Thursday, December 31, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!

WOW!!! The last time we attended a real live Air Force football game was when Travis was a cadet at the Air Force Academy (AFA)!!! He graduated in 2001, has been through pilot training, F-16 training, weapons training, survival training and multiple other kinds of training since then!! He's been to Iraq and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and Germany and he'll soon be on his way to Italy!!! A lot of water under the old bridge!!!

Anyway, this year, Air Force was in the Armed Forces Bowl, and they played at TCU Stadium!! The 'T' is, of course: TEXAS!! We were only a 2 hour drive away, so Travis gave us tickets for Christmas!! He couldn't be there, so he sent us to take pictures and cheer for him!!! And WE HAD A GREAT TIME!! We bought some long johns and bundled up in our AF clothes to buck the 42-46 degrees we anticipated. By the time we parked, walked to the stadium and found our seats, it was kick-off time!!! The officials came out on the field... the coin was tossed, and AF received:
Our seats were at about the 16 yard line, and we sat behind the Cadet Drum and Bugle Corps (below, left). For the AF, the game got off to a great start ... TWO TDs (unanswered) in the first quarter, and we could see the TV broadcast on the scoreboard (below, right). (for detail, click on any small pictures to enlarge)

Houston was obviously off their game... here we are giving them another opportunity to score:
Then at half time these 4 groups marched onto the field to take their oath of office for the USAF, USN, US Army, and the Marines - new recruits!! You can also see the University of Houston Band at the ready in their bright red uniforms.

Then a VERY nice half-time show featuring 3 bands: Houston (red), AFA Drum & Bugle Corps (blue) and the Army Drum & Bugle Corps from Fort Hood (camo & behind the AF)... Shown on the right are the Houston majorettes ... performing in very brief uniforms!!! BRRRRRRRRR!! (click to enlarge):

Immediately after the game, the AF team assembled directly below us and sang the school song and cheered. (below, left) The final score appeared on the marquis (below right). Note the position of the flag compared to the picture in the first quarter!!! We had a bit more breeze in the second half.

All in all, it was a great game, reminiscent of Parent Weekends past!!! A GREAT Christmas present, Travis and Pam.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dreamin' of a White Christmas

In OLNEY, TEXAS???? I'm wondering WHEN the folks around here last had a white Christmas! Last year I don't remember a single snowfall! I remember a couple the year before, but not for Christmas!! I had a feeling we might see snow for Christmas. Late evening on the 23rd I heard some pretty good rain, and figured it could turn to snow during the night. We woke up to snow falling and a heavy dusting ...

As the day went on, we had horrendous winds and swirling snow.... and then the power went out. Many of my planned activities were put on hold .... like baking cookies, homemade rolls and bread, doing laundry, vacuuming! So we worked on other projects. The temperature outside fell into the 20s and Mike dusted off the kerosene heater in the garage to keep the house temperature comfortable. My 'in and out' kitties (2 little calicos) enjoyed the day sleeping inside. I brought a nice wool blanket out for the corner of the porch and Sam and the other kitties were safe out of the worst of the snow and wind. They all huddled together. It finally eased up around 4, but we still had no power. But it allowed for some nice pictures:

Left is the Live Oak off the front porch, laden with snow. Right are the doors on the side porch outside of our bedroom, blasted with wind and snow. (click to enlarge either picture)

Left is a view of the side yard (click to enlarge) with large drifts. Right is Mike shaking the snow off the laden branches of the Live Oak. Mike cleared the car windows in anticipation of attending the Christmas Eve service at church, but we couldn't get out of the driveway.

As you can see, we were set up for a beautiful white Christmas which paralleled the famous
"Twas the Night Before Christmas when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" (with 8 cats outside and 3 in the house, I guarantee NO MICE!!!)
This beautiful sunny snowy scene depicted the poem further as evening approached still without power....

"The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below"...

Though still without power, we nestled in with a fire in the fireplace and our kerosene lanterns to a quiet evening with cheese and summer sausage snacks, our traditional glass of Bristol Creme Sherry or Bailey's Irish Cream and read the Christmas Story (Luke in the Bible) and played a few games of Backgammon. And then the power came on at about 9:15 pm!! My super-thanks go out to those 'linemen' out in the wind and freezing cold trying to get to the problem location with nearly impassible roads and blizzard conditions. As a result, we had an old fashioned Christmas and made many memories!!!

Visit us again very soon for our next entry of our very own special Christmas-time child!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sky High!

Guess where the pot of gold is???? It's at our little ranch!!!! This was taken in July, after a little shower, and I was at my neighbors home (3/4 mile away), taking care of their garden while they were away. Doesn't it look no more than a mile away???? Now for more recent awesome skies:
On my way to Arizona to take care of Riley while John took Cheyenne on a surprise trip to Cancun, I became enamoured with the sky's incredible beauty... in fact, with gorgeous scenery too. On the way, I caught some incredible canyon views and sunsets. This is approaching sunset - the sun was behind clouds, and it was very 'dusky' .....
Driving on a little farther with my eyes glued to the mountains and sunset brought this gorgeous sky.....

......and, on the way back, the MOST incredible clouds kept me entertained! Just check out the various textures and the storm and sun effects! I had to stop SEVERAL times just to take pictures because it's not always SOOOOOOOO beautiful!!!

Note the big puffy clouds beyond the trees and the brightness of the white in the near clouds from the sun in spite of the blue-gray stormy area in the middle!

Note how the storm cloud has an opening (like a window) to highlight the distant bright white puffy clouds beyond the mountains.

The next two pictures were taken at the same place, different directions! Especially note the variety of textures in the clouds in the right picture.... Are these not breathtaking???? (click to enlarge)

Normally I crop some, but I couldn't bring myself to cut out the little gray whispies - I don't think I've been on a trip with more beautiful skies than this!!!
And how about this sunset shot with rows of mountain ranges in the distance!!! I did NOT doctor this picture either.... looks like I hit the color correct button and put in purple and pink hues, but this is pretty much how it was!!!!
God's paintbrush at work!!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hay --- you guys!!!

I arrived home from Branson, MO/Charleston, IL late Friday, and it was dark, so I couldn't see any changes until morning. While I was gone, the field with native grasses was mowed and baled!
(You may have to click on this to see the bales in the field below the house. If you can't open this one, left click on the small pictures below this one.)
Just to give you an appreciation of how far we've come in about a year and a half: left is the field 4/15/08 and right is the same field 10/3/09....

What holds these bales together? Check the mesh that covers the outside of the bales:
How big are they, you wonder??? I certainly can't move them!!! Check out my kitty jumping off! It's a considerable jump!!!!

Stay tuned for more ranch news! I need to take a picture of the hen house for an update!!! Can you hardly wait???? :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where's the BEEF??????

"There seems to be something new on the ranch!" (Checking out new arrivals) Though I've been calling our Texas home a 'ranch', it's been a little deficient! What do you expect to find when you visit a RANCH????? Hmmmmm.... HORSES of courses!! A herd of CATTLE!! A working DOG to help 'round up' the cattle!! Some CATS to keep the mice, rats and snakes away! DONKEYS or MULES (they're good to keep coyotes away), and of course some COWBOYS and COWGIRLS!! Up till now, we've been missing a key player.... NO CATTLE!!! Well, now we're a full-fledged RANCH!!!! Now we've got the beef!!!!

"What do you suppose these are??? They sure don't look like us!!! NOT HORSES!!!" We have four 6-9 month old Angus heifers and a brown calf with a white interestingly marked face (don't know what breed she is!!!). They're only interested in one thing!
Is it time for dinner yet??? Sam knows he's supposed to do something with these critters, but what??? Right now, he dashes at them and snaps his teeth just to show them who's boss!! They give him space. Soon he'll be able to help round 'em up and bring 'em home.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Orphans with new mom!

Since Kitty vanished from the scene, her baby care has fallen to me. I tried to get Powder or Sienna to adopt their mom's babies, but NO WAY!!! So, we're getting along just fine!! They're growing and they are the friendliest babies and LOVE to be loved on!! So here's substitute Mama with her brood ----
I have to wear tall socks and my boots to keep from getting too scratched up! Their claws are like little razor blades! They slice through skin like butter!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Raising the roof!

HOME SWEET HOME with a new roof!

It doesn't rain often here, but when it does, we get some pretty wicked winds with impressive thunder and lightening! We've had roofers out 3 or 4 times to repair the roof when the wind blew off shingles and leaked through to the ceiling. So we knew we'd have to have it replaced!

The roofers started almost as soon as the sun came up! Here you can see the old roof (the ORIGINAL roof) and they applied the new shingles on top of the original roof after they inspected and repaired any problem areas.
The installation took about 3 days with the whole crew working till mid afternoon in 100 degree heat.
Then the boss man would come back and work till dinner time (about 7 pm) before he'd give up and go home.
Here's the back view of the new roof, and the color goes quite nicely with the brick!
There's also progress on the hen house. Mike worked quite a few mornings before the temperature outside reached into the 90's and low 100's - making and installing his trusses!

Then it came time to do the roof! As you can see, it has a metal roof and interior walls. It too should last for a long time without leaking and without giving the chickens a chill! Now for the siding - dependant of funding for the lumber purchase!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's a CAT-tastrophe!!

This has been a terrible week in kittendom! Last Sunday morning I had a full complement of kitties, short 2 with new homes. By Friday morning, I was minus 4 kitties! (Three 14 week old kittens and Mama Kitty!!!) Now I have these eight little orphans - just 4 weeks old. Last Sunday, we saw 5 or 6 buzzards fly off as we approached about 1000 feet down the road on our way to church. We tried to spot what they had from the car but saw nothing. It wasn't till I went to feed my brood, that 2 kittens (little white spotted male and 'Bibs' pictured below) failed to report when called. They ALWAYS come for meals. They weren't there the next day either! Then we wondered about those guilty-looking birds. My 2 boys loved chasing bugs in the living room window in the evening when we were watching TV!

On Tuesday I went to do my Pink Lady duty and when I came home, there was a buzzard eating something at the intersection of our road! When I got home, I took a kitten count and couldn't find my beautiful, most loving, Red. The fur on the road has confirmed his demise!

Then Friday, Mama Kitty was NOT waiting for breakfast and she wasn't under the porch with her kittens! By noon I knew something was really wrong because she's the BEST mom and would NEVER leave her kittens for hours! I can only guess that she came to the same end as the others. I thought she was safe because she was bigger, street-wise and feisty. When attacked from above, I suspect one is helpless with nowhere to instantly run for shelter! Here's Kitty just after she adopted us (Feb 2008) - I think she was pretty young there. To the right is Little Kitty, fulfilling her role as an awesome mom!!

It breaks my heart to say goodbye to my babies! I'd so much rather have found them homes. The little white one had a new home for a day, but it didn't work out for him.

For now, I'll be Mama to the babies, but I can't do near the good job that Little Kitty did!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


We were SO blessed this week with family! No one lives nearby, so we don't get to see one another often. Monday afternoon Travis (son), Pam and Brenden (left side) arrived from Savannah, GA, along with their greyhounds, Merlin & Morgan (foreground) and a persian cat, Avalon (not pictured). At the same time, Mike's sister, Debbie (center back) and niece, Chrys (center left) arrived from California. Then on Tuesday, Cheyenne (daughter), John and Riley (right side) arrived at DFW from Arizona. And of course you can pick out Mike and me and our dog, Sam - we're all that's left!! This is the best close-up to show the grandsons with their moms. The timing of the visits is to get the families together on middle ground. And it was a bonus to have Debbie and Chrys arrive when they were all here. We had a great time catching up.

While they were all here, we had another visitor one night - a skunk! He made himself known by what he left behind - his familiar aroma! The only problem is that I couldn't find any kittens at breakfast time! Nary a one! I called and called. Nothing. So I started hunting around, and alas, there they were - safely hiding in a tree! Six of the eleven were all snuggied in the notch of the tree. I strongly prefer our family visitors!!!