Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Greeting

I'm blessed beyond measure and looking forward to celebrating those blessings with family on Thursday.

I wish, for each of you, a day that embodies all that is expressed in these thoughts, written by Ray Stannard Baker:
"Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life . . . a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year -- and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God."
Or, if you prefer a touch of Thanksgiving humor, here's what Erma Bombeck had to say about the day:
"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?" :-) 

This XXXLarge turkey puts a smile on my face whenever I drive past. Oh, yes, and the name of the farm where he sits does more than put a smile on my face - it makes me giggle! The Soggy Bottom Goat Farm.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

3rd Great Grandmother - Polly Pierce Clark

One of the things that has kept me busy in my retirement has been researching Dan's and my ancestry. I recently became a member of the Bell County Genealogical Society, which meets once a month. I'm finding it helpful and extremely interesting.

I thought it might be fun to blog, on occasion, about one of our ancestors. I have chosen my third great-grandmother, Polly Pierce Clark, as the first of those.


Pauline (Polly) Pierce was born in 1824 in New York. She married Roswell Bailey Clark,  born in Pennsylvania in 1815, and they welcomed their first son, Wellington, in Climax, Michigan, on January 5, 1847. Their second son, William, was born in 1848, also in Michigan.

[A side note: Polly's first son is the first "Wellington" I have identified in our family tree. Several sons in following generations have been honored with that name, including my grandfather, Wellington Wesley Clark, my father, Robert Wellington Clark Sr, and my little brother, Robert Wellington Clark Jr. It is possible that Polly's son, Wellington, was named after the Duke of Wellington, who was one of Britain's great military heroes of the 19th century and was credited as the man who finally defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.]

Roswell and Polly continued to live in Climax, Michigan. In 1861 the first federal income tax law was enacted, and records indicate that in 1864 they were assessed at the rate of 6% on the killing and sale of three hogs - amounting to a total tax due of 18 cents.

Soon after the death of her husband on February 21, 1885, Polly, along with her son and his family, moved to Nebraska. They were part of the great homesteaders race West to claim land. The Homestead Act, which was in effect for 123 years, allowed even women, African Americans, and immigrants to apply for land out west. Almost half of Nebraska was settled through the Homestead Act.

Polly, her son, Wellington, and his mother-in-law, Maria Darker Wynkoop, each laid claim to 160 acres of adjoining land. Polly's 160-acre plot was identified as the northeast quarter of section 7 in the twenty-first township of the fifty-third range. On the application papers, she sometimes signed her name with an "X", while at other times she actually penned her signature:

Her son, Wellington, built her house, in which she began living in May of 1885. It was a sod house, 16 x 24 feet, with a board-and-sod roof. It had one door and two windows, and was suitable for habitation year-round. She had an eight-foot deep well with good water and owned two horses and one cow.

In her first year on the acreage she planted 10 acres in corn which yielded 75 bushels.
In the second year she planted 10 acres in oats, but all of her crops were killed by drouth.
In the third year she planted 10 acres in corn which yielded 150 bushels.
In the fourth year she planted 10 acres in corn which yielded 200 bushels.
By 1890, when she had completed the requirements of the homestead law, making the property legally hers, she was 66 years old, and she had 20 acres planted in corn and 5 acres in flax. 

She lived simply, with the following possessions:  
1 wagon
1 plow
1 stove
1 table
2 beds
2 chairs
1 wash stand
1 desk
1 cupboard

Sixty percent of those who began the homesteading adventure abandoned their lots before the five-year residency requirement was achieved. But Polly braved the hardships and became a Nebraska landowner.

Polly died on February 4, 1910, at the age of 85, a true pioneer woman. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Three Generations of Car Guys

Dan, Chris and Robert had a day at the vintage races in Austin last weekend. There MUST be a genetic marker for "cars" that these guys share! (By the way . . . thanks to Kelsey for these photos I snatched from her blog. Dan didn't remember to take pictures. That genetic marker - for "photos"- ISN'T in his DNA.)

Look close or you might miss seeing my favorite driver!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sayonara Hidetaka

For over two years, now, I've had the honor and pleasure of tutoring my Japanese student, Hidetaka, every Tuesday evening. I do this tutoring, on a volunteer basis, through the Temple Literacy Council. Hidetaka was not the typical Literacy Council student, though, since he did not need help with reading skills, but with English as a second language. He was a veterinarian in Japan, and holds a second doctoral degree, as well. While here in the US, he was doing research for Texas A&M. He and his wife have two adorable children, both born while they were here in America. Dan and I have really enjoyed getting to know them.

About a month ago, Hidetaka told me that he and his family were going to return home, to Japan, in November. He hopes to come back to the States one day, but for family and career reasons, he needs to go home for now. We've become good friends, and I will miss our Tuesday night sessions.

Today Hidetaka, his wife, Kaori, and the children came by to bid us farewell. We agreed to keep in contact.

How thoughtful! They brought a beautiful bouquet of roses for me.
As a parting gift, I painted this memento of Texas for Hidetaka and Kaori. Hopefully it will remind them of many good times they had during their Texas sojourn. We hope to see them again some day.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stormy Weather, a New Tree and Halloween

The rain let up for a day or so, and then it was back with a vengeance. From Thursday midnight until Saturday morning, we had 12" of rain according to our rain gauge. We were under a tornado watch yesterday morning. I was awake numerous times last night, because of the thunder and lightning. This morning, however, the rain has stopped

This morning our friend, Mike, who owns a pick-up truck, helped us pick up a tree that we were awarded through an annual City of Temple Parks & Recreation program called A Tree for Me. If you would like a free tree, you apply, as we did a few weeks ago. Then trees are given out on a first come first served basis, based on your application date. You get to list your preference of varieties, but your choice is not guaranteed. I really don't remember what I listed as my preference, but it wasn't a red oak, which is what we got. But, as they say, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." We were really glad the rain had stopped this morning, when we had to pick up our tree. But the road to the nursery had flooded and was a muddy mess. Luckily, they had volunteers there loading the trees, so we didn't have to get out in the mud.  Here is our little, somewhat scraggly red oak. Now we have to get it in the ground.

And tonight is Halloween. We usually try to be with our grands for this spooktacular holiday, but it didn't work out this year. I'm hoping that the weather continues to be dry so we will get lots of little goblins at our door tonight. We're ready!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Weekend from Two Perspectives

This past weekend was an interesting one. I think I'll tell about it from two perspectives - Dan's and mine.


All year long Dan waits for this one weekend in the fall. It's the weekend when he goes to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the Formula 1 race track in Austin, to watch the United States Grand Prix race and all the preliminaries. It's a three day event, starting on Friday and ending with the actual two-hour race on late Sunday afternoon. In the past, Chris has joined him there, as well as a few of Chris' Houston friends, whom Dan now counts as friends, as well. This year Chris did not plan on being there, but some of the friends, including a fellow named Lindsay, were coming, so Dan had been coordinating everything with Lindsay.  They would all be staying at the same hotel on Friday and Saturday nights, in nearby Bastrop. 

We have had a dry, dry summer this year. No rain at all . . . until the remnants of Hurricane Patricia slammed into us with all its fury, bringing torrents of rain and some wind. We only got three days of this weather  . . . you guessed it, Friday, Saturday and Sunday . . .RACE WEEKEND! Dan was a trooper, though. and stayed for the entire three days. The friends who were supposed to join him there, however, backed out. I'll let you read about Dan's weekend experiences in his own words. This is an email he wrote to the absentee guys (only slightly edited by me):

Randy Travis had a hit a few years back that included these lines:
"As long as old men sit n' talk about the weather
As long as old women sit n' talk about old men"
From "Forever And Ever, Amen” 
I can say that I thought of these lines many times as I texted and talked with Lindsay and Chris over the weekend. The weather was influencing everything and it was mean. Raining hard, wind blowing, soak you to the skin type of weather. My poncho worked wonderfully and I only got wet below the knees. Even when the rain stopped, it was still cold.
 That said, going to Bastrop and the race for the weekend was a much easier decision for me than for anyone else. Never was I more than a little over an hour from the warmth and dry comfort of my own home. And definitely more than once I considered calling it a weekend and spend that brief hour or so to drive home. I didn’t, mainly because I was there and hope springs eternal. Based on the information available at the time, we all made a right decision.
Friday, they let me park in Lot N with no problem. I watched morning practice and when they canceled P2, left. Then I got stuck in the parking lot. Some very nice people helped to push my car out. COTA announced Friday night that Lot N would be closed Saturday and people that were to park there had to go to downtown Austin to park and be bussed to the circuit. 
Saturday morning the circuit was closed to anyone not already there. I showed up at noon to park in Lot N and they told me only workers, campers, and police were allowed in Lot N but I could park in Lot Q (Lot Q is about 2 miles from the circuit) and I would be bussed to the circuit. I went to Lot Q and stayed in my car and watched people get drenched as soon and they stepped out of their car. I monitored from my cell phone the procession of delays for the scheduled qualification and when the drenched people started returning, I left. I never made it to the circuit. There wasn’t anything to watch, anyway, qualification was rescheduled for Sunday morning. COTA amended their parking announcement but I was still supposed to go to downtown Austin to park.
Sunday, they let me park in Lot N because I showed them a parking pass. I watched qualification then went back to my car to wait out the rain. Rain stopped about 45 minutes prior to the race start. I watched the race and tried to wait in the stands for the Elton John concert. Since I had got up at 5:30 AM to get to the circuit early, I was much too tired and left after waiting until 5:00.
 So I was able to see everything that ran except FP3. I maybe should have tried to get in, but that would really be pushing my luck because COTA said that the circuit was closed. Sunday racing was spectacular. I am a great fan of racing in the rain and F1 in the rain is no exception. Practice and qualifying in the rain was spin after slide and driving off the track for everybody. And that was just at the corners I could see from my seat. Watching the rooster tail grow as they accelerated down the back straight was astonishing. 
This is what Lot N looked like after it stopped raining. I took this sitting in my car on Sunday. No, I didn’t park in the mud, I was on one of the gravel access roads that crisscross the lot. 

America hasn't had a Formula 1 driver in almost a decade, so Dan got this brief clip of American driver Alexander Rossi as he sped by in Practice-1. 



I may look forward to Dan's weekend at the races almost as much as he does. I usually plan to work on long-overdue projects and spend some time just relaxing and watching movies on Netflix. So when the ominous weather reports were coming in, I began to worry that both of us might be disappointed. But Dan when wasn't dissuaded by a "little rain," I was a bit relieved, myself.

I spent a lot of the weekend finishing up a project that I had already started earlier in the week -- sorting through all of my thousands (literally) of old  disorganized, disheveled photos that have been moved from one house to another - from one state to another, actually - and storing them in a keen set of boxes I ordered from Amazon. Each box holds 16 smaller containers, each of them holding around 100 photos. I filled nearly three of these boxes, plus another type of box which holds my 8x10s and 5x7s. It feels so good to have this all done! Now I can put my hands on photos, by subject matter, in a matter of a minute or so.

I spent a lot of time on my current art class painting, as well. It was great because I was able to spread out on the kitchen table , where I usually paint, for the entire three days and not have to pick everything up for meals. I just ate in front of the TV, watching my favorite Netflix features, and listening to the thunder and the pounding rain.

I also spent several hours on the computer working on and (sigh) setting up a Facebook account. (Four years ago my Facebook account was hacked, and it created all sorts of chaos for me. I finally decided to take a chance again and set up a new account. I found I was missing out on too much news from friends from Alaska, Oregon, New Mexico, and closer to home.)

I really did enjoy my weekend, but when Sunday evening came, and I heard the garage door open, and saw Dan driving his wet, mud-splattered car in, I was really happy. I enjoyed flying solo all weekend, but it was great to have him back in the nest, safe and sound. Three days of being on my own is just about right.