Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to….

You!  Happy Birthday, Bob!   We love you.  Hope you’ve spent your day doing fun things!

Susan ~ Patchkat

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The aftermath!

Stacie and Lane left on Thursday evening.   Laura and Emylee headed back to San Antonio on Friday afternoon.   Lance, Leslie and the kids headed home this afternoon.  Sorry to see them leave…never long enough visits!    Now it’s just “2 old farts” and the cats according to the kids.   We’ve taken naps,  had snack dinner and are settling in for the evening.   House is way too quiet…again.

DSCF9629I’m not sure exactly what game Emylee was playing, but it certainly had Kenneth’s attention.   She’s like a magnet for Kenneth and Katherine.    College seems to suit Emylee…and she says she loves it.

 

 

 

DSCF9632Lane and Laura helped Ernie hang Christmas lights…then when Lance arrived,  he helped Ernie with the last strings and getting timers set.   They pulled the last of the Christmas boxes out of the basement too.   Maybe in the next few days I will unpack the Santas and get them set out.

Lance and Leslie took down a couple of dead trees from the back 40, chopped the wood and loaded up a batch to take home with them.  Win-win situation for us as we were hesitant to take the trees down on our own.   Thanks guys for taking care of that problem!

Was a productive visit without spending the whole time the kids were here working.  Everyone pitched in and did a little…and we all enjoyed lots of visiting time.

I think the cats are happy to settle down again….but missing the kids.   Talk about spoiled…I think the kitties were either being played with or held every waking hour.    DSCF9622Scamp keeps looking around like he’s lost something.  We had to do a suitcase check to be sure Snuggles and Spooky stayed here.  All the kids loved the pseudo siblings.

Here we are…tired, but happy!   Love every minute we get to spend with the family.   Just wish we had all of them close enough to visit often…that Wisconsin bunch is just too far away.

Love to all…missing you bunches!

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Susan ~ Patchkat

Thanksgiving ~ What are YOU thankful for???

I’m thankful for our family, thankful the Lord blessed our children with safe travels yesterday and thankful we live in a land of freedoms.

DSCF9603Stacie and her family arrived around lunchtime.   We made pumpkin pies, got the rest of the food ready for today.    Enjoyed a nice visit,  and a good pulled pork sandwich dinner.    Lane took the kids and went to Brownwood to visit with his family for a few hours.   It’s good that they’re so close which allows multiple visits.

Laura and Emylee arrived early evening.   They had a long day of travels as Laura had to drive to San Antonio to pick Emylee up from UTSA where she’s majoring in music.   We were glad to see them safely here.   More visiting,  lots of laughter and reminiscing.   Think we finally started shuffling off to bed in shifts about 11 PM.   I know it was after 2:30 AM before I went to sleep.

Stacie and I wrestled the 25 lb turkey out of his bag,  repackaged the spare parts and prepared the turkey for the oven.    He was in the oven roasting by 1 AM.   Sure was nice to wake up to a turkey scented house at 7AM!    I love that smell.

Ernie and Laura made up a batch of homemade biscuits for breakfast.   Those were yummy…served with home made orange/lemon marmalade and honey.   Good stuff!

DSCF9595We sat down to Turkey dinner at 1 PM and dessert about 3:30 PM.   Now we’re all stuffed, sleepy and happy.   Only bad thing is Stacie and Lane have to leave soon as he has to work tomorrow.   We’ll see Stacie again next week as she’s coming back to house/kitty sit while we’re in Houston.

Laura and Emylee get to spend another night before heading back to San Antonio.  Here they are enjoying a reading break after dinner.   DSCF9610 (2)

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Alli, Reed and Emylee enjoying a buffet of yummy desserts.  Pumpkin bars, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie,  Cherry Cobbler, Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake and an Apple Crumble pie….with Ice cream and whipped cream of course!   We’re all on a pure sugar high right now :-)

All in all,  it’s been a great day!   Of course, the big draw now is the TV and the football games.

Lance and Leslie and kiddos will come in sometime tomorrow for a short visit.  We’re so thankful to have 3 of our 4 children close enough to allow visits.   It’s hard to get everyone off at the same time, but well worth it when it happens!

DSCF9609I think the picture of BG says it all….She has had her plate of leftovers, taken her afternoon constitutional and now she’s ready to nap.

DSCF9600 ApacheKat had a few bites of turkey and as you can see,  she was ready for more!  It’s so wonderful to see her out and active and being a normal kitty again!   Thank you Lord for answered prayers.

Susan ~ Patchkat

We’re NOT the Brady Bunch…just ask our kids…

We’re sort of a “Brady Bunch” without the maid, royalties or TV cameras.   Ernie and I came into our marriage with a certain amount of “historical baggage”,  2 children each, and a houseful of cats.   The children ranged from 4 to 11 years old with totally different temperaments and needs.  Because we didn’t all live under the same roof,  there were hostilities, perceived “favoritisms” and lots of jealousy.   To say there were hard feelings and a lot of tension would be putting it mildly.  Did they outgrow all of that?   I’d say yes, but only they could tell you for sure.    That’s the stuff they never showed on the “Brady Bunch”.

Looking back,  I think we did well as parents.   We taught them that hard work was nothing to shirk, that perseverance,  good work ethics, good family values, respect and manners were all important values.  It’s a blessing to watch as they are now passing those same values down to our wonderful grandchildren.

We’ve encouraged each other in our skills and talents.  Ernie was mechanically inclined…but he’s also discovered he has a talent for woodworking, he loves to bake, he enjoys taking part in the gardens, and he loves to work with children.   I’ve always sewed and crocheted, gardened.  With Ernie’s encouragement, my hobbies have grown to encompass charity quilting.  That has involved sinking a small fortune into a long arm quilting machine and no small amount of fabric stash.   I love cooking for groups…that may turn into running a local food bank and soup kitchen in Burkett.   Ernie supports my need to help people.

We’re survivors!   Today,  we celebrate 33 years of marriage.   Years of trials and tribulations with tears of pain, sorrow and joy.  Years of major ups and downs.  The Bible tells us that it’s “in the valleys we grow”….and you better believe that’s true.   Thinking about the tough times…down in those valleys of family troubles, job woes, and health issues…We continue to draw on our faith in our Lord Christ Jesus, which continually strengthens our bonds.

HE has a plan for each of us and I’m so thankful that HIS plans for me included bringing Ernie into my life,  our wonderful family, and a strong marriage.   Yep,  I’d do it all again.

I love you Ernie!  Happy 33 Anniversary!

Susan ~ Patchkat

 

 

What are friends for???

One of our former housing residents is a terrific chef.   In the Summer,  he brings in pulled pork for sandwiches.  He smokes/grills goodies and shares often.   Come Wintertime,  he’s lugging in huge pots of Mexican Posole or Chicken Soup.   We love to see him pull up!  I had never eaten the Posole before Glenn started bringing it to the office.  Now I can actually make it at home!  And it’s the only way I will eat hominy.

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This was today’s treat….about 12 qts of melt in your mouth, stick to your ribs, warm you up Chicken Soup.  YUM!

Chock full of good for you veggies, some sliced potatoes and lots of chicken.   He brought it in,  fired up our stove and had it heated and ready to serve when the maintenance staff came in on break.

It’s 38 degrees outside, so you can guess how this went over in our break area….couldn’t get it ladled fast enough for them!  Debbie and I have had our share too :-)    Now to figure out how to carry some of it home!

 

It’s nice to have such thoughtful friends.

Susan ~ Patchkat

 

Drips and Sparkles

Texas weather has struck again.   Friday saw us with freezing winds and rain, sleet and ice.   The NiceBossLady called and told me to stay home.   How could I argue with that????   Spent my day sewing!  YEAH!!!   Busted some stash on Christmas gifts!!!!

Did some reading in my recliner in front of a blazing fireplace.  What a terrific day!   Had a pork roast in the slow cooker which later became pulled pork.   It was good.

Saturday we waited till lunchtime and headed to Brownwood to pick up my prescriptions.  The roads were wet,   it rained, but wasn’t unsafe.   Walmart was packed.  You’d have thought they were giving something away.  NOT.  I’ll never understand why people feel they have to be so rude.   The store was full of absolute rudeness.

Few photos of the day….

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Do you see the little fringe skirt of ice on the bottom of our street sign?   Every sign we passed had that same little fringe.   They looked so delicate and pretty.

Here we have a shot of the Bayou through the snow crusted pecan trees.  First frost, followed by a strong round of winds took almost all the leaves.  Now,  they’re just stark skeletons.

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There is one stretch on Hwy 206 where the Red Oak trees are thick.  They are absolutely gorgeous.  The leaves run the gamut from bright yellow to deep, cranberry reds.  Of course, the battery on my camera died before I could get any photos.   I so want red oak trees in our back 40.   Don’t want to purchase one until the leaves are turning so I’ll know if it’s a “red” tree or a “brown/yellow” tree.   I am only interested in the reds.

My favorites here at the house are the Pyrocanthia bushes.   Those shockingly red berries and the green leaves…all covered in ice.  Pretty.

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So it is that Winter rears it’s cold head in Texas.   We’ve enjoyed a dinner of homemade Zuppa Tuscana with a loaf of fresh made bread…have Tea Cakes for dessert.   Kitchen is clean,  laundry is done and I’m heading back to my recliner  in front of the fire…and plan to stay warm!

 

Susan ~ Patchkat

Neighborhood clean up day in Burkett

We had about 20 residents/property owners show up ready to work on the 9th of November.  We ordered in a 30yd dumpster, had chain saws buzzing, hammers banging and rakes in high gear.   Several yards were cleaned,  a porch cleared of damaging vines and trash, dead trees/branches/shrubbery removed.   Another house had the pipes winterized, a leak fixed and the roof repaired.   Scrap metal, concrete chunks, old furniture and carpeting were picked up out of yards and carried to the dumpster for disposal.  By the end of the day,  the dumpster was overflowing!   Took Colton a lot of time on the tractor to get it packed down level for transport.

DSCF9568  The Pastor of Burkett Baptist Church, Audey Sheppard, and owner of AREACO Bruce Adams, along with Ernie were operating chain saws trimming deadfall and dangerously overhanging branches.DSCF9569

 Mike, Melinda and Colton were running the bucket to haul trash to the dumpster, shredding lots and cleaning yards for some of the elderly residents.  Thank you to Melinda for mowing the BVFD lots.   Looks much nicer now!

There were so many workers I didn’t see what everyone was doing.   My time was spent ensuring lunch was ready for the crowd.   We had plenty of water, hot coffee,  sandwich makings and cookies for everyone to eat their fill.

Most of the work was under the direction of one of our main organizers, Linda.   She did a great job of pulling things together. 

DSCF9570There were people on mowers, shredders, tractors running all over Burkett.   When they were done,  things looked clean,  trimmed and nice.   We still have a house to paint for a resident and another that’s in the process of being torn down.  

Burkett is an official Texas Ghost Town.   It’s an old oil boom town (population of about 1500) that has fallen on hard times.  The ranchers are the largest viable industry now.   Out of about 30 businesses,  only 2 churches, the Community Life Center, the Volunteer Fire Department and the Post Office remain open. The population has dropped to around 60.

Most of the younger people have had to move away in search of jobs and the elderly are becoming fewer and unable to care for their properties.  Many properties are either rented or left abandoned.   When that happens,  yards and homes start looking seedy and unattractive.  Thanks to our volunteers, driving through town is much nicer.  There is a renewed sense of community pride.  

Thank you to all who came out to help make our first Clean up day such a success.

Susan ~ Patchkat