Tag Archives: Texas

One-Word Wednesday

Note the red, white, and blue trees.

It’s a great message.

Lights!

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

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My Half & Half Anniversary

Gosh, I hate the cold!

Gosh, I hate the cold!

Thirty years ago tomorrow, I made a momentous decision: I left Chicago, where I had celebrated my 30th birthday in mid-August, and followed a guy to San Antonio. Like pioneers in the 1800s, I put a “gone to Texas” sign on my apartment door (well, not really, since I didn’t know my Texas history back then), and off I went on a wing and a prayer.

Much better!

Much better!

After spending about a year in San Antonio, I moved to Houston, as did the guy. It was there on August 25, 1988, that my life changed for the better: I met the Mister on the Rice University bike track as I trained for a duathlon (run-bike-run). The rest, as they say, is history. I traded icy, cold winters for ridiculously hot and humid summers. But I also found a warm and welcoming home.

Ironically, today I’m in Chicago, my old stomping grounds, visiting my mom and freezing my butt off. Karma perhaps?

Brothers and besties

Brothers and besties

Looking at all that I’ve gained over the last 30 years—the Mister and our sons, as well as my wonderful in-laws and lots of cherished friends—I’d say I have a lot to celebrate tomorrow.

On Sunday, I will be more of a Texan than a Midwesterner. As much as I adore Chicago and Illinois and always will, my true loves live in the Lone Star state.

And so will I, probably for the rest of my life. I’m truly and wholly thankful!

A Brief History Lesson

Nice mural!

Nicely done

On our way home to Houston after visiting our older son in San Antonio last Sunday, the Mister and I stopped in Seguin for awhile. We wanted to watch the second half of the Houston Texans-Kansas City game (new quarterback Case Keenum is a University of Houston grad, just like the Mister), and the Garmin indicated that a sports bar and grill was close to I-10.

After we were done yelling at the nice, flat-screen TV (it’s hard not to get worked up when it comes to our poor Texans, even in public . . . hope we don’t see any of those people again!), we walked around to the Honda Odyssey and saw the above mural painted on a building’s wall.

Very informative

Very informative

We figured that Seguin probably was pretty historic, seeing how it’s named for Juan Seguin, a prominent player in Texas’ drive for independence from Mexico. His remains are buried in the town.

But we were surprised to learn that the very street where we had parked our minivan once was a stagecoach route. I could just imagine the dust, dirt, passengers, and horses. As well as an Indian or two.

It seemed almost apropos that we watched a battle between the Texans and the Chiefs right there!

Gonzales’ Wildflowers Wow Me, Too!

Indian paintbrush surround a disc golf basket.

I haven’t traveled all over the great state of Texas.

Indian blankets

In fact, I don’t like to leave my 10-mile radius in our town outside of Houston.

Winecups

Still, I can’t imagine any Texas towns that are prettier than Gonzales during the spring when the wildflowers are blooming.

More Indian paintbrush

It just so happens that driving the back way home from San Antonio takes you smack-dab through this historic, little village. I detoured a bit to see how the flora looked along the disc golf course.

Indian paintbrush amid the bluebonnets

And I was richly rewarded! I’ve never seen so many clusters of Indian paintbrush. They look so wonderful mixed in with the bluebonnets . . . probably because the University of Illinois’ colors just happen to be orange and blue. Hail, alma mater, ever so true (so true).

A butterfly enjoys a false garlic.

The skippers and butterflies, though, seemed partial to the maroon winecups and white false garlic.

I wonder if they’re Aggies!

Just Doing My Part for Texas Tourism

Nature’s palette near Luling

Dear Texas Tourism Department:

Bluebonnets surround a lone Indian paintbrush.

Purple wildflowers intermingle with a yellow one.

A quartet of bluebonnets

A skipper enjoys a yellow wildflower.

Indian paintbrushes

Pink wildflowers

You’re welcome!

The Jinx Family Flies Again

Only we would be on a plane that needs to park on the runway.

Would someone please remove that “kick us, airplanes” sign from our backs? Our family really is tired of encountering problems every time we travel . . . which isn’t very often.

As my #2 son succinctly put it: “We suck on airplanes.”

Yep, sadly we do.

My #1 son texts on his iPhone 4 to pass the time.

Check out these previous posts for evidence of our past plane problems here, here, and here.

I wonder if the other passengers would have been trying to book other flights if only they had known about our reputation. As in, oh, oh, here comes the Jinx family.

My #2 son wishes we were back in Houston.

For awhile, I thought we actually were going to have a trip that was almost flawless when it came to air travel. Sure, the Mister and our #2 son were delayed about an hour leaving Houston for Columbus, Ohio, because the plane was waiting for passengers and then their luggage. But leaving from Columbus to return to Houston seemed easy-peasy. Almost too easy.

As we were on the small Continental Express jet, I watched the flight attendant give her safety spiel. I remember thinking, “Could we finally have a flight where nothing goes wrong?”

We started to taxi on the runway and prepared for takeoff. I settled back in my seat, anxious for the moment when I could turn back on my iPad, when the captain spoke to us.

“An alarm has gone off in the cockpit. We’re going to pull off to the side of the runway and check it out.”

Oh, oh! Not something someone who hates to fly likes to hear.

Long story short, we went back to the terminal, deplaned, and walked back inside. With express jets, passengers board outside up a flight of steps. We had to go back down those steps, grab our carry-on bags, go up the stairs, and sit and wait for another hour until a new plane could be brought in. And then we had to ride that same travel merry-go-round one more time.

This was much better than our six-hour delay in Kansas City last summer. But it just figured that the Jinx clan would get kicked one more time.

Next time we fly, I’m checking to make sure nothing’s been taped to our backs!

Up in the clouds . . . I think

My #1 son blocks my view of the great outdoors.

As I’ve posted before, I’m a huge cloud fan. I never can get enough of photographing the fluffy stuff, either snapping away on the ground or in the air.

Usually when we fly, I make sure I have the window seat so I can take photos. However, this time I was with my #1 son on our way to Ohio to meet his dad and brother, and I put his comfort ahead of my photographic needs. So, of course, he totally blocked my view, both with his head and by keeping the shade closed. Saddened me greatly.

The moon is visible.

But on the way back to Houston, I made sure that I got a window seat (my three guys all sat in single seats). With my Nikon D300 and Nikon 24-120mm lens at the ready, I intermittently snapped away while reading an iBook. At first, the skies were clear.

A double cloud layer

But before long the clouds started to roll in.

Patchy clouds

There’s just nothing like looking out the window and feeling like you’re in another world.

Fluffy clouds

Fluffy clouds are all you can see for miles and miles. It’s so easy to get lost in your thoughts without a care in the world.

Terra firma appears once again!

Fortunately, just when you’ve entered an alternate universe and begin to forget your identity, the clouds part, and Texas appears below.

That means that before long we’ll be on the ground and soon headed to our house . . . back to our rain-soaked yard and several loads of laundry. It’s just life’s way of hitting you with that reality 2 by 4 and saying, “Welcome home!”

High School Football: A Touchdown and Lightning

Brelynn protects the football, as he runs for a short gain.

Brelynn protects the football, as he runs for a short gain.

Looks like it’s high school sports week at the old blog corral! So far I’ve posted photos of high school cross-country and volleyball; today it’s football’s turn.

Here in Texas, football reigns supreme. Especially the high school variety. It’s a Friday night under the lights (Saturday, too!) kind of religion that’s played out in stadiums all across this huge state I live in.

Harold (number 14) and Tyler (5) are ready to defend.

Harold (14) and Tyler (5) are ready to defend.

Last Saturday night the Mister, the #2 son, and I joined #2’s friend Cody and his dad and went to the boys’ high school’s football game. We weren’t expecting our team to do well, because it had been picked to finish dead last in the district. But we go to watch the marching band (especially our “third son” Chase) and dance team as much as we do the football action, so we were psyched about this opening-season contest.

Quarterback Taylor rolls out, looking for a receiver.

Quarterback Taylor rolls out, looking for a receiver.

I brought my Nikon D300 and Nikon 70-200mm lens to document the action. With the game starting at 7 p.m., I hoped it would be light enough to use my Nikon 1.4x teleconverter to give me extra reach from the stands. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, because it was overcast. I needed every bit of the 70-200’s f/2.8 aperture to get my shutter speed up high enough at ISO 1600 to stop the action. (Noise Ninja did a great job cleaning up the high-ISO noise, as usual.)

I was lucky enough that I was sitting on the right side in the bleachers when our team scored a touchdown near the end of the first quarter.

Anthony skies to corral the ball.

Anthony skies to corral the ball.

Our quarterback, Taylor, rifled the ball to Anthony, who leaped to corral it in the end zone.

Anthony secures his treasured touchdown.

Anthony secures his treasured touchdown.

Anthony then secured the ball for the first touchdown of the game.

Our team is winning so far!

Our team is winning so far!

What a great start to our high school football season! We’re actually winning!!

Oh, oh! Here comes the blurry lightning. (f/2.8, 1/60th, ISO 1600)

Oh, oh! Here comes the blurry lightning. (f/2.8, 1/60th, ISO 1600)

But then moments later that overcast sky was filled with lightning, as thunder boomed around us. I thought I might be able to snag a great lightning shot, but not having a tripod doomed me to mere blurs. A shutter speed of 1/60th of a second would not get me decent results. Very disappointing!

Plus the game was cancelled, because the storm continued, complete with rain. We didn’t even get to see a rousing halftime show. After the boys got ice cream at a nearby favorite place (Maggie Moo’s—great name!), we went home to our mundane lives.

How friendly!

How friendly!

When I looked through my photos that night, I was struck by something unusual: Our opponents (Katy Taylor High School) were wearing our quarterback Taylor’s name on their jerseys! Now we’re friendly folks here in south Texas, but to see that kind of support on the opposition’s shirts? Priceless! But I think that welcome for Taylor was just a one-time thing this season.

I doubt that lightning will strike twice!