Visiting Texas – Day 4

I finished the last post with it snowing on Thursday evening. This is a rare event in this part of Texas and the fact that the snow stuck around through the next day was even more rare. It made for an all new landscape to photograph.

2017-12-TX-23              The view from the back walkway.

2017-12-TX-29         There is the decorated tree just inside the gate on the right.

2017-12-TX-28      Everyone else was still in bed but I went for a walk up the road as the sun was coming over the hills.







2017-12-TX-117                  I got back to the house and checked inside the truck. Dan had chosen to drive to Texas instead of flying. He says, now that he has retired, “everyday is Saturday” and he preferred to throw a road trip into the plans. He had left five days before I did and spent time hiking and camping along the way. He met me at the airport in Austin on Tuesday. Now that all the kids were at the house we had to spread out with sleeping arrangements and he decided to continue with the camping mode and sleep in the truck.

2017-12-TX-120                                               Eventually everyone else came out into the snow.

2017-12-TX-127                     Kirby started a snowman with the help of…

2017-12-TX-122                                                       …Uncle Matt…

2017-12-TX-131                      …and Aunt Meryl.



2017-12-TX-151                  I love these kids.


And these kids too.


Puddle Jumping

Someone is making the best of the rainy day.


We went to the barn to see the sheep and get out of the house. Jade is the only sheep who will approach a little person without the bribe of a bucket of grain.


I stood under the roof and out of the rain and watched Kirby…


…run back and forth.



dsc_6358Contemplating the Really Big Puddle.




The sheep weren’t thrilled about all this activity by the little pink person.




By the time we got back to the house I figured that a little more water really didn’t matter. So Kirby ran through the lake that was our driveway until she’d had enough. Tonight it is still raining.

More Grandkid Photos

I’ve been so focused on #1 family visiting and #2 trying to get my new website up that I haven’t done much else. I did have a request for more cute grandkid photos though and since cute lambs haven’t arrived yet, here they are. (Not that I’d show cute lamb photos to the exclusion of cute grandkid photos. I’d just have to fit both in.)


Here is what greeted me on Valentines’s Day.


We planted them together.


For the first several days of Kirby’s visit the sun was out and things started to dry out.


We were still wearing boots to the barn, but didn’t have to tromp through as much mud.


Aunt Meryl manages a gymnastics club and there is an Open Gym hour on Wednesdays, in addition to a Wednesday morning Mommy and Me class.


Kirby went to both and loved it.


Gathering eggs from the chicken house.


It’s best if she carries just one.


It started raining again so there were puddles.


Not to forget that there is another grandchild visiting. He just doesn’t spend as much time at the barn.


And the Cuteness Begins

No, it’s not time for cute lambs yet. How about cute grandkids?


Meeting Kirby at the Oakland Airport.


Holding her baby brother while Mommy gets the carseats strapped in.


We got home in the early evening and someone wanted to go right to the barn to see “sheeps and conkey”.


I got a couple of photos with sheep but the donkey photo will have to wait.


Uncle Chris has the right touch to get a smile out of 7-week old Kasen.


Tracing Aunt Meryl’s hand.





Letting Ginny clean up the egg that was dropped.


Papa Dan, Kirby, and Rusty.

Visiting Texas

I haven’t been to Texas since last year, but that’s because we saw my granddaughter several times last winter and spring in California. It was time for me to see her again and to do that I had to travel east. She is now two.


While Mommy painted the shed we went for a walk.



Time to take off the shoes.


The low water crossing on the road.


What better place to play on a hot day.


Hugging Colby.


Yesterday we went to the Comal County Fair.


This morning I said that we’d go for a walk in the rain. Kirby started to pack. You never know when you’ll need a stuffed llama, a cup of milk, or a bunch of books.


It had rained enough during the early morning hours that the water had risen too high for playing.


We turned and walked up the road the other way.


Well, one of us walked and the other rode most of the way.

2016 Vineman – Ironman

A lot has been going on here during the last month, from our 8-day road trip to the fair and sheep adventures. The most recent event was yesterday. Chris had competed in his first Ironman three years ago in Texas and I shared photos and the story here. This was his second Ironman although we were all at the Tahoe Ironman two years ago when it was cancelled at the last minute due to the smoke from the huge arson-caused King Fire.

The Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon (26.2 miles) all one after the other. The training is intense (understatement) and the event infrastructure is mind boggling. Athletes pick up packets and leave off gear, including bikes, the day before. This event was local (Sonoma County, CA) although it was not local enough to sleep in our own beds and still be there for a 5 a.m. check-in on Saturday. We left our motel at 3:30 a.m. to make sure that we would avoid the anticipated traffic jam of all 2000 athletes descending on the small town of Guerneville at the same time.


As the athletes arrive volunteers write numbers on their arms.


Chris’ support crew at the river included my husband (who took this photo) and me, daughter Katie, daughter-in-law Meryl, brother-in-law & sister-in-law Rob & Renee. Rob was also competing this time. Can you tell it was cold at 5 a.m.? Sonoma County is known for morning fog, especially this near the coast. I haven’t been that cold in a long time.


Morning preparation includes checking air in the bike tires,


…securing the chip that marks times throughout the course,


…and donning wetsuits….and lots of standing around for the support crew. Once the event begins the support crew can only support by finding places along the course to cheer on their athlete. No physical support is allowed.


The pros started at 6:30 and the rest of the 2000 +/- athletes started at 6:45.


Athletes are pensive. Many have put a year’s worth of training into preparing for this day.


My brother-in-law came from Colorado to compete with Chris.


They both anticipated about a one-hour swim time and lined up near the front of the pack.


It is daylight now but still cold. The rest of us just wait. The national anthem is sung and the athletes are off.

There was a fairly small beach area where the athletes entered the water so they were funneled through a narrow gate to avoid crowding at the beginning of the swim. (It was impossible to get photos of that or to pick out our swimmers.)  I am so glad that our guys were at the front, because it took a half hour before all of the competitors were actually in the water and swimming. By that time the pros were almost finished with the swim portion. Our guys weren’t far behind.


The athletes pack transition bags prior to the event and they are all put in place the day before. Everyone has a bag for the swim/bike and bike/run transitions. As the athletes come out of the water they strip wetsuits with the help of volunteers. Most are already wearing their cycling/running clothes under the wetsuit.  Wetsuits and goggles go into the bag and they take out cycling shoes, helmet, socks, and anything else they need while on the bike.


For competitive athletes (or those who are aiming for the best PR) the transitions become an important part of the whole event where time can be made up or lost.This is Chris (in white and navy) leaving the transition tent to get his bike…


…and running with his bike to the beginning of the bike route. I must say here that we were all worried (OK, it was us, Mom and Dad, who were mostly worried) about Chris’ ankle that he sprained badly about six weeks ago and then sprained again just three weeks ago while out in the bumpy pasture with my sheep. We saw him twist that ankle again while running here in cycling shoes and continue running with a limp to the bike course. DSC_1649

Rob left the river not long after Chris…


and got his bike. Rob has done these events for many years and was smiling at this point.

After the guys got on the bikes (well in front of most of the other competitors, giving us an edge on getting out of town) we got to our car and drove to Windsor where the bike/run transition and the finish would be.


Depending on the configuration of the course the Ironman can be a difficult spectator sport. At this point we had picked up another two support crew members (my cousin, Carol, and another family member, Barb, who both live in the area).  We found a spot where we would see the cyclists come by in the first of their two loops of the bike course. We saw Chris who looked strong at this point.


As Rob saw us he slowed down and stopped. His bike had a broken spoke on the back wheel at about Mile 25. That meant he was out of the event because his wheel was getting more and more wobbly and there was nothing to do about it without a replacement spoke or wheel. It would be frustrating to train for this event and spend all the time and money on it and then  have a mechanical issue end your day. But Rob has competed in many of these and he put his bike in the car, got something to eat, and spent the rest of the day enthusiastically cheering on everyone else.


We saw Chris get off the bike, pick up his bike/run bag and run through the transition area. He emerged with cap and running shoes. The run portion is a marathon and this one was three times over the same 8+ mile course. We found a place  where we could watch runners coming and going as they made a loop around our grassy, shady area to enter the turn around and then see them come out again. This gave us four views for each lap.


Chris on the first lap. The athletes’ first names are on their tags and spectators’ cheers help buoy the runners’ spirits.


Part of the support crew waiting for the next sighting.

DSC_1708 DSC_1727

On the second lap Chris was picking up cups of ice chips at the aid stations to eat and cool his back. After seeing him on the second lap we went to the finish where we could position ourselves for cheering and photos. We didn’t know what time to expect him but he seemed to be ahead of scheduled, sprained ankle and all.


This is after coming around the last turn to the finish…DSC_1736

…at well under 12 hours. The official clock counts the time from the start of the pro racers but Chris’ actual time was an impressive 11 hours 37 minutes.


We were all so thrilled and proud of him.








Wedding Day Morning

On-site preparations began the day before but there was still plenty to do on the morning of the wedding.


No shoe polish? No problem.


The tables were decorated.IMG_1358

The kids’ table included bubbles,and crayons.


Pictures were hung.


Games were arranged.

While all the preparations were being made outside…IMG_1326

…upstairs in the Bride’s Room there was a bustle of activity. Two professional hairdressers were kept busy…


…while others did their own hair and make-up.


Flower-girl, Tatiana, waited patiently for the time to get dressed.


Meanwhile, downstairs, …


…the guys didn’t seem too concerned about getting ready.


Eventually it was time and they all cleaned up very nicely. There seemed to be some confusion about what to do with the pocket squares, but they mastered the folding technique by watching a YouTube video.IMG_1374

Inspection time for the pocket squares.


Back upstairs, Flower Girl #1 got help with her bow.


Flower Girl #2 skipped the morning activities, staying with Daddy and the other grandma and getting through naptime uneventfully. She showed up in time to get dressed, but took some convincing to participate.


We gave up on the pretty white shoes with the bows in favor of the purple crocs. It was a big step for her to hold the bouquet, however temporarily.


While the women were making their final preparations Kirby found the room set up for photo shoots. She made herself right at home there.


Ready to go!