Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Do These Remind You of Samuel Clemens?

Last week, Livie's 1st Grade class went on a field trip. They visited the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, IA, just off the Mississippi River.

Andrew and I went along as parent helpers.

Anyway, I took a few Instagram photos on my iPhone. Here are a couple shots of a riverboat's paddle.

(You can see a better view of each photo if you click on them.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Brown Barn Charm

I haven't been blogging much lately, so it's nice to jump back into it by participating in "Barn Charm" with my version of being creative. 

Here's a farm somewhere on the south side of I-80, somewhere in between Des Moines and Coralville, IA (we were heading east). It was about a week before the first day of "Spring" (though it seems winter's still holding on tight in Iowa).

This is one of those "on the go" photos I took out the (grimy) car window using the Instagram app on my phone. (I don't remember which filter I used.)

(You can get a better view of the photo if you click on it.)

Please visit the rest of this week's "Barn Charm" entries by clicking the "Barn Charm" button below: 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Still Life

. . . or perhaps the title should be, My Attempt at Being Artistic:

Instagram photo, "Cutie" clementine oranges, 21 Mar 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Just Remembering a Few Things

Hi everyone. I know, I know . . .  I've obviously been away from blog-land for a while.

First, I had to take this semester off - it was an unplanned break. (It's a complicated story . . . but in a nutshell, I was not informed my advisor had retired. I couldn't sign up for classes without my advisor's approval. For a couple weeks prior to the semester's start, I was unable to track her down, and no one thought to mention that she had retired/had a replacement until after classes had started. And of course, by this time, the ones I wanted/needed were full.)

Secondly, after a rough fall semester last year, I was completely unmotivated to write anything, either academic, or for fun (such as for this blog).

As a matter of fact, I've hardly had the motivation to read anything for fun, either.

Basically, I've had little inspiration to create anything recently.

I guess I just needed a break.

But today, I realized something: yesterday was the third anniversary of my uncle Hector's untimely death. I hadn't even realized yesterday was the anniversary until I was getting Livie ready for school this morning, and I'd glanced at the school lunch calender to tell her what her hot-lunch options were for the day.

So I guess that was inspiration enough to share a few memories.

This is the house in El Paso, TX where my maternal grandparents lived for many, MANY years, as did my mom and my uncles. This first story takes place here. I wasn't there, but I've been told the story numerous times, mainly by my grandmother, Oma, (but once or twice by my uncle, and a couple times by my mom). So this is going to be my Oma's version of the story.

Some background info: before I came into existence, my mom was in nursing school. She lived at home with her parents while going to nursing school.

The story: one night, she was coming home after her shift at the hospital. On this particular evening, my uncle (7 years younger than my mom) had my grandmother's permission to spend the night at his friend's house. So he was supposedly at his friend's house.

As you may have guessed, he was NOT at his friend's house. He and his friend were at my grandparents' house. Not inside the house, but  hiding in the bushes. See where this is going?

Well, since it was night, and it was dark, my mom had pulled into the carport and was quickly walking to the door. I'm sure you can guess what happened next. My uncle and his friend were planning on jumping out to try and scare her, thinking her reaction would be hilarious. However, she had gotten SO SCARED, that she let out a blood-curdling scream.

My grandparents, who'd been in bed, but awake as they waited for my mom's safe return, had heard her terrified scream, jumped out of bed, and scurried to the door. Who do they see? My scared mom, of course. But also my scared uncle.

They were all scared at the time (except for my grandfather who was understandably very angry). But in retelling this story, my grandmother is in tears from laughing so hard. She says that my uncle had intended to scare his sister, my mom, but ended up having the tables turned, being the one who'd been frightened by her! My grandmother laughs SO HARD at the memory of his face, pale in the light of a full moon, eyes huge.

At this point in the story, my Oma is laughing so hard, she needs to stop to catch her breath. She says she was so angry at the time, that she made my uncle stay home for the rest of the night, even though she'd earlier given him permission to spend the night at his friend's. She says the funniest thing fueling her laughter is the memory of the moonlight on his face, making him look unusually pale, when he was probably already pale from having been frightened.


This photo was taken at my grandparents' home (not the home pictured earlier, but the home they lived in for their remaining years together). It's obviously my uncle and baby Livie. She was about 9 months old here. We'd all been at my grandparents' for the Veterans' Day long weekend (which was also my birthday weekend). My uncle was very good at taking care of babies,and enjoyed helping out with his great-niece, Livie. So if we were all at my grandparents' at the same time, he would willingly babysit her while Andrew and I went out for a couple hours (for dinner, or Christmas shopping, or a movie or whatever).

There was a weekend we were all at my grandparents' in December; it had just so happened to be the anniversary of when Andrew and I had gotten married in the church. "UH" (as he used to sign his e-mails to me) agreed to babysit Livie while Andrew and I went out to dinner. We went to the Olive Garden at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso. I don't remember now what I'd eaten. What I do remember is that it tasted SO GOOD, but I think it was because we had a couple hours to ourselves, knowing Livie was in good hands.

This next photo is obviously a number of months later, when Livie was over a year old.With a great love of books, language, and learning, he enjoyed reading to Livie. (By the way, he was a professor in the Department of English at the University of New Mexico - I guess, once a teacher, always a teacher.) 

As you can see, he's dressed all in black, which earned him my nickname for him - "Johnny Cash." My grandmother asked him once why he always dressed in black, head to toe. He smiled, chuckled, and said, "Well, I guess it's because this way, it's just so easy to match."


This photo is at my parents' house in Iowa. This was over Thanksgiving. Livie is being a chatterbox here, and my uncle is getting a kick out of all the funny things she was talking about (she talked a LOT then, and she talks a LOT now!). She was about 2.5 years old at this time.

This was about the time he was consistently calling her "Kitty Cat" as a nickname. She gets a kick out of this every time I remind her he used to call her that.

So there you have it. I'm gone for a few weeks and come back with a long, chatty post! Once my fingers get going over the keyboard, they get going!
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