Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back Where I Belong

Seems we've been on the go, more so than usual, since the 10th, and I'm glad to report that I'm finally back where I belong.

Here's what we've been up to - with the exception of the metroplex traffic, all is well.

It's been 2 years since we made the trip to see my folks in San Antonio and our visit was long overdue. For the first time, DH joined us and that made the trip all the more enjoyable. Even after being married for over 21 years, I do not like being away from him.

The pre-trip arrangements are always the most hectic: Preparing food for Grandpa (because he was keeping an eye on the ranch while we were going to be away - thank you Grandpa!), thoroughly cleaning the house (because I like returning to a clean home), cleaning out the refrigerator (because I don't want to face any science experiments when we return), and packing (ever notice it takes a man exactly 3 1/2 minutes to pack for a 6 day trip?). Whew! I'm already tired and we haven't even left yet!

The boys also threw in their shotguns and extra ammo (one can never have too much ammo you know!) as they were planning on hitting a couple of ranges in the area.

We planned on returning on Saturday or Sunday, but had to cut things short. We got a call on Tuesday that a friend and former employer had passed away and his funeral was scheduled for Thursday, south of Pecos (about 7 1/2 hours from my folks). I felt badly, but we really needed to attend. Then my Dad recieved a call that a dear friend of his had also passed away and he made instant plans to fly to New York on Thursday morning. So we all scattered on Wednesday and went in search of appropriate clothes. Even though it seems like we packed everything but the kitchen sink, we didn't have anything appropriate for a funeral. Thank goodness for Tj Maxx and Ross - DD and I both found very nice outfits without breaking the bank and we headed west early Thursday morning.

We enjoyed catching up with old friends and if a funeral can be beautiful, Billie Mac's was. Why is is that we only seem to get together with people during funerals and weddings?

Afterwards, we pointed the truck north and headed for our dirt road. Getting up at 3 in the morning and pulling up to the ranch at 10:30 that night made for a VERY long day! But, as they say, there is no rest for the weary and we jumped right back into our routines.

I was able to stay home for a few days, actually 5, and then DS and I took off for St. Jo, Texas. He had been accepted to a Junior Olympic Shotgun School that ran for 3 days. We were so excited for him, but we had never heard of St. Jo and we had no idea what to expect. The fact that he was coached by the actual Olympic Shotgun Coaches, who had just returned from Beijing, was just amazing! Haley Dunn, who won the World Championships and was an alternate for the Olympic team and a world champion, coached as well and Tyler shot his very first round of 5 stand with her. I would have been completely intimidated, but not this kid.
I really can't complain about being on the go, because they were only home for the shooting school and they were leaving for Belarus on Monday for the World Cup. Can you say jet lag?!

Tyler was in shotgun heaven! That kid ate, slept, and lived shotguns for three days and is already planning a return trip. The Name of the Shooting Facility is WillaWalla Shooting Center and the family that owns it couldn't have been more hospitable. They spoiled those kids. Tyler shot over 1000 rounds in three days and learned so much that his head is reeling.

I can't believe how many shells they shot! We were emptying these buckets all weekend and each kid had a tub! We brought lots of hulls home and the boys have been busy reloading them.

As for me, I wandered off on my own for a few days and then spent Saturday with him. I eventually ended up in the kitchen and helped with the meal preparations when he was not shooting. There were only 18 spots, but along with the coaches, and parents, 50 people ate on Saturday.

So what did I do with all of that time to myself?! Well, let me tell you that it was an odd sensation! I have NEVER, in 21 years, been alone for 2 days and it felt strange to say the least, but I seized the opportunity and spent an entire day catching up with my college roommate who was so sweet and took time out from her family vacation to drive 3 1/2 hours and meet me for the day! We had so much fun and the fact that the Outlet Mall where we met had closed the majority of their stores, did not deter us for long. We spent the entire morning in the Kitchen Connection. Hmmm...I finally get a break from my kitchen duties and where do I end up? - A kitchen store! Who knew that wooden spoons, knife blocks and cheese slicers could be so much fun? I love that stuff, but actually, it was the company that I adored and it was wonderful to finally have some girl time with each other. We ate a delicious lunch at Chilies, shopped some more, and then sat for hours at Cracker Barrel where we probably drove the waiter insane because he kept asking us if we wanted anything and all we did was visit over multiple glasses of water and Coke and a very sweet raspberry iced tea that made my mouth pucker. Then I felt badly because N drove back to her family late that night, but thank you SO MUCH for a fabulous day!! I enjoyed our time together so much and I treasure your friendship so let's do this again soon!

I felt guilty because I simply went back to my hotel room and spent the rest of the evening like this:

The door on my original room wouldn't lock properly so they upgraded me to this:

I felt completely out of my element, but it didn't take me long to feel pampered. This dirt road girl quite enjoyed her surroundings last weekend (with the exception of that crzy traffic!), although they would have been much improved if DH had accompanied me! (grin!)

Alas, all fairy tales must come to an end and I really was ready to come back home. I missed my prince and fair daughter and the end of the dirt road is where I really belong - it's where my fairy tale meets reality and that makes me feel blessed beyond measure!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Prodigal Blogger Returns!

He...llloooooooooo! Anybody out there? I'm certain that the few readers I once had, have long ago abandoned me. I don't blame you either. I too have abandoned my blog this summer. Computer time just did not fit into the day. My writing inspiration is only viable in the morning and it has been replaced by my morning walk. I often wrote posts in my head....inspired posts...magnificent posts....LOL! You know me better than that, don't you?! And you aren't buying it, are you? LOL! I don't blame you.

However, although I have left you high and dry this summer, I now sit before you 25 pounds lighter. Whew! I put on a lot of miles on this old dirt road, but I really comitted to make some changes this summer and my hard work is paying off. 25 # gone - another 20 or so to go. Sure was a lot easier putting it on than it is taking it off!

We've had a crazy, busy August and suddenly I find myself facing the first day of school. I love the first day of school, but I am so NOT ready for it today! Empty lessons plans are staring me in the face, pencils lay unsharpened, books lay scattered in various rooms and my students gaze at me longingly, hoping for JUST ONE MORE DAY of summer. Our end of summer was a flurry of activity and filled with road trips (which I will share in a later post) that wore me to a frazzle. I do not travel well. I am perfectly content to live my quiet little life here at the end of the dirt road. However, every now and then, the good Lord knows I need to be shaken out and he leads me to new places. Often I end up enjoying these places. Sometimes I do not. One of those 'do not' places is Dallas, Texas traffic. Oh my! It's a wonder I even lived to tell the tale. And only a portion of the tale shall be revealed today. My mind is still quite muddled and if I were to share the entire story, yours may become muddled as well so I'll stick to one subject.

That would be a first, wouldn't it?

So here's what I wrote from the hotel on Friday night, after my harrowing experience:

Oh my! I'm in north Texas for a few days and today I braved the jungle that is Dallas / Ft. Worth traffic.

I tried to copy a photo from the web, but everything turned out very pixelated and there was NO WAY I was taking a picture while I was actually IN the traffic so just picture it in your mind. I think that every vehicle in the entire southern half of the United States was on the same road I was on. The only difference was that they knew where they were going and...I didn't.

I lived to tell the tale, but I have one question: How do y'all handle big city traffic every day?! Ack!! Tomorrow I am going to take pictures of DS who is attending a Junior Olympic Shooting Sports school/camp and I packed my camera...but left the battery in the charger....don't ask. I think I was already flustered just thinking about driving in Dallas. So I phoned the Arlington Camera Center, which is where I purchased my camera in January (my SIL drove me there) and told them of my predicament. They told me they had a battery in stock and that they would take an existing charger and charge the battery for me. So that meant I had to grit my teeth and join the rat race.

This is such a wonderful opportunity for DS and I was not going to miss out on capturing this on film!I'm going to put in a plug for Arlington Camera Center - amazing people and outstanding customer service! I was impressed from the first time I stepped into the store and they have a lifelong customer in me, although I think I'll send them my business via the Internet from now on. Oye!

Thankfully they pointed me towards an alternate route back to Gainesville, still wild, but better - I'm certain I looked pretty haggard when I walked through their doors this afternoon. I can handle lots of things...I tend to a multitude of rowdy cowboys on a regular basis and I work with cattle, have been run over by steers, can hop a fence pretty darn quick, have been slammed in the head with a heavy gate, and been stomped on by horses, but nothing compares to the traffic I encountered today!

I now know why the good Lord put me at the end of a dirt road. He really does know what He's doing and everyone in the vicinity of the Big D can now rest easy, as of Sunday morning - I am westward bound - and I am taking the backroads!

See, the backroads are much more pleasant!
It's good to be back!

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