Bethlehem Lutheran Church Celebrates 150 Years of Worship

Pearland - Round Top - 2015 076 The corner stone of The Bethlehem Lutheran Church was laid on May 6, 1866,  and it was completed in 1866.  Pastor J. Adam Neuthard, my great, great grandfather, presided over the church dedication service on October 28, 1866. Carl Siegismund Bauer, a stonemason who had immigrated to Texas from Annaberg, Germany was the stonemason in charge of building the church, as well as the 2-1/2 story manse, which is no longer standing.  The church building itself cost $2,400.00 (£1595) which was then a considerable sum, and despite the fact that this was just after the end of the Civil War and money was scarce, “they gave liberally” and it was not necessary to borrow more than $500.00 for the completion of the building. The first church service was held in January 13, 1867.  Bauer’s grand daughter was the pastor’s wife.

2015_10_25-14Both Pastor Neuthard and Emma Rummel Neuthard, as well as three of their daughters (one of whom is my great grandmother) are buried in the cemetery behind  the church.

The Bethlehem Lutheran Church has held worship services continuously since its founding, making it the oldest church still in continuous use in Texas.

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The worship service was lead by it’s current pastor, John David Nedbalek (left) along with Bishop Mike Rinehart (right). The little church was packed. The congregation sang what Bishop Rinehart later jokingly referred to as “The Lutheran National Anthem” — the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The postlude was “Onward Christian Soldiers” played on the trumpet.

After the short worship service, the congregation adjourned to the Round Top Rifle Association Hall for a “community anniversary celebration and polka worship service.”

2016_10_23-07The Rifle Hall is a community center venue with a kitchen, other separate meeting rooms and a large central room with a band stand at one end, where an 8-piece polka band was set up (you thought I was kidding, didn’t you?): Two trombones, two trumpets, alto and bass tubas, drums, and accordion.  Organist Jolene Wickel had an electronic keyboard set up nearby and lead the choir. In front of the bandstand was a communion table set up with flanking plant stands with vases of flowers, and the rest of the room was filled with tables and chairs set up for the lunch that was to follow the worship service.2016_10_23-082016_10_23-11During the worship service the “hymns” were lyrics of a religious nature set to such polka tunes as “The Beer Barrel Polk,” “Du, Du, Liebst Mir Im Herzen” (which was misspelled “leigst” in the program) and “In Heaven There Is No Beer“! At one point in the service my mom got up and gave a short talk about being a descendant of Reverend Neuthard (her great grandfather) and her childhood memories of spending the night in the old manse (since demolished).  Then we chose up sides and had communion.  Lutherans intinct.


This service also ended with a rendition of “Onward Christian Soldiers” played on the trumpet.

Following the service, we had chicken fried steak and a bratwurst (did I mention this area was settled by Germans?) and a large selection of home made deserts.  We ate and visited and had a good time.   After the meal, a great number of pictures were taken of everyone who would hold still long enough.

Standing L to R, Descendants of Pastor Neuthard’s grand daughter Martha Natalie Helmecke Jamison Moore: Grandchildren (and first cousins): WM, GM and her sister SJ, JP, EJ, WM’s sister MW, and SG. Seated is my mom (aged 92), the twelfth of Martha Natalie’s twelve children, and the only one still living.
Descendants of Carl Siegismund Bauer ( which includes all of J. Adam Neuthard’s descendants, since he was married to Bauer’s granddaughter).

2016_10_23-19That afternoon, GM’s daughter AM took us out to the Richter Cemetery to show us the graves of my great grandfather Paul Helmecke’s parents, F. A. Helmecke (1827-1907) (at right) and Mathilda Melchoir Helmeche (1832-1901).  One of the other people buried in that cemetery was born in 1794, died in 1873, and fought at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.  We then came back into town and wandered about.

We showed my cousin the restored Gate House.  He is the son of my mother’s oldest sister, JJP.  Our mothers’ mother was born in the Gate House back when it was the foreman’s house of the Schiege Cigar Factory.  It is now part of the Round Top Inn bed and breakfast establishment.

2016_10_23-30schiege-managers-house-about-1950It looks a little different now than it did the last time he had his picture taken in front of it in about 1950 (at left).

We parked by Henkel Square and took a little walk to see the historic buildings that were relocated to the square by Ima Hogg, daughter of Texas Governor James S. Hogg.  These buildings now house art galleries, and antique stores.

2016_10_22-532016_10_23-35The Haw Valley Church, a venue for weddings, with its pipe organ and stenciling.

2016_10_23-32 2016_10_23-33   2016_10_23-40 2016_10_23-41

Royers Pie Haven
Royers Pie Haven

Not to be confused with Royers’ Cafe across the way.  (Did I mention I got a Royers teeshirt? I did.  A black one to add to my burgeoning collection.)


Sunday evening, we had Mexican food at Los Padrones, the only restauraunt in Round Top that’s open on Sunday evening.  I had tamales, and they were yummie!

We had gorgeous weather all three days we were gone.  Sunday was sunny and almost hot, and I got a little sunburned around my neck.  It was amazing that the flowers were still blooming all over town, and there were butterflies everywhere.  2016_10_23-39 2016_10_23-31Can you spot the bumble bees in these next two pictures?

2016_10_23-38 2016_10_23-372016_10_22-32Above, a Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on some zinnias.  Below is the Orange Sulphur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) on some Cape Leadwort (Plumbago auriculata)

2016_10_22-13We had an uneventful drive back Monday, with good roads and little traffic.  We did hit one small stretch of construction, but that was it.  The stretch of Highway 77 between Cameron and Giddings which we had never been on before was mostly four lane divided*, and all in very good repair with little traffic on a Monday.  We made our customary stop at the Allsups in Comanche and missed the turnoff onto the interstate in Abilene — again! — but that’s practically a tradition — I’m 0 for 3 now.  In my defense, there is construction and there are detours, and the roads are not well marked at that point.  However, we got it sorted relatively quickly.  But these were minor glitches in an otherwise great trip.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  A good time was had by all.

Beetil has now accrued almost 7200 miles on his odometer.  He will be two years old this November.


*Four lane divided highway — the highway has two separate roads, one in each direction, each road being two lanes wide, with a wide grassy median between the two roads. Intersecting roads cross by means of flyovers and interchanges

Back to Our Roots in Round Top

We’d known about it since last October:  That October 23, 2016, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top, Texas, would be celebrating its 150 anniversary.  We’d decided we would go, and I’d had it marked on my calendar since early spring: October 22, 23, and 24.  My cousin JP who lives in Capitan, New Mexico, had said he wanted to go with us.  I tried to make reservations for the three of us at the Gate House of the Round Top Inn, which is where we stayed last time, and because reasons,  but only Sunday night was available.  I called around and was able to get us reservations for both nights at The WellSpring Retreat, which is located just north of town.

My cousin JP drove over Friday the 21st and spent the night at my mom’s.  Bright and early Saturday morning, I put the drinks and snacks in the back seat floorboard, put my luggage in the trunk, loaded up the fat(cat)boy and off we went.  I got the fat(cat)boy installed in his room with a view at the Pet Hotel, and was headed for the Whataburger on south Quaker within 10 minutes to get a large Coke.  As I waited my turn at the drive up window of the Whataburger, I noted with some interest that there were four (4!) US Air Force captains, two men and two women, breakfasting inside.  Seeing zoomies of any stripe in uniform is extremely rare hereabouts since they closed our USAF base some years ago, but four captains?!

Once I got my large Coke, I made my way over to the gas station in the Walmart parking lot (which is just past the Whataburger) and filled up my gas tank.  Then it was onto the loop and over to mom’s.  I pulled into the driveway of mom’s house — it was only about 7:40 a.m. — and sat there a minute, fully expecting the garage door to come open.  When it didn’t, I opened it with my key, squeezed between my mom’s Mazda and my cousin’s humongous pickup (his trailer hitch cleared the garage door by a scant 4 inches!), walked inside and found them sitting in the den.  Neither of them had heard the garage door go up!  (Then again, both of them wear hearing aids, and I was early . . . )  We loaded up, took my mom’s special shortcut to Highway 84 and were on our way to Post before 8 o’clock.

When we go to Pearland, Texas, where many of my mothers people live, we take Highway 84 to Sweetwater, Interstate 20 to Abilene, Highway 36 to Brenham, and Highway 290, etc.   The last time we had gone to Round Top, we were coming from the other direction, up from Pearland.  The week before, I had gotten on Google Maps and plotted our course so that we could take the same route we always take when we go to Pearland, until just past Cameron, where we could pick up Highway 77 south to Giddings, and get on Highway 290 east going toward Brenham.  From 290, we could pick up state road 237 south and go straight into Round Top.  Even though it was out of our way to take 237, there being a Round Top Road, I chose  237 as the satellite view showed it had a center stripe, meaning two lanes, and Round Top Road did not.  While I was on Google Maps, I got the street view of the place where we were supposed to turn off to The Wellspring Retreat, and found the appropriate landmarks so I would know where to turn.

The weather was gorgeous, mostly sunny with temperature in the 80’s F (26+ C) there was very little traffic and very minimal road construction.  We made good time.  We made one stop for gas in Comanche.  I almost overshot the turnoff onto 237, but we made it.  Google maps calculates the distance as 443 miles, and says it should take about 7 hours.  It was about 4:20 p.m. when we got to the turnoff, just past the city limits sign. screenshot_11

I had known what mom was going to say, the minute I saw the street view of the turnoff (at left).  You turn onto a dirt road that goes around an antique shop, past the school and off into the boonies.   Sure enough, the minute I turned around the antique shop,  mom said “Are you sure we’re going the right way?”  It is a little confusing because from that direction you approach The Wellspring Retreat from behind, where the parking is, and the route to the main house is not clearly marked, but we parked, did a little exploring and soon found we were in the right place.

2016_10_22-40As disappointed as we were that we could not stay in the Gate House of the Round Top Inn because family history reasons, we were anything but disappointed with the Wellspring Retreat.  It is a charming place in a gorgeous setting.  We were supposed to meet up at Royers of Round Top at 6:30 p.m. for supper, but after we checked in and got our luggage up to our rooms, we found a row of lovely rocking chairs on the spacious front porch of the main house, where we had plenty of time to kick back in a rocking chair, take it easy and enjoy the view (below).

2016_10_22-15My cousin EJ and her husband B were supposed to stay at the Wellspring also, but they were coming up from Pearland.  We saw her red SUV coming in from the other direction and mom whipped out her cell phone and called her and our hostess “talked them in.”

I remembered seeing Royers when we were in Round Top before, and I had looked it up on Google Maps so I knew exactly how to get there.  (No place in Round Top is more than a couple of minutes away from any other place in Round Top!)2016_10_22-52You can see Beetil parked at the far left and EJ & B’s red SUV parked to the left of the pickup. The man in the black hat is my cousin JP.  My mom is digging in her purse for her camera.  The obligatory picture of my mom in front of the place in question (here with my cousin JP) follows:

2016_10_22-54This being Texas, the Royers’ menu is categorized into “Some stuff that grazes” (dishes containing beef or lamb), “Some stuff that oinks and chirps” (pork, chicken and quail), “Some stuff that swims” (Gulf red snapper, shrimp and salmon), and “Some stuff in a bowl” (pasta dishes).  Royers is nationally famous for its pies and does a brisk mail order business all over the country.  There was certainly a wide choice of fresh baked pies on offer.

2016_10_22-57I have to say, it was a tough choice, but I went with:screenshot_12

We were the guests of AM, who is my first cousin once removed.  Her boys, husband, mom, aunt and several of my other first cousins were there as well. We were so many we had to sit at two tables.  The food was delicious and the portions abundant.  I can highly recommend what I had.  Their mashed potato casserole is out of this world!

2016_10_22-60Here, left to right, are my first cousins MW, EJ, my mom, and my first cousins SJ, and WM (MW’s sister).  My first cousin GM (SJ’s sister), and her daughter AM were up sorting out seating.  As you can see from the background, Royers’ decor is a somewhat claustrophobic country kitsch.  It’s actually a cafe rather than a restaurant, and I would set its maximum capacity at around 40 people.  It was packed!









screenshot_13After dinner, we all went to my first cousin -1x*’s house for pie and visiting.  She has a lovely and historic 1864 home (left) which was moved in from somewhere else to their property just outside of Round Top and has been thoughtfully renovated.  They have recently sold the house,  and are building a new house on property that is on the other side of Round Top, behind the Bethlehem Lutheran Church.  Their acerage includes a creek where my great great grandfather used to fish and hunt.

2016_10_22-01It was well after dark by the time we got back to the Wellspring Retreat.  We sat on the front porch for a while, enjoyed the lovely weather, rocked, and talked until nearly midnight.  I saw a shooting star and made a wish.

All too soon, we climbed the stairs to our little room up under the eaves.  We had to be up early as church started at 8 o’clock!


Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Just a general wrapping up of loose ends.  Saturday week ago, we drove down to Round Top, Texas, for the 150 anniversary of the church my great great grandfather founded.  Numerous other rellies met us there.  We visited, stayed at a really nice place, ate too much (it’s a family tradition), had a good time and motored back.  More on that in subsequent posts.

2016_10_26-06The rest of this week, I had some loose ends to tie up knitting wise, patterns to proof, finish and post, I’m hip deep in a Foreigner reread, and I’ve started a new shawl to replace the one I gave away.  I’ve renamed it Malguri Morning.  It will have some color work that’s not included in the basic pattern as posted, which will make mine unique.  The Loops ‘n’ Threads Charisma bulky yarn (in the colorway “Mulberry Bush”) makes it soft and thick, and the simple pattern makes it good TV knitting (yes, that’s a thing).  The one I gave away was also made from Charisma yarn, so I know I’ll like the feel of the new one.

The yard lights that I ordered came in Friday week ago, but I couldn’t go get them until Tuesday of last week on account of getting ready to, and then going out of town over the weekend.  While I was picking them up, I bought a new porch light.  The electrician came by and installed them all Thursday, and with 100 watt LED bulbs, they light up my front yard very nicely, thank you.  Very pleased with the lights and the electrician, who is quite professional and knowledgeable.

I’ve got one WOL’s Owl Hat to finish and then I’ve got to write a fingerless glove pattern with an owl on the back of the hand, and make two pair of those to match the WOL’s Hats and Cowls that I’m making for my first cousins -1x and -2x, the daughter and granddaughter of the first cousin who went with us to Round Top this past weekend.  The granddaughter turned 13 this month.  Where does the time go? I’m working each set in a different colorway of yarn, one in Mulberry and one in Bouquet.  Then I’ll let them sort out who gets which.

Tomorrow being Sunday, my BFF will probably come over in the afternoon.  It being Sunday, we’ll probably have a good lie-in first.

Ironing Board Blues

A couple of posts back, I shared a clip of Mr. Justin Johnson playing a 3-string guitar made from a shovel.  Here he is again on a lap steel guitar made from a wooden ironing board.  Best use I’ve seen for an ironing board since I was a child and turned my toy one upside down and made a sailboat out of it. . .   A note in passing, this was recorded at Sun Records, in Memphis, TN, famous for being Elvis Presley‘s first record label (that’s him in the picture).

I do like a man with nice hands . . .

Vacuum Cleaners and Ulterior Motives

MLYA*, I had given my mom a tank type vacuum cleaner, which she never used.  It had a wand and a duster brush and a floor brush, but at the time, her house was completely carpeted, including the bathrooms, and she saw no need for any of its functions. It languished in the closet.  My BFF convinced herself that vacuuming up broken glass had rendered her vacuum unsafe, that tiny shards of glass were all inside it, and that there was no hope for it, it must be thrown away. (I tried to convince her that replacing the foam filters would get rid of the “tiny little slivers of glass” that were “all inside it,” but she remained unconvinced, and dumpstered it.)  I asked my mom if she would mind if my BFF had that vacuum she never used.  My BFF asked her what she wanted for it (meaning $$) and my mom said what she wanted was getting it out of her closet. I went and got it and put it in the trunk of my car knowing that my BFF was coming over on Saturday to watch my new TV.

My BFF doesn’t have a washing machine and has to do her clothes at a washeteria, so I told her when she came over to bring a couple of loads of clothes and do them in my machines.   This is a woman who wears a gown, a robe, a hat and two pairs of socks and sleeps under an electric blanket even in summer.  She is chronically cold.  Her metabolism is all cattywompus for a number of reasons, not the least of which is hemochromatosis, and I have a fuzzy blanket sitting out for her whenever she comes over to watch TV.

As she was pulling her fuzzy PINK robe out of the dryer and folding it up, I went and got this shawl and gave it to her, as it would match her fuzzy robe perfectly.   img_0002It is a truth universally acknowledged** . . . that there is nothing a knitter likes better than an excuse to knit something . . . so now I have an excellent excuse to knit another winter shawl.  I’ve already gotten the yarn.  I’m formulating a new pattern as I type . . . I’m going to call it “Malguri Morning.”

I’ve ordered the new light fixtures for the yard lights.  They should be here by next week.  Hopefully, sometime next week I can get light fixtures and electrician together and make yard lights happen.

*Many Long Years Ago
**Your literary allusion for the day.

Birds, Dogs and Thunderboomers

I called my landlady Wednesday night and she was very receptive to having the yard lights fixed.  She said the reason she hadn’t fixed them was that previous tenants hadn’t wanted them fixed owing to not wanting to have to pay the electricity bill on them.  Of course, with these newfangled modern LED light bubs* that use a fraction of the electricity that the old incandescent ones did, they don’t cost that much to run anymore. When you consider the safety factor and the crime deterrent factor, operating those yard lights is cheap at the price.  And LEDs not only last so much longer, they have come down so much in price that they are very affordable and extremely cost effective.

My landlady gave me some names.  One guy she had both names and both a land line and cell phone number for.  The other she just had a first name and a cell phone number for.  Guess which one I called.  I  asked him to come by and look at the lights and see if they were fixable.  About 10 minutes after I called him, it started sprinkling rain, and very shortly thereafter, it was bucketing down and thundering. All day long, the rain would slack off, stop, hitch up its drawers, and then start coming down hard and fast again. Needless to say, the electrician didn’t come by.

That afternoon, I had an appointment at the VA for my annual health check, and the street gutters over in that part of town were almost knee deep from the rain.   (I’m going to have to bring my binoculars next time I go to the VA and do a little free-hand bird-watching.  I have sighted at least one Athene cunicularia hypugaea hanging out in the prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colony that has taken over the vacant lots behind and beside the VA clinic building.)(!)

Today dawned mostly sunny, with scattered clouds.  I called the electrician again, and he stopped by to take a look.  I knew the fixtures were broken, but he was able to determine that there was power to the fixtures. The electric eye was also out.  He could rewire the old fixtures and make them work (at $69 an hour plus parts, thank you very much), but he said it would be more cost effective to get new fixtures.  We could buy the new fixtures and he’d put them in and replace the electric eye that turns them on at dusk and off at dawn, and the total cost to get them back on, including new fixtures and new electric eye, would be less than $200.

I did some fixture pricing and emailed the particulars to my landlady this afternoon.  I even offered to help her out by going to buy the lights myself if she’d let me take the cost of them off my rent.  (She is one of these women who finally retire from their busy, busy careers only to find that the peace and quiet of retirement drives them crazy.  Then they become “club” women and get involved in bridge clubs and luncheon clubs and music clubs and “seekrit” service clubs and such and are busy, busy, . . . . )  Haven’t heard back from her yet.  Busy, busy . . .

In the meantime, I need to back my car out of the garage and check out the garage door opener because no lights come on when the door opens or closes.  It may just be that the light bubs are burnt out and need to be replaced — if I can figure out how . . .

Oh, and mom got wind of a meeting being held by the lady who planned the trip to Savannah and Charleston that mom and I went on earlier this year.   She’s planning another “Spring Fling” for next year, and she’s talking New York City! . . .

This from Arlo and Janis made me laugh out loud.

©2016 Jimmy Johnson

And now for your delectation and amusement, a guy named Justin Johnson who can play a shovel if it has strings on it . . .


*Texan** for “bulb”
**It’s a whole ‘nother language.

Wolfgang, Foreigner, and the Police

No, I have not watched the debates. For health reasons. I find watching a certain Republican candidate thoroughly nauseating and hearing him natter on jacks my blood pressure up to unhealthy levels. I knew early on who I was voting for and why. Everything going on in the media now is just preaching to the choir, as far as I’m concerned.  When that man first crossed my radar 20 years ago, I took one look at that ridiculous comb-over and knew all I needed to know about the man.  Nothing I’ve seen or heard since has done anything but confirm my opinion.

That’s as political as I intend to get in this blog.  Along with apologies for bringing up the subject, I offer a little sip of  Wolfie to cleanse the palate and change the subject.

I’ve turned on one of the ladies in my knitting group to C. J. Cherryh‘s works, particularly the first three Chanur books in the omnibus edition — Ripping yarns all — and the first Foreigner book. I’m doing a companion reread to refresh my memory.  I’m already two books ahead of her . . .  Both sets of books play to Cherryh’s strengths of world building and compelling, well-rounded characters.  Some have suggested the term “anthropological science fiction” for her work.  Her writing is what I would call “meaty” — Not only does she give you the “flavor” that keeps you reading, but there’s substance to it.  There are always ideas and concepts for you to chew on.  Do you like sword and sorcery?  Try Cherryh’s Morgaine books.  Do you like “hard SciFi”?  Try Downbelow Station or Merchanter’s Luck.  The Faded Sun trilogy is another real rouser of a read.  She’s written close to 70 books in a wide variety of subgenres, so you’re spoiled for choice.  I will advise, however, not to start reading one of her books at 10 o’clock at night unless you don’t mind realizing all of a sudden that you’ve just turned the last page, look over at the clock and see it’s now 6 a.m.  Yep.  That good.

Speaking of books, I’m about to turn my “tween” 1C-2x* on to Steve Miller and Sharon Lee‘s book Fledgling. It h has so may things going for it that make it a perfect book for her — a female protagonist with agency, a matriarchy, teenage angst, some really interesting social issues, and Daav yos’Phelium, my personal favorite Liaden character. For those who want to try out the Liaden Universe risk-free, you can get this book from Baen, the publisher, as an ebook for free here, in a variety of formats for the ereader of your choice.

The duplex has a low brick wall along the eastern end of the property with two electric pole lights on it, neither of which work.  The area of the duplex in front of the garage is very dark.  The porch light doesn’t light it, and the few times mom has been here after dark, I’ve lighted her to her car with a flash light because I’m, understandably, very afraid of her falling.  If I could get the landlady to have those lights fixed — assuming they are fixable — that would improve matters greatly.  I have bought a solar “barn light” that would fit up over the garage door (being solar it wouldn’t need electrical wiring), but I would have to screw it onto the fascia of the house, and that would only light the area in front of the garage.  The two electrical lights on the brick wall would not only light that area, but shine between the house and the fence of the house next door. This area, which is currently very dark, has become rather concerning because of what happened early Saturday morning.

I was sitting at my computer catching up on my blog and webcomic reading.  It was about 2:30 in the morning.  I suddenly heard this loud bumping thump that sounded like something hitting the house.  It was loud enough that I could hear it over the music I was listening to on earbuds.  I heard it several times, along with talking and what sounded like either bad coughing or retching.  I was understandably concerned.  There was more thumping and bumping, and more coughing.  I called 911 (US equivalent of 999 or 112).  They said they’d send a squad car out.

I was watching by the front door and saw it’s lights when a squad car pull up into the driveway and peeked out the front door to see the officer come up.  I explained to him what I’d heard and he wanted to go look in the back yard and asked if the gate was unlocked.  I said yes.  But, as he got to the edge of the porch, he heard something on the other side of the neighbor’s fence.  He climbed up on the fence and shined a light over and there was somebody there.

The policeman got down and went around to the neighbor’s gate and went back there.  The house next door has a little patio along the side of the house right even with the end of my porch.  After a few minutes, his partner came looking for him and I told him where he was.

According to the partner, who came back to report, a man next door had gotten locked out of his house, and that everything was OK.  I don’t know if the guy locked himself out accidentally or somebody in the house locked him out accidentally or on purpose, or just what the deal was.  I don’t know what age the guy was, but he had a terrible, racking cough.

My mom came by Sunday evening to bring me left-over cookies from some reception one of her groups was hosting and I told her about what had happened.  We went out and looked in the area between the house and the neighbor’s fence.  I found another cigarette lighter (I had already found one beside one of the yard lights when I went to look at it to see if I could put a light in it and make it work, which I couldn’t).  That made two of those little disposable cigarette lighters I’d found out in the grass along the fence.  There were also some empty cans tied up in a plastic bag, as well as some shredded cans and, the most concerning, an iron bar about 2 feet long and about half an inch in diameter was lying up against the house.  It would have been perfect for knocking out the window in the office — the only window on that side of the house.  I brought the iron bar inside and put it in the garage.

Now I’ve got to call my landlady and persuade her to let me call an electrician to come look at those yard lights to see if they can be gotten to work.  I don’t know what shape the wiring’s in, but I do know that they are at least going to need new bulb sockets.  One light has a socket, but it’s not in good shape.  The other one doesn’t even have a socket.  If the wiring proves to be sound, it may be that all that needs to be done is to replace the sockets.


*first cousin twice removed.  I’ve got one who’s about to be a teenager, and one who just learned to walk.  Guess which one.

How Many Geeks Does It Take . . .

. . .To set up a flat screen TV?  Three apparently.  (A short, dark overweight one; A Val Kilmer wannabe, and a diminutive Asian-American one.  It was pretty classic.)  Two to do the carrying in and the installation of the legs to the bottom of the TV, and the setting it up on the sideboard, and (the Asian-American) one to fiddle with his smart phone for upwards of 20 minutes trying to get the TV to set itself up, connect to my WiFi, and then talk to TiVo.  Seems it was being a bit recalcitrant and kittenish and didn’t want to talk to TiVo.  When the second geek drew his smart phone and lept (figuratively speaking) into the affray, the poor TV capitulated, connected itself meekly to my WiFi feed, downloaded updates (insert obligatory technology joke here) and began conversing amicably with TiVo, whose screen it displayed with stunning color and clarity.   We are very high-tech now, and I can download the app and control the TV from my smart phone or tablet, — if I had either, which I don’t.  Therefore, the (sniff) low-tech Suddenlink remote was duly programmed.

The honor of the Geek Squad having been duly upheld, the Three Geek Circus folded itself into tenths like an Arab*, uploaded themselves to their Geek Squad van and hied them to their next install, leaving me the lion’s share of the day to enjoy my new acquisition! 2016_10_07-01The legs hold the edge of the TV just high enough off the sideboard for my TIVO box (dark grey on the right) to slip right underneath it, as well as my DVD player (silver on the left), with a space in between that is just wide enough for my digital clock.  There is great joy at the Wolery right now.  Mom has watched part of a Rangers baseball game, and I have been enjoying stuff I’ve recorded off TiVo.

The screen is BIG — 60 inches wide — I love it.  It’s like my private in-home theater.  The screen resolution is beautiful.  I have especially enjoyed watching the gorgeous scenery in the nature documentaries.  It has a special jack where I can plug in my cordless headphones, which I like as I can have crisp sound while keeping the volume turned way down — I guess I’m just so used to wearing headphones from 27 years worth of being a medical transcriptionist, but I do believe the sound quality is better through headphones.  Also, I can mute the TV, but still hear through the headphones so I can watch TV whenever without disturbing my duplex neighbor.

Shortly after I moved in, I had to get a cordless phone with five handsets because I need handsets in four rooms, but have to have the base unit sitting close to the TV because that’s where the cable is, thus a fifth.  The cable connects into a splitter that splits it into two:  One to connect to Tivo and one to connect to the phone modem which isolates the VOIP signal out of my cable feed for my phone service.  I have to put the base unit of the cordless phone next to the modem unless I want to string phone cord across the floor — which defeats the whole purpose of having a cordless phone in the first place  . . . Oh, and did I mention the fat(cat) has a tendency to chew cords?

Anyway, the TV is here and set up and watchable and all is happy campery chez nous in the TV department.

In the meantime, we’ve had some very concerning news from one of my cousins, EGG.  About seven years ago, her husband had a tussle with some kind of lymphoma — not sure what kind — and was apparently in remission until just recently.  After a bit of putzing about by their doctors, one finally ordered the right test, a CT scan, and found a 3.8 cm mass in the pelvic region.  For the nonmetric crowd, 3.8 cm is larger than a grape.  They are, as you might suspect, very concerned, especially in view of his history.  A core biopsy was ordered and performed, and we are awaiting results. This cousin is my dad’s younger brother’s girl.  As her father is deceased, she had asked my dad to give her away at her wedding.

In the amazing and gratifying events column is this. Several authors, including Neil Gaiman, somehow got wind of it and boosted their signal, and they got so many books, they had enough to share with other places.  So, Yay!

In the Wheel of the Year category, we’ve had a little cold snap (temps down into the 60’s/40’s F (15+/7+ C — We’re at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco, here.  It’s cold when you compare it to our usual temps!) and I’ve made my first pot of (Moroccan Mint, oddly enough) tea.  We’re supposed to be back up in the 80’s F (26+ C) by next week.  There’s been talk we’re in for a tough, cold winter, though.  I’m prepared.  I have gas heat now.

Today’s earworm is brought to you by the inimitable Elton John.  Buh-buh-buh-Bennie and the Jetssssssssss.

I started singing the chorus, and the fat(cat)boy went and hid.  It took me a minute to realize he thought I was hissing at him.  Poor little guy.  He was up on the footrest of my recliner a while ago, snuggled between my knees.  Like I said, we’ve had a little cold snap.


*Literary allusion. See last verse.

Hurry Wednesday!

One of the places I had to go Friday was the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the address changed on my driver’s license.  The DMV used to be way up at the north end of town, but they moved.  Now they’re way norther of where they were.  They’re practically next door to the airport– way the heck out past the loop in the inutterable boonies.   In retrospect, I should have hired a native guide and packed a lunch. . . .  What was I thinking going to a governmental agency without knitting?

I also had to make a stop at a local office supply place to get some bulldog clips (not to be confused with binder clips, which is a horse of a completely different color . . .).  The idea is to get two bulldog clips and screw one side of each to the inside of my under-sink cabinet door.  This gives me a way to hang my rubber gloves by the cuff so they hang open and air out inside.  (Binder clips won’t work, as there’s obviously no way to screw one side to the cabinet door.)  You have to predrill, then screw the screw in with a screwdriver which you pass through both holes on the clip.  It’s tricky, but perfect once you get them up.

Then I ended up at mom’s and we went to Best Buy and found a really good buy on a Vizio 60-inch flat screen.  For an extra $100, they deliver it and hook it up to your cable and internet and everything — yes, please! So I had the old TV picked up on Thursday.  The earliest the new one could have been delivered was Tuesday, but I’ve got stuff to do at the VA on Tuesday including a podiatry appointment I’ve waited two months for, and will be out of pocket most of the day.  The next earliest time is Wednesday, and I will be at home all day that day, trying to contain my excitement . . .

In the meantime, I’ve written a hat pattern that matches JT’s Cabled Man Cowl which was easier than I thought it would be, and turned out rather well, if I say so myself.  I’m calling it “JT’s Cabled Cap.” I’m still proofing the pattern, but I’ll put it up on my knitting blog when I’ve got the stitch count correct on the decrease.  2016_10_03-01