Fran, the kids and my mom leave today.  Before heading to the airport we got in a few more games of cornhole.  What’s cornhole, you ask?  A bean-bag (or corn kernel bag, rather) toss game.  Players take turns throwing the bags at the board.  If a bag lands on top, you get 1 point.  If it goes in the hole, you get 3 points.  It is a staple of most mid-western family gatherings and picnics.  Monte recently made a pair of boards.

Francine is quite good at the game, even though she’s never played it before.  She’s giving Monte a run for his money…

In the shot above, Monte’s toss is dropping into the hole (it’s all in the wrist!).

Family in the hood.

My mom, my sister Francine and her kids Aaron and Rebecca are visiting from Seattle this week.  My flight back to Austin yesterday arrived an hour before theirs, so I just hung out in the Admiral’s Club for a while and then met them at their gate.

We paid a visit to the goats down the street.

Saying goodbye.

Ceremony @ Fort Sam.

Today we drove down to San Antonio for my uncle’s funeral.  The mass was very nice, and the burial was at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, where they held military funeral honors.  One of my cousins from Colorado also flew down to attend.  Having 4 cousins together was quite rare for our far-flung family, so it was a real treat.

Rest in peace, Uncle Devitt.

Deck the Halls: Check!

2011 tree.

Well, I ended up working all day yesterday, and most of today.   An “emergency” set of meetings came up out of the blue.   At least I didn’t have to travel to New York to attend in person.

One of my goals for this vacation is to get back on a normal sleep schedule.   I would really like it if the sleepy leg syndrome would stay away until at least after 9 or 10pm.   As it is, i’ve been falling asleep on the couch early in the evening and getting up at 1 or 2 to offically turn in.   This morning, I woke up on the couch about 1 AM.  Before I went to bed I checked my email and learned that my uncle in San Antonio, who’s been ill, passed away a few hours earlier.   Makes me very sad.   But I’m very glad that we had a visit with him recently.   On the other end of the happy/sad emotional spectrum, a friend’s first grandchild was born yesterday.   Life.  Happens.  We should enjoy every minute of it while we’re here.  And hug those important to us as often as possible.

I peeled myself off the phone at about 3PM and decided to finish decorating the tree.  This might actually conclude the hall-decking at our house.   If i get the tree decorated, a wreath on the door, a little manger put up, and the stockings hung, I feel like I’ve got most of the bases covered.

The Eyes of Texas.

Congratulations class of 2011.

Today was another welcome, wonderfully drizzly day.   We just need another 100 or so days like it.

My cousin graduated from the University of Texas yesterday with his bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering.  Today we drove to his parents’ house in San Antonio to celebrate with him, his family and friends.

On the way home we could see the UT Tower lit up in burnt orange from I-35.  But today, instead of the #1 on the tower, reserved for times when the Longhorns win a national championship, there was a #11, to honor the class of 2011.   Monte drove me around to at least 3 different vantage points on campus to try to get a decent shot.  This was the best one I captured.

Congratulations to all the new Texas-Ex’s!

Keeto at about 10 weeks.

Little blue buddy.

We brought Keeto home a little over one month ago, at which time we estimate he was 6 weeks old.  He’s getting comfortable, growing a bit (I think).  We are trying to broaden his diet, which is working out ok so far.

He is a very sweet bird.  He looks a lot like Petey, but has a very different personality.  He’s quite the explorer – likes to run around the game room.  His wings are still clipped from when we picked him up, so he hasn’t mastered full flight yet.  He is hand trained, which was very easy from the beginning, and likes to have his head scratched.

We’re still not sure if he is a boy or girl.   After his first molt, which will be in the next couple months, his cere should change to blue or pink for good.   I’ll let you know how that turns out.

A flock once more.

Blue bird in the house.

Nearly 11 years ago a little blue parakeet adopted us.  Petey lived with us 9 long years.  We have waited some time before getting another bird but have started looking over the summer.

Over the weekend we found a gentle little boy (we hope) who has some of Petey’s coloring, but is different enough to be his own little bird.

We brought Keeto home tonight.   Here’s to the newest member of our flock!

80 is the new 70!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

We celebrated mom’s birthday at a luncheon with family and friends.   It was lovely.

Ten years ago, i was unable to attend her 70th birthday surprise party due to the US airspace remaining closed after the 9/11 attack.  How quickly a decade has slipped away.  But, I’m glad we were able to make it here this time to celebrate with everyone.


Washington sky.

We are both up in Seattle this weekend to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday.  I flew in last night and we stayed with Patrick and Nga.  This morning we went to breakfast in Ballard at the Fisherman’s Terminal.  It’s a marina strictly for commercial fishing boats.  This is the home of many of the crab boats on the show Deadliest Catch.  Below is a shot of the memorial to fisherman lost at sea..

Rest in peace.

After breakfast we drove around to the peninsula to meet up with my family for the rest of the weekend.

Teach your children well.

My first ride - it wasn't much but it was all mine.

Yesterday a friend called for help with a car that wouldn’t start.  I hopped into my car and headed over to meet her.  Diagnosis was dead battery.  We had her up in running in under 5 minutes.

As I was driving home, my mind drifted back in time…to a memory… from the summer of 1985… I had just bought my first car.  It was a 1975 VW Rabbit – neon green (the picture doesn’t do the color justice).

The day I brought it home, my dad came out to the driveway to take a look.   The first thing he said to me was, “do you know how to change the tire?”    I nodded yes.   He said, “show me.”   I proceeded to root through the trunk to find the jack and spare and got down on the ground to look for where the jack was supposed to be placed under the chassis.   When I wasn’t sure of the next step, he gave me a little help.  After about 15 minutes I had it jacked up, the nuts off and the tire changed.     Dad inspected it and then said, “do you know how to jump start a dead battery?”   I said no.   He proceeded to open the hood and show me the basics, which I’ve carried with me through the years since and many a dead battery – including yesterday’s.

He also showed me how to check the fluids and change the oil and filter, which I did myself on my cars for many years.

Afterwards, he turned and walked back into the house.

My dad was a man of few words and little emotion.  I didn’t understand him back then.   With the help of time, I have come to appreciate his intentions.   He just wanted to make sure I knew how to take care of myself.  So far, so good  🙂

Thanks Dad!

P.s…. here’s a youtube link to a little CSNY that came to mind as I wrote this post.

Looking back through time

Great great great.

One of my never-finished projects is doing research on family genealogy.  I have had a lot more luck tracing monte’s ancestors than mine, as there are many more documents that I can view online for 18th & 19th century USA than for Ireland.  So, between reunion activities last weekend, we took several drives to family grave sites across the area to visit relatives’ graves.  We had been to all of them before, but this time I’m taking photos for my records.  This is the gravestone for monte’s great, great, great grandfather, born in 1758 — the oldest one we’ve visited.

Tonight I’ve dusted off my subscription to and logged in to tend the family tree.  If you have done genealogy research you know what I’m talking about when I say that you can lose several hours at a time as you crawl through the past.  I’ve been absorbed in searches and downloading of newly found records documenting land ownership, census information, military service, etc.

But, it’s getting late.  That’s enough for tonight.  It’ll keep.

No place like home…

Giant Gibsons.

We had a leisurely morning getting ready to check out.  Breakfast at Jacks.  Then we stopped at the store — the home base for the family.  Got in one last visit and said goodbye to Uncle Raymond, Judy, Gary, David, Marla, Lauren, Laken, Bryan and Dorothy.

We had no problems on our flights.   We were able to package the power tools that Monte bought and send as checked baggage.

We had a wonderful time at the reunion, but no matter where you’ve been or how great it’s been, there’s always that special feeling when you’re back home.   This is a picture of the giant Gibson guitars that decorated downtown Austin for a long time.  Several are now on display at the airport.

We came home to the uninterrupted drought.  I hope we can catch up on watering enough to keep things alive.  I took a long walk around the neighborhood before dark, and monte is still out in the shop, playing with his new toy, I imagine.

I can’t wait for the next big reunion – Lanny & Mica will be hosting in 2013!


Day 3

Today started with a bunch of people piling into the restaurant at the Courtyard.  We kind of took over the place.  Some people peeled off in the morning.  The rest of us headed to yet another reunion celebration.  This time a combination of Monte’s mother’s and father’s sides of the family.  There were so many people there, and so much food!  We had many wonderful visits over and over today.

Monte made plans to hook up with a high school friend in a town about an hour away.   We took another drive through the back country roads of Indiana.   It was another humid, sweaty day, but it ended with a thunderstorm, which will hopefully dry the air out a bit.

We met up with Charlie and Kathy at their house in Madison, and had a really nice visit with them, and their son, Lou.