Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve in the Country!

After spending most of the day in bed I am finally feeling better.
Dean and Sherry invited us to go with them to Hamilton to meet up with Sherry's parents and with Roy and Ruth Ann and you know I had to not be well to turn that visit down. But I did.
I simply could not push on anymore. So I stayed in bed. Nearly all day.

It was late this afternoon when I decided a nice hot shower to wash all the germs away would be in order. Louis Dean and I donned our mud boots - mine are Coach - Goodwill treasure - and made our way down to their house. It was not easy. Plus Louis Dean had to turn on the water at a source to fill our camper reservoir. That was an adventure. I can't even go into all the confusion over that. Okay...he went down and turned it on.....he thought. He walked back up through the mud and discovered he had turned it the wrong way. So he walked back down there - through the mud - and turned it the other way. It filled up. In the meantime I took my hot shower and walked back up to the camper. The water was running out of the hose from the reservoir. So he had to turn the water on again and I had to hook the hose up.....this sounds simple but it was all very confusing.
At last Louis Dean was able to take his hot shower but his phone was dying.
Every time we tried to talk to each other on the phone - the geese were honking so loudly we couldn't even hear one another.

Finally! We were bathed and back at the camper.
I looked up and saw this beautiful pink and blue sky through the bathroom window.

Then I got up and went out to the sun deck and saw this.

It's a spectacular light show that God gives us free of charge.
I don't see the sunrises or the sunsets from our home in Irving.
It's just the way our house sits.
And when I try to get a photo - there's so many telephone poles and wires that it's not a pretty picture.

We are loving it here. 
This is Day #3.....we arrived on Friday night. Spent all day Saturday and Sunday and here we are on New Year's Eve.

After we got back from our showers, we settled in the front room and visited while I decorated my perpetual tree that lives in the corner.

I completely undressed it and started all over.

When I was doing my after Christmas shopping at Hobby Lobby, I found some country style garlands for 66% off and knew right away that they would be perfect for a Country Style Tree!
I reused the cotton bolls I had picked two years ago - I totally missed the cotton harvest this year - as well as the burlap garland.

Tiny metal milk pails are stuffed with cotton bolls and shiny aluminum farm animals hang from the branches.

Faux fur trees add to the country charm.

Perfect for an all year round country tree!

Here it is as we sat with our wine in the glow of the tree lights.
Remember back in the summer when we turned the AC on and it was like - well, I won't say.
Granted - it was over 100 degrees and the room was not completely closed in.
Tonight Louis Dean said why don't we try turning on the heater? (It's an AC/Heat unit)
So that's where we sat with our sparkling wine and a bologna and cheese sandwich.
We decided to celebrate the new year early so we could go on to bed.....
and that's where he is now.
I missed visiting with Ruth Ann but she called me a little while ago and we had a nice phone chat.
Both of us are hoping that we get to see more of each other in 2019.
I'm sure many of you are making plans for the new year and I think that's such a good idea.
How can we reach our goals if we have not set any?
I am doing some deep thinking about my life.
At 70, I am trying my dead level best to grow old gracefully.
70 doesn't look the way it used to. 
I still have goals and dreams and thoughts about what I want to be when I grow up.
Am I there yet? I hope not. I want to grow and learn and be.
I want to finish writing my book.
I want to spend quality time with Louis Dean - meaning we sit and talk and stupor over our coffee in the mornings. We come together in the afternoons to go over our ideas about what we want to do....where we want to go.
I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a grandmother, an aunt, a cousin, a friend....but first and foremost....I am a wife. I'm thinking this is my priority in 2019. 
Louis Dean is 82....I want to embrace and treasure every minute we have together.

Okay. I did not mean to go off the deep end here so I think I will close my thoughts for this New Year's Eve. 

It's not even 10:00 and as I am going to bed - I bid all my friends and family a very happy and prosperous new year!! 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Home Sweet Camper!!!

Friday morning we were up and at 'em packing up that big old one ton white truck until Louis Dean finally said, "Linda, I am running out of room!"

We packed like we were moving!
Food. Clothes. Art. Music. Guitar. Books. Denim. My book materials. Fishing stuff. Debris. 
Tools, tools and more tools.

Just to make sure we don't come home to water leaks and broken pipes, we turned all the water off to the house and he even turned the water heater off.
We can't help heavy rain but at least we don't have to worry about the other possibilities!
During that last round of heavy rain right after Christmas, only the corner of the den by the organ got wet. I dried it out and left all the stuff sitting up on the sofa just in case it happens again while we are gone.

I forgot to put the drain spout extenders on but my son, Jesse, is going over there and do that next week. So we are good to GO!

We pulled out of the driveway before 1:00!
I said, "On to Fort Worth and the nursing home!"
Louis Dean said, "I forgot all about going there!"

I always go to Lillian's room first so I can leave my bags and then distribute the goodies without carting them all over the place. As I was sorting through the containers, she said, "Don't you go and be giving away all my cake!" I love it when I find something she really likes.
And look how pretty she is in her new white blouse I got her! She added the scarf and even stood up from her wheelchair to show me how well it fits! She knows I got it at a thrift store and was so proud of it. She said the other one fit perfectly as well! I told her we would be in the country for awhile and that Waco has some good Goodwills and I would be looking for her some more tops!

Meet Ester......the nicest man in the whole home.
He had requested ice cold milk and I had thought I would be clever.
I found a big mason jar with a handle and a lid, filled it with milk and popped it in the freezer to get really cold.......thinking I would take it out in just a little while and put it back in the fridge.
Oops. I forgot all about it until Friday morning by which time it had froze and the glass broke.
Plan B.....pack an insulated bag with some ice, another mason jar with a handle, go by the 7-11 and buy two bottles of milk, pack it in with the ice on top. Wella! Ice cold milk just as he wished!
I also took him some butter pecan cake slices with brown sugar frosting.
We had the nicest visit. I forgot all about Louis Dean waiting for me in the truck thinking I was just going to run in and hand out the treats and come right back.
No, I stood by his bedside (he is normally in his wheelchair outside his door) and listened to him tell me some of his stories. He's 86 years old and loved by all the residents, staff and visitors at Trail Lake Nursing Home. He was telling me once again about a brown sugar cake with plum jelly and how he worked for the family who made it for him. They had a plum orchard so that plum jelly was homemade. The daughter of the family baked the cake and it lives on in his memory. I told him we would be away for a few weeks but I would bring him my version when we visit again.

I next visited Roberta. 
What a beautiful lady she is.
We had a nice visit together.
She had met Deanie that morning in the beauty shop and asked if she was Linda's sister.
Deanie told her yes and Roberta her elegant lady voice....."Well, Linda and I are good friends. We are very good friends." As she was telling me this I felt like a line from The Grinch....
'I think my heart grew two sizes......'

Mother was asleep when I peeked into her room when I first arrived and she was still asleep when I checked on her in between visits with the others. She sleeps a lot now. So I took the easy way out and tiptoed in, said a prayer, and tiptoed back out.

Nita visited Mother on Sunday afternoon and took her a malt.
She said Mother was having a good day.

At last I dropped the rest of the baked goods off at the nurses station and wished everyone a Happy New Year. As I was walking to the exit, I could hear them quibbling about who was getting what....
'you already have a portion of that cake.....I want some of those muffins.....these tastes so good...'
Made me feel so good!

Finally! We were on the road and heading south on I35!
We were in such a hurry to just get there that Louis Dean got a couple of hot dogs at QT when he filled up with fuel. Then we drove straight through to the HEB in Belmead.

It was normal when we went in but when we came out it was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcocks 'The Birds!'

It was getting dark and I guess they were swarming in to roost.

Hundreds and hundreds of grackles!

It felt flat spooky!!!
Now on to the ranch!

We had a little trouble at the gate with the lock.
I was no help with my crooked fingers but he finally got it unlocked.
He did a great job driving in through the mud. 
The key is

He was so good he even swung the truck out and backed in pretty as you please!
I could not wait to get inside and see everything!

Guess what?? 
The cupboard above the right side of the bed was bone dry!
So was the floor on the left side of the bed!
I remember back to our days in Katy when my side of the bed would get wet when it rained and we were so busy helping Amber and Mike care for the baby quadruplets that we never addressed it until we had moved the camper back to Irving. When my side was wet, I would just go sleep in the girl bunk.

I lit all my candles and turned on all my little lights.
Jutta gave me the Summer book last year and I read it down here at the ranch.
This year she gave me the Winter book and I will start it on New Years Day.

My sweet tiny camper bathroom.
Just look at that teeny tiny sink.
I am so looking forward to when Louis Dean has the big full size bathroom all hooked up and running! I get excited when I think of a big  shower with hot water and a laundry size sink for Louis Dean's big hands. He promises it will happen this year!

Look what a happy camper he is!

This is the front room Louis Dean built and attached to the camper.
I think of this place as 'glamping.'
It's a camper on crack!
Pretty. Warm. Cozy. Rustic.

I may be the only one to decorate a place before it's finished.
Louis Dean has learned to simply accept this.
Smart man.

A tour of our humble camper home....which is our 31 foot Wilderness RV plus the 41 foot front room, bathroom and utility room.

We are HERE and we will stay for a good long time!


We slept so well Friday night! I only woke up twice in the entire 9 hours!
It was like old home week waking up and having coffee together in the cozy camper.
I have been struggling with allergies and coughing, choking and gagging for two weeks.
Now I am here in the country and was hoping whatever dust devil was tickling my throat and triggering a coughing spasm would not follow me. But it did. 
I spent Saturday reading and resting and watching Louis Dean work.

I am the Queen of Cover up and the Lady of Making Do!
The light above the kitchen sink went on the blink at our last visit here.
My eyes are getting worse - I must get my eyeglass Rx filled before March - can't believe I have put it off for so long. I need more light than I used to. So I took a light from the front room and hung it in the kitchen......

and my White Knight came riding in to the rescue.
It took him all day but he took a light from the bedroom and moved it to  the kitchen.
Camper lights aren't the same as house lights. We have a combination, thanks to Louis Dean and his love of all things electric! Asking him for a new outlet makes his eyes sparkle and shine and he jumps into action! 

Our entertainment Saturday night was a movie classic!

This was filmed in 1936 and in Technicolor.....
Louis Dean was just 3 years old then.
Later he sold newspaper at the Paramount theater in Abilene where they were showing the movie so he saw bits and pieces of it but not the entire film.

This is a terrible photo but in December 2009, we flew home First Class after visiting a month in Aberdeen Scotland with Amber and Mike - thanks to my son, Jesse.
It was a long flight and Louis Dean watched it and was so excited! He finally saw the entire movie!!!
So it is fitting that we watch it together nine years later.

Alas, we didn't finish the movie before I felt so sick I had to go to bed.
As it happened.....Louis Dean was sick in the night with a stomach bug.....
He was better by early afternoon and went out to do 'things' in the bathroom area of the new addition.
I not only struggled with my coughing, gagging and choking ....but Louis Dean shared his bug with me......

So Sunday has been a 'stay in my nightgown and try to feel better' kind of day.

Sarurday night we went to bed at 9:00 and got up at 10:00 Sunday morning.
It's now 9:00 on Sunday night as I write and we are just finishing the first half of Gone With the Wind......
I'm thinking another early bedtime is in order.

I'm already thinking about next Christmas.
I am going to do a Santa painting for all four of my children.
This one will be perfect for Summer - don't you think??

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Moments......and the days after.....

Christmas Eve......Louis Dean and I were up early!
I'm a late sleeper normally except for Christmas and holidays.
We cooked and prepped and then got dressed and met up with family for a 3:00 candlelight service at Fellowship Church.

It was a beautiful service - especially when the only lights were candles glowing in the dark.
We all met back at the house after the service.

Pam, Reaoma's daughter, went to church with us and joined us for our Christmas Eve dinner.

 The most precious gift I received this Christmas was from Pam.....
this is Little Reaoma.
Reaoma was of Native American blood and documented that heritage with her handcrafted dolls.
She made one of her mother, her grandmother, her daughter and herself.
Pam gave me the Reaoma made of herself.....complete with adoption papers and everything.
I admit that I teared up a bit.

All my children and grandchildren were here Christmas Eve except for Summer and Rayne.
They were celebrating in Puerto Rico and we were happy for them even though we missed them!

Jesse and his family arrived......

My grandson, Levi! 

He is the cutest guy and has so much personality!

Faith and her brand new Christmas puppy named Max.

Ambe and Mike were here with the kids......

Aren't the girls precious??

Leigh Ann, Jesse's wife and my beautiful daughter in law.

Logan was in love with that little Max!!

Amber is a beauty!

We all visited and snacked on appetizers and enjoyed being together.

For the dinner meal, I had made a big beef stew along with salads and rolls.
Since the oldest grands are 16, 14, and 12......I put them at the adult table in the dining room with their parents and aunt and uncles.

The young ones sat at the corners of the table......
and Granddad and I ate with the quads at the table in the den.

The happiest moments of this Christmas season was listening to my children and grandchildren laugh and talk around the table. I wouldn't trade that sound for anything.

I was enjoying listening in and then laughed when I realized what they were talking about but it was all good!

While the adults were filling their plates.....

the kids and I went for a walk around the block.

Playing in crisp brown leaves in December is a Texas 'thang!'

It was a pleasant evening and no jackets required.

We walked over to a favorite neighbor's house to wish her a Merry Christmas.
Tamara's husband is away with the Trans Siberian Orchestra. I need to write down what he does but I know he's very important.

As she opened the door. the kids starting singing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas!'
They sure had fun surprising her!

The stew was delicious!
I used a new recipe and it was a real hit.

The gifts were all in place and ready to open but we had a big job to do first.

Roll sugarplums!
Each grand rolled their own and took them home with them.
Except for Sam. He forgot to take his and they were scarfed up!

Louis Dean sat in the den and smiled a lot!
He may have had visions of sugarplums in his head!

Finally! It was time to open the gifts!

My handsome son, Benjamin! 
Child of my old age.
He is just 30 years old.

My handsome oldest son, Jesse!
He's 52.....
Son of my youth.

Leigh Ann loved the bracelet Amber made for her and I love the way Levi is looking at his mother!

Amber and her dad!
She knew he would love that warm green jacket!

It was a wonderful Christmas Eve.
Smiles, laughter, conversation.
Food, gifts, a new puppy and so much love.
I am a very blessed woman.

The time went by way too fast!
Jesse and his family were the first to leave.

Saying Goodbye!!!

And Goodbye AGAIN!!!

After everyone was gone, Louis Dean and I took a glass of wine to the gazebo.

He wore his new jacket to ward off the chill......
and he brought the gifts that we had wrapped for each other.
He was pretty happy with the one I gave him!
It was a custom Dodge Ram leather steering wheel cover.
What did he give me?
My favorite perfumes!

I set the alarm for 7:30 Christmas morning - but I woke up at 7:23 and preheated the oven, turned on the coffee and popped the breakfast casserole in to bake.

The Christmas Gathering started at 10:00 and we were only 12 minutes late!

My beautiful sister, Nita!
She makes hostessing our family look easy.....
but she has a secret weapon.....Mike!

It's always a treat to be in their home.

Mike collects vintage toys and so much more.....

Daughter Leah and her Mama!

Doesn't Deanie look great?
She's a December Baby born on the 21st.
I give her a candle for her birthdays....and it's always a gray one. 
She seems to like the way they smell.
One year it was called Warm Sweater. I forgot the name of this one but it's a Yankee candle so I know it smells wonderful!

Nita and Mike set up the best beverage stations!

We all bring something for the brunch and then Nita and Mike provide a ton of food!
I think she cooked 12 pounds of bacon! Plus sausage gravy, biscuits and scrambled eggs.
Then she had a mound of fresh berries plus the fixings for mimosas!
Michele brought sausage balls and Trish fixed breakfast pizzas and angel graham bars.
Joni brought her mother's fudge and Louis Dean baked his cinnamon rolls.
There was a lot of food! So much so that we all took some home with us and Louis Dean and I have had the best breakfasts ever since. We will polish the rest of it off in the morning.
Glad none of that delicious food went to waste!

From the Fort Worth Family to YOU!

Louis Dean, Nita, Mike, Bernie, Andie, Trish, Charlie, Leah, Deanie, Patrick, Joni, Michele, Lonnie and Larry!

Same thing here except I took Mike's place!

We wish you a merry Christmas!

We have such a good time on Christmas morning all being together.
We missed a few this year.
Our favorite cousin, Gay, was sick and couldn't come.
She is such a fun gal and we were so sorry she couldn't make it.

Bernie and Joni!
We claim them as Family!

Joni and Nita were sister in laws. 
Not really - more like sisters in love because love is stronger than laws!

Lonnie still calls Michele his lovely bride - and she is!

Leah and Patrick.....

and here is Andie!!!
Adorable as always!

Visiting and feasting is done and now it's time to do the Chinese Christmas Tree.

Deanie had #1 so she opened more than one gift since the first one she opened - a set of luxurious grey towels - was stolen right off!

It's a strategic game if you are a couple and bring two gifts.
Every gift can be stolen and the third person to get it is the last.
It's frozen then and off limits.

Michele opened the Santa painting first.
But she didn't get to keep it long.

Bernie stole it next.....and he thought he did good and that would be it.

But then his wife stole it from HIM!!!
Silly man! 
Now that Joni stole it and was the third person - it was hers for keeps!!

She was a happy lady and I was happy for her.
Leah got to keep the copper cookware, some lucky people got some lottery tickets and Bernie got the pretty towels. I got the Pioneer Woman tea towels and silverware. Everyone went home happy!

Nita did give Joni a word to the wise. While happy that she won the 2018 Santa, she did say that normally the game is a bit more aggressive.....

and just so you know - Nit ahas more of the Santa paintings than anyone else except ME!!

I painted a couple of them special for her birthday.

I was proud of this year's Santa.

Good job, Joni!!

We went to the nursing home after we left Nita's.
Lillian and Roberta were not supposed to be there - but they were.
Lillian was sick and Roberta was really tired. I dropped goodies off and went in to check on Mother.
She was asleep and you know what? I did not disturb her. I left her gifts of clothing on her dresser and spoke to the aid to let her know.

 Since we would be back on Friday, we visited a few minutes and went on home to rest up a bit before we had our last celebration over in Dallas at Amber and Mike's house. We arrived just as they were making their plates - perfect timing!
Ham, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, all so good!
We brought Louis Dean's dinner rolls and my fruit salad plus a platter of desserts and a pumpkin pie.

Once again, we shared good food and good conversation.
The gifts had all been given with the exception of Uncle Ben's.

He was quite the celebrity that night!

The girls received the coolest mermaid tail snuggle blankets!

He hit the ball out of the park on those!
Plus he gave Harrison the coolest Discovery Books - and you know how much Harrison loves good books!

We came home tired after all the festivities and celebrations but with the lightest and happiest of hearts. We put our pajamas on, poured us each a glass of wine and flipped on the little fireplace heater in the gazebo. We settled down with our feet propped up and basked in the after glow of a lovely Christmas. Then we went to bed and slept long and sound!

Louis Dea brought me coffee in bed and I lingered long....
It was after noon when I left the bedroom and at 2:00 I was dressed and out the door to hit up the after Christmas sales.

It was a wild windy stormy day in the DFW area and that called for a Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino!
My first stop was Hobby Lobby where I got some super cute things for our place at the ranch.
I keep a tree up year round there and found the best decorations that will be perfect for the country!
Home Depot followed by Dollar General. Then I dropped by Quadville for a spur of the moment visit. Amber was out on errands and Kailey met me at the door asjing, "What are you doing here?"
We ended up doing play dough that their Grandmommy had given them and eating the Texas Trash that Mark (Mike's brother) had forgot and left there. Just so you know - you leave it - you lose it!

The storms had been building and I braved one last storm - Walmart.

My trunk was filled and so was the back seat and the passenger seat.
Time to go home!
By now the storm was really raging! I was dripping wet and my shoes were soaked.
I drove like a little old lady all the way home.
At times the rain was so heavy I could barely see.
Three times I hydro planed but I stayed calm.
Praise God and thank you, Summer, for those night driving glasses. 
They made all the difference.
Louis Dean was waiting for me when I got home.
He was standing in the doorway looking out. That made my heart squeeze.
I left everything in the car and ran inside.
It was so good to be home!
We hugged each other and then I went in, took a hot shower and put on a warm gown.

Today I unloaded the car and packed it all in my Light Closet.

I use white lights all year round and I have more than enough for 2019.
This spring we plan to take all the debris down from the front porch, paint it and put up a unique set of box springs - primed and painted - up against the ceiling of the porch. I want to string up fresh new lights on it and I have a few other ideas to go along with this.

I have rediscovered two Christmas cookbooks this year and I intend to continue to use them for the next few months. I made these muffins earlier this month and made them again today.
Tomorrow we will take a whole bag full of treats to the nursing home when I visit Mother and the other residents. There's an older gentleman across the hall from Mother whom we are becoming very fond of.  He longs for a vanilla cake with plum jelly - a memory of one he remembers from his younger days. I am going to try to make one for him this year but tomorrow I'm bringing him a plate of butter pecan pound cake with brown sugar frosting and a big mug of ice cold milk. 
I poured it up tonight and put it in the freezer.
Now I must close and go out to the kitchen and set it in the fridge.
I want it to be 'icy cold' as he requested. Hopefully it won't still be frozen!

I don't think that we can duplicate things we love from our memories.
It never quite measures up.
But wouldn't it be wonderful if we could do it?
Just once and just for this special gentleman.
I have to try.....