Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Little Louisiana in Texas

I have not given my "home" state of Louisiana much air time here on the blog....sorry.  Tonight was a little reminder to me about where I "come from".  Tonight was a lot of Louisiana!
TJ and I went out to dinner, it is the night before we fly to Boulder for our son's wedding, so I was not cooking!  We chose to eat at Rouxpour, a Cajun restaurant here in Sugar Land, Texas.  The food is actually quite authentic, whoo hoo! I opted for the grilled tilapia and vegetables though (boring)....I have to fit into that mother of the groom dress this weekend!   I did had some spinach Madeline (not exactly on the mother-of-the-groom-fit-into-the-dress perscribed diet) that rivaled my own, that's good cher!   We were in a celebratory mood so we had a couple of drinks too.  The TV's were tuned into sports, what else?  Our conversation veered to sports and we were overheard by another patron who chimed in..... "Geaux Tigers"!  One thing lead to another and soon we were in a deep conversation about LSU sports, college athletes and whether LSU should be #1 this early in the season or not.  We think NOT, ├Čt`s too early...let us sneak up later in the season.  The fellow we were talking to, or more accurately was talking to us, was from New Orleans, had played college football and had the biggest smile in the room.  He was exuberant!  He was happy to be talking to other Louisianians (we can relate)!  He shared his football stories with us and we shared our enthusiasm for LSU sports with him.  It was a match made in heaven.  The conversation ended with TJ telling our new friend he should go into sales and there were smiles all around the table.  Louisiana people are so friendly!
We head to Boulder at dark thirty  in the morning for our son's wedding.  It will be a Rocky Mountain High!  I hope everyone else has a fantastic weekend.....we will, stay tuned for stories and pictures.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Back to "Normal"


Life is back to "normal".  Don't you just love September?  As great as the summer was, it is nice to get back to a familiar routine.  Part of that routine for me is my Learn English Ministry volunteer job.  Last year I taught level 2 classes.  To be in level 2 you must have a basic command of the English language.  Which was good for me since I speak no Spanish and most of the student's native language is Spanish.  We were able to communicate between their English and my minimal Spanish.  Well....."the powers that be" decided to put me in level 1 this year.  What??? This is a bit of a challenge, I have some people who speak NO English.  Yikes!  There are a few blank faces staring back at me now.  Just to make things a bit more challenging, since it is the beginning of the school year, the classes are very well attended, it is free!  As in any classroom there are several levels of ability from the students who speak NO English to the ones I feel are getting close to moving up to level 2.  This helps a bit, the more advanced students can help translate to the ones who are just beginning.  It is amazing how fast 90 minutes can go by with a full class of eager learners!  I forgot just how much I enjoy this ministry.  They are just so happy to be learning a new language, it is enough to make anyone's day!

Another part of the fall routine and being back "home" is reconnecting with our friends.  Yesterday we reconnected with a couple who have a ranch not too far out of Houston.  It was also the opening day of dove season, whoo hoo!  You know I am all over that one!  TJ managed to cram three different dove hunts into one day with three different groups of people.  I almost said "men" but realized there were several women on the last dove hunt.  The last hunt was at our friend's ranch.  It was the first time I witnessed actual hunting.  I try to avoid anything to do with guns, dead animals, heat, and the potential of running into a snake at any moment.  This hunt was very civilized if I do say so myself.  No, I did not hunt!  My participation was limited to watching, taking pictures, eating, drinking and enjoying the breeze....all from the deck of the house, far away from any snakes.  It was about as far away from London or France as one can get in two weeks!


TJ and Sadie had the time of their lives!  Sadie being the ever faithful dog!


Sadie, doing her job and loving it!

The viewing deck!
After all the hunting was done we all sat on the deck and enjoyed a nice meal with the beautiful sunset behind us.  I could not resist this beautiful picture.   An iconic Texas shot!
Beautiful sunsets follow me wherever I go!
This morning when we were having our breakfast on the deck, the owner had just mowed the grass around his fruit trees that are fenced in to keep the deer and cows away from them.  After he mowed, he apparently forgot to close the gate and about a half hour later this was the site.....
"YUM!  This freshly mowed grass is the best thing we have eaten in weeks, maybe months!" 
There were 3 cows inside the fenced in orchard just chowing down on the freshly mowed grass and the tender green weeds.  (the orchard gets watered) Since we have been in a serious drought, they have not had grass this lush to eat in a while.  The owner went inside the fence just to make sure they did not eat the treasured fruit trees and then gently herded them out, back into the crisp brown yard.  "Drats!", they said.  FYI, the longhorn is named Sirloin!


Speaking of the drought.....
While I was away for over 3 months, I had read about the drought in Houston and heard about it from family and friends but the severity of it slapped me in the face when I got home.  This is a serious situation.  The rain is just about the only thing anyone can talk about these days.  They preach about it in church, they talk about it on the radio, it is on the front page of the newspaper and on the news on television.  Remember this post?  If you check out the last paragraph you will see the beginning of the drought, it is now September 24th and our rain total for the year is 11.9 inches, normal is 34.7 inches!  We got 1 inch of rain so far this month and you would have thought it was manna from heaven.  Add a month of over 100 degree days and you have brown crackly grass, dry lake beds, wild fires, water rationing, and trees that have turned brown and my never recover.



The "lake" in September....where is the water?





The same "lake" in April.....




They are not brown because it is fall, they are dying because they are thirsty!
So I leave you with hopes that it will rain buckets on us soon.  I'm off to do one more of my favorite September activities....watch college football!  Geaux Tigers!

Why are these two smiling? 
Because they will be getting married in one week!
  

Stay tuned for pictures and stories!









Wednesday, September 14, 2011

There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home

I kind of feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz  after she woke up from that crazy dream only to find that she was happy just being home in Kansas.   I'm not sure if after my summer away I have more courage, brains or heart...but I do have over 500 pictures and some great memories.  When it is all said and done though, it sure is nice to be home for a while!  Even though the the thermometer says 102 degrees and it still has not rained for months and I had to BUY lettuce at the grocery store instead of  pick it out of the garden.... on the bright side, I have twice weekly garbage pick up, a garbage disposal (curb your enthusiasm!), air conditioning, my car, my regular Tuesday golf game, my book club, and a life.   A life that has been somewhat neglected over the last few months....at least when Dorothy woke up she had only missed a day or two!

When I last left you I was lamenting the beauties of the shore and trying to hold on to that last bit of summer.  It was not the perfect summer but it had some very special times and was my first to "stay on".  I could definitely get used to "staying on".  Last year, re-entry was postponed with a trip to New York.  This year I managed to postpone real life another week by accompanying TJ on a business trip to the UK and Europe. 

London Bridge is not falling down!  It was quite lovely.


I sure hope there is enough paella for me to have some too!  Covent Garden...food court?


This is the train station in Antwerp where I walked from end to end pulling my bag and looking for my platform, or at least the platform I thought I was supposed to catch my train at, with no luck.  I started to feel like Harry Potter and expected to be sucked into the  train to Hogwarts at any minute!  I did eventually ask someone for directions and it turns out the train to Brussels is labeled.... Paris!?  Duh!


Hogwarts....I mean Brussels.  Where I walked approximately 20 miles and got to see a lot of beautiful buildings and gardens. 

When TJ was finally finished with his work obligations we were lucky enough to go to France and stay at his sister's house.  I know...can you believe she has a house in France?!  It is in an ancient town near Dijon.  If I thought being without TV at the shore was an adjustment, going to a remote French village with no TV, no clock, no phone and no internet was another thing altogether.  This would be a perfect place for a quiet retreat.  It took a bit to shift gears from London to remote ancient village in France!  It was beautiful!  We really enjoyed the surroundings and being transported to a different time. 

A long way from the farmhouse....in time and space.




A place where you drive down the road and see things like this!

In addition to ancient castles, we also came across a horse parade.  I guess these guys needed a drink at the cafe before the parade!


One way to make sure you do not miss the shore so much when you eventually get home is to go to a foreign country, live out of a suitcase for a week, have some gray gloomy weather, catch a miserable cold, spend a lot of time alone walking through large cities and find out that your French is only minorly passable as a means of communication.  It puts everything in perspective!

 Summer at the shore is over, everyone has gone back to their real lives, it is time to go "home".   A place somewhere in between the laid back, fresh shore air place where everyone knows your name to the crowded, busy, urban city where you are anonymous to the quiet, remote, ancient village....."home" is somewhere that has a little part of each.  
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