Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Settling In for the Holidays

At the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, Texas...

Now that the flea market frenzy is over and there is only a wisp of smoke emanating from my depleted wallet, we are settled in here until early January, when we will be attending another Tiffin owners club rally in Marble Falls, Texas. Before that, however, we will probably be stopping in Austin for a brief visit with our pals Steve and Jackie, who also own a Phaeton and will be accompanying us to the rally.

On our way back from Canton, we stopped in Nacogdoches, my home town, to visit old friends John and Pat, with whom we had a nice seafood dinner. We also visited my aunt Joyce who, at 92, is just about as spry as someone thirty years younger. Would that all of us could have such genes:

Thank you, Aunt Joyce, for the wonderful pecan pie you made for us; your cooking skills are just as good as ever.

We spent a good deal of time riding around town, remembering how things used to be and seeing how much had changed. For some reason, these visits seem a trifle maudlin as the memories flood back. That feels odd, since the memories were mostly good ones, but I think they were accompanied by the reality of knowing that the people with whom I shared those good times are largely gone, except for just a few. Thomas Wolfe was right: You really can't go home again. Well, yes you can, physically, but the magic of the experiences of youth will forever remain out of reach except through memories.  

We stopped for dinner in Lufkin and, by pure happenstance, found ourselves in the same restaurant as a friend and former employee, Ray, and his wife Carolyn:

I owned a trucking business in Lufkin many years ago, and Ray was just a likable young pup when he began to drive for me; I think it may have been his first job. By his calculation, it had been 44 years since we had last seen each other, and it was a sweet reunion. We will look up these fine folks next time we're in town, for sure.

Back in Conroe, we are staying busy with the never-ending periodic visits to dentists and doctors, who largely keep us alive with modern chemicals. We're not complaining, though; retirement is only as good as your health, really. We're still sorting through thousands of old photos and slides--something we should have finished years ago--and culling out unimportant ones (which should be most of them, if we're doing it right) before digitizing them. 

And then there are the grandsons, of course, whose energy knows no bounds and who keep us laughing as we near exhaustion when they're around. Here are a couple of photos of Mason and Pryce, who found one of my old pilot's uniform caps:

I thought this was a great photo of Mason and his mom and grandmother:

I also need to tell you about a cool new porch light that I acquired for Phannie. I had mentioned to friend and fellow Phaeton owner Steve that the little led bulbs in my old porch light were burning out, and he dragged out this one that he had just purchased himself:

For about 50 bucks, this has some neat features, including motion sensing, a photocell to keep it shut off in the daytime and a coach battery voltage monitor, of all things. 

After ordering it from Camping World, the question was, who will install it?  I suppose I could have, but that sounded a lot like w*rk, something that is now, for me, the eighth deadly sin.  Not wishing to fall into perdition in this way, I enlisted the aid of son-in-law Tyler, a towering hulk of a guy who can fix most anything he doesn't choose to demolish. He readily agreed and had the old light off and the new one installed in no time, complete with silicone waterproofing. And guess what? The mounting holes on the light matched the OEM holes perfectly! Pretty smart design, huh?

I really like this light; it's pretty doggone bright, and it seems to work exactly as advertised. Thank you, Tyler, for being a good guy and doing stuff for me.  (This won't be the last.)

And so it goes; a happy Christmas season is approaching for our family. May God's blessings be manifested for you and yours during this festive and holy time.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it 
as I should each day.

I would rather see the world and own little than to own the whole world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Sunday, December 3, 2017

First Monday is Over!

At Mill Creek Ranch RV Park, Canton, Texas...

Our annual trek to First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas is (almost) over! The hardy group of trekkies this year--besides us--was Tyler and Mindy (our kids), Bubba and LouAnn, Steve and Jackie and--for dinner only one night--John and Bobbie Jo.

John and Bobbie Jo
We had a laugh-filled dinner at the Buttermilk Cafe downtown when John and Bobbie Jo were with us, but they were wise enough to retreat back to their digs in Kemp before all the crazies arrived to engorge the tiny town of Canton and its legendary flea market. (By the way, the food there was sufficiently good that it gets a nod on my favorites list linked on this blog; don't miss the CFS.)

The next day was spent by the ladies wandering the vast labyrinth of buildings and stalls from which one can buy just about anything imaginable. In case you've forgotten from a previous post, this is what the monthly event's venue looks like from the air:

We guys walked around for a relatively shorter time, but we didn't really see anything we needed. However, we were able to enjoy some pretty strange sights among the denizens of this amusement park for off-center folks. In the photo below, this couple's dogs apparently have a thing for flea markets but really prefer to ride while they shop:

Speaking of dogs, we saw this one, who appears to be quite high up in Episcopal canine clergy but, since this was Friday, he was a little early for the Sunday mass:

Now nothing will add authenticity to your safari room like a seven-foot metal zebra:

We saw many shoppers who had figured out a means to access more of the sheds than the mere pedestrian, as seen below. This woman, I'm sure, has a plan for her newly-acquired windmill, chicken coop and life-sized ethnic doll, but we are left merely to speculate as to what that may be:

For only $175, you could have picked up this slightly used fireplug:

After a day of incessant walking in which only a tiny fraction of the trade area had been covered, the tired bunch posed for a photo before returning to their RVs:

Sandy, Jackie, Mindy and LouAnn are in the front and Mike and Steve in the back.

The girls went on their own on the last day, and what did they find? I guess Jackie and Sandy thought these bows would be perfect for their Christmas glam:

That was not the end of their questionable activities. In the photo below, LouAnn, Jackie and Sandy appear to have a roving eye for grown men who dress up as elves. I don't know whether to be jealous or alarmed:

The enthusiasm for this adventure rose and fell along gender lines, to be sure. The girls thought it was nirvana, and the guys, to a person, would prefer to have an appendix removed without anesthesia. Nothing new there, I guess. That's the way it's been ever since the role reversal happened--perhaps in the cave dweller era--when women, like those above, became the hunter-gatherers and men became, well, largely irrelevant--needed mainly for procreation and playing video games. We guys know we dropped the ball somewhere, but it's hard to figure out how, these days, for fear of going to jail if we say the wrong thing to a woman.

Sandy will be quick to tell you that the camaraderie with her family and friends means much more than finding that perfect thing she didn't know she needed.  (Although she tends to find that, too.)

We will be returning to Conroe soon, but not without a stopover at Nacogdoches, the city that is my ancestral homeland.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler