The following photo of all the family and friends at the Thanksgiving celebration was taken by Mary Kay. Thank you, thank you Mary Kay! [Cick on image to see original, full resolution, uncropped photo]
Bob and Shirley travel from Santa Rosa, California to Madison, Alabama. All went smoothly beginning with a taxi driver sleeping outside our house in his car before 4 am and getting us to the park and ride in plenty of time for our 5 am bus; bus took us to San Francisco Airport; jets took us first to Atlanta, Georgia (some poor small child had horrible experiences as we took off and landed, crying and screaming loudly not too far behind us), then Huntsville, Alabama; and our son David met us in Huntsville with hugs of course and drove to his home in Madison, Alabama.
It was so nice to hear David talk about work and life.
Bob and Shirley in the morning go to Enterprise office to pick up a rent-a-car - a bright red Toyota Corola, return home and David heads to work. It is so cold - low thirties all day.
Bob and Shirley then go to our favorite grocery store which is also nearby - Sprouts - and pretty much clean them out. Well, maybe not, but we did get a lot. We both decided the young cashier was a liberal when Shirley mentioned California no longer used plastic grocery bags and her response was "Awesome!".
Came home after grocery shopping, then Shirley headed out for more shopping. Bob took a 3 mile walk around a cotton field which had little pieces of cotton still hanging on and through nearby neighborhoods.
Shirley prepared a wonderful vegetable chicken stew along with her excellent cranberry sauce, David returned home, we ate and then watched a two hour movie that we all enjoyed - Outlaw King about the Scottish English wars back in the 1300's.
Repairmen show up to fix the heating system and the garage door opener. Bob goes to Kroger's and finds his delicious, boiled, canned baby oysters and, at Shirley's request, buys her a can also! And she eats some!! With plenty of hot sauce.
Once home and after the repairmen have left, Bob and Shirley walk a couple of miles through cottonfields which had been harvested and David's neighborhood. Although harvested, the cotton plants still had some remaining cotton on them which Shirley sampled. Huge bundles of harvested cotton had not yet been picked up.
The weather is so much more pleasant than yesterday - blue skies with clouds and temperatures near 50 degrees.
David returns home from work and says he is required to come in Sunday for work. Then he heads off for an ice skating party with Ashley. The "skating rink" turns out to be the size of his dining room, but they do meet friends and have a good time, then both come back to David's place.
In the morning David and I gave Daisy a walk around the neighborhood. We ran into an older guy who talked about having been raised in Yugoslavia, having made a fortune, then losing it all. Talked about how great it was to live back then in a socialist country. Now he lives in Oregon and was visiting family in Alabama. Then we ran into a young lady with a poodle who lives nearby.
The cotton bales Shirley and I saw yesterday were still in the fields.
Bob and Shirley drive to the library (Bob gets a couple of mysteries and Shirley gets art books), then they walk around a nearby park with soccer and baseball fields and through the neighborhood abutting the park.
David and Bob in the afternoon went on another hike including a stop at Sprouts Grocery to pick up some much needed chocolate malt balls, fruit drink and dried mangoes which provided the energy to get back home. Then in the evening moonlight another, longer hike under starry skies and lit by the moon, taking us by a lake, near stables and through woods.
During the day Ashley attended a crypto software meeting in preparation for an upcoming class presentation.
For dinner we drove to Taco Mamas and got various Mexican takeout dishes, then drove back home and ate.
Bob, worried about Daisy starving, passed her lots and lots of chips. Also some carrots, both of which she loves.
Shirley has been under the weather, but was up to watching 3 episodes of the new season of Narco Mexico which is a superb series. All five of us enjoyed the episodes.
Bob, Ashley and David also played darts. And, not to make too big a deal about it, but the "B" in the picture below stands for Bob and the darts, including the one in the bullseye, which finished the game, were thrown by Bob on the last round. Nope, not a big deal. At all. Just sayin'. Feel free to click on the picture in order to then zoom in to get a close-up of the bullseye dart or the scores in the middle column, under "B" for Bob.
Ashley has to go in to meet with fellow students to prepare for a cyber-security presentation, while David has to go into work. Shirley and Bob drive into Providence and have a very nice, long walk through a park and neighborhood. While on the walk they each take many pictures of pretty scenery including trees, homes, streets, birds. Then off to Kroger's grocery store for a long shopping spree, during which Bob discovers that he did not put the memory chip back in the camera, so the camera holds no pictures taken in Providence.
When David and Ashley return they work on programming and Shirley prepares another wonderful dinner. Bob phones a college friend, Ken, and they discuss trips taken back in the 1970's together and more current events. After dinner and dishwashing, David and Bob go for a walk in the darkness similar to the one the previous night, only this time there are three horses in the pasture they pass. Later in the evening all 5 enjoy watching two more episodes of Narcos Mexico. Shirley during the day looked up the history of that time and says the series is pretty accurate.
Ashley returned to her home with Daisy where we will pick her up on Wednesday for the trip to Scheller, Illinois and Thanksgiving. David went to work. A plumber came and fixed toilets, then Shirley left for shopping later in the morning. Bob did a 5 1/2 mile walk around cotton fields and neighborhoods with perfect timing - the rain began just as the walk ended. The walk started with a close encounter with a Great Blue Heron (thank you Wendy for identifying) in the stream near David's house (Here's a short video).
When David returned, he and Bob also walked a bit and in the evening Shirley, David and Bob watched the remaining 4 episodes of Narcos Mexico, which continued to be quite good.
Bob drove David into work so Shirley could take his car in for safety check, oil change, etc. Turns out one tire had a nail in the sidewall which by state law cannot be repaired but requires tire replacement. Shirley then went shopping in preparation for the trip to Illinois tomorrow. Bob basically sat around the house, played on the computer, and read mystery novels. After work, David attended a going away party for a friend who had just quit working at their company, Pinnacle Solutions.
In the early evening Bob and Shirley first did a little more grocery shopping (important to pick up some chocolate malt balls for David). Quite an adventure: Bob lost the key to the rental car in the grocery store. First we asked the cashiers if anyone had turned them in, with a negative response. Shirley wrote a note with our name and address for the store, while Bob wandered all around the store looking on the floor for the key. On the way back to the car we both looked carefully, with no luck. Shirley insisted we go back and look in the store again. Once in the store we saw an employee who looked very competent. He told us all lost items would be turned into the manager and volunteered to go back and get the manager. Bob continued looking for the key on the floor. As Bob walked toward the store entrance he saw Shirley with a big smile holding up the lost key - someone had in fact turned it into the store manager.
Bob and Shirley then drove into Providence and picked up David after his party was over. We all drove back, with a short stop to pick up some alcohol-free beer. While Shirley continued to prepare and pack for the trip to Illinois, Bob and David played darts, but did award duplicate points to Shirley every time one of them got points, so Shirley won the game, with Bob coming in second. Then Bob and David also packed for the trip and all went to bed.
At very end of day after traveling to Illinois (with a stop shown above at the Kentucky Visitor Center) and going out to the Scheller Playhouse bar and restaurant (below), we went to James' cabin, lit a fire, and then launched two Japanese lanterns as shown in these videos:
Rachel, Matt, and Molly
Rachel, Amanda and Molly
Molly and Shanna
Dillon, Ryan, Maria, Ashley, David
David's back and Japanese lantern
|The following picture taken by Mary Kay (click on it to see the original, full resolution version). Thank you, thank you, Mary Kay!
David, Ashley, Bob and Shirley
In the morning drove to James' and Shanna's cabin where Shirley and Bob (ok, mostly Shirley) prepared side dishes of fruits and vegetables for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner to be hosted at Jeanine's and Ray's house; other side dishes by others also were being prepared. Then off to Thanksgiving dinner.
Every year Jeanine is the most wonderful hostess at this incredible family get together. The food (turkey, ham, stuffing, home made bread, mashed potatoes, gravy, salads and on and on, before reaching desserts galore) is so wonderful. So much incredible homemade food made by so many relatives, like say Shanna's broccoli salad. And Bonnie forced me to eat way too many chocolate fudge brownies because they were too good not to eat. Robert forced me to eat a large piece of the peach pie he himself had made from scratch because, after all, I had to be polite.
However, before sitting down, we went outside to get family photos, taken by Mary Kay as she does every year at Thanksgiving. There were more photos than could be taken before dinner, so Mary Kay took more later. Also before dinner photos were taken using a drone. And of course there was chatting up to do and expressions of excitement and hugging. And David had a lot of lifting to do.
Robert and Ray
David and Shirley (and Amanda, Kyle, Wyatt, Matt)
David, Charlie and Ashley
David and Ashley
We had 3 first-timers at this Thanksgiving, and they all survived it! And had fun: Ashley, Ryan and Grace:
Ashley and David
Ryan and Maria
Grace and Josh
We also had two wedding announcements for 2019!
Matt and Molly
Rachel and Eric
These videos show the drone, people posing for the drone, a cat and later Shirley riding on David:
And then the incredible dinner begins for all 37 friends and family.
Robert, Mary Kay, Neal, Jeanine, Ray, Shirley, and (back of head) Shanna
Kyle, Clark, Krista and Luke, Amanda and Sawyer, Dillon, Rita and James, Grace, Josh, Martin, Maria, Ryan, Molly, Matt, Ashley, David, Brett, Eric, Rachel
Maria, Rita and James, Eric, and Rachel
After dinner and dessert, many went out to play touch football in the front yard. Almost half of the 37 family and friends at Thanksgiving joined in the touch football game. And many came to watch. The weather was perfect - blue skies and temperature near 60 degrees.
Here are a couple of videos taken while the game was going on:
Also in the afternoon, Shirley and Bob visited the local Scheller cemetary where Shirley's parents and other relatives and ancestors were buried. Mary Kay had placed flowers on some of the graves in the last day.
Driving back many deer appeared in various fields.
Then it was time for rest, relaxation, taking baby pictures, TV football and waiting to get hungry again to do more feasting.
Followed in the evening by a bonfire at James' and Shanna's (as with some other pictures above, these were contributed by Molly - Thank you Molly!):
Rachel, Grace, Rita, Maria, Amanda, Molly, Ashley
Amanda, Molly, Rita
Dylan, Rita, Maria, Ryan, Grace, Josh, Martin
In the morning while in our motel room we get a call telling us there is a guest downstairs with a Make America Great Again hat. We go down. It is Robert! And he is of course not wearing such a hat. As we chat away, Eric and Rachel come down, then Neal and Mary Kay and Brett. We all agree we will go have a final visit first at Jeanine and Ray's home, then over to James and Shanna's.
While at the farms we walk up to the abandoned farm house of Shirley's grandparents Pete and Francis. The barn and house and shed are all crumbling away. We had been warned about the driveway being protected by an electric fence, but at least the driveway section of the fence was down.
After doing a final visit to the Scheller cemetary which David wanted to see, we began driving back to Alabama, stopping at a visitor center in Tennessee.
Although there was occasional drizzling, the drive to Madison went easily and well with much, much less traffic than the day before Thanksgiving. Shirley and Bob shared the driving. Bob fasted the whole day, but everyone else required a stop at McDonalds. The one we chose had only drive-thru service since the interior was being remodeled.
In the morning Bob went with David as he walked Daisy the dog. However, Daisy was wilder than normal and at the end David had to carry Daisy back into the house.
We also walked in the neighborhood abutting it, which had a street we could not resist being on.
We finally went grocery shopping (Bob was low on clams and chocolate). Then back home, arriving shortly before David and Ashley got back from their feast. Shirley and Bob ate dinner, did some reading, Bob took a nightly walk with David, David and Ashley studied, and then Bob, Shirley and David watched a movie about Scottish wild cats which were nearing extinction.
The highpoints today were, first, David, Shirley and I going to the Botanical Gardens.
Within the Botanical Gardens is a children's butterfly house we visited. There were no butterflies at this time of year, but there was a turtle and some childishness.
Then all four of us going to O'Connors for dinner. O'Connors is located in a mall that was thoroughly decorated for Christmas.
At night we watched an Indian movie with subtitles: Baahubali: The Beginning.
Day to day stuff: David at work, Ashley and David studying, watching TV and reading books, repairs of car (tires and brakes), some shopping and errands, some shorter walks, particularly for Daisy (weather very cold). Bob loses to David at darts, but bears up under the anguish.
Bob and Shirley have their 32nd wedding anniversary, exchange cards and jokes, have appliance guy fix washer, get carry out lunch at restaurants in Providence before picking up David early at work, then eat at home, followed by picking up David's fully repaired car. A relaxing day. Later, Bob and David take a nice walk in the dark when it is 60 degrees and Bob notices for the first time there is a wall of mirrors, literally, at the end of a horse pasture. Bob and David play darts and Bob wins - barely. Then all of us watch the sequel to Mama Mia after Shirley goes over some art web pages with David.
Another quiet, relaxed day. Shirley and Bob did take a walk in the neighborhood and next to it, giving Bob a chance to call over a horse, talk with it, and make friends, as can be seen below. The house and yard across the street are well decorated for Christmas, though the day time pic does not really capture how well lit up it is at night. At one point, driving by at night, we saw the owner and complimented him on what a wonderful display he had created. This evening, with Ashley over, we watched the sequel to the Indian movie: Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, which has some amazing filmography. Oh, and David beats Bob in darts. Again.
A fun filled day indeed. Bob, Shirley and David walked in the neighborhood and nearby cotton field. Temperature was in the sixties with occasional drizzle and quite pleasant. The huge bales of cotton have all been removed. We saw many birds.
All of us, except Daisy, went to downtown Huntsville where there was a large display of Christmas trees decorated by various organizations and families, along with a canal (someone had erased the letter c from each sign) filled with fish and geese and ducks.
After walking around, we went to the Huntsville Museum of Art which had many fascinating exhibits.
Next off to the library (yes, Bob got more mysteries and Shirley got more art books). Then to Providence to go to Taco Mama's for carry out,
and a bar and ABC liquor store and even Kroger's for both carry in and carry out.
We brought all of this home and ate a very relaxed meal.
Daisy helped eat dinner by disposing of chips people at the table would hand down to her - bad people, bad people - good Daisy, good Daisy.
While eating we began drinking the beer and the Kahlua and after eating David and Bob continued that and also began playing darts.
Apparently the beer was working in David's favor, because he won the first game of darts.
However, not to be totally destroyed, Bob made sure the Kahlua had plenty of chance to work in his favor, and so he was able to squeek out a win in the second game.
We will not get into how much Kahlua Bob went through.
Then we all watched the movie Crazy Rich Asians, which was quite good.
Absolutely beautiful day with blue skies and temperatures in the 70's. David had planned a hike for Rainbow Mountain which we took in the afternoon and it could not have been more perfect.
Later we had a take-out Thai dinner, then set up the Christmas Tree, took photos, opened presents and played game topples, which was a blast as can be seen in these two videos: Video 1, Video 2
In the morning Ashley left and we all said goodbye, then David went to work and Bob and Shirley gathered together all their library books and returned them. There were a lot. Coming back home, they stopped at the Sprouts grocery store. David came home from work early in the afternoon and he, Shirley and Bob went for a walk in the neighborhood and nearby cotton fields. Shirley took the opportunity to look at the shed that reminds her of southern Illinois (and listen to barking dogs), while Bob and David walked in the cotton field.
Then Shirley and David went clothes shopping. Soon after they returned, Ashley stopped by to pick up items she had left. Shirley was able to offer her something to eat, then we all said final goodbyes with hugs to her. Shirley and David then ate dinner (Bob was fasting - he weighed more this morning than he ever before had in his entire life), then David and Bob played darts. David was merciless. He won by one dart throw. The evening ended watching two episodes of the new season 2 of Blue Planet on Netflix, which we watched on the incredible high definition TV Ashley had brought over and installed the night before. Yay - thank you Ashley!
Our last full day in Alabama. Packed up the suitcases. Shirley did lots of cleaning. David got off work early and picked us up at the Enterprise car rental where we turned in the rental car. We all decided to have lunch at O'Connors, where Bob had shrimp with broccoli and cous cous and Kahlua; David had a roast beef sandwich with lots of hot sauce and red wine; and Shirley had fried cod which she said was the best she had ever had, along with mashed potatoes.
In the evening, David and Bob walked up the street in the dark to get photos of two houses that were well lit for Christmas. Both photos were taken with David's iPhone which is so much better than Bob's camera. The second snapshot includes a wall display which constantly moves.
Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA