Archive for July, 2013

“Put out my hand and touched the face of God”

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Still in Fort Davis, Texas. We returned to the McDonald Observatory and this time our focus was stars and the sun. We learned that our sun isn’t all that big, only about half as big as some of our planets and not even at the center of our galaxy (the Milky Way) but still… millions of miles away from us, and billions of miles from other “stars” and it will be over 5 billion years before our sun dies.  So… then we visited the telescopes. First the original one built in 1939, and then the last one built to observe the spectrography of the stars. Telescopes measure light and break it into spectrums. They can tell us what the distant object is made of and what stage it is in (brand new, growing, mature, falling apart, etc), measuring distances, and how stars develop and dance with each other… etc. The last telescope (over 40 years old) is still state of the art, and sees 7 times further than the one built in approx 1939. The next one to come on line within a year in Chile has a mirrored surface measuring area 7x larger than that.  So I wrinkled up my brain and tried to formulate a question… so if the second one sees 7x further than the first one, the new one coming on line will see 7x further than that and we’re talking billions of miles each leap, how many billions of miles (light years) will we be able to “see”? and… What are we trying to see or find?  I could only think of a poem called “First Flight” written by a 19 year old American Spitfire test pilot named John Gillespie McGee, Jr. who joined the RAF before the US got into WWII.  He died in an air crash 3 months after the Spitfire test flight, but he left behind this poem for us…  He flew the highest we had been - 30,000 feet and he thought there is the face of God. Please google the poem and read it.  And then go outside and look up! God bless you!

Gazing at The Old Texas Inn

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

It’s not Tuxedo…

I’ve got myself a perch on the Hotel Limpia verandah overlooking a craggy sided mountain and The Old Texas Inn. Desk clerk said to use password “Tuxedo” for the cat who lies sleeping in a basket. We saw him last night as we sneaked in after midnight… He’s huge, but all rolled up in that cat ball, he looks more like a regular cat! Password doesn’t work, so, I’ll use good old Word and copy it over to the blog later.  I’m sure everyone is OK and I don’t need to check emails until I can find out what the password to the ‘net really is…  Sip of coffee and remember yesterday… Chuck complained as I made a reservation for 11 this morning at the Observatory, “I haven’t opened my book since we started.” It’s true. If we thought we would sit and veg out we made a mistake.  We got up yesterday in Sonora, ate eggs fried to order, and drove into Main street. Chuck dropped me at the nature preserve while he went off in search of Friends of Sonora Bill who was in his office on Main Street.  I walked up to the top of the preserve and looked over the town.  A family donated that land for the preserve so we have some very generous families donating land in Sonora. Found a little camp with a teepee-hut, a place to dry skins and meat, and a bonfire, like it might have been 100 years ago.  Walked back down a different way than I entered and walked over to the Prayer Garden. Took some more pictures… How beautiful. Maybe Kathy and I can get George and Chuck and Dave to help us build a little garden like that in the back yards… … I talked some with Bill who was drinking coffee with Chuck and then we headed west to Alpine. It is low in the desert and wasn’t appealing to me. Has a lot of galleries, but in that hot deserty valley without any inspiring mountains I breathed a sigh that I didn’t pick Alpine to stay. Drove on to Fort Davis:  “YES!” hills surround the town. The sides of the hills look like raggedy lady fingers standing on end. And the tops are flat. Checked in at the Hotel Limpia built in 1912 but remodeled to our modern standards with bathrooms…  but didn’t sit on the front porch as it was pretty sunny. Then we drove past the real Fort Davis up to the Observatory to make reservations for star party and for today to see the telescope. Wow and wow on the Observatory. It has 4 big telescopes that are owned in cahoots between the Univ. of Texas at Austin and several other universities in Germany and other countries. Back to town and walked across the street to the Old Texas Inn. It was so cool with pictures of John Wayne all over the place and established back in the old days by the same family that owns it today and a ranch with accommodations. Made a reservation for Thursday night. This is “the town” for now and they will have to kick the Peabodys out. Went next door to The Fort Davis Drug Store Hotel and Restaurant with a real soda fountain and lots of art on the walls. I left Chuck at the soda fountain and I walked upstairs to the hotel and art museum and found an artist at work. Chatted with Patricia and got inspired. She is painting lovely desert cactus flowers right now. Went back to the Limpia to open wine and perch on the porch in white rocking chairs. I drew some trees and the big courthouse with 4 clocks that don’t work. It seems the birds got in there and ate the clock works and the town hasn’t been able to get the clocks working again.  We got this information because if you sit on a porch for long enough, people come along to chat and sure enough, the gentleman we met at the Old Texas Inn came to perch and share a glass. He told us about the clock and the town and actually the town and fort are named after Jefferson Davis who was Secretary of War before the Civil War, before he ran off to be the President of the Confederacy.  He is the one who had the idea for the soldiers to ride camels out here in the heat, but the ground is too rocky for camels. A townie came by and the boys talked about motorcycling over to California – it’s a long way west to California. As a matter of fact, Sonora is half way between east and west coasts. Chuck wants to ride the motorcycle next year to the submarine convention in San Diego… I’m thinking of the heat (please remind me of 100 degree heat if I sound like I’m thinking of riding ‘cross country next year.) We went back up the hill to the Observatory for a Star Party, but it was totally clouded over. Darn. Today is bright and clear. They showed us a lot of amazing pictures in an auditorium and classroom. Our galaxy is falling into the Andromeda galaxy and they will dance and merge (fall into each other) in billions of years. Our sun will die in billions of years. Other galaxies exist – you got it… billions of light years away…. With all the talk of billions of light years in distance and billions of years until our sun dies… I felt rather insignificant.  We drove back down at midnight in pitch darkness as the town and surrounding ranches keep night lights to a minimum in agreement with the Observatory. Greeted by the cat who waited up for us on the porch, we climbed up the stairs over an old carpet, and slept and dreamed of Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Finally got on the ‘net in the lobby and picked up a news item about salad mix causing illness. I really try not to use those bagged mixes… be careful and wash everything or try to use fresh lettuce heads.  All is well. Love Sue    

Angels Everywhere!

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

We had a beautiful day today.  I always look for “small town America.” If you were reading the blog 2 years ago when we went to the submarine convention in Springfield Missouri, when we got to Hannibal Missouri after working our way “up” the Mississippi I went all crazy over small town America.  Today we left San Antonio and drove to Sonora, Texas and found “small town America - main street.” I had researched and was looking for “Friends of Sonora” and the Veteran’s Museum on Main Street.  Found a wonderful guy named Bill who manages the friends of Sonora and he not only showed us the veteran’s museum (tributes to townspeople who have served in the military and some who gave their lives, along with a September 11 tribute) he had tributes to the women of the west also.  Then he took us on a town tour. showed us where one of Butch and Sundance’s men Will Carver met his maker… listened to an old restored house give us the town history and stayed with us for over an hour and then we sat and drank wine and talked for another hour.  He is a rancher so we talked about raising goats and cattle and the Texas drought… he is excited about the restoration of main street.  We then went to the Caverns of Sonora. My goodness how beautiful!!!!  The caverns are alive with lots of stalagmites, stalagtites and electites (these are curly horizontal growths), and water ponds and milky rocks with crystals - very beautiful. It was an amazing 1 1/2 mile cave tour.  I kept seeing angels’ wings in the “growths”. I took plenty of pictures. We came back to town where by the way many houses are stone covered in a lovely light stone… went to rest in a Prayer Garden, an amazing little public effort. Imagine a family donated a building lot and then someone wonderful designed a little garden with a stone (concrete) cross all inlayed with stones and neat wood and shells… Little stones had Bible quotes and the many names for Jesus are carved into the stone ground around the cross. Just a wonderful small town secret.  I took plenty of photos there too!  Finally we went to the town ampitheater where Bill thought we might hear music, but no one came to play.  Did hear the local school at band practice. That’s pretty much it for today. We might explore a nature garden called Sonora’s Eaton Hill Wildlife Sanctuary tomorrow, but honestly, Chuck might have had enough garden walking in the heat…  So we might head for the higher elevations. We are booked into the Fort Davis Historic Hotel Limpia a restored 1912 Inn in Fort Davis. We will see the McDonald Observatory and the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Preserve, but I’m getting ahead of myself!!!  God bless you and have a wonderful summer evening.

Basking in the heat

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

I dove into the pool… ahhh like bath water. But now, I need to dive back in. We’re just a little north of downtown San Antonio near some wonderful gardens.  Chuck and I drove the Mission Trail; we started at the Cathedral of San Fernando where I got all misty at the beautiful tomb containing the remains of Davy Crockett, Bowie and some others who died at the Alamo. At the Cathedral is a beautiful tribute to Saint Anthony of Padua who is the patron Saint and after whom the city is named.  We then drove south along the mission trail and I stood for the Gospel and homily in Queen of the Missions “San Jose”. 4 of the 5 original 300 year old Spanish missions are active parishes.  Chuck had a book to read. (Mom will ask… so yes Mom I went to 8am Mass at St Joseph church downtown - built by German immigrants bunches of years ago).   After a proper tribute to the Missions, we traveled north to an amazing Japanese Garden created out of an abandoned quarry by city of San Antonio and had “Tea”,  then on to another Botanical Garden that we got into for free due to Fairchild Tropical Gardens membership. Have used that card to enter gardens in LaGrange and SanAntonio for free!   On then to the hotel and am now sitting with Chuck outside at the pool.  We are the only sojourners today.  Drinking a bottle of wine given to us by friends Rick and Marilyn. Thanks folks very nice.  At this point bro in law Lee will say, “Is Susie drinking again?” Well what can I say.  We ditched Del Rio as the next stop as I went online to check out one of the places I wanted to go and it is closed… The only other thing left is a winery. Got wine.  Decided to go on to Sonora. They can’t close Caverns can they?  Chuck said it’s time to take out my paints and get busy painting so tomorrow we’re on to Sonora and the caverns and painting … I’ll look for a horse for Chuck to ride. We are moving across Texas in 100 degree oven temperature but loving the journey!!! God bless you!

Don’t Mess With Texas

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Chuck and I really blew through Galveston. Well we only spent one overnight there.  We arrived via car ferry which is always fun! (a free car ferry by the way).  Checked into a hotel that Chuck had stayed in 5 years ago… The name changed, but he remembered the place right across from Galveston seawall and beach. Then we visited the Seawolf Park where there is a complete and very well restored submarine called the Cavalla SS 242.  We were escorted by a guy who had been a sub sailor Master Chief who now manages the park and who had served during the Vietnam conflict like Chuck did.  They pointed out things like, “there’s where I slept, and they had more bunks in here.” etc. The Master Chief explained that finding the old beds and authentic hardware is getting hard but he did a brilliant job of restoring.  He has also acquired the sail of a nuclear sub and along side the Cavalla is a destroyer.  It is worth a visit! We had lunch at a cute cafe, but then I needed to cool off. I have been sitting in my Mom’s air conditioned room for a month, and this Texas heat got to me. After a nap and cooling off, I was ready for a walk and sweated up again walking the beach for an hour.  After breakfast this morning we headed for San Antonio and secured a hotel near the Riverwalk and then proceeded to spend all day on the Riverwalk and at the Alamo.  I recommend highly, but what are we going to do about this heat?  My cheeks are bright red.  We drank a lot of water and not a lot of alcohol. Heavens, are we getting old?  We now ask for the senior discount. Dinner at Pat O’Briens ( a nod to an old friend of a restaurant in New Orleans that we bypassed this trip).  Tomorrow after Mass we’ll go to 2 gardens and possibly Fort Sam Houston and then…. some sleep and off the next day (Monday) to the Mission Trail to see some Spanish Missions and then west to Del Rio in search of artifacts and a winery on the Rio Grande. Hope to find some horse back riding for Chuck.  Will be meandering west from Del Rio through Sonora, Ozona, Fort Davis, Alpine, Van Horn and ElPaso and then turning north through Carlsbad Caverns.  Have a wonderful weekend and stay cool!!!

Look out 18 wheelers here come the Peabodys

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Chuck and I drove from Auburn, Alabama to Beaumont, Tx and he thought he had been in Beaumont before, so I was all ready for this cute sea food restaurant on the water… and as we drove through Lake Charles, Louisiana, he said “There is where the little restaurant is, and there is the hotel!”  OOPs. We have reservations 50 miles down the road in a different state!  We watched the cute little restautrant go by and we drove on. Actually Beaumont isn’t anything special unless the “old town” is hidden someplace.  Our hotel is on a little river… but where is old town?   Now Auburn was special - it has a real small town feeling. I am thinking of the University of Miami being a “campus” but I never got the “small town feel.”  I think first of all U of M being smack in the middle of very exclusive Coral Gables was an issue, and second we don’t have that all important stadium in the middle of the campus. Auburn is ALL AU… tiger paws everywhere and everyone talks sports.  Two really big guys poured out of a car at an Auburn gas station wearing Tuskeegee football shirts and all I could think of is “Yes” you do play football don’t you?  My gosh, what it must take to feed those tanks!  Football and sports abound, but Auburn also has a beautiful Art Gallery/Museum.  So….. onward into Texas.  Tomorrow we head south to Port Bolivar and take a car ferry over to Galveston Island.  I haven’t been there and they were wiped out two years ago by one of those hurricanes that we wished west from the Keys…. (sorry Galveston)… so we’re planning to camp there for a few days and catch some beach breezes.  It’s hot today and I hope the Gulf will be cool (wish on). We planned the rest of our Texas trip when we got a bunch of materials at the welcome center … oh boy oh boy Sedona, El Paso, Fort Davis, Alpine, Big Bend, etc.  I just have to get us to those places and out again and headed north to get to Denver on time to deliver art in Aspen (we have a tough life).  So my dears. Have a wonderful end of the week! Hope you are dry and cool!!!

Chuck is on the road

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Hi dear friends.  Chuck left Peter and Karen Skipp’s in Tampa and he is headed to collect me at my sister, brother in law, and Mom’s at about 4pm today.  I cooked Mom a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, will do a last laundry, and give mom a great big wet shower!!! and then will try to pack my suitcase. Somehow it’s much harder to pack after a long holiday… nothing fits in that one bag!   Our first stop will be in Auburn, Alabama because my southern family tells me it is a lovely college town, so we’ll see and report.   I’ve written about 17 Psalms with 133 to go for book.  Say a little prayer for inspiration, for a good, safe journey and you too have a wonderful summer day!

Beginning another adventure and thinking of my friends

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Dear friends who live “all over”.  I’m sitting upstairs at my sister’s house in LaGrange, Georgia watching the new Pope Francis land in Rio de Janiero, Brazil for World Youth Day, and I’m running downstairs to watch news on the birth of a Royal heir to the throne of England on the downstairs TV.  I’ve been on baby watch with my English friends for a few weeks, and I’m so reminded of times we have shared with English friends in their home where they took care of my need to “see it all” when I watched a Papal funeral, when Diana died, and when Prince William married. I remember so well being at my friend Sally’s father’s funeral and lighting candles for him and praying in a small English church. We are united in so many ways. We share our heritage and I am grateful for many friendships.  I thought as Mother and I watched, and the new baby was heralded on the TV downstairs, I’ll write to my “many” friends and they can read if they want to.   You might be thinking, Sue writes a lot, do we really have to read it all? So you might be thinking; then edit it!  I’ve been with my mother for a month, and I’ve submitted a book proposal to my publisher, so I am emotional and yearning, sad to be away from Chuck, and glad to be so close to my mother who is 97 years old.  So my dears, Chuck will be picking me up on about July 24 and we’ll be travelling for about 2 months, and for the next few months I’ll be journaling of the sights and events.  We’ll visit Galveston which was almost wiped out 2 years ago by hurricane, the Alamo, Carlsbad Caverns, Denver, Clear Lake Iowa, Rochester Minnesota for a submarine convention with my favorite WWII veterans, Niagara Falls on the Canadian side… maybe Maine, and then on south to definitely Connecticut cousins… and, eventually home again and to visit Mom again.  So, stick with me and I won’t intrude on you with emails. Dial in to see “where are they now???” And let me say to my friends far and wide, in the US, in England, in Italy, God bless you and let us see each other soon. and while we are away from one another, let God bless you!