Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Texas Thanksgiving

November rolled around, and before we knew it, it was time to head to Texas to be with family for Thanksgiving.  We hadn't planned on going anywhere for Thanksgiving, but one of my husband's family members saw to it that we were there for the holidays.  It was an amazing blessing for us, of which we appreciated so very much!

A cold front had arrived just before our arrival in Texas, and temperatures had dropped down to a balmy 30 degrees or so... for those in Texas, everyone was freezing, but for us, it was still pretty balmy weather, compared to the teen digits we had been experiencing before we left!

Everyone was talking about how cold it was, and for once in my life, I didn't feel cold, it felt pretty warm to me actually!  I do believe that living in the North does something for the blood in your veins, like thicken it!  Of course in Texas, cold weather doesn't stay around for very long, but while it's there, it can be pretty miserable, especially if it is accompanied with wind and rain... which of course is usually the case!

We got in late Saturday night, and had a wonderful time visiting with everyone who came by Mom and Dad's house to see us.

Even the squirrels were happy to see us, and put on quite a show for us at the breakfast room window. They showed us how adept they were at stealing the food for the birds, much to Mom and Dad's dismay.... This one little guy put on quite a show for us.. hopped from the feeder to the tree, to the ground, and back again, and hung upside down... he was quite the acrobat!

The next day, Mom cooked up a fabulous meal again... homemade pizzas!

I forgot to take a picture until there were only two pizzas left... and one of them half gone at that!

Makes me hungry just looking at that pizza as I type!

My brother invited us over to see his new place.  It was night when we got there, so I didn't get a shot of his house as it was dark.

My nieces were so excited to show me their room... and their dog, Jaggar... was more than happy to be along for the tour, and he made sure he was in all the pictures!  He is a mix of a standard poodle, and a golden retriever, and he is one hilarious dog!  It seems he can almost read  your mind, and thinks ahead of what is happening.  He kept us entertained the whole evening!

Jaggar was determined to be in all the pictures I was taking, and I didn't even have to ask him to pose!! He just knew what to do!

He is such a smart dog... really too smart!  If the girls weren't giving him enough attention, he would go to their room, steal one of their favorite toys, bring it back out to where they were, and start chewing on it, making sure then that he got some attention from them... good or bad attention... he didn't care... he just had to be the center of attention!

This is my nephew's bedroom, who at the time the picture was taken, hadn't arrived yet... he was still "baking in the oven" .... His room was really decorated so cute and just awaiting his arrival!

 I've never seen a dog get so "into" watching TV as Jaggar did!  Every time a cat or a dog showed up on the TV... he would run over to the TV and just whine, and get so excited!

He sure provided more entertainment for us, than the TV, that's for sure!

It was so hilarious to watch him.  Unfortunately, as I tried to video tape him doing it.... he quit.  What is it about animals and kids... who will put on the show of a lifetime, until you get the camera or video camera out, and then it all comes to a halt.... one of those unanswered questions we may never find an answer for... lol!

On Monday morning we hit the roads to travel north to visit with my sister and brother-in-law, and precious little niece.  This little girl was living life in the fast lane... literally!  She has the neatest little car with a handle on it, so you can push and pull until you're exhausted... and believe me... she will exhaust you! She would live in this car 24-7 if you'd let her!  The faster and wilder the ride... the happier she was...

... and isn't she dressed so cute....with her little "auntie loves me" outfit!!

The poor little darlin' has nothing to play with!! Not a thing!!!!

Here she is literally screaming and belting at the top of her lungs as she was being pushed around the house.  She wore all of us out, until we were all laid out on the couch, and she was still ready to go.  Life is a wild ride for her... she lives life to the fullest, every single second!  She is certainly making up for all the lost time while she was so sick just a few months ago!!!

We had time for an impromptu visit with my dear friend RH and her sweet grandson!  He is just a month younger than our little girl... and it was fun watching them play and interact together!

Two precious little ones... and we actually saw them give a kiss to each other, but I didn't manage to get it on my camera... but it was surely the sweetest thing to see... they got along like two peas in a pod, and they were the cutest little peas you ever did see! We had a wonderful time watching them, and visiting with each other, and time went by way too fast!

Before long it was time for us to leave my sister's and head back to our old stomping grounds...  where we lived for many years.  We stopped on the bluff overlooking the town of Kingsland, looking down over Lake LBJ.  It was a very cold and blustery day.  The wind was blowing something fierce, and even though the sun was out, it was rather chilly!

This is a beautiful part of the Texas hill country, and it brought back so many wonderful memories of the years we spent living here.

Lake LBJ was our favorite lake to swim and boat in, but you certainly didn't see any boats or swimmers out there in the water today.. no sirree... it was just too plain cold for any of that!

We stopped in Kingsland to see a precious friend of ours who had been our neighbor for many years. He had just lost his wife of 66 years.  She had been sick in the hospital for some time, and had passed away the day before we flew to Texas.  The family held a memorial service for her, and we were thankful to be able to attend.  Afterwards, we went by the house to spend some time with him, and his son.  It just was so sad to see pieces of dear Mary everywhere, and she was not there.

Their little dog, Stirling, was quite an entertainer, and brought a smile to all our faces as we sat there visiting, and reminiscing about our times spent together, and how sad we were without Mary.  Little Stirling was able to keep us entertained, and was so sweet!  Our dear friend was so glad that he still had Stirling to keep him entertained, now that Mary was gone.  She will be so very much missed, such a sweet and gentle soul, always with a smile, and a funny story to tell.  I loved to hear her talk about her growing up years, and all the places they had traveled over the years.  After being married for 66 years, I can't imagine how lonely our dear neighbor must be.

Before long... we had to get in the car, and make tracks to be with husband's parents.  They were expecting us, and we had been getting several calls while we visited with our dear neighbor, as they were wondering when we would be arriving.  It was my husband's parents wedding anniversary, and the family was going out to dinner, and the family was waiting on us.  It was hard to leave and say goodbye to our sweet neighbor under the circumstance, and as a result, we were running a little behind.

So.... already running late, what should happen next... but a Christmas parade!  Yes, a Christmas parade through the town of Marble Falls cut us off at the pass, and we had to sit for 30 minutes waiting for Santa, all his elves, and fireman, cheerleaders, and so on to pass!  It wasn't such great timing to be sure!!!  Especially since we hadn't had a genuine Texas Mexican meal since we'd been back in Texas.  The family was gathered at the biggest Mexican restaurant in their area, eating chips and hot sauce, and waiting on us to arrive!  Oh my.  Every time we return to Texas for a visit,  it seems that we are always on the run while we are there, trying to see everyone!

So, we enjoyed the Christmas parade, because there wasn't much else to do but enjoy it, and make the best of it,  and then we continued on our way, and managed to get in a wonderful dinner of enchiladas, chips and hot sauce in our stomachs before midnight!

(... don't ask about the heartburn!!!!)

This is a picture of my husband's brother's place.  He just purchased property on the Pedernales River and it was simply gorgeous!  He had been telling us about it, and it was great to finally be able to see it in person!

We hadn't been out at the place long, when I overheard some excited exchange between my husband and son, and got involved in a frantic search for a shovel.  I had my camera in hand, and followed along behind them to find out what the excitement was all about.... then I heard the word "copperhead".... and then I knew...

All of a sudden, every branch, twig, and piece of grass in front of me took on new life!! But, my adventurous soul carried on bravely behind my husband and son.  They had the shovel, and I had a camera.  I wasn't about to miss out on the action!  As we were walking back down to the river, I finally heard what had happened.

My son had been down here looking around at the water, and just taking it all in, when... as he was just walking along, a copperhead snake jumped out of the bush at him!  Oh my... heart be still!!! Luckily, he had good cowboy boots on (like every Texan should!), and while the snake didn't bite him, or get real close, it was a wake-up call for all of us... just how dangerous these snakes are.  My husband's brother was bit twice by a snake, two different times, but on the same foot... and he still suffers from it to this day.  I was VERY thankful that snake did not get to my son's foot!!

As we arrived back at the general area where the snake was last seen... I kept glancing down at my little boots, hoping they would survive a snake attack, were he to find me.... I didn't have cowboy boots on, just cute little black leather boots...

And then.... aiyahayaya!!!!  ....  sorry to scare you, but I scared myself... as we were walking around looking down at the ground for the snake, I wasn't paying attention to a stray branch that was hanging down out of a tree, and it caught my hair, and scared just about all the life out of me!!!

Finally we found him.... can you see him? .... see how HARD it is to spot these guys!!! They just blend right in!!!!!

See him now?

Aha!!! A good snake is a DEAD snake!!  Especially this copperhead!  It wasn't a big snake, but thankfully... it was dead!! My brave son was glad to do the honors.  I am just glad we got the snake, and that the snake didn't get us!!!

Now,  you would think that after the snake episode that we would have all tucked tail and ran, and stayed inside the rest of the day... but.... don't forget... we are in Texas... and Texans don't live with fear... they just carry on as usual... which is exactly what we did!  It was too nice of a day and too much to see outside!

*but... you can be sure that every twig, branch, and blade of grass was carefully inspected before I stepped on it!! *

Now the river that this piece of property sits on is known for flooding.  In fact, if you'll look at that house in the picture above, go ahead and look at it real closely.  It may not be there the next time we visit.  Nope.  Because.... a flood has already washed it away once, and they rebuilt... can't say I would do the same myself!

But apparently several years ago, a flood came through, and completely washed this house right off its foundation!!!!! It's not exactly sitting on the river's edge either, it is at least 100 feet away from the river bank.  I can't even imagine how much water that must have been coming through to take out that house.  My husband's brother will not be able to do much with the lower riverbank area on his property, but will have to keep his buildings, and outbuildings well away from the flood plane.

It is hard to imagine on such a beautiful day how that much water could come rushing through this river, and bring so much destruction with it... but indeed, I've seen floods in Texas, and I know it is more than possible!!!

My kids found the four-wheeler their uncle had provided for the day, and had a grand time wheeling around the place together.  It was the highlight of the day for all the kids, who all got to take turns!

Finally, the best part of the day had arrived... it was Thanksgiving... and a blessed Thanksgiving it was!! I don't know the count of how many people were in attendance for Thanksgiving Dinner, but it had to be close to 50.  My husband's brother had built a pole barn and set up tables inside.  It was an amazing place to feed this many people... and the food! Oh my... the food!  There was so much you needed two plates to sample a teeeny bit of everything!!!

Dear Lord, forgive us for the sin of gluttony that are about to commit, Amen!

Heaven help us all... desserts, meat, sides... food in massive quantities... it was wonderful.  It was even more wonderful to be surrounded by family and friends.  Every single member of my husband's brothers and their families were there, so it was a great time for all of us to be together!!!

After we finished eating, most of us wandered back outside to walk off some of the massive amounts of food we had just consumed.  I was able to zoom in on a waterfall off in the distance just beyond the property.  Apparently in the spring, the waterfall is so loud, it sounds like thunder.  

I imagine that there are some fish hiding out down there, just waiting to be caught.  No one had a fishing license with them, so no fishing was done... lucky fish! It was their day to be thankful!

As it grew dark, the next thing on the agenda was a bonfire.  One of my husband's nephews and his girlfriend, as well as our daughter got busy, and built a place to have a bonfire, and began to gather up wood to burn for the fire.  Dan's brother got out his chain saw to help and before long we had a roaring fire going!

The sun was putting on a blazing show too!  The sky was filled with vibrant reds, purples and orange colors.

It was so nice to sit and relax around the fire and watch the sun's fire show off in the distance... a perfect ending to an amazing Thanksgiving, surrounded with wonderful family and friends.  We are more than blessed to be sure, after a day filled with food, laughter, fellowship, and thankful hearts!! It was a very special Thanksgiving, and we were so thankful for all the wonderful memories that were made today!

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