Saturday, August 28, 2010


"When the goldenrod is yellow,
And leaves are turning brown -
Reluctantly the summer goes
In a cloud of thistledown.
When squirrels are harvesting
And birds in flight appear -
By these autumn signs
we know September days are here."

Beverly Ashour, September

Appologies to all, for it has not been procrastination - the thief of time, but only a month of Sundays where time outran me.

Since my last posting, it seems that volumes of experiences have taken space in my memory. To cut to the chase, here's what's been going on up here on the Texas Plains:

The big trip of the summer was when Stephani, Nancy and I flew home to Massachusetts to visit my parents, go to NYC and also to the Boston area to see Plymouth, Mass where the Pilgrims landed and started the Plymouth Plantation. It was certainly a trip of a lifetime and to spend it with parents and 2 of your bestfriends...priceless!

Here we are (with Donna too)- on our way - a preflight overnight in Oklahoma City...supper at Toby Keith's Bar and Grill!

Ahhhh, the mountains of home!
We combined our photos and discovered that we had taken over 600 pictures on this trip - so it was quite difficult to sift through and decide which ones to use!
After mom and dad met us at the Albany, NY airport, we went across into Vermont to THE MAN OF KENT TAVERN for supper! It was an old, Revolutionary War Era, low ceiling'd tavern on the edge of the road that served delicious food and over 130 types of beer!
My parents' beautiful home is a classic example of the original "Colonial" architecture. The land was purchased in 1799 (the year George Washington died) and construction of the home began in 1800. It was the home of the farm foreman for the Cluett mansion above this property on the hill. The Cluett family owned the "Arrow" shirt company. The chinking between the boards in the walls is a mixture of mud and horsehair!The kitchenThe Central HallwayThe Livingroom and DiningroomThe DenSome of the Bedrooms
The upstairs hallway
The "Root Cellar", in the basement, where their winter vegetables were kept
Mom and Dad put in a small patio area with storage shed where they do a lot of entertaining.
This is an old carriage road (lined with pines) from the early 1700's. It's in our backyard!
Here we are with my parents at the Taconic Golf Club in my parents' town of Williamstown, Massachusetts.
My dad's "last" pool before he retired as Swimming Coach at Williams College. He designed the pool and saw it through its construction completion. Because he is a legendary New England coach, the pool is now named for him! I can't tell you how proud of him I am!!! We went to a college art museum that was featuring this HUGE "MOCHA DICK" sculpture. It is a lifesize model of THE Moby Dick. It is constructed out of industrial wool, sewn and zipped together. An internal fan inflates it so that all of the muscle & bone structure is an accurate representation of the legendary whale,Moby Dick. It was unbelievable! It even had barnacles on it, made from the wool!Here we are at a local farm, buying fresh corn - picked within the hour. No one operates the farmstand. It is based on the honor system. Each buyer weighs their produce, uses the provided calculator to find the price due and then puts the money in the money box: dollar bills get placed under a rock in the money box and coins just get dropped in. If you need change, you remove the correct amount of change. Pretty amazing!

The next day, we took the 10:20 am commuter train into New York City. We got off the train in Grand Central Station @ noon, walked to the Princeton Club where we were staying, and then caught a cab to Times Square where we saw the Broadway show - Wicked - at the Gershwin Theater! It was unbelievable! There are no words that can describe it all! The noises, smells, heavy hot air, people, languages -
It was CRAZY!!!!


New York City Sights!

One of my dad's former swimmers, Bill, met us after we saw Wicked. He works in the Seagram Building. He gave us an amazing and unforgettable walking tour of the area near his office. We saw Tiffanys, The Plaza Hotel, The Early Show building, The Apple Cube, the beginning of Central Park, The Waldorf Astoria, Trump Tower, Rockafeller Center, and MORE...and we even walked through the movie set of the remake of Arthur!

We also went to the infamous Four Seasons restaurant/bar, which was in his building. Of all days and times, President Obama was due to arrive at the Four Seasons right about the same time we were, so with Bill's clearance identification, we were frisked thoroughly, checked by top security and made our way past the secret service and NYPD. Obama was there for a Democratic National Committee meeting/fundraiser in the room right next to where we were!Here we are at the bar in the Four Seasons. Gold chains decorated the huge floor to ceiling windows. It was absolutely crazy!!!!

That's Obama's car inside the tent surrounded by 8 or 10 black Suburbans with machine-gun ready security, federal agents and LOTS OF POLICE!


Bill took us up to his office, that was being renovated. This is the view from his office on the 36th floor!

We walked through the Waldorf-Astoria - where Obama was supossed to be staying for the night...
Stephani with Donald Trump's doorman. He informed us that Donald was home in the Trump Tower. Stephani told the doorman that with all the money that Donald had, he needed to use some of it to get a better hair-do! He laughed!!!!!

This was from the movie set of the remake of Arthur. We didn't see the actors, since it was later in the afternoon, but all of the camera crews, lighting crews etc...were all over the place! It was very exciting!
The actual car that was used in the original movie, Arthur, with Dudley Moore!

GROUND ZERO - it was very well protected with fencing. The whole place was buzzing with activity as they worked on rebuilding the space. It was amazingly powerful.

Bill's mother gave us tickets to the Fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's an amazingly huge museum and we hardly had time to see what else was there. Tons of people - many speaking different foreign languages! What a culture shock from Vernon, Texas!!

On the Staten Island Ferry - taking us over to the Statue of Liberty.

We climbed 156 steps to the top of the pedestal (base)of the statue. We were wiped out! I can't even imagine what it would be like to climb to her crown!

When we returned back home from New York, we repacked and regrouped to get ready to drive 3.5 hours to the Boston area to see the old town of Plymouth, Mass. where the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

Here we are on the Mohawk Trail overlook. The Mohawk Trail is the old trail that the Mohawk Indians used to get from our area to Canada - following the Connecticut River. What a view!!

When we arrived in Plymouth, we met another one of my dad's former swimmers, Michael. He took us out for a delicious seafood supper! We spent one night in Plymouth and saw some great sights, and PLENTY of history!

THE ACTUAL PLYMOUTH ROCK - where the roughly 100 Pilgrims stepped foot off the Mayflower in 1620.
Massachusetts Bay - where the Pilgrims sailed in from the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the Mayflower II in the distance: an exact replica of the Mayflower! Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum! Here we are on the deck of the Mayflower II. It was hard to imagine 100 men, women and children - PLUS animals & supplies on this small vessel for 2 months! WOW!PLYMOUTH PLANTATION - a living history museum showing what the settlement was like. Historically correct building construction, settlement layout and historically accurate characters dressed in Pilgrim garb speaking Old English!

These are some of the "Pilgrim" ladies... you felt like you were back in time - they only discussed issues of the day and would answer your questions as if they were living in the 1620's. It was kinda crazy! The girl in the light tan jacket said that it was apparent to her that with the "short shorn hair" that I was wearing, it was evident that I had lice. It was hysterical and it got Nancy so tickled that we 'bout laughed our eye make-up off!The other village at Plymouth was of an Indian Village - similar to that which Squanto, Massasoit and the Patuxets lived in. Here we are near a family dwelling, made of bark and sticks.

Here we are in the Plymouth Museum Gift Shop!

With the strange artistic eye that my mother has, she spotted a piece of firewood in the woodpile at the Pilgrim's settlement and said that it looked like a goat-head! She whined and begged for us to go back (as we were exiting the settlement), and get this piece of wood so that she could add it to her collection! She already has a flying goose and a witch, that she had picked up years earlier along the way. So...Stephani and I went back to find the dang goat-head wood. Finally, after scouring several woodpiles in the settlement, we found it and without anyone stopping us or questioning us, we made it out of the settlement and to the car where we stuffed it in! She was so excited and proclaimed that it was her "best" piece!
This guy was outside of a tavern in Plymouth. We were a bit lost, so we had to ask him for directions! It was a riot!!!

On the Plymouth Beach!

Here's Nancy, feeding the birds our stale doughnuts! She fed the homeless in New York and the gulls in Plymouth! What a sweet heart she has!

Grabbing a bite to eat before making the 3.5 hour journey back to my parents' house.

The following day (Sunday) was our last day. We all got up and headed to Vermont (about a 5 minute ride to the state line). We went to Bennington, Vermont to eat breakfast at the Blue Benn Diner. We met my brother, Matt there. It was delicious!

While we were waiting for our orders, this guy and two girls came in to the diner and sat at the counter right next to our booth. Stephani IMMEDIATELY recognized him as someone famous, but Nancy and I had no idea! After a few minutes, he had turned around and noticed my humungous turquoise ring and commented on it. The two girls who were with him turned around and we struck up a conversation. He tried on my ring and one of the girls showed me a picture of her kitchen (on her phone) that she just finished painting turquoise. Long story, short....after several attempts to find out who this guy was, we finally found out that it was Justin Long - the movie actor! The two girls were actress friends of his and they were involved in the Williamstown Summer Theater. His play had just ended its month of performances, but the girls' were still acting in their play. IT WAS SO CRAZY!!!! They took one of my business cards and we appologized for making such a scene about who he was! Time to say good-bye to Matt! He's an attorney in Vermont and had to get back home to his 3 young girls! It was so fun to see him! He was appaled at our behavior over Justin Long and said he would NOT act as our laywer if we were sued for public harrassment! (It really wasn't all that bad, but he was mortified!)

Next, it was on to the first church of Vermont and the gravesite of Robert Frost, the writer! The church was beautiful and a typical colonial church. Family "boxes" with hinged doors and padded benches filled the sanctuary-very similar to the church I grew up in. We learned that the pews on the sunny side of the church cost a family $500.00 to "purchase" , where the pews on the shaded side were as low as $40.00/family. Single boys/men sat upstairs on one side and the single ladies on the opposite side of the balcony. On the boys side, you could see where they had used their pocketknives to carve their initials or pictures into the wooden benches during the several hour sermon...still visable since the 1700's!

Each family brought heated bricks in this warmer box and put it on the floor inside their family pew. With the floor area heated, their feet stayed warm in the winter months during the lengthy sermon!

Following a quick tour of Bennington, we headed over to my parents' good friends, the Gangemis. They live on an old farm on the side of the mountain where they run a bed and breakfast. Their mountain stream-fed pond looked so inviting, but we just had no time! It was beautiful up there!

Our week's adventure was coming to a fast close. We had jammed so much into the 7 days that we were there that it seemed like a year had gone by since we were sitting in New York at the Gershwin Theater! It was time to fly back to Texas - knowing that within a few short days, we would have to be getting geared up for another school year!

It was a trip of a lifetime and one that none of us will ever forget! HUMUNGOUS thanks to my parents for making this dream trip come true! Texas seemed so far away and I was certainly not ready to say good-bye to my parents! It wasn't easy!!!!

Upon returning to Texas - with a little downtime to rest and adjust to the 105 degree heat, Zack and I went with a couple of his friends and their moms to Six Flags Over Texas - an amusement park in Dallas. It was amazing and we all had a wonderful time, but boy was it HOT!!! Here are the boys!

We ate at a restaurant next to Hooters and when we finished eating, the boys wanted to go over to see what Hooters was like. We said that the only way they could go in, was if they got their picture with one of the Hooters' girls! So, without hesitation, they disappeared through the doors. Several minutes passed...several more minutes passed....we thought maybe we had better go find them, when all of a sudden, here they came out the door! Ear-to-ear smiles and "deer-in-the-headlight" looks on their faces gave proof that they certainly enjoyed their few minutes in Hooters! They even accomplished the mission and got a picture with one of the girls!

Nice grins, boys!

The next day, as we awoke and got around, we noticed that the dogs were restless and pawing at their muzzles. Upon a closer look, I found that they had met up with a porcupine and had quills all in their mouth and nose area! Dyke had to take the pliars to remove the quills and it certainly wasn't easy!

On August 25th, we drove Jake to college up in Canyon, Texas. He is a freshman at West Texas A & M - majoring in Criminal Justice. Most of the entire ride looked like this out the window:

Good Ol' Texas Plains!!

In his dorm room...

We got him settled and made his bed. (Both he and Dyke covered their faces as I tried to get some pictures!)Soon it was time to say our good-byes. I know that he made the right choice of schools, so we were very happy for him and excited for the beginning of this new chapter in his life. (I just hope he can make it to class on time! HA!) It was strange leaving him there, but knowing that he was going to have a great time and that it was a wonderful school made it easier to leave him!

On the way home, I saw this sign and thought - where else in the world would you see a sign like this! (for those city slickers, a calf fry is a deep fried calf testical!) They are good - as long as they are on the small side -those big ones are hard to choke down! HA!

I love Texas and it's great to be back home!!