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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TX 0209 4

Thursday and Friday were days of just hanging around their home place, spending family time and watching after GM5 a bit while the ladies ran various errands. The weather continues to be very nice with daytime temps hovering in the low to mid 70’s and mostly just right for the little one to play outside. They seldom get a frost in the winter down here – the normal frost line is about an hour or so north of the location.

Saturday, February 21st, was a big day because this was the day they had GM5’s birthday party – the closest Saturday after his actual date of birth. OD had hired the “Big Bouncy Bus” for the occasion. This was a school bus with all the seats taken out and several foam based pieces of play equipment put in. It also had a zip-line that went from the front to the back of the vehicle and ended in a pool full of foam blocks.

In attendance were 12 young ones, a few of their bros and sisters and a fair amount of parents. They all seemed to have a huge hoot of a good time with the bus – plus GM5 had received a large inflatable tube in which the little ones could roll or be rolled across the lawn, and many of them did just that – in gales of laughter. It was all too soon – for the young ones – time for the bus to leave, so they gathered for cake and ice cream.

The cake was OD’s creation, she has been baking and decorating cakes since she was a teen – and making spending money from it – this one was a Mickey Mouse depiction – good one too. Then it was the opening of presents, more play on the swings and in the sand/water table GM5 had received earlier in the week. Then it became meltdown time when the parents decided it was time to leave and the young ones didn’t want to go.

One of my jobs during the party was self-appointed, that of trying to make sure the little ones didn’t get hurt – even though there were a few close calls, I was mostly successful at this. The other main job was that of photographer when OD was busy with other things – I got several great shots – accidentally? Things quieted considerably after their departure and even though the noises were happy ones, I still enjoyed the quiet.

I mentioned in an earlier missive that I received a small digital camera for Christmas but the learning to use it was delayed in my working to finish some chores before going to Texas. I finally got some few shots with it on this trip but the resolution was set too high and disc was too soon full. Another disc with more memory was purchased, the resolution was set lower and soon there will be photos coming from Blueberry Hill – hopefully.

With our trip rapidly coming to a close, we are squeezing as much out of the last little while as we possibly can. Our last Saturday in Texas – on this trip – ended in quiet hours spent with our familial loved ones. How else can I say that God is good except just that way? TBC ec

Sunday, February 22, 2009

TX 0209 3

The day was Tuesday, February 17th, the place was a small lake in Lake Jackson, TX, the folks involved were the Spice, GM5, OD and I, the material involved was a loaf of bread and one of the missions was to feed the water fowl. The larger mission was the entertaining of GM5 and to a somewhat lesser degree, the adults of our party. When the winged, swimming critters realized what we were about to do, they headed our way en masse.

Wading through these expectant ones, we made it to the dock and started tossing pieces of bread to the waiting beaks. The birds involved were at least two varieties of ducks, a few geese, two varieties of sea gulls and a good many black, duck-like swimmers that I believe to be coots. Our part of the scenario was to toss pieces of bread, their part was to try to be the first to get to the bit of sustenance and we were both good at what we did.

My main activity was tossing pieces in the air for the gulls to catch on the fly. This did happen, a low percentage of the time, but the ducks, geese and coots were all afloat and waiting for the tidbits they missed. We only took one loaf of bread and this was depleted long before the young one desired. As we departed to the recreation equipment, the birds went back to whatever they do until the next bread-tosser comes along.

The really significant event for this particular date is that it is the birthday of GM5, he turned four. And as is the custom of this Texas clan of kin of ours, the birthday person gets to choose the evening menu – the choice of GM5 was pizza, not with pepperoni or hamburger but “cheese pizza” – or what we would call plain. FSIL picked this up on the way home from work and the little one was a happy camper.

OD made him a cake and he helped decorate it with sprinkles and such. He wanted blue icing and before it was all over his mouth and tongue was this same color through the tasting process. After the pizza we had the blowing out of the candles and he had a bit of trouble with this – as the old saying goes, he wasn’t holding his mouth right. He got them extinguished and we sang happy birthday, some more melodiously than others.

Then he opened his presents and was awed – then we went out to the garage for him to see the sand/water play table that had required a little assembly earlier in the day. We carried it out to the screened porch and placed sand on one side and put water in the other – the adults in the group figured that these two elements would soon be mixed anyway. He enjoyed this so much that the adults had to tell him when to come back inside.

Next day was Wednesday and FSIL went to work, GM2 went to school, OD and the Spice went shopping for the day, so it was just GM5 and me doing guy type stuff. After b’fast, we went out for him to play with the sand table and for me to open up another gift for him – moon sand. This is a sand-like material that is formable in the molds that came with the kit – a little like play-doh, only more crumbly – definitely an outdoor adventure.

After this we went out in the yard for him to play and for me to install another gift on the end of the swing set. Taking down the worn piece of equipment located on the end of the top support, I installed a rope swing with a plastic disc on the end that one could sit or stand on while swinging. This was a little hard for him to get used to but he still enjoyed the activity. Wow, time is flying by but God continues to be good, all the time. TBC ec

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TX 0209 2

One of the definitions of the word dynamo is: an energetic, hardworking, forceful person. This definition does not state the size of the person so described but in this case it would suit GM5 almost to the point of having his photo beside the defining words. Meaning five of the word dynamic – of or pertaining to the range of volume of musical sound – leave out the musical part and leave in the upper range of volume and again it’s GM5.

I realize that these definitions would also fit many, many other young lads, including my other three grandsons residing in South Carolina, but my present visit is with GM5 and family. Enduring and possibly at times suffering under the tutelage of GM5 is Jasmine – the younger of the family’s two dachshunds. On occasion, the tutored has to be the tutor with a warning growl or nip when GM5 has trespassed too roughly on her person.

The older of the canines, Bogey, at 14 years (98 in human years) simply endeavors to stay out of the way of the energetic one – an example that old dogs can learn new tricks. It has been said that TV dulls the imagination of young ones but that hasn’t seemed to influence this young one – maybe because he only gets it in small doses. And of course this may be because he doesn’t stay still long enough to be greatly affected.

Among other things today, we have built a “tent” from the couch cushions, played an energetic game of tag – more energy on his part than mine – and have stood enthralled as the trash truck picked up the household waste of the neighborhood. As mentioned in a missive long ago, there was possibly more enthrallment about this on the young one’s part than that of the old codger – maybe – though I did enjoy him enjoying this endeavor.

The Spice and I are watching our Texas ‘grand ones’ today – Monday – for our daughter and hubby to have a day together – something all couples need on a regular basis. After nap and play times we took GM2 and GM5 out to Fuddrucker’s for supper. We didn’t know it but that was the night that “Sweet Potato” the clown made his appearance at that establishment and was a big hit with all the kids, especially GM5.

The clown made balloon animals and such for all the kids and his antics brought gales of laughter from GM5, so much so that the clown commented to us that he really loved his ‘from the toes up’ laughter. By the time we came home we had collected a balloon lion, a sword, a bow and arrow and one long plain balloon. He enjoyed his mac and cheese but by far the clown was the best part of his dining experience.

We continue to have a great visit and it shows in still another way that God is good – all the time. TBC ec

Sunday, February 15, 2009

TX 0209 1

Saturday – 02-14-2009. Upon checking the stats on Lake Jackson, Texas, I found the elevation to be 13 feet above sea level and about 12 miles from the coast. Freeport, Texas, on the coast, is the area in which FSIL works and its elevation is 0 feet (sea level). These stats piqued my curiosity about my own home turf in South Carolina and found it to be located 148 feet above sea level – not quite as elevated as I had thought.

So far on this visit we have not been bothered by the normal hordes of blood-sucking insects but I don’t want to speak too soon as they may hear me and swoop in for a raid. The temp is usually a few degrees warmer than back in South Carolina and thus far has been very pleasant with only a couple of showers on Valentine’s Day.

We arrived in Texas on Wednesday and the next day, the 12th, was OD’s birthday. The celebration was low key with just the family but very meaningful nonetheless, I will not go into the number of these events she has enjoyed – she might frown on that. Then came Friday the 13th, this is a day considered unlucky by many.

Luck is defined as: the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping events or opportunities. To those that hold too this belief in luck, Friday the 13th is the ultimate of the bad luck side. According to studies some people are so paralyzed by fear on this day that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. This writer does not hold to a belief in luck.

When one has a personal relationship with the One who made and still controls the universe, One who also loves those persons of His creation and desires the best for them, there is no need for another controlling force in one’s life, especially a pseudo or guess-work one such as luck. Anyway, this supposed unlucky day was a wonderful one of family time together, with a few chores thrown in for good measure.

One of these chores on my part was to drive over to a large retail outlet to obtain an item or so to express my affection for the Spice of my life on the morrow. Valentine’s Day dawned and upon her arising, I presented the Spice with my meager offerings. First there was the appropriately mushy card – appropriately appreciated – then I gave her a tin of cashews – her favorite – and told her this symbolized that I was just nuts about her.

Then, I gave her a small, pink stuffed monkey and told her this meant that I still go ape for her. Her large smile told me that I had chosen well; also saying that one doesn’t have to break the bank to show true affection. We are enjoying our relaxing time with family, with a few household projects thrown in to make it even better for me. Life is good and God is even better. ec

Thursday, February 12, 2009

in flight

When I began this missive we were mid-flight between Atlanta and Houston on a trip that so far had been a bit of an adventure. Of course, for the seasoned flyers among us it might seem a normal part of the experience. All was as expected when we arrived at the Augusta airport Wednesday A.M. for the beginning leg of our trip to Texas. Because of a computer glitch we were unable to check in on line but that process flowed well on arrival.

We checked in and were on our way to the security check-point when the Spice decided to go back to check on our sky miles. She saw the TSA agent doing a thorough exam of my checked bag. He had arrived at the quart jar of Duke’s mayo – the Spice explained that we usually take OD (older daughter) a jar or two – it’s not available there. The agent said that he had a ‘saying’ – “There’s mayo and then there’s Duke’s” – we agreed.

We went through security without a hitch – we boarded the plane in a hitch-less manner – and had taxied out to take off when the hitches started. The pilot told us via intercom that we were waiting 30 minutes before take off because of heavy traffic in Atlanta – our first destination. This would not be so bad except for the fact that we only had a short layover in Atlanta before our flight for Houston departed – normally a great thing – not today.

We finally got in the air and the tension began – not on the pilot’s part but on mine, because I didn’t want to miss our flight from Atlanta to Houston. We landed, got off the plane and still had to get the Spice’s bag that was checked planeside in Augusta. By the time we got her luggage unit and headed to our departure gate on the other side of that very large airport, we had about 14 minutes until the next flight departed.

Then, it was a fast walk to the escalator on concourse D, to the tram, two concourses over to B, up the escalator and then I went as fast as the legs would go with the Spice coming behind. As I rounded the corner to our gate, the attendant asked in so many words if I was the one they were waiting on, I responded in the affirmative. The Spice caught up, he scanned our tickets and followed us down the ramp to tell them to depart.

The plane was pushed out of its resting place shortly after we were seated; we were grateful to have made it and set about trying to catch our breath. It took a while for the heart rates to return to normal and the rest of the flight was uneventful – thankfully. OD and GM5 met us in the Houston/Hobby airport baggage claim area; we loaded up and headed to their home. I sat in the back with GM5 and we shared conversation and gummy candy.

This trip was rescheduled from January – when the Spice had pneumonia – and the timing is good because our time here spans the birthdays of OD and GM5. We are grateful for the time to spend with our family here and blessed for the safe passage granted by our Lord – God is good! ec

Sunday, February 01, 2009


In the grand scheme of things pertaining to my to-do list it is getting down to crunch time concerning all I want to get done before our trip to Texas. As previously mentioned, the “outback” building has been completed and I spent the better part of a day trying to fit the various pieces of equipment into said building. The difficulty involved was to be sure the seldom used ones were in the back and the oft used ones in front.

When this building was in the planning stage, I asked my bro what size structure I should erect and he said that it didn’t matter, whatever size would be filled up – and there was much wisdom in the answer. It has rained since the landscaping was completed and this has shown me a couple of flaws in relation to the drip line. One spot in front needs the dirt rearranged to redirect water away from the foundation – and some gravel added.

When I complete these finishing touches, all remaining to be done will be the caulking of a few cracks – the material for this has been procured, just remains for it to be done. Another large item on the list is the building of a soil retention wall in the garden. This is done with concrete blocks in a loose lay manner (no mortar) and after a couple of days labor, layer one of two is in place – mostly level and somewhat straight.

In the midst of this very productive labor – at least my achy back thinks it was productive – appointments and the other duties of family life interrupted my time. Saturday was a very productive day in the areas of gruntmonkey entertainment – this concerning the three local lads that call me Pop-pop. FYI – gruntmonkeys are what I call my “grand’ ones – with the designations of GM1 through GM6 – the eldest being GM1.

An object at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force – in this scenario I was the object at rest and GM3, GM4 and GM6 were the outside forces. One can only listen to “Can we go outside now?” so many times without putting on one’s shoes and jacket and venturing forth with them. First stop was the swing set/trampoline area and a short while later it was on to the pond to cast many small stones therein.

During this latter, efforts were made at teaching the art of skipping stones across the water but they are still a bit young to get the knack. Next stop was the sluice that feeds water from the neighbor’s pond down to the one in which we have a small share. The adventure of the day was to push pinecones down the sluice into the catch basin and then let the force of the water push them through the pipe and plop into the lower pond.

Then we were off in the direction of the hill overlooking the highway to watch the traffic, making a brief stop to try to climb a eucalyptus tree – this was discouraged by their elder because: 1) there were no suitable limbs on which to climb and 2) I didn’t want any abrasions, contusions or fractures to happen on my watch. Further along we “knocked” on several anthills to see if anyone was home, many entities answered the raps.

Reaching the traffic-watching pinnacle, we all marveled – to one degree or another – at all the passing vehicles. When we returned to the inside, they were happy for the adventure and sad because it was not long enough – it never is. I pondered later how much easier and more predictable it is to redirect rainwater from a shed roof than it is to influence young lives in proper and Godly directions – but so much worth the efforts. God is good! ec