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.

Celebrate every day.

Crepes!

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to leave nearly 5 weeks of vacation for the end of the year, but that’s the way it turned out.   So, after a long-ish Thanksgiving vacation just a couple weeks ago, we are now both officially on vacation for the rest of the year!

To ring in the vacation season, I made crepes this morning.   They’re SO YUMMY!   If you now have a craving, you can find the recipe in this previous blog post.

I hope I can decompress a bit in the coming week or so.  But as much as work can seem to mess with my life and mindset, I really have nothing to complain about.

My mind this week is especially on family members that are experiencing real challenges.  My sister-in-law is in the hospital recovering from surgery to treat recently diagnosed breast cancer.  She is a strong woman, though, beating her first bout with cancer several years ago.   One of my uncles recently was diagnosed with cancer as well a few weeks ago, and is preparing for surgery.    Another uncle is dealing with long-term health issues as well.

So, today I’m sending thoughts and prayers their way, and starting this vacation acknowledging how very blessed I am — and celebrating with crepes.

Welcome to the Dam tour. I am your Dam guide.

Longhorn sailors.

Joe suggested a cruise down the lake to see the Dam.  It’s rare to see the basin when the lake is so low – at 627.85′ today.   It’s really not a basin anymore.  Sometimes Islands are all the way out of the water, and connected to land, so, islands no more.   The original river channel winds all the way around them.  Windy Point looks more like Windy Acres.  And many of the marinas have scooted out to what would normally be the middle of the lake, but is now the edge of the shore.

Monte and I joined Ken and Joe on Prelude for a sail.   It was a beautiful day.   We had nice breezes on the way down.    The closest mile marker to our marina is mile marker 14, and the Mansfield Dam is at, well, mile marker 0.  So, round trip was close to about 30 miles.

As we passed the Austin Yacht Club we got to see several of their regattas underway.  The shot above is of some of the University of Texas Sailing Team’s Flying Juniors fleet.   The 2012 Nationals will be in Austin.  So they’re working hard to get ready.  Good luck Longhorns!

Here’s a sight we don’t see very often…

MM 1.

And, finally, we snugged up as close as we could to Mansfield Dam.  They have a string of bouys in front to keep people from getting too close – which foiled my plan to get a shot of myself touching the dam.

Upstream side of Mansfield Dam.

Construction of the Mansfield Dam (originally called Marshall Ford Dam) began in 1937 and was completed in 1941.   Mansfield Dam and Lake Travis are the only structures in the Highland Lakes chain specifically designed to contain floodwaters in the lower Colorado River basin. The lake can store as much as 260 billion gallons of water.   Some other factoids from the Lower Colorado River Authority website:

Elevation when full: 681 feet above mean sea level (msl)
Volume when full: 1,135,000 acre-feet
Historic high: 710.4 feet above msl on Dec. 25, 1991
Historic low: 614.2 feet above msl on Aug. 14, 1951
Normal operating range: at or below 681 feet above msl
Spillway elevation: 714 feet above msl
Top of dam: 750 feet above msl

The floodgates are at the bottom of the dam and are used to generate electricity and for flood control.  The spillway openings are on the right end of the dam in the picture above.   Water will start to spill over them at 714′, but it’s never happened… yet.  The highest I have seen the lake was 701.5′, which was over the July 4th weekend of 2007.  Hard to believe there was ever that much water in the lake.

We had a really lovely sail.  A nice Sunday adventure.

I shake my tiny fist at this drought!

I see…

One last try.

I’m determined to take one last day off before going back to the grind.  Monte worked til noon.  I took the entire day off.

I do not like wearing glasses all the time.  But in the last 5 years or so my eyes have been changing so much that my glasses alone don’t do the job.  I can’t wear one pair of glasses because I can’t see up close and far away with a single pair of glasses.  I can’t wear my contacts anymore because I can’t see close up.  The logical next step are bifocals or progressive lenses, but I’m looking for an alternative to glasses..  The latest thing I’ve tried out are mono-vision contacts – one lens is for close up, a prescription for reading; and the other lens is for distance.  You put both contacts in and your brain has to figure everything out.  I have used this set of trial lenses for a week or two and I like them (!)   I made an appointment for this morning to have one last fitting so that I can order a supply of them.  I am so ready to not have to wear glasses (multiple pairs) during the day.

This morning Noreen called to tell me that mom is back in the hospital today, this time for several bloodclots that have developed.  I’m waiting to get an update tonight.

In the mean time… while I was on the phone with Noreen, I heard a terrific racket out back.  It turns out that monte found the culprit that had been tearing up the backyard for the last several weeks – an armadillo that I suppose was foraging in the daytime for water.  Suffice to say that this particular armadillo will not be a problem anymore.

Later on, we took advantage of a free afternoon to cut down the remaining dead trees in the back yard.  Large brush collection is next week so this is an opportunity to get all the brush carried away, and we don’t want to miss it.  By the end of the day we have a huge pile of brush on the curb.  Let’s hope they cart it all away next week.

At the end of a busy day, I have mixed feelings.  I’ve had lots of sleep on vacation and am rested.  I am tired from working in the heat of the day.  I’m worried about mom.  I’m happy to be home.  I’m remembering the fun times at the reunion over the weeked.  I’m looking forward to next weekend on the lake.  For now, i’ll say goodnight.