My Adventure

Park Ranger took me on an adventure today.  He took me to the Grand Canyon.  We visited the Grand Canyon about 23 years ago; although, things were a lot different then.

Twenty three years ago we visited the Grand Canyon on the way to California.  Park Ranger was working on his doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary, and he decided to take the whole family for one of his sessions.  The whole family consisted of Park Ranger, myself, Josh (age 5) and Katie (age 2). 

We bought a used pop up camper, hooked it up to our full sized van and took off.  Of course, Park Ranger had parks for us to stop at all along the way.  It was April, and April in Texas is pretty warm.  April in Northern Arizona, Utah, and Nevada are not so warm, so right off the bat, I packed the wrong kind of clothes. We ended up buying a round of sweatshirts for the entire family at several of the parks so that we would have enough clean clothes to keep everybody warm.

Visiting the National Parks in April is completely different than visiting in the summer.  In April, the parks are filled with retired people, couples, as well as families with small children.  On this particular trip, it seemed like we were the only people traveling in the parks with small children.  We had a blast every place we went.  The kids were great.  We tried to visit parks in the morning, then we would have lunch, load up and get on the road just in time for the kids to go down for naps.  We would get to the next park, set up the camper, check things out, have supper, play, go to bed.  That was the routine all the way to California.  That trip is a warm memory in my mind.

This trip, we were watching the families with small children and WE were the "old" people.  I kept remembering Josh running around and talking nonstop in that high little voice that he used to have and Katie just toddling around.  In fact, Katie was about the same age that TJ is now. 

We have always wanted to spend time in the parks and see some of the sights without the time, physical and age restrictions that we have had in the past. 

Several years ago, when I was going through the process of being approved for bariatric surgery, one of the things I was asked was, "What do you see yourself doing when you are 100 pounds lighter that you can't do now?"  I answered, "hiking with my husband in the parks."  That became a reality this trip. 

On the way to the canyon, I looked over the different trails, what we would see, how difficult they were and how long was the hike.  I selected one and told Tom of my selection--he agreed with my selection.  We took the shuttle to the trailhead and began our descent.  The descent was exhilarating.  It felt so good to be able to move down that trail.  We got to the overlook in 30 minutes. 

The overlook was breathtaking.  We sat on the rocks and enjoyed the view and had a snack of dried apples, peanuts and G2 Gatorade.  The ascent was totally different. We would climb until we were both so out of breath that we couldn't go any further, then we would rest for a couple of minutes.  We did that over and over again until we finally made it to the top, an hour and a half later.

You will never know the feeling of triumph that I felt completing that hike. I told Park Ranger that this was our maiden voyage, and it was successful.  It was so successful that were even able to walk to the restaurant for our dinner that was down the street from our hotel.  It may not sound like a big deal, but if you have been in my shoes, then you will know how excited we were.  SCORE!!!

Pink Peony

I watch the Martha Stewart Show practically every day.  By the way, I hate her politics, but I love her style.  I'm interested in a lot of the things she is interested in.  Every spring, she starts talking about her peony garden.  It is huge with maybe a couple of hundred peony plants. 

Peonies, like lilacs, are a mystery to me, because we don't have them this far south.  I loved the lilacs when I lived in Iowa and Colorado.  They were magnificent.  There were big, tall, long hedges of lilacs--absolutely beautiful.  The smell was almost overwhelming.

Peonies have huge flowers and many of them are pink.  I decided to start naming my crochet projects.  So instead of calling this afghan a pink and green afghan, I am now calling it my peony baby pink afghan.

Silly huh?  Maybe.  But I am practicing my word pictures.  Some of you that know about peonies, got a picture in your mind didn't you?

My Love Affair

Quilts have been a comfort to me since I was a small child.  My mother always had quilts on our beds.  I love the feel of a quilt and I love the smell of those old quilts.  There is no sleep like the sleep you get on a cold winter night with a couple of quilts on your bed.

When I was about eight years old, my grandmother gave me a quilt that had the all the state flowers on it.  My mother embroider painted all the blocks, and my grandmother and great aunt pieced it together and quilted it. (Side note--It only has 48 blocks because Alaska and Hawaii were not states when my mother made the blocks.) I used it as a bedspread until I left home, and then I used it on my beds after I got married.  I took it to every cold football game and every drill team bus trip and every basketball trip.  It was a part of the fabric of my childhood.  It even went with me to the hospital when I got my tonsils removed and at the births of my children.  It became so worn that I retired it, and it now has a place on a quilt rack in my hallway. 

When I got married, my grandmother and aunt made me another quilt that was on our bed for many years, especially the cold years in Iowa, Wyoming and Colorado.  That quilt has been retired also.  It is still in good shape, but I do not want it to get as worn as the first one.

During the cold years in Iowa, we spent a lot of time with Park Ranger's aunt and uncle, Lorin and Phyllis, on the family farm.  Phyllis had a profound influence on me as a young homemaker.  Phyllis is a homemaker unlike any I have every seen.  She is pretty much excellent at everything she does--cooking, sewing, crafts, Sunday School & VBS teacher, gardener, canner--you name it, she does it well.  Phyllis was always making quilts.  Not necessarily the pretty hand pieced, hand quilted kind, but the functional, durable, beautiful in their own way kind.  Phyllis has made denim quilts for her kids and grandkids out of old jeans--pockets included.  Along with her mother-in-law, she made quilts of old suits.  This was hard for me to understand being from Texas, but they even made quilts out of wool pieces.  Talk about warm!!!  Most of her quilts were hand tied instead of hand quilted, but no less beautiful.

My mother-in-law, Helen, has made a number of quilts as well.  Hers are the classic hand stitched kind, and they are incredibly beautiful.  She spent many years quilting with the quilting group at Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, TX.  People make tops and then pay this group to quilt them. They quilt several every week.  They also make quilts out of scraps for Lutheran World Relief.  Quilts that are sent to developing countries or places that have gone through a disaster of any kind.

When Helen was about 16 years old, she had an appendectomy and ended up getting pneumonia from the ether that was used as anesthesia.  It took her the whole summer to recuperate.  Her mother wisely, set her up on a quilt under a tree in the yard.  She set her to work cutting out small postage stamp size pieces of fabric and sewing them together into a quilt.  This quilt is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The pieced design has a border of gold and purple--very unusual colors, but absolutely incredible.  I told Helen several years ago that to avoid any disagreements over her estate, she should go ahead and put it in her will that Kay would get the quilt.  She avoided any disagreements and gave me the quilt right away.  It also has a place of honor on my quilt rack.

My brother, Terry, mentioned to me for several years, that he wanted to make quilts for his children.  We finally got it together and made them a couple of years ago. He has become my partner in crime.  When I get to the point when I need to put the layers of the quilt together and tie them, Terry is my partner.  We sit for hours putting it together while listening to old country music and drinking coffee.  When I got in a bind and was running out of time.  Terry even took a quilt to his fire station (he is a fireman), and tied it there--IN FRONT OF ALL HIS FIREMAN FRIENDS. Now that takes courage!!  It has become a great way for us to stay caught up with each other. 

My daughter, Amy, nagged me for years about making a quilt out of her old t-shirts.  She faithfully SAVED THEM ALL, of course.  I finally relented, not for noble reasons, but because I wanted to get rid of those bags of t-shirts in the garage and her closet.  That was the beginning of a whole new vein of creativity on my part, which I will talk about more in following posts. 

My quilts are all machine sewed and hand tied. They are pretty quick to put together, if you call 40-80 hours quick. I have made one for Amy and one for my son Josh. Amy's theme was her childhood through high school graduation.  Josh's theme was his college and corp career at Texas A&M University.  I have been commissioned to make several others.

I have had a love affair with quilts my whole life.  I will continue sharing my quilt stories with you in the future. 

                                 My confession--the affair continues...

Too Girly For a Boy and Too Boyish For a Girl

This is my newest finished project.  This is a large baby blanket made from Caron Simply Soft yarn.  I made it from some yarn that I had left over from another project.  I am crazy about the combination of colors (blue, green and purple).  I am afraid that it will probably stay with me rather than me giving it to someone.  The colors are a little too girly for a boy and a little boyish for a girl.  Oh well, a Nana blanket.


Gonzales?  Gonzales, who?  Not Gonzales who--Gonzales what.  Gonzales, Texas--the city.  Gonzales, TX--why?  I visited Gonzales, TX.  The park ranger I live with insisted that we visit Gonzales on our way to a ministry engagement in Victoria, TX.  Anyone that knows Park Ranger knows that if there is anything historic, scenic, notorious or just plain interesting on the way, Park Ranger will make a point of seeing it.  Gonzales was such a place.  Most of the places that Park Ranger selects to see are pretty interesting.  Gonzales was no exception.

Gonzales was actually the place where the Texas revolution started.  It is known as the Lexington of Texas.  (Lexington is known as the place where the 'shot was heard around the world'--the first shot of the US revolution.)  Shots were exchanged in a skirmish over a small cannon that the Texas settlers had been given from the Mexican government.  They were given the cannon to protect themselves from Indian raids, but when Santa Anna came into power, he decided that the Texans didn't have any business having a cannon.  He decided to take it back.  The women were commissioned to make a flag for the Texans.  They chose to make the flag out of their wedding dresses and embroidered and painted the image of the cannon with the words "Come and get it".  Sam Houston actually put out the call to join the Texas militia from the shade of this huge live oak tree.

Gonzales had a beautiful courthouse and downtown area. Beside the courthouse is the jail, which is also the town's visitor's center.  One can get all kinds of information about the town at the visitor's center including the historic places to see as well as a directory of bed and breakfast establishments.  After getting all the information one would want, visitors can take a tour of the jail.  What a creepy surprise.  The jail was complete with gallows and noose.  My daughter decided to check out the noose, and when she did, all my mother's caution went haywire.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.


CreepinessPark Ranger

Well, so much for the historical part of the visit, but for me the most memorable part of the trip was seeing all of the old homes in the town.  Many of them are private homes, but some are bed and breakfasts.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.  Pictured at the end is an old Mobil gas station that looks exactly like the ones that used to be.  Also is the stage stop and the cannon are pictured,.

Park Ranger came through again.  Gonzales is a great place to visit.  Small Town, TX, USA


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity of visiting the Lady Bird Johnson Wilflower Center in Austin, Texas.  The center was founded to research different species of wildflowers and the propagation of them.  I have heard about the center for years but have never had the opportunity to visit. Since I was there for an event in the Wildflower Center Auditorium, free admission was given to all the participants.  Yay me.  I immediately started going through the garden and taking pictures as fast as I could.

It was a damp day after a rain storm, which is one of my favorite times to walk in a garden.  Just seeing the flowers alone  would be beautiful enough, but the garden is full of interesting sculptures as well.

We had lunch in the cafe.  I had the veggie wrap and hibiscus tea.  I also spent quite a bit of time in the gift shop.  It had everything from t-shirts to books to kitchen stuff.  Everything about wildflowers or with wildflowers painted on every object imagineable.  They had quite an extensive gardening book selection.  It is definitely a place that garden lovers should see at least once, especially in the spring during wildflower season. 

The first thing you see when you enter the garden is a cistern that collects rainwater with a huge dragonfly on it.

As you walk down the arched sidewalk, you see a couple of huge ants with heads the size of barrells..

Pictured are some of the beautiful flowers and some of my favorite sculptures. I took all the photos with my iphone.  I don't know what kind of photos I would have gotten if I had taken them with my other camera and had been able to compose the photos a little better.  It was an amazing place and a place that I want to visit again.