or friend.

I miss my own mom immensely. I feel the pain of friends who were denied the blessing of becoming a mom. I see the joy and pain of my friends and family mothers who live the ups and downs of their dear ones. This week I went to lunch with a friend who recently lost her 20-something son. She is strong and full of grace, but I cannot begin to imagine how terribly difficult this is for her.

So today, let us remember all moms — those who are here, passed, mourning, struggling, wishing, or praying — Amen.

Sheila’s law.

Murphy’s got a law.

Here’s mine:

Whole-house interconnected smoke detectors shall only sound their deafening false alarm in the dead of night.

Corollaries:

1. They shall do so several times in the same night, for non-deterministic lengths of time, leaving only enough time between alarms to allow sleep to nearly be achieved.

2. The one of all the sounding units which can silence all alarms must be difficult to determine, and must be located at or above 12 feet of elevation from the floor.

Next chapter.

I’m headed home today. This closes the “Help Lori get to the Islands” chapter for Monte and me. One year ago today we were in Bradenton, Florida readying the new-to-her boat to cross the Gulf of Mexico to bring Trident née Ariadne to Kemah for fixes and updates in preparation for cruising by the end of 2018.

It’s been a lot of work – a labor of love; but also a real treat to have been aboard for shakedown cruises and the trip through the Florida Keys and across to the Bahamas. I’m thankful to Lori and Mike for sharing their adventure. Bon voyage Trident!

I’m looking forward to the next adventure/project/travels/chapter – whatever 2019 brings.

Here are a few highlights from the last few days in the Abacos…

Dolphins swam along in the bow wave on our sail from Great Sale Cay to Allans-Pensacola Cay!

The Bahamian sunsets never get old…

I landed this Spanish Mackerel!

New Plymouth waterfront, on Green Turtle Cay…

The Atlantic Ocean…

I even found a few bits of sea glass on the beach!

We go to come back…

2018 happened.

The year was full of the usual fun times spent with Monte, our friends, as much family visits we could squeeze in, and my girl posse.  I stopped coloring my hair.  I gained too much weight.  I missed my mom often.  I was continually enchanted by Keeto.  People often ask me what I do with my oodles of free time.  On the spot, I usually can’t think of what the heck I’ve done to fill the days and weeks of this year of retirement.  So, I spent some time today scanning the photos I took this year, to jog my memory for some highlights.

January brought many birding day trips and a number of lifers.  More special were visits with 2 of my high school friends.  Pilar was in Austin for business and looked me up.  We hadn’t seen each other for … decades, not counting one brief wedding visit that happened many moons ago.  We’d reconnected on social media several years back, but it was really wonderful to get a face to face visit in.   Another friend from high school, Irene, texted me to see if I could join her in Lubbock, of all places, while she was there for her son’s sports event.  And so I took a road trip and saw some interesting things along the way.

February brought a huge leap of faith, a drive to Florida with Lori, Monte & Joe, and then a journey across the Gulf of Mexico by sailboat to bring Lori’s new-to-her sailboat home to the Texas coast.  It was an awesome and challenging trip.

March brought a really memorable road trip across Arizona and New Mexico.  We celebrated Monte, Gene and Susanne’s birthdays together.  I saw a couple dozen lifer bird species.  Tucson, with its Catalina Mountains and the Sonoran Desert, is a truly amazing birding destination.  And on the way home, we saw some glorious works of nature and man.  We spent 2 days on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, staying overnight in a cabin sitting about 50 feet away from the rim.   We marveled at a ginormous meteor crater off of I-40 on the drive to Santa Fe.   Then we spent 2 days in Santa Fe, staying at the luxurious Spa at Loretto.   We saw more new birds there, but the highlight was a visit to the Loretto Chapel, with its spiral staircase that legend says might have been constructed with divine intervention.

April brought a number of trips to the coast; one special one to visit High Island during a Spring fallout, and another girl’s trip to Kemah to officially rename Lori’s boat, S/V Trident.  But if that wasn’t enough, I joined Irene again, this time for a week in Italy.  I thoroughly enjoyed Florence, Pisa and Cinque Terra and points in between.

May brought more trips to the coast to help Lori with Trident repairs and projects.  It also marked the return of warm weather and lots of fun boat outings on Lake Travis with friends and family on Nirvana.

June and July were full of projects at the house, in the shop, and in the yard.  We popped down to the coast again, a time or two, and really enjoyed our almost full lake during the peak of the heat of summer.  We delivered a beautiful table that Monte made for Doray and Tom in their new home in Wimberly.

August brought another trip to the Texas coast – to crew for Lori and Mike on their first shake-down cruise on Trident since she arrived in Texas.  We sailed out to the Gulf of Mexico and down to Port Aransas.  We stayed for a couple nights in the municipal marina there, and enjoyed one of our favorite towns on the Texas Gulf Coast, before our return sail to Kemah.  Then we popped up to Seattle for a very overdue trip.   We stayed two weeks, encased in smoke from the nearby fires, but did enjoy immensely seeing our family, and a bonus of 2 clear days on the Pacific coast of Washington.

September brought a month of non-stop rain to Austin.  So we busied ourselves with more projects in the house.   I began to dabble with sewing canvas projects for the boat.  Monte made sawdust and honed his web site and various GPS apps.

October brought another trip to Kemah.  I became a novice diesel engine mechanic.  We also experienced historic flooding amongst the Highland Lakes.   Monte worked on shop projects for a client or two.  Autumn arrived in Texas, which I love only second to Spring in Texas.

And then it was suddenly November!  Monte made another trip down to Kemah to help with last-minute projects.  Thanksgiving happened.   Then we made one final trip to Kemah together at the end of the month to bid bon voyage to Lori and Mike, and their crew, Janet and Will, taking Trident back east to Florida.

December brought the usual whirlwind of decorating, baking, parties, Christmas shopping, visiting with friends, and eating too much.  And now, POOF, it’s the last day of the year.

Tomorrow, I will gear up to do it all again – starting a new year with an as-yet-unknown set of trips, projects, visits, fun and (hopefully only occasional) troubles that lay ahead.    I am truly blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

A lifetime of Christmases.

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My Mom gifted each of her kids a Christmas ornament every year.  Many of the ones from the 60’s and 70’s were lovingly handmade.  Each was carefully labeled with our name and year, using some NASA-calibre tape that has held on all these years.  I pulled them out this year and reminisced on the story they tell.

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My first one, top-left, was an angel head (angels were a recurring theme), handmade by Mom, who was living in a trailer in a god-forsaken frozen tundra during a blizzard with four kids under the age of 5 1/2, one a newborn.

Another notable one was a handmade dove of peace, made the Christmas after she buried her second child.  I think the bird must have had special meaning for her.

A styrofoam-topped ice cream cone, with hand-stitched felt, was our ornament the Christmas of the year Colleen was born.  Followed by a mischievous elf on a bell for Francine’s first Christmas (appropriate, in hindsight).

A golden satin angel with a foil halo, also handmade, bears a label written in my little-kid cursive handwriting.  I must have been “helping” her that year.

I did the honors the year that I took shop, making festive wooden shapes for me and my siblings using a bandsaw and a drill press.  Apparently, sanding was not covered in shop that year.

Noreen got in on the fun the year she was an exchange student, bringing home colorful ball ornaments from Japan.

The year we moved overseas, we spent Christmas in a barren apartment with loaner furniture from the airbase, as all our earthly possessions were being shipped over on a (very) slow boat from the States.  In years since, Mom always remarked that she felt bad about Christmas that year for us.   I expect it was hardest for her.  But, nevertheless, she gave us each a Hummel ball ornament that year – she loved Hummels.

A wooden toy horse was the ornament the year Brian left for college, spending that in the USA with Noreen.

The next few ornaments were from Christmases when I was away at college, the first one of which Colleen and Fran were still living overseas with Mom and Dad.  It must have been weird for them to be the only ones home for Christmas that year, before moving back to the States.

A few years later, I was the one that moved away, across the country, for what turned out to be forever.  Mom still gave me an ornament when I came home from wherever I lived each Christmas.  She kept a handwritten list up to date, and stored them for me in a box until I took them with me one year – I can’t remember which one.  Then I became the caretaker of the ornaments and the list.  I don’t hang many of these up, because they are so old, but each one is very special to me.

Thank you, Mom. ❤