Empty nest.  

Not ones to miss a taproom visit opportunity, we left an hour early to take Fran and family to the airport, stopping in at the Live Oak Brewing Company right across the highway from the Austin airport.  It sure beats the cellphone lot!

Back home, the house is sadly quiet.  Except for Keeto asking “who’s here?”  We await our next visitors!

Colleen sent me these cute wine glass charm birdies.  We tried them out last night.   Cheers!

Barton Springs, Lake Travis, and a shanghai’ed uncle.

Days 3, 4 and 5 of our visit with family brought a trip to Barton Springs, Sno-beach snocones, a brewery crawl, an overnight at anchor on the boat on Lake Travis, and pizza night.  The weekend was filled with swimming, diving and floating.   A brother-in-law from Houston drove to Austin and he spent the night with us on the boat – whether he knew he was going to or not 🙂

I love the chance to spend this time with family.  Keeto will be devastated when everyone leaves tonight.

This is a shot from the southern end of Barton Springs pool, looking north to the Austin skyline.  The background has changed much since Mary Doerr captured the same vantage point years ago – the Capitol building is now obscured by skyscrapers.  But the pool in the foreground is exactly the same.

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Family time in the garden. 

We are spending the weekend at a family reunion this weekend.  Our hostess, Susanne’s, garden is the perfect setting.  Everywhere you look there’s a lovely surprise.  We are missing those that can’t be here.  

On the threshold.

Here we are again – the last day of the year.   2015 brought lots of things:   fun parties with friends, lots of visits from friends and family, more time spent in Washington State,  a wonderful family reunion, the passing of my mom, happy moments on the lake, stargazing, beautiful spring flowers, roadtrips, the passing of a friend, cooking, sunsets, Seahawks (!), much more reading, breakups between good friends, exploring local breweries and wineries, El Niño rain, a nearly full lake, birthdays, more sunsets, amazing girlfriends and our trip to New Orleans, music, dancing, laughs, tears.

Tonight we are headed to a friend’s house to ring in the new year.  Last year we hosted the New Year’s Eve party – here’s a shot from that night a year ago… how fast time flies:

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Time capsule.  

We spent a long weekend together – my sisters, brother and me.  Time to empty the house.  We stayed at mom’s house together and shared feelings, memories, and laughs while going through a lifetime of keepsakes and all manner of things. 

A poem I wrote at age 12:

The Tide. 

Pouncing endlessly on the weary, defenseless shore of sand and rocks.  Constantly charging and retreating, high tide or low.  The tide never sleeps, but sometimes weakens to a slow, silent creep. Always bringing in waves that turn into a frothing, white foam.  The shore can never rest from this endless beating; never. 

Yeah.  It’s not Shakespeare. 🙂  I found a number of my poems – long forgotten.  Ironically many are about some aspect of Nature.  But maybe that’s not ironic after all. 

So much stuff.  Preserved in time for 50+ years.   Birth announcements, funeral prayer cards, decades of pictures, letters, cards, gifts, momentos… points in time defining the lives of my mom and dad and all they held dear. 

1st or 2nd grade, maybe?

  
But I digress.  We made a dent in it and have a garage full of neatly packed bags and boxes for donation, shredding, recycling and trash. 

I spent the day today with Fran and kids – geocaching in what turned out to be a downpour.  We got soaked but found every cache in the park.  At one point we came across 3 big woodpeckers.  They didn’t sit still, so I didn’t get much of a shot.  But, here ’tis.   

I wish you all a peaceful week. 

Playing in paradise.

Monte and I joined 2 of my sisters, brother-in-laws, and 3 nieces/nephews for a weekend of fun on Lake Cushman.  It sits just east of the Olympic mountains in Washington State.  The lake temps were in the 70s and clear, sunny and in the 90’s above.  Just beautiful.  We kayaked, tubed, ran up the lake by motorboat, tried the rope swing, tent camped, played games, and just had a really great time together.

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Sad on the inside, with beauty all around.

I flew back home, again, yesterday.  But this time, my Mom is not here.  God took her back.  It is the sad, but inevitable, end to a wonderful lifetime.  I am proud and oh so happy to be her daughter.   Today we say goodbye and celebrate her life.  ‘Til we meet again, Mom… I love you.

As we approached Seattle, I was treated to beautiful views of the Cascades.  Fires are again raging in Washington, both east and west of the mountains, so the view was a bit hazy.  In this one looking south, Mount Rainier is in the front, center.   Mount Saint Helens is slightly above and to the right of Rainier; the gray, hazy, low peak with no snowcap.  The leftmost peak is Mount Adams.  And between Adams and Rainier, in the distance, you can faintly see Mount Hood.

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A fanfare ending to a family reunion extravaganza.

For the last week and a half, Monte and I hosted his family’s bi-annual reunion.   We started out with a big 3-day weekend, enjoying reconnecting and having fun at the house and in the backyard with 21 of our relatives that came from pretty much every corner of the country.  Then, for the next week, ten of the family that could stay longer came to stay with us at the house.   We packed it with as much food and fun as we could.   It was really a special, wonderful time.   Sailing, floating, grilling, cornhole, homemade pasta, bimini ring game, barbeque, card games, homemade pizza, geocaching, karaoke, low-country boil, gardening, sno-cones, sightseeing, even taking part in our neighborhood’s 4th of July parade.  Over the last few days, our party dwindled until it was just four of us yesterday.   We set out for the lake and sailed to Starnes Island to anchor up and watch the fireworks show.  It didn’t disappoint.  We squeezed every bit of fun out of the time spent with everyone.

Today we said goodbye to the last two revellers.   It’s just our flock now.  The house is quiet.

I leave you with two shots from the fireworks last night — here’s to family!

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And *poof* … 5 years gone by.

Sunday was the 5 year blogoversary for sheila365!  I meant to draft a post ahead of time, and post it bright and early on March 8th.   But I just looked at the calendar and time has snuck by on me once again.

That’s ok.  In these 5 years sheila365 has evolved, and I think I have a bit, too.  My blog started as a post-a-day 365 project during the first year or two, which had me snapping photos during the day to make sure I had something that I judged “share-worthy;”  and now it has become more of a leisurely, post-every-week-or-so project, which I have to say has been much easier, though less artistic in terms of trying to capture beautiful photos, but rather just moments from my day that struck me as special or interesting in one way or another.

So happy blogoversary to me!  🙂    I thought I’d go back through my posts from year 5 and pick a photo from one post from each month that especially makes me smile.  I have to say it was very hard to pick just one picutre from each month. 

 March 2014:  Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.   A visit to the walled El Morro.  Beautiful Caribbean views.

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April 2014:  British Virgin Islands sailing trip – this was taken while snorkeling off Cooper Island.

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Turtle dude surfacing – 2

May 2014 – A trip home to Seattle.  One of several last year.   It is a beautiful, special place for me.IMG_4009

June 2014 – Back in Austin for fun on the lake with some of my crazy sailor friends.IMG_4863

July 2014 – An amazing trip to Panama City Beach to celebrate a very special anniversary with a very special family.

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August 2014 – A roadtrip to the Texas Gulf Coast.  One of my favorite places to relax.IMG_5697

September 2014 – A lovely anniversary trip through the Texas Wine Country.IMG_5876

October 2014 – A fun girls’ trip to Washington, D.C.  Lots of laughs, lots of wine, and lots of walking.  🙂

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

November 2014 – An oh so special birthday.IMG_6994

December 2014 – Family visiting means showing off Austin and the Hill Country.  Never gets old.IMG_7297

January 2015 – Hiking as many trails as I can before I had to go back to work after taking a few months off.IMG_7688

February 2015 – Yep, more tulips.IMG_7780

What an amazing lap around the sun!

Thanks for coming along for the ride. 🙂

From a distance.

Julie flew home Wednesday to join her dad and brothers on a long-planned climb to the top of the 14K+ foot peak that is Mount Rainier.  I can only aspire to do something like this one day.  For now, I am watching their ascent via satellite-based location technology.  Amazing.

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Points 1 – 4 on the map are the last 4 pings they’ve sent on their way up.   I will watch all night and all day tomorrow.  Can’t wait to see the pics!

Checking out the Falls.

Today I had the chance to go for a small road trip.  Just a 90 minute drive, each way, up to Snoqualmie Falls.   I went for it.  I packed mom along with me, with her wheel chair for maximum ease of checking out each nook and cranny of this naturally beautiful place.  And we were off…headed east to visit one of the most popular scenic places in Washington State.  It turned out that Noreen and David were coming west over the pass from Eastern Washington from a wedding, and we were able to time it so that we met for lunch at the beautiful Salish Lodge at the falls.  The flow was high, due to snow melt… swelling the falls to a thunderous level.  You could feel the water falling, you could hear it beating the rocks below, and you could feel the spray 300′ up from the bottom.

I can’t tell you how pretty it was, so i’ll just share 2 shots:

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and a panorama:

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An awesomely beautiful day.

Saturday!

I spent the night at Noreen’s last night.  This morning, she finished another glass window / work of art.   This one is for her own house.  She does beautiful work!

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Then I toodled back over to mom’s.  This afternoon, I introduced her to geo-caching, and she enjoyed it.  We found 3 out of 4 “park and grab” caches that we searched for on the way to the Harbor Fest downtown.   She stayed in the car and pointed me to where the GPS said to look, and then we opened up the cache’s together in the car.

Then we headed downtown to take in the Harbor Fest.  This is a shot of the boardwalk downtown along the waterfront.

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Then, later, I headed for the airport to pick up my sweetie, who is joining me here for the last week of the month.  It was fitting that my favorite mountain was poking above every horizon on my drive to the airport tonight.

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Good day.

Today was a pretty full day.   The weather was supposed to be colder and drizzly, but it turned out to be another lovely day with blue skies.   Keep ’em coming.

Mom and I went to the Armed Forces Day parade, one of the oldest and longest in the country.

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I squeezed in a little geo-caching during the afternoon, and then headed over to Seattle to meet my sisters and spent a few hours on the waterfront.    We ducked into this little corner o’heaven to watch the Sounders game (win!).

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And then caught the ferry home.   Pretty views from the stern.

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