Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Celebrating September's Eve......

 We are home now having arrived at 5:00 on Monday afternoon.

We took Sunday as an extra day to clean and finish up our projects.
Louis Dean dug this amazing campfire pit made after the fashion of the one at the New Mexico mountain cabin. All I need now is to order my six Adirondack chairs to make it our version - Texas style.

Tuesday was a Mother/Daughter Day with Amber and I loved every single SECOND of our time together! 

We started out with a salad lunch after dropping off the girls hockey skates to be sharpened for their game that night. 

Yes, my daughter is a full fledged hockey mom!
And she is LOVING it!!
SO are the kids.

We ate and shopped and had a Starbucks break and then picked the kids up from school after they had theater tryouts.

Back to the Bell Home for a little puppy loving!

I'm glad I held both Cash and Kona a few weeks ago because they are too big to hold together now.

Sweet puppies!!!

My darling dimpled Amber!

Not only a mom to quads but now a mom to two energetic black lab puppies!!

The excitement never stops at their house between hockey games, new puppies, the kids being in the 5th grade now and her cooking gourmet meals and school lunches that are the envy of the other students as well as the teachers!!

I stayed over until after dinner - it was only the three of us - Harrison, Amber and I - as the girls had a hockey game. I would have stayed longer but Louis Dean called me and said he was lonely and waiting for me to come home. Ahhhhh......I'm so glad he misses me when I'm gone.
I called him when I was leaving and asked how much Damage Control I had. He said, "NONE"
SO not true!

But he was watching this movie and I was able to do the damage control - mostly in the kitchen and it involved oil on the floor, counter and stove. I'm not sure what he cooked but it's usually shrimp!
I finished cleaning up after him as well as finishing up my own scheduled cleaning chores in time to watch the last hour of the movie with him - which is the best part anyway!

So this morning when I woke up - the first thing I thought about was - it's September's EVE!

I've pulled out my Neil Diamond CDs and have them ready to load in the morning.
My pumpkin spice coffee is right by the coffee pot.
I am going to try my hand at homemade pumpkin spice latte - thanks to the research of my friend BJ!
When Louis Dean was in the hospital, one of the nurses shared her version  and I thought I would remember it - but I don't!

Our home is all clean and decorated and ready for September's arrival.

It rained this afternoon and there's magic in real rain.

No matter how much we watered and it was a lot and expensive.....

nothing like real rain from heaven makes the flowers bloom.

Texas sage blooms when there is a change in the weather - and it rained today.

This bank of lantana is going wild and the knock out roses are not far behind.

My white crepe myrtles haven't bloomed all summer but here they are now!

My dear sweet June was admitted to the hospital yesterday. Kimmy has kept me up to date with her condition which seems to be a very bad UTI. June will be 91 on September 25 - one day after my 74th birthday. I went by Aldi this evening and filled a bag with snacks for her and her daughters, Traci and Kimmy, and sister Tommy as I remember how much I appreciated the goodie bags my friends brought us when Louis Dean was in the hospital recently.
I told her Louis Dean would come with me tomorrow evening and I would bring her some freshly baked fruitcake cookies.

It was 9:00 tonight when I started making the dough.

It is not an easy cookie to make since it's so heavy!

I started baking fruitcake cookies 37 years ago and I nearly always make the dough on September's Eve. This year I am making it in my sister's memory. Nita always kept me in supply with the very best cinnamon and vanilla extract. I added the Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum in her honor.

Tomorrow morning I will bake the first season's batch as I sip my pumpkin spice coffee and listen to Neil Diamond sing September Morn on the first of thirty magical mornings.
I truly love September and September First is my favorite day of the entire year.

I will be celebrating and remembering my sister tomorrow along with my dear sister Deanie.

Make it a September to remember!

Saturday, August 27, 2022

 Louis Dean and I don't see many sunrises but this morning we saw an exceptional one!
My alarm went off at 5:45 and I pushed the snooze button THREE times for a total of 27 delicious minutes. Then I was up and at 'em while banging around and turning lights on so as to waken Louis Dean.

We were sitting with our coffee watching the sun rise together.
I sometimes wish we were morning people - but we are so not - and that makes seeing a sunrise extra special to us. We had time for coffee and our Bible reading before Dean and Sherry picked us up.
We were heading to Hamilton, Texas where Sherry's parents live. They are up north in their RV doing church building work but they have made their home available for when Roy and Ruth Ann and Dean and Sherry meet up for a visit. You see, Hamilton is the midway point between their home in Breckenridge and Dean and Sherry's ranch.

We were a surprise today as they didn't know we were going to be there!

Four good men!
Ken (longtime neighbor to Sherry's parents), Roy, Son Dean and Louis Dean.

Ken plays the harmonica and Louis Dean played the guitar so we had some before lunch entertainment.

The food was delicious!!

Ruth Ann always brings something extra special and classy.
This tomato salad was gone in minutes.

I brought my pepper poppers and they were good if I say so myself.
I may be in need of a new 'go to' appetizer soon.
Perhaps I can find one at Estelle's Blog  
I have used so many of her recipes over the years!
Do YOU have a favorite easy sure fire good appetizer recipe??
If so, please share!!!

Son Dean outdid himself with these ribs!
They fell off the bone and were finger licking GOOD!!!

Sherry's potato salad is always a hit!

We sat around the table and ate and ate!
Ruth Ann and I BOTH brought watermelon and in nearly identical containers!
It was so wonderful to visit with her and catch up - although we didn't really catch up all the way.
She has had technical problems with social media and doesn't get my blog by email anymore so she hasn't been keeping up with all that's happened in my life lately other than the family news from Dean and Sherry and our occasional phone calls. And she is a more private person than I so we had lots of things to talk about.

Regarding the 'Follow by email' thing - it has totally gone away and I looked into a couple of things to take its place but have decided not to do them. I don't write with the purpose of gaining a wider readership but I am so blessed with those who have 'found' me and we have bonded with each other.
I'm pretty sure I don't want to be any more 'public' than I already am and some of the ways to 'Follow' seemed a little too complicated for me. 

I kind of felt like someone in a novel today and yesterday.
Like a Gladys Tabor column where she describes preparing food for a gathering of friends and then traveling there and back. I love everything about this day. Being with family and seeing their faces and hearing their voices. You never know when you will hear a loved one's voice for the last time.
The last time I heard Nita's voice was at Andie's graduation party. I go back in my mind and replay every word I can remember her saying and I love and treasure every single one of them.

Ruth Ann and I go back a good many years now - I met her at our wedding. She is sister to Louis Dean's beloved first wife, Ellen, who passed away in 2000. We were best friends right off the bat.
Ruth Ann and I used to spend every Tuesday together and I have missed her so much since since she moved away.

I love how family oriented Dean and Sherry are. They are the kind of people we describe as 'salt of the earth.' And I am so grateful I am family to them. They have welcomed us here at their ranch and gave us prime location in setting up our camper and then adding on and putting down pretty deep roots.

Dean has been so wonderful this week with our AC condensation problems.
He had already spent the better part of two days doing two separate fixes and then when we came back from Hamilton today, I went in the camper and put my purse in the chair and as I rummaged around in it looking for something - I felt a drop of water fall on my head.

Oh, NO! Not AGAIN!!!

I dreaded doing it but I called Dean and told him the AC was dripping in the camper again.
As tired as they were after driving back and doing critter chores and such, they dropped everything and came back up here to fix a third and hopefully FINAL problem!
The plug/hole was stopped up!
Problem solved!
I will bring in fans to dry out the carpet AGAIN tomorrow.
And I think that anything that could go wrong with that situation has already gone wrong and been resolved so here's to no more dripping water inside the camper!

As Dean and Sherry were leaving to go back down to their place this evening - the horses came up hoping for a treat. I had a half loaf of stale bread and half a package of hot dog buns.
The horses loved it!

The Golden Hour really and truly IS Golden here at the ranch!

Friday, August 26, 2022

A Couple of Country Days....

Our cats live such full and rich lives!
Life at home in the city, life at the Bells and then life in the country!
They seldom get a chance to be bored because we keep going from one place to another.
We go home on Sunday and then it won't be long before they go back to the Bells for a visit while Louis Dean and I go to Mountain View, Arkansas for Louis Dean's long  awaited 'Bucket List' trip to his #1 favorite vacation spot! He and his family used to spend every summer for several years at the Ozark Folk Center and Campground. He and I have been there together a couple of times in our 17 years of marriage and now it's time for us to go again.

Sweet Tabitha! She's the feisty one who usually tries to escape - but not so much lately.
Maybe she's growing up.
The other night I was trying to get Samantha to take her inside the camper for the night.
Louis Dean was already in bed and I don't like leaving them out in the front room unless we leave the camper door open - and since it's still AC weather - I grabbed for her right there where Tabitha is sitting - and she resisted and pushed herself through the window knocking the screen off and escaping!
It didn't take me long to get her - she seemed bewildered by the plowed dirt she was in.

We went to bed happy as we could be on Wednesday night.
There had been a problem with the camper AC condensation thing and the camper ceiling was bulging with water and there was a steady rain from the corner of the air filter. However! Dean had come down pronto and he thought and we thought he fixed it.

So I woke up all happy Thursday morning with a phone call from my Brother Buster in Kansas City.
We had the nicest phone visit.
While we did not grow up together and only just met in the spring of 2021.....
I just rejoice in the fact that we share some of the same routines in our lives.
As in the mornings  - he called me as he was opening his windows and doors to the morning and turning on his music to welcome the day. I could hear him puttering around in the kitchen making a breakfast of Quick Oats and strawberries.

 I love how similar our morning routines are.
I get up and put on my coffee (Louis Dean makes his own in a little alcove he created in his music room from a corner of a closet) and turn on all my 'thousand points of light' - my fairy lights. I turn on my stereo with five of my chosen CDs and light a candle or two just to celebrate a new day.
Usually, I take my first cup of coffee outside to sit with the Lord for a few minutes before starting my Bible reading and prayer time.

I sent a text to my Sister Rita after the phone call to my brother just to say how happy I am to know she is my sister. God has been so good to me in revealing my father's name and meeting my Kansas City Sibs! Nita and Mike were instrumental in making that happen and I am so very thankful they were able to meet and visit and get to know our precious Nita. I won't linger here because I am starting to cry but I am so very thankful for the years I had my sister here on earth. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

After all my happy time with Buster and Rita - I got up to go make coffee in the front room - and the living room area of the camper was soaked!!! I had a great big salad bowl under where it was leaking just as a precaution since it wasn't dripping when we went to bed.
That huge bowl was overflowing like a water fountain!!!

Enter Son Dean to the rescue AGAIN!
This time he really DID fix it and it will stay fixed now.
Once we leave to go home, he will do the last few things to make this fix permanent.
In the meantime, I sucked up a LOT of water and put the fans on to dry it thoroughly. 

Louis Dean Thursday doing what he loves to do - run his tiller!
He's making a firepit like we had in New Mexico at the mountain cabin.
Note he dug up one only for me to tell him that the crepe myrtle was too close and he needed to dig further over! And so he did.

We ate lunch out on the deck - a Taco Salad.
Easy meals are the order of the day this trip.

I spent some time finishing up chapter 26 in my book - some 2,546 words in all.
And then I could not FIND that chapter to email it to myself.
It was there on the OneDrive but I wanted it 'in my hand' so to speak.
I finally saved a copy to Word docs and emailed it.
If I were to lose this book, I could never write it again.
Once I finish it, I'm thinking of posting a chapter at a time here on the blog.
I'll turn the whole thing over to Amber and see about it being published after that.
You won't get the 'clean version' but at least I will have it out there for you to read.
Anyway - after avoiding a complete meltdown - Sherry came up and asked if I was ready to go on the four-wheeler! Was I EVER!!!

We had SO much fun!!! What a blessed relief to laugh and scream and yell as we went all around their 50 acres at a great speed!!! Through mud and water and over small tress and up and down the banks of the tank and over the property!

It was my very first time ever to go mudding!!!

We did, indeed, get a little mud on the tires!

The Golden Hour on Thursday night was truly golden!

At long last I sat down and painted for an hour or more.

This Friday morning I woke up and checked the camper for water!
Louis Dean and I did our normal morning routine but breakfast ended up as lunch since he slept so late,
which wasn't a bad thing in that he slept so well!

I went back to my art table and had a really good session.
I took lots of breaks to read, play Words With Friends, text friends and family, and do some food prepping for tomorrow. We four - Sherry, Dean, Louis Dean and I - will meet Roy and Ruth Ann in Hamilton, Texas which is the halfway point between the country and where they live.
I made pepper poppers, cut up a watermelon and have chips and salsa to take.

I worked mainly on the right hand side of this very large canvas.
Next session I will paint in the big tree on the left and work on the road.
Far from finished but I'm happy with my progress.

Next I based in a fun Christmas painting that I am SO wanting to show but am trying to keep it a secret as it will be a Christmas present.

I'm not good at keeping secrets!
Well, I can keep actual secrets.....but maybe I should say I am not good at keeping surprises a surprise!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday.....Catching up!

I've had some computer problems so I am playing catch up now on Louis Dean's laptop - you know he doesn't like to share - but he is being nice about it!

I made Pepper Poppers for the Family Dinner at Amber's on Sunday night.
I've been making them on a regular basis for the last 3-4 years thanks to the Queen of Pepper Poppers - Sherry! Those and her deviled eggs - made with the secret ingredient of Champagne Vinegar - are a given at any meal she is contributing to. Thanks to my granddaughter, Faith, and her encouragements on deviled eggs - she makes them every bit as good as Sherry's - I am now adding that to my repertoire! 

Back to Sunday Dinner at the Bell's......
Mike grilled the rest of the red snapper they caught on their beach trip in Gulf Shores.
It was delicious!

We came home Sunday night and hit some really serious rain.....high water on the Bush Tollway!
I followed the flashing lights of the car in front of me, having turned my flashers on as well.
There was a long line of cars with flashers blinking as we made our way home.

We woke up on Monday morning to severe heavy rains.
We had meant to leave that day but decided to wait.
Sherry sent us a pic of their front yard and a video of Dean trying to get his truck out of the mud.
So we had what Louis Dean called a 'free day.' It was for him and it was a good day for me, too.

I cleaned the house from the den all the way through to the bedrooms.

I lit candles as I left each 'clean' room.

I'm loving all my fall decorations.

Monday night we ate leftovers from the fridge......
I just hate to waste food and beans are so good even if they are a few days old.

Louis Dean got up Tuesday morning and made the coffee before coming back to bed.
I got up and brought us both coffee in bed as we talked about our plans for going to the country.
Thankfully, we did NOT get any water in our house and that was wonderful.
For years and years every time it rained, we had water in the den and sewing room.
It's been two years now that we have remained dry even during truly heavy rains.

Summer came over for a visit and to help us with a credit card difficulty......
Louis Dean had a Best Buy credit card back when we used the Geek Squad.
Alas, the Best Buy we used is no longer there and he cut up that credit card - but a renewal to the Geek Squad was automatically charged to him.
I had no clue until I started doing the finances.
They turned our account over to collections and I filed a fraud thing as we don't even HAVE that card anymore. Summer was such a trouper spending hours on the phone with six different people - none of whom could understand us and we could not understand them.
If I were the Mad Snapper - I would have a doozy of a post about that - but I am me and all I can say is that Summer has the patience of Job!

While she was dealing with that, we were getting ready to go to the country!

We were heading out of the rain by the time we got to Waxahachie.

We drove straight from our house in Irving to the ranch outside of Mart.
It takes nearly two hours. Roughly 100 miles.

We unloaded and put things to rights and then it was time to meet up with our friend Rosey at El Conquistador in Belmead for our traditional Mexican food.....

and margaritas!!

On to our bee meeting where we had a honey tasting party!

Not nearly as many honey pots as we have had in the past - but still a tasty delight to sample honey from different areas and of different flowers - sage to wildflowers to mesquite.....
so many colors and flavors!

Sherry brought honey from our very first year as beekeepers.
It is bitter and the flowers are called bitterweed - for a reason!
It tastes good at first - or at least all right. Then you get the after twang at the back of your tongue.

Louis Dean was left 'home alone' while we were gone and he did some mowing and cleaning up in the garden area. It was not hot and I didn't worry about him.
When I got home, he was a happy camper and, after I changed into my nightgown, we sat out on the deck and had a glass of wine to celebrate being back in the country!
He said, "Do you know what I like best about being back in the country?"
I said, "What?"
He said, "Being BACK IN THE COUNTRY!"

Today (Wednesday) Louis Dean has been working on his tiller and planning a new firepit designed like the one up at the cabin in New Mexico.

This morning the AC condensation thing went crazy and I had a heavy mini rainfall into a big bowl inside the camper. I called Dean and he was here in a short time and spent much of this day working on the problem. The water accumulates in the ceiling and it swells up and nobody wants that to bust open!

The mops come down to visit and keep an eye on Dean.
Rufus came down several times and I was hard pressed to find treats for him - but I did!
A large piece out of a rotisserie chicken, several hot dogs, two hunks of cheese, 4 dog treats that he did not like, and then the rest of the hot dogs.
I jus cannot say no to him.
I filled all the hummingbird feeders today. Louis Dean says he has seen them visit and fly away.
I fed Tarzan - the brother to our kitties as well as Amber's and Benjamin's.
He's pretty insistent and he's had several bowls of premium cat food and a chicken carcass.
Tarzan looks a lot like Tabitha but is more muscular.

I spent the day 'putting things to rights.' Stored the laundry away and cleaned everything up - lots of dust in the front room with the open windows. We close the camper up tight so it doesn't get dusty.

Last night when I tried to add photos to my laptop - I had an update and clicked on 'restart' - and then my computer problem began.

This screen came up and my mouse worked but it didn't.
I could not make it print the recovery code (that my computer savvy son Jesse sent me) in the box.
I gave up and brought Louis Dean's computer in.
I tried hard not to freak out and get all upset about my laptop not working.
I think I did pretty well!
I had resigned myself to waiting until we got home and could get the laptop over to Jesse's. 
Then this afternoon, Jesse sent me the recovery code in numbers instead of letters and PRESTO!
I have my laptop back!
THANK you, Jesse!!!
You are a magician!

After Sherry got off work this afternoon, she and I went to retrieve a bee box she and Dean had taken to Limestone county to try and capture a swarm.

A couple had a tree cut down not knowing it was home a large hive of bees.
Alas, the swarm found a home elsewhere and we drove over to get the bee box back.
I enjoyed our one on one girl time together.
Sherry is so precious to me and I love her like a daughter.
We stopped at Brookshires on our way through Groesbeck and picked up a few groceries.
I love shopping at different grocery stores with the way they have such different layouts.

It's a wonderful thing to be back in the country tonight.