Sunday, January 31, 2010

Of Hats and Tombs

Oh, lots of pictures this time! (Guess that makes up for not having blogged in the last couple of days, huh?)

Let me first take a minute to say THANK YOU! to all the people who comment on the blog. It makes me so happy. :) (And that book sounds awesome, you guys. heh. Take pictures.)

Alright. Now to picturama. Yesterday was COLD here. Now, granted, we didn't get inches and inches of snow like some folks in the country (5 at my mom's, 9 at Rachel's) but it was cold! Really! It's been below freezing for several nights in a row. (yes, we remembered to run some water at night - learned that lesson the hard, frozen way.)

So yesterday was cold. We decided to take a walk around the neighborhood, and had to really bundle up to do so. See?

In the area around our campground, lots of people have horses. Yay! We saw a sweet little foal standing near mama:

And...wait for it...SHETLAND PONIES. I LOVE THEM.

OMG so cute. I could've squeezed them if I weren't afraid of getting shot for trespassing.

Today, we opted to check out the downtown of Livingston. I realized that we hadn't taken any pictures of the downtown yet, so we went for a jaunt down there.

Isn't this a really cute little downtown?

Here's a detail shot of an antique and stained glass store (I took this one for you, Shirley!)

One thing that's really neat about Livingston is that it hasn't been totally taken over yet by chains (restaurants, stores, etc.) They have some fast food places, of course, but the sit-down restaurants around here are local restaurants, and even the movie theater is a locally owned place. How fun and retro is this?

We hit a few antique/junk shops and found some absolute treasures! We found this awesome quilting pattern book. I've never seen one like this - it actually has the little plastic quilting templates for every quilt in the book! This is my favorite quilt, Drunkard's Path (Yes, I see the irony. ha)

Noel bought me some fun jewelry, including 2 vintage brooches and an amethyst ring:

And this FAB retro/vintage hat from what I imagine was either the 1940's or 50's. How darling is this?

Check out the back of it - it kinda clinches your head. Looks like a horseshoe crab, huh? I can't wait to wear it out somewhere. So fun!

They have a really old cemetery right in the middle of the downtown area. We both love cemeteries. Such interesting and poignant history smooshed into a tiny area! They had some surprisingly old stones - the first burials were the wife & son of the founder of Livingston, way back in 1840. Who was the founder of Livingston, you might be asking?

We found him! Now you might be noticing that his stone doesn't exactly seem old. It seems that the good people of Livingston like to add stones to the cemetery once the originals aren't legible. They leave the other stones in place (if they still exist), but just put up new ones. Here was an interesting example - this one had THREE stones, each with a different year of death.

The oldest said 1879, the middle one 1872, and the brass military one said 1870. (A zombie, perhaps?) In 1993, the sons of confederate veterans put new brass markers on all the confederate soldiers. Interesting that they still put so much effort into their local history! Good to see.

(Also, I just noticed that veteran's name is Shotwell. Note he didn't die in battle. Coincidence? I think NOT. Reminds me of a guy that I knew from a previous job who said something about when he was in the navy, and I laughed so hard because his last name was Sinkus. HA!)

There was an old iron fence that had, at some point, a tree growing through it:

This old tomb was still clinging together even with all the trees growing around it:

It seems I never can find someone who shares my birthday when I'm walking through cemeteries, but lo and behold....

Ta da! (Although no, I was not born in 1894. Although my knees sound like I was.)

Seeing stones like this is a bit sombering, isn't it? A reminder of the miracles of modern medicine (penicillin, simple antibiotics, surgeries). Noel has a hard time even looking at the children's graves, there are so many and they're just heartbreaking. It's incredible how many people didn't make it to adulthood, something we take for granted nowadays.

But...on a lighter note. This means my birthday is next week.

I loved this guy's name.

Thistle Nettles. hee hee.

And of course, we have the obligatory artsy shot:

Tragedy did strike though. I stepped in a mud puddle, in my brand new sneakers. Sigh.

After our cemetery tour, we drove back toward the campground, and saw a gorgeous sunset. They say Texas has a big sky. They aren't kidding! (Right, Andrea?)

Cue Mexican food....and....fade to black.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jukin' Fools

When we have a day off, we like to drive. This, according to Noel (and corroborated by others), is called Jukin'.

Basically, to Juke properly, you have to obey the following Jukin' Commandments:

(1) Y'all Shalt Have Mountain Dew and Doritos Aplenty For Snakin'

(2) Y'all Shalt Plan No More Than Only A General Direction To Drive

(3) Y'all Shalt Stop To Pee At Skanky Truck Stops

I always add my own:

(4) Kelli Shalt Bring Her Knitting Bag. And Camera. (Like I go anywhere without either of those things anyway!)

Today we decided to juke east of I-45, since we've stayed west of that road since coming to Livingston. We went to Bryan (Texas A&M is there). (Also, what is an Aggie?) From there, we drove south to a town called Navasota. Such a cute town, and so many gorgeous homes! There were multiple jaw-droppers there - behemoth mansions with frilly frou-frou on them. This one was such a stunner I made Noel stop the truck so I could get out and snap a few pictures.

This is the side:

And here's a detail shot. I didn't notice til I got home that you can't really tell, but these were stained glass windows. GORGEOUS.

So many of the houses in that town had stained glass. Interesting, since we haven't seen that a lot anywhere else. My Aunt Shirley used to make lovely stained glass. Maybe she'll teach me someday. Because I really need a hobby. HA.

Oh, one fun thing about that house? The walkway was bricked. I didn't think anything about it until I took the front photo (above), looked down, and realized (yet again) how proud many Texas are of their...Texan-ness. Check out these Lone Star bricks!

They each had little stars in them. Fun stuff.

We came back to Livingston (after fighting traffic an hour outside of Houston that was still technically Houston Traffic), had dinner at a Cajun restaurant (and learned that apparently Cajun types use powdered Sassafrass leaves to thicken their gumbo - huh) and then crashed on the sofa, full of Cajun seafood and Jukin' adventure.

At Noel's urging, I started a book. We had been discussing it at dinner and...well...why not? So I sat down with the computer and knocked out about 2400 words of my first novel. So far Noel really likes it. I've never written something quite so long as a book. We'll see!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hurried Day, Then Lazy Day.

This morning was an absolute frenzy of activity! Noel got a call about a job in Corpus Christi, starting on Monday. Eek! We would be driving out tonight (to avoid as much Houston traffic/misery as possible) and trying to find a campground there that's not too far away from his work site and also decent (and also has cable, because HELLO I am going through serious CSI withdrawal here, people).

So! We jumped into action! We researched campgrounds, made a reservation at one, and then ran out to do errands (after putting a pork shoulder in bbq sauce into Davy Crockpot for dinner). We had to run and pick up our mail at Noel's Texas mail service, then fedex some stuff out, then also go to the post office, then to the grocery store.

(By the way, we still have our Savannah mailbox too - I haven't changed my residency yet. I'm still in denial about ever becoming a Texan. Sigh).

Speaking of becoming Texan, when we got our mail, aside from the large bundle of yarn contained therein (part of my Christmas present from Mom, thank you - it's gorgeous!), Noel had The Prize:

His Texas driver's license.

No, there was no gun included. Only instructions for the mandatory bow-legged swagger, and a training video on spittoon usage.

It was at Destination #3, Post Office, that Noel got the call that the job had been temporarily pushed back a few weeks. So pressure was off to get out of town today. We may be in Houston for another job by Monday, but we'll see tomorrow about that.

I'm kinda glad we didn't have to leave tonight, because I had a few more sewing projects to work on, namely fixing up another pair of Noel's work pants. If I put them down, I sometimes forget they're there. Oopsie. Sewing amnesia!

At the grocery store, we saw a few things that we thought Noel might have to purchase now that he's Officially Texan. These are things that seem to be WAY too much effort just to showcase one's pride in their home state, namely:

Texas tortilla chips. As in, they're SHAPED LIKE TEXAS.

Does this not strike anyone else as overkill?

They also had Texas shaped crackers, but I don't have photographic proof. You'll just have to trust me on that one. (Note: I didn't take this pic either - the ones in the store were in a regular tortilla chip bag, but with the word TEXAS scattered all over it like some kind of magic chant).

There's pride, and then there's....Texas shaped food. Um, just not sure what to think about all this.

Why would one want to eat food shaped like their home state? To make sure you're Texan inside and out? To fulfill fantasies of being Godzilla? GRR!! Seek and DESTROY!

After our exciting grocery shopping trip (thrilling to read about, I can see it on your faces), we came home, ate bbq sandwiches, took a nice walk, and then came back to the house, had a rummy tournament, and downloaded dorky music onto Limewire (great free online program for music downloads - they even have Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (don't pretend you don't feel the music!) and the Godzilla song by Blue Oyster Cult, so you have some theme music for your Texas Tortilla Crunching Massacre).

So all in all, a not-so-thrilling everyday kind of day here in Livingston.

OH! I meant to post last night that we had a lovely campfire outside! Yes, it's really warm and nice here, but the weather's supposed to turn nasty Thursday (big thunderstorms) and Friday (high of 35). We're expecting Jim Cantore any day now. At least we could get in some campfire before then.

At one point, after sitting there in the smoke from the fire, Noel turned to me and said "well, at least we smell rustic." At which point we both started laughing, because really? We live in a campground, but I complain because I SUFFER because we have no cable. So for once, we actually smelled like campers. Then we put the fire out, came back to the house and our gas heater and DVD collection and wine. That's my kind of camping!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hi and Happy Weekend!

Hello everyone! Hope all is well in the world with all of you.

Things here are great. Noel finished up his job (it was a really short one, only 3 days) and is glad about it, but only because he had to drive about 5 hours total each day and then work a 12 hour shift. 5 hours driving + 12 hours working = not enough sleep! That's just too much of a commute!

It's good to have him back home. While he was working, I spent the time at the house doing some writing (got another article published on

Also I did some sewing and lots of knitting (Rachel, your sweater is progressing nicely!)

But probably the best thing I did for myself was take very long walks! It's so nice to get out when the weather's perfect (high 60s, sunny) and walk and explore. I saw some beautiful houses, some trotting ponies, and the funniest street sign I've seen in a long time:

Noel and I went to the Big Creek Scenic Area again today for another hike. They have so many trails at this park, we ended up walking about 5-6 miles, most of which we had never seen before.

We actually met up with one of the park rangers who was working on clearing one of the trails. He told us he had put in a bridge that morning over a creek, so Noel went to test it out:

It held up beautifully to our stomping across it!

The pine trees there are so tall, and it's humbling to realize the tiny seeds they grew out of. Here's a teensy little baby tree, only about 2 inches tall, but growing very happily!

We had to buy a new VCR/DVD combo this weekend, because the old one we had died of old age. Every time we'd put a movie in, it would stall and hang up (usually right at the big crucial part of the movie). It wasn't getting any better, and even the DVD laser cleaning disc didn't help. So we gave in and got a new one, and isn't it amazing how expensive these things were 10 years ago, and now you can get a brand name one for less than $100?

And doesn't it make me sound like an old lady to be discussing how expensive things were back when I was a kid? And how we had to walk to school, uphill both ways?

So we came back with our new DVD player and watched a movie (it was a cruddy day on Saturday, so we made it Leisurely Movie Day) and Loki helped by sleeping on my lap and being just too cute:

Look at that adorable little face! The blue string is one of their playthings. They love chasing it all over and hunting it down like jungle jaguars.

And even though he was asleep, he just STILL HAD TO interfere with the knitting...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Locked and (Re)Loaded

Boy, I bet everyone starting thinking that since I hadn't posted in so long, we had gone off and joined some militaristic group of separatists living on a compound somewhere in Montanta (that's what I told Noel his picture reminded me of - ha!)

We're still in Livingston, non-separated, and not planning for The End. No worries. :)

We did go target shooting though! One of Noel's coworkers lives near here and has a lovely piece of property. He has targets set up in his back yard for practice, and he and Noel happily spent the better part of an hour setting the scope on the new rifle so it was lined up exactly right. This was done so they could shoot at that target, that looks like it's about a mile away. (It wasn't - only about 100 yds).

Look at the focus! Appreciate the diligence!

So this whole scope-fixing thing required lots of shooting on Noel's part, and he was thrilled. I FINALLY got to shoot the rifle (oh the drama). Please see results below.

HA! Let's hear it for the lady shooters of the world! Woot woot! (Note: Noel did get a dead-on bullseye once the scope was set properly. But I did pretty dang great, if I do say so myself!).

Also, can you imagine having a back yard that looks like that? Huge magnolia trees, animals walking through (of course, he shoots them when he can, but....) and even little tiny flowers. Isn't this just the cutest, happiest little flower ever?

Noel's on a short-term job (just a few days), and it started today. He's finally on day shift again! I busied myself with helping him to learn Spanish, by sticking up post-its all over the house with Spanish words and pronuniations on them:

This morning I also did my hour of aerobic dancing/coffee drinking, then decided that since it was such a pretty day, I'd go for a walk. The campground here is nice and wooded, and I realized this morning that you guys hadn't seen it yet. Here it is (well, part of it!).

It's a very small campground, with only about 15 spots at this point, but that makes it feel cozy and safe. And quiet! Except when I'm doing my exercise dancing to the Bee Gees and M.C. Hammer. (Amused by that visual? You're welcome.)

There are so many pretty little birds around here, and I tried so hard to get pics of them during my walk, but they all turned out like Where's Waldo pictures:

Yeah, guess the Audobon society won't be calling anytime soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Locked and Loaded

Guess who got his driver's license today?

Just kidding. He actually still hasn't gotten it (the card, he has a paper license for now). But he does have a gun.



While Noel was busy purchasing his Weapon Of Death, I was happily perusing the shelves for things for the cats. Of course.

Now, as many of you can attest, giving a cat a bath is not the easiest thing in the world. When we've bathed the cats in the past, we've had to tag team them, lock doors, and wear cut-proof gloves. And I still ended up bleeding. And the cats were only kittens at this point.

Nowadays, we can't even give them a bath since we only have a shower. And cat showers? Never end well. Particularly for the human holding the cat in the shower.

Another issue we seem to have here is dust. At first, we assumed it was dust from the air conditioners, but when we actually put our fingers on the dust, we realized it smelled the cat box powder we depend upon daily for our noses' sanity. Cat litter on its own can be fairly dusty, but with the addition of the other powder, it becomes a REAL dust bowl in here. Last week I vaccuumed everything in the house (including the ceiling!) and that helped quite a bit.

However, today's shopping trip provided answers to BOTH the bathing AND the dust issues!

They now make a litter box spray! And also what are essentially baby wipes for your cat, so you don't actually have to wrestle them into submission and dip them in water. They do a great job of bathing themselves, but a little refresher never hurts!

So I know that all of you non-cat owners out there are absolutely riveted by all of this. Sorry. For all of you readers who DO have cats, you feel my joy right now, right?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Like a Rolling Stone

Today we went on a nice long hike (probably 6 miles or so!) in the Big Creek Scenic Area ( ). It was so very pretty! The weather was gorgeous (sorry, Rachel, I said I wasn't going to say anything about above-freezing weather). Mid 60s, sunny, mild. Perfect hiking weather. And no mosquitoes!

(Personally, as a long-time resident of the deep South, I think the weather report should include a daily Bug Index, so you know whether it's even worth it to go outside, or whether swarms of mosquitoes will suck you dry within minutes, like a horde of flying vampiric pirahna.)

The scenic area is huge - over 1000 acres total, with lots of different trails that wind through the woods. There are lots of little bridges too. The trail even starts with one!

Oh, and in case you planned to bring your pack mule with you (to carry all your Gatorade and sunscreen and bug spray) you're out of luck:

(Also? I love that they clarified that a Hiker Trail is for people NOT on ATVs - thanks for the newsflash, Walter Cronkite!)

We saw some really pretty stuff, like this creek (presumably Big Creek) with a mossy tree hanging out over the sides of the bank:

We weren't sure if it was due to heavy rains recently or what, but there were lots of downed old trees. Noel was particularly impressed with this one. It's root system is massive!

As always, I was entranced by the moss. It looked like green velvet carpeting the old trees, the bases of the growing trees, and the rocks, bridges, and pathways. So pretty!

When we returned, we had a healthy dinner of pizza, ice cream, and sugar cookies (we are nothing if not health nuts) and sat down to relax.

Poe apparently decided he needed to help Noel relax (and also help with his lack of kitty-approved hygiene) by giving Noel's head a bath. Thank you, Poe. Always helpful, that one.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

We've arrived safely in Livingston, TX. It was an easy drive - only about 80 miles. Those are nice commutes, when you only have to stop for 1 potty break.

Remember my comment the other day about Syfy and how much we love it? Well, we're going to go through withdrawal for a little while, because our campground here has no cable. Let me repeat that for you Hard Of Reading types:


Will we survive? Will we drive each other insane? Will we start eating our hair out of boredom? Will we busy ourselves writing soap operas for the cats? Only time will tell.

Other than that, the campground is really quite nice. Small, but wooded, which is always a plus. Here it is:

There's a lake nearby (surprise surprise) called....Lake Livingston. Who'd have guessed? It's fairly close to our campground, and there are nice wooded areas to walk within a short driving distance.

Now if it would only stop raining!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In light of our frightening jaunt through the largest subdivision on the entire planet, we decided to go find some wilderness yesterday. There's a state park on the outskirts of Houston, so we drove out for a nice hike in the woods.

We weren't sure about what this park would be like, since it's in the middle of housing developments and industry, but it was really very pretty!

Thee trees were lovely:

The branches of this shrub were all bent into an arch for some reason.

This one has an interesting past - another tree died and fell on top of it when it was young, and it grew around the other tree until it rotted away, leaving this funky kink in the trunk.

This one had a vine wrapped around it that had since fallen away, but left a stripe wrapped around it.

Some interesting fungus growing on where a tree used to be:

The park had been a fish hatchery in its previous life (up until the mid 70s, apparently) and so it still had some ponds that were being studied for ecological reasons. They say they had gators in the ponds, but this was the only one we saw:

Some birds (a cormorant and an egret) were relaxing in the trees.

We also saw a beaver swimming in one of the ponds, but it dove under before I could get a picture of it. Sorry!

The buildings in the park were fabulous. Check out this cool modernism:

Aaaa-dooooore it!! And the best part: the iron parts are reclaimed oil pumping derricks. How neat is that?

I attempted to take some artsy pictures while there.

And of course, some Things In Sky.

This afternoon, since it was rainy and dreary out (we've seen more precipitation in Texas than we did in Georgia, seems like!), we went to the movies! We had been talking about seeing Sherlock Holmes for a while now, so decided today was the day. I had held out for a while on it, because I'm a big fan of the original stories, and the previews of the movie didn't seem all that faithful to the characters. But! I'm pleased to say that it was actually quite entertaining (it dragged a little, but not too bad). And the costumes were fabulous.
We got home and I made chicken cordon bleu and we stuffed ourselves and watched movies. This campground has Showtime, which is awesome for the movies they show, but sometimes, after hours, things get a little....scandalous. I'll leave it at that. Fortunately we have our ol' standby, Syfy, which always has cheesy movies on for us to watch.
Tomorrow morning we're leaving to head to Livingston, TX. Noel has a little bit of time off between jobs, so we figured we might as well sit back and enjoy it in a less congested and trafficky part of the world. Livingston is just an hour and a half or so away, but has such pretty countryside. It's big enough to have the amenities you need (except for a yarn shop but I'm not hurting for yarn right now) but not so big that you end up totally stressed out and hating life after 14 minutes of driving. AAAHHHH the road rage around here.

Also, the weather has warmed up here quite a bit. It stays above freezing at night, which we appreciate. Of course, it does get a tiny bit chilly sometimes in the evening. We just use space heaters at that point. Funny though, sometimes the heat doesn't seem to get very far into the room:

These cats are SO SPOILED.