Hot again today and the humidity is up (47%). I woke up at 6:30 this morning and after lying there for about an hour trying to go back to sleep, I decided I would finish the book I was just about finished reading and read a chapter or two in the next book in the pile, and that would get me to 9 o’clock and time to get up.  I had a bunch of errands to run and I wanted to get all my errands done in the morning before it got hot.  Well, I finished the one book, and started in on the next one, The next thing I know, I’ve turned the last page; I look over at the clock and it’s after 2 p.m.  YAH! Up I jump, dash into the shower, throw on a t-shirt and blue jeans and go pelting out the door.

The first place on my list was the Amazon store which is way the heck over on the other side of town by the University where I dropped off an item that Amazon sent me (and charged me for) two of, and I only ordered one of.  (If you take it to their store front, you get free return shipping).

Then I went to Petsmart to get cat food and kitty treats and to Michael’s to get some more Red Heart Unforgettable yarn for chemo hats (a friend gave me a “40% off of one item” coupon, so I got one of the $5.99 skeins of yarn for $3.60!).  Then I swooped round to this health & nutrition store for my monthly supply of NAC, zip round to Walmart, pausing to fill up my car at their onsite gas station before parking over on the side where the grocery portion is, did my shopping, schlepped the groceries into the house and put them up — and realized I’d forgotten to get Rollos which I’ll have to pick up after knitting tomorrow! Then I schlepped the garbage up the alley to the dumpster.

Then I hefted a basket load of clothes from the hamper in the bedroom to the utility room and got a load of wash started — and dropped the cover for the laundry soap container behind the washer and had to put a piece of clear packing tape sticky-side-out on the end of a broom handle to fish it out. I could have used the suction of the tank vacuum’s hose to grab it and pull it out, but I’d have had to go get it from the office closet, carry it to the utility room, hunt up a plug socket and plug it in, and then cart it back to the office. . . .and the broom was right outside in the garage and there was tape in the kitchen drawer and it worked just as well.  I have used the vacuum to get socks and unmentionables dropped behind the washer, but I bet tape on the broom handle would worked for that, too.

Anyway, by then I was not only hot and sweaty, but also bushed (2) so I booted up the computer and put my yoga music playlist on, reared back in the recliner and had a dose of that most sovereign of remedies, juice (apple, mixed 1:3 with Earl Grey cold) and cookies, and worked one of my puzzles and relaxed.

Tomorrow, I’ve got to wash a load of sheets and towels and change my bed before I go to knitting group. Busy, busy.

In the knitting news, I made this Coriolis chemo hat with the left over yarn from

making this hat.

You get a lot of yardage with the Unforgettable yarn.

So Far, Still OK

Monday, mom and I went out to the cemetery where my dad is buried.  The cemetery people had put out little flags by the headstones of all the veterans, and all those who had vases attached to their headstones had fresh artificial flowers.

In this cemetery, all the headstones have to be flat and flush with the ground. If you buy a plot there, you have to agree to that condition.  You can opt for a brass vase that mounts onto the headstone and is removable, but you are not allowed to have any kind of a marker that sticks up.  This is so they don’t present any obstacles to the big riding mowers they use to keep the grass cut.  The cemetery is owned by the funeral home which has facilities including a chapel and viewing rooms on site.

My mom brought her whisk broom, a pitcher of water (which fell over and spilled in the car) and paper towels, because last time dad’s marker “had stuff on it.”  I suspect that the mowers they use suck up and bag all the clippings.   Mom was also perturbed that the grass “still” hadn’t covered the grave, but his grave is shaded by cedars on one side, and a large tree on the other.  Bermuda grass doesn’t grow that well in the shade, mom.

Later we went to IHOP and had our usual.  I still have to eat carefully and be sure I only chew on the right side in order to protect the membrane over the bone graft where I had the tooth out. Anyhow, it was quite tasty.  Owing to the amount of acetaminophen (325 mg) and ibuprofen (600 mg) I was taking four times a day up until Monday night, it was important to have food on my stomach when I took my next dose.  I’ve been pretty much pain free (touch wood) though, which is a great blessing.  Probably because the teeth on either side of the one that was extracted are also root canals of long standing.  All my jaw teeth are.  I’ve got more root canals than I have live teeth.

I had a dentist appointment this morning to check on my tooth extraction site and the bone graft.  When I got in the car to go, my eyes fell on the odometer, which read “8888.”  At first I thought there was something wrong with the display, but nope.  Actual mileage.  What are the odds?  Anyway, it reads 8913 now, after going to my dental appointment and back, and to knitting group and back.

Tomorrow, mom is picking me up and we are treating ourselves to a pedicure.  This is a really nice place we go to.  Not only do they trim your nails properly and attend to your cuticles, but they remove callus and rough skin from your feet, do an exfoliation of your lower leg, and then massage this wonderful lotion in.  It’s heavenly. They will also paint your toenails with the color of your choice, if you so desire, but we skip the polish. My mom keeps polish on her fingernails, but I haven’t used polish of any kind in forever.

I found this neat map the other day that gives you an idea about latitudes and what’s where.  It’s a map of the US and Canada superimposed over a map of Europe showing what parts of each country are at the same latitude.  You’ll notice that the bottom of the US is at the same latitude as North Africa, and that Britain and most of Europe are at the same latitude as Canada.  In fact most of Britain is farther north than Newfoundland, Quebec and Ontario.  And, but for the grace of the Gulf Stream, the norther two-thirds of Europe would have a much colder climate than it does because it actually is quite far north.

Balanced Between Winter and Spring

Today is the Vernal Equinox (Ostara — from whence the word “Easter” comes), one of the two times of the year when night and day are of equal (equi-) length.  The Equinoxes (the Autumnal Equinox, Mabon, on 23 September is the other one) and the Solstices (Yule, the Winter Solstice, is the day with the longest night, and Litha, the Summer Solstice, is the day with the shortest night) mark the quarters of the year, and are determined by astronomical means.  In the old agricultural calendar, the “Quarters” were offset by the four “Crosses:” 2 February (Imbolc, when lambing begins) which is midway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox; 1 May (Beltane) which is midway between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice; 1 August (Lughnasadh, which is midway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal equinox, and is the Feast of Bread, grain being the first of the year’s crops to be harvested), and 31 October (Samhain, the Feast of Flesh, which is the third harvest, when those animals which would not be overwintered are slaughtered), which is halfway between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice.

I think we skipped spring this year.  Sunday’s high was 91F (32.7C) and today’s was 92F (33.3C).  Needless to say, yesterday, when I looked up at my little clock that rides my computer and saw the reason I was hot was because it was 80F (26.6C) in my office (second bedroom), I got up and turned on the AC.  (Current indoor temp is in the lower right-hand corner) It’s supposed to be cooler toward the later part of the week, with highs back down into the high 70’s F (25+C) but they’ve promised thunderstorms for the region.  Unfortunately, doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any, with a 10% chance on Wednesday and a 20% chance on Thursday.  I’ll be doing some yard watering, looks like.  I usually water in the late evening/early morning, depending on how dislocated my sleep-wake cycle is.

I’ll be changing the bed over tonight from winter linens and comforter to summer linens and quilt.  I’ll be doing at least two loads of wash as well.  I think next week I’ll be getting some plants for the front bed.  I want three of those constantly blooming little rose bushes.

I finished the white hat, and I don’t like how it turned out.  Too small, for one thing, and too pointed for the other.  Modified the pattern and have started again. This is the one I need to make two of.

I’ve gotten a goodly way along on a second hat (below) in green for my friend JT and tomorrow night when I shop groceries, I’m going to see if I can scare up some SPF 45 sunscreen and a gift sack.  A couple of hats in cotton yarn will round out the going away gift. I figure five hats in five days?  I’ll give it the college try anywho.  I’ll finish the green one tonight and start on another.

Friday night, mom decided to cook roast and all the fixin’s — which is to say, she cooked raw carrots and onions in with the roast. Since it’s just her now, she asked me over to help her eat it.  We had mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberry sauce.  It was totally yummy.  Then we watched some of the Aerial America programs on the Smithsonian Channel and visited.  When I got in my car to go home and started it up, I noticed that my odometer read 8600. I’ve had it 2 years and 4 months now.  (Even though it’s a 2015, I got it in November of 2014.) I figured it just now, and I’m averaging just over 307 miles a month.

WOL Did It In The Library With A Knitting Needle

A knitting needle is not among the choice of murder weapons available in the game of Clue, but then, we did do it in the Library tonight — our knitting group routinely meets in the meeting room in a branch of our local city library.  Only tonight, there was a sign on the door of the room we usually meet in that read:

“Knitters are meeting in juvenile fiction tonight.”

Since we do not pay to use the room, we get bumped when there are paying customers.  Not sure who it was who bumped us tonight, but when that happens we meet in the library proper (in the juvenile fiction section, oddly enough).  Tonight, we had three regulars, a second-timer, a newbie, eight Brownies and four troop leaders. The Brownies (Girl Scouts in the making) were about 7 or 8 years old.  They had decided they were going to learn to knit and/or crochet. Let’s just say some of them were more motivated than others. One of our regulars is a southpaw, so it fell to the other two of us to instruct — and the other lady had sprained her right thumb rather badly and had a ginormous brace on it.  Since I’m a switch hitter and can both knit and crochet, I got the lion’s share of the teaching duty.

In other news, my sink disposal unit was acting up the other day.  In my experience the first stage of troubleshooting such problems is:  When you flip the switch, does nothing happen or does it buzz at you?  If you flip the switch and nothing happened, then you find the reset button on the bottom of the unit and press it.  If that doesn’t work, it’s broke and needs to be fixed/replaced.  If it just buzzes at you, that means it’s “bound down” and you need to take a special Allen wrench that is provided by the manufacturer and loosen a hex nut on the underside of the unit.  Typically, when a plumber installs a disposal, the Allen wrench that comes with it ends up in the plumber’s toolbox. . .

Because of all the plumbing issues I had in the apartment, I got to know the main handymen, and they got to know that I was a Toolbelt Diva.  About the second time my disposal “bound down” and one of them had to come over to loosen the nut back up, they just gave me the Allen wrench and showed me where the nut was.  The Allen wrench went into my tool box . . . where it still was the other day when the disposal here got “bound down.”  A small matter of popping out to my toolbox in the garage, getting the wrench and loosening the nut.  Took five minutes, max, and beats the heck out of paying a plumber $60 or $70 bucks to come out and do it.

When I came back from getting my biopsy Friday, my “check tires” light was lit on my car.  I couldn’t see that any of the tires was visibly low, but I just knew when I went out Saturday to check again, I’d have a flat tire.  Nope.  When I checked Saturday, I still couldn’t tell that any of the tires were low on air.  Before I went to knitting group, I went to mom’s to help her put Christmas decorations back up in the attic and to change out a light bulb for her in this one fixture she has a hard time getting the cover off of.  When I set off for her house, the “check tire” light was still lit.  Unfortunately, I do not have a tire pressure gauge (I should probably get one) and it was too late in the afternoon to make it to the oil change place (where they also check tires) before they closed. I was thinking I’d need to make a trip out Wednesday to get that seen to, but when I got into my car at my mom’s house to go to knitting group, the tire pressure light did not light up.  Don’t know why.  It’s mysterious.

Hunkered Down

It was a fine needle biopsy, of just the one lymph node, and no big deal.  I am minus two tiny snibbits of tissue and got a yellow left armpit from the betadine scrub and a Band-Aid out of the deal. To be truthful, the stick from the local anesthesia injection was the worst bit and it was no worse than a flu shot.

T2017_01_06-01he weather was uncooperative.  We got our snow in the morning, such as there was of it, but the roads were pretty clear and not icy to speak of and at least the drivers I encountered were driving in a safe and sane manner.  Usually, snow means Demolition Derby Day in these parts, and I suspect that the worst drivers are the ones that attend our local university — and classes don’t start for another two weeks.

2017_01_06-02Did not get my “man cowl” finished in time to wear, but I had another one I could use — and did — and was, oh, so grateful for it.  The temperature was in the teens, but the wind (10-15 mph/16-24 kph) chill factor vacillated between 6 F (-14.4 C) and 0 F (-17.7 C).  I know there are large parts of the country who would be delighted to trade us for our current weather, but I remind them, we don’t get this kind of weather often, and when we do, we simply do not have the infrastructure in place to cope with it.  The people here don’t know how to deal with it, drive in it or dress for it — assuming they even have appropriate clothing available.  Fortunately, I have lived in more northerly climes and I know how to layer.  I had my cowl  to pull up over my nose and the hood of my nice warm coat between my ears, nose and the wind-chill, unlike the other two people who joined me in the waiting room.  The older woman at least had a hat, a long wool coat and a scarf, but the twenty-something girl had on a short jean jacket and didn’t even have a hat.

I was so very fortunate to find a parking space in the back row of the closest lot to the entrance, so I only had to hike about 60 yards to get inside the building.  The footing was pretty stable — the snow had not had time to compact or freeze and I was wearing my “running shoes”/trainers so had good traction.  They had already sanded the walkway by the time I got there.  I had to hike three times as far inside the building to get to where I needed to go.  Because I didn’t take a book or knitting, I had to wait almost 45 minutes before they came and got me.  Still, it didn’t take long to do the deed, and I was out of there and driving off by noon.

I did go out of my way to go to another store than the one I’d planned to go to, but it was a bigger store and had a bigger selection of tea, increasing my chances of finding what I wanted — which I did.  And it really wasn’t all that far out of my way.

Beetil (my 2015 Toyota Corolla) has an anti-skid braking system which I hadn’t had cause to use before, so I was a bit surprised when it kicked in the first time.  Of course, I quickly realized what had happened and adjusted my driving accordingly.  Newton’s laws are called “laws” for a reason. . .  Break one and you will be punished, summarily and immediately.

I got home right at 12:30 with my two boxes of Tazo Chai.  Knowing my mom, I checked my land line —  to see I had a message from my mom who had called at 12:27 — so I called her to let her know that I was home safely and hardly the worse for wear.  I puttered for a few minutes, then did the sensible thing.  I went to bed.  I had a good long snooze on my freshly washed (and warm) bed linens.  At about 6 pm, I got up and made a sandwich with toast and little bites of chicken nestled in between melted slices of cheddar cheese.  Nums! Then I lay in the bed and read for a while (stopped at page 429 of a 1178-page whopper — actually three books in one volume), had another little nap, and finally got up at 11 p.m.

It’s 11 F (-11.6 C) at the moment, but Saturday’s high is forecast to be 40 F (4.44 C), so whatever snow (I doubt we even got an inch all told) is left will be gone by Saturday evening.

Passing this along to show what “thunderstorm” means out here in the flatlands.  This is what our infrastructure is designed to cope with.

New Beginnings

A new year.  New proj2017_01_05-01ects.  New challenges.  I began the second Malguri Morning shawl on the agenda in the same Loops & Threads Charisma but in the color “Northern Lights.”  I’ve got enough yarn in that color to make a third shawl (for myself) in the same pattern.  I like the blues/purple/black color combination.  Not my favorite green, though.  Those are my new US10(6.00 mm) 32-inch ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles I’m using to knit it, which I really like.  I’ve got a US10 (6.00 mm) 40-inch pair of them which are supposed to be here by tomorrow evening.  I think I will be gradually acquiring more of these needles in different sizes to replace 2017_01_04-01my bamboo needles. I like the way the ChiaoGoo’s feel and the way they handle.  The cord between the needles does not kink or !sproing! like the nylon cord does, even when it’s cold.

I made a very obvious mistake on the first Malguri Morning shawl owing to not paying attention to what was supposed to happen at the end of a row, didn’t catch it for about three inches and had to fix it.  Ripping out and reknitting about 8 rows of what eventually ends up being fifteen or so stitches on one edge beats ripping out eight rows of the whole thing, but it’s tricky because of the increases that happen every other row with this pattern. But I got it fixed. I need to put some stitch markers on it at each end to mark the right side, as a visual cue to remind me what happens when.  I put some on the one I just started and that has helped a great deal.  This one is “resting” now while I work on the other one a while.   The yarn on both these shawls is what is called “self striping” and I like the color combinations.  The Loops & Threads Charisma yarn has such a soft, snuggly “hand.”

2017_01_05-02I had yarn left over from knitting DK’s Christmas cowl, one of which is a medium:4 weight Caron Simply 2017_01_05-03Soft black yarn which I “double stranded” together with the Lion Brand Homespun “Shaker” which is a bulky:5 weight.  I like the color combination — ecru, tan brown, and light grey, with the strand of solid black —  and I like that the Caron yarn “fills in the chinks” in the Homespun yarn. I’m making a plain, simple “man cowl” (nothing but k1, p1 ribbing) for myself out of it.    I’m going to try to get it finished tonight, because I’m going to need it in the morning as the forecast is for 1-2 inches of snow tomorrow afternoon.  Naturally, I have to get out in it.

It seems that not only did I flunk my mammogram, I’ve flunked my ultrasound as well and they want to do a biopsy of the lymph nodes in my armpit.  (Not borrowing trouble by worrying what this may reveal.  The time to worry is when you have something to worry about.) I am assuming it will only be on the left side, but it’s at 10 o’clock tomorrow and I’m driving myself.  I called to see what was going to be involved and I don’t have to be fasting or anything as it’s going to be under local anesthesia.  Now that I have Beetil, who has an automatic transmission, driving one handed will not be a problem.  I drive a block and a half up my street to a traffic lighted intersection, turn onto a “main drag,” which takes me all the way across town.  I turn off that street at another traffic lighted intersection to the street which goes in front of the hospital.  From there, it’s just a question of maneuvering through the parking lots and a short hike to the hospital itself.  Pretty much a straight shot there and back.

I am going to have to make a stop on my way home to get a couple of boxes of Tazo Chai, as I have 80% of an open bottle of the crème brûlée flavor coffee creamer but only two bags of Tazo Chai left and no Earl Grey. I’ve got enough Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast tea to last til I buy groceries again, but I need to use up the coffee creamer as it has been opened.  The grocery store is on the main drag and won’t be a problem getting in and out of.  Once I get done at the hospital, get my tea and get back home, I’m not stirring outside until next week. Me and the fat(cat)boy are going to hunker down, wrap up and stay warm.

We’re in for a really cold spell during the next couple of days.  As I mentioned, we’re expecting snow tomorrow, as much as 1-2 inches possible.  Tonight’s low 13 F (-10.5 C) and tomorrow’s high is only going to be 23 F (-5 C), but they’re talking wind chill of 6 F (-14 C) so I need to check the pockets of my heavy coat for gloves.  If there’s not a pair already there, I know where I have another pair.  By Tuesday, though, it’ll be back up in the 70’s F (21+ C) for daytime highs and not get below freezing at night all the rest of the week.  Only thing on the calendar for next week is knitting group Tuesday night.  I’ll see how I feel.

I’ve gotten the wash out of the dryer and have hung up what needs to be hung before it wrinkles.  Now I’ve got to take my shower and wash my hair.  Then I’ll strip my bed and start a load of sheets, towels and the clothes I’m wearing.  Then when the second load of laundry is done, I’ll make my bed with clean sheets, and I’ll have my laundry all done.  It’ll take my hair hours to dry, and I can sit and knit while that’s happening.

I slept most of the day (I try to fight my body’s natural tendency toward keeping a “night owl” schedule, but it’s an uphill fight.), so the night is still young.  I’ve noticed I don’t wake up so often during sleep now that I have that new “side-sleeper” pillow — I’ve gone from waking up every couple of hours to sleeping five and six hours at a stretch before I surface to snorkel, drowse, decide if I need to get up or not, see how close it is to 9 a.m. and decide if there’s enough time to resubmerge into sleep or whether I’ll just lie there and read for a while till the alarm goes off.

Anticipating I won’t get much done tomorrow once I get home.  I may read, or watch some TV, or I may just crash out and try to sleep.  Don’t know that I’ll get much knitting done.  We’ll see.


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.

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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!


Two Down, Six to Go

Two item scratched off the to-do list. Six items left:

  • Two big kitchen boxes left to unpack.
  • Two last kitchen cabinets and a drawer still to clean.
  • Kitchen floor to clean.
  • “Guest” bathroom to clean, including cleaning cabinets and drawers, and washing walls (a two-day job most likely).
  • Finish hanging pictures.
  • Finish sorting and arranging objets d’art in the various shelves and cabinets.

2016_09_05-05All the dishes have now been through the dishwasher and have been put up in the cupboards.   All the teapot lids were found  and all the wrapping paper and boxes have been taken to the dumpsters.  I can actually see my kitchen table now.

Of course, I wanted to do this in stages because I knew there would be a lot of packing paper and 28 boxes which, even with the boxes collapsed, take up a lot of room in a dumpster, which was why I wanted to do it in stages in the first place, but, no, somebody was not going to be happy unless it was all done at once and over with.  As I knew would be the case, when I started taking stuff to the dumpster Monday morning, all three of the alley’s dumpsters were full or nearly so.  I did manage to squeeze in ten of the trash bags full of paper, but four trash bags of paper, and all the boxes had to be left on the back “patio” until they emptied the dumpsters on Tuesday.  Naturally, it rained Monday night, and I had to let the boxes dry out Tuesday before I could finally put them into the dumpster on Wednesday.  But all that’s done now.

Other side
Door side

In the office, the old curtain rod and tatty old drapes have been taken down, and a better rod and new drapes hung. The bifold doors on the office closet were proving problematic for the fact that at least one of them had to stay open all the time so the fat(cat)boy could get to his poop box.  That made the folded door stick out and get in the way.  The office is crowded enough what with 5 bookcases and a shelving unit, and having the one bifold closet door open all the time and sticking out wasn’t working.  The closet doors have now come down (not without a fight), have been put in the storeroom and replaced with drapes.  This arrangement works much better.  There’s a small gap at one end where the fat(cat)boy can slip through and get to his poop box, whilst the rest of the closet contents are safely behind closed drapes AND the closet drapes are an exact match for the window drapes.

After I got my first electricity bill (August’s), and it was $157 (yikes!), I had the HVAC guy out.  The unit ran almost constantly.  He discovered it was low on “cool juice” and he topped it up. I mentioned that I had discovered that the blower had been set to run all the time at one point until I turned it off, and that I thought this was part of the reason my electricity bill was high.

However, the HVAC guy said you should leave the “blower” part of the unit on all the time “to circulate the air” or else leave the ceiling fans on all the time (which I already do), and that the newest HVAC units are set to do that.  This keeps the air moving and prevents “temperature stratification” (the hot air rising to the ceiling and the cooler air sinking to the floor).

I have kept my ceiling fans on all the time for years now, having intuited this idea on my own.  Running the ceiling fans is much cheaper than running the HVAC “blower” all the time, energy-wise.  Important to this idea, however, is to reverse the direction of the ceiling fans when you switch over from cool to hot. (That’s why ceiling fans come with directional switches — DUH!).  When you have the AC on, the ceiling fans should spin in the direction that pulls cool air up from the floor and pushes the hot air along the ceiling and down the walls.  When the heater is on, the ceiling fans should be set to blow the hot air down from the ceiling and pull the cool air up the walls.  The take-away mnemonic is:  Ceiling fans should suck in the summer and blow in the winter.







2016_08_13-05In the living room, my accent colors are yellow (sunflowers) and oxblood red, which works nicely against the dark wood paneling.  (Yes, we are stuck in the ’70’s.) I took the green vase I had on the mantel (see right) and put it on the refrigerator.  I like it much better there.

2016_08_13-06Part of the problem with the living room is that entertainment armoire and the honking great TV in it, which I want gone yesterday and replaced with the sideboard and a flat screen TV.  I’ve got to decorate that wall as if the armoire wasn’t there and the sideboard was in its place, which makes final picture placement problematic.

2016_09_08-03The clock is probably not going to stay just there.  I just put it there because I needed to hang it somewhere and there was a nail already there.  The pair of lamps are going into the storeroom.  I won’t be able to have a lamp on the sideboard once there’s a flat screen TV there.  I have an odd lamp which is left over from a pair I had in my bedroom until one got broken.  It will go on the dresser under the window.

2016_09_05-07I still haven’t found anybody to replace the bedroom door with an el cheapo door I can put a cat flap in.  The temporary solution was to fold a blanket into a strip about six inches wide, drape it over the edge of the door to block the light and hold the door about 4 inches ajar, just wide enough for the fat(cat)boy to slip through, and put a door stop behind the door so it couldn’t open any farther.

I’ve come up with an interim solution that works pretty well.  I happened to still have a red velvet drapery panel (which plays into the color scheme  in the living room, BTW) that I got for a Christmas table runner back when I lived in the other duplex (2001-2014).  I almost got rid of it when I moved to the apartment, but thankfully I didn’t, as it’s exactly what I needed.  I now have it hung over the bedroom doorway on one of the tension rods I was using for kitchen curtains at the apartment.

I hung it Tuesday and Tuesday night, I left the bedroom door ajar with a door stop behind it. That’s not a perfect solution, as it turns out, because there’s no longer anything to prevent the AC from blowing the door closed to the point that the fat(cat)boy can’t get it open to get out.  He woke me up early this morning to tell me about it.  I think I know how to both solve that problem and eliminate the need for the doorstop if I can get hold of a sturdy cardboard tube or 6-inch piece of, say, wood molding or 1×1 and some cording.

I sat down to write this blog post yesterday, and the fluorescent bulb in my desk lamp went out.  I was able to track down a replacement (That’ll be $8, thank you very much) so I had to go get one.  When I had pulled the car back into the garage and turned the key off, I glanced down at my odometer and it read “6000.”  The Silver Beetil will be two years old on 21 November, and that odometer reading includes two trips to Pearland (roughly 2200 miles), two trips to Amarillo (about 400 miles), and a trip to Capitan, NM (around 490 miles).  I’m pretty much of a home body.  Don’t go out much, and that’s how I like it.  (I’m the one who had a 27-year-old Toyota Crayola with only 58,000 actual miles on it, remember?)

2016_09_08-04In the knitting news, I lack about 3 rows to finish the first WOL’s Owl Cowl.  I’m making two sets of the cowl and matching hat; one for KL, my first cousin once removed and one for her daughter, SL.  They are the daughter and granddaughter of my cousin who lives in Capitan, NM. These hats and cowls use bulky yarn and knit up fast.  I still need to get a bunch of little white buttons (64, in fact) for the owls’ eyes.  I also want to work up a pattern for fingerless gloves that has an owl on the back of the hand to match the cowl and hat.  That will complete the set.  I’m also working on a man cowl (and writing a pattern for it as I go) which will have braided cables.  I’m doing it for JT, my long-time friend.

Moving Along with Moving In

My mom has been about to come unglued because I still don’t have my dishes put up.  She’s been going on and on about it.  She assures me she would have done it within the first week, but then she hasn’t had a closeup look at the state this kitchen was in, nor does she appreciate how much cleaning had to be done to get the cabinets in a fit state to store things I’m going to be eating food off of. I’m talking about layers and layers of grime, drips and splashes. Even though I’ve been wearing a face mask, eventually, the smell of the cleaning products gets to me — that and my arms give out on me and I have to stop for a day or two.

Part of it is that my mom has a very low “critical mess” threshold (unlike me!).  She not only wants her things neat; she wants everybody else’s things neat. If somebody on her block doesn’t keep up their house or yard the way she things they ought, it just drives her up a wall.  She likes everything picked up, cleaned up and put away all the time.  My dad used to say that if you didn’t catch the newspaper on the first bounce, it would be in the garbage before you got a chance to read it.

I have been making slow but steady progress on the kitchen.  I still have some lower corner cabinets to clean, but I’ve put the shelf liner in the ones where dishes and glasses will go and I started unpacking  boxes yesterday.  Got 20 unpacked, and have 8 left, plus two bigger boxes that I know are pots and pans.  I would have done it in stages — dishes, china cabinet, whatnot cabinet, etc., but the packer did not label the boxes and everything is all jumbled together.  However, no dishes are going into the cabinets until they’ve been through the dishwasher, and that’s a rather lengthy process, which is proving to be a bottleneck.

2016_09_03-022016_09_03-03I now have ten bags of packing paper and a stack of boxes in my back bedroom ready to go out to the alley.  (The back door is in the bedroom, and it’s a sliding glass door. . .) They would have gone out yesterday but I was determined to get four more boxes unpacked, and it was good and dark by the time I got it done.  I’m probably not going to start taking the stuff out to the dumpster until I get all the boxes unpacked.  (There’s two teapots I haven’t found lids for yet.)

I started another load in the dish washer a while ago (third load), but all this stuff on the table has yet to be washed. I was going to put the glass shelves in my china cabinet through the dish washer and get them nice and clean, but the dishwasher takes so long and I’m tired of hearing about it, so I just cleaned them with glass cleaner so I can put stuff away and to heck with it.

I have a lot of vases and knickknacks, and I’m just putting them in places until I get everything unpacked so I can sort through them and decide what I want to go where.

2016_08_27-02The two main tasks I still have left to do are to clean the kitchen floor (on my hands and knees with a scrub brush and rag — it’s just ghastly!) and I have yet to tackle the “company” bathroom (that’s probably a two-day job in itself).  I’ve got some mats that will go down on the kitchen floor — the pattern on the vinyl flooring in the kitchen is so ’70’s and so busy!  I’ve still got caulking to do in the en suite shower, but otherwise, all I have left is hanging pictures, hanging some drapes in the “office” (my books and CDs are all shelved) and deciding which “objets d’art” I want to put where.

Friday morning, I got the 20,000 mile (or two years) service on my car. I noted as I pulled into the garage later, that I’m about 21 miles away from 6000.  Friday evening, I had dinner at my mom’s, but our good friend CK brought the food.  Her husband is staying on their “ranch” near Llano, where they have a house, but she has some health problems that require close monitoring, so she’s been staying at their house here.  She had been hungry for this particular casserole she makes, so she volunteered to bring the food if my mom would provide the accoutrements and beverage.  It was very tasty, and involved noodles, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese.

I’ve been listening to the Illinois Street Lounge channel of SomaFM on my internet radio while I’ve been cleaning and unpacking.  They play “lounge music” from the ’50’s and early ’60’s, back when the cha-cha-cha was all the rage.  This song is on their playlist.  I’ve always been partial to both Cole Porter and Peggy Lee.  it’s from the musical “Kiss Me Kate.”  I’ll leave you with it . . .