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2016
Miscellaneous Pictures

 

On this page, I'm going to put those pictures that weren't tied in to a trip or some other event, like a birthday. Some of these are pictures brought to me by Fred from and of his house; I know him well enough now that I want to include them here.

 

January 23: Fred at Home

Right after we got back from Florida, Fred headed down to DeLeon to visit his mom, and he returned last night.


He'll spend the weekend here and then finally be able to go home for an entire week. We are actually in the study this morning listening to Ed Wallace- our Saturday morning ritual.

Fred is also copying all his Florida pictures from his camera to his portable hard drive. I had no particular reason for taking this picture, save that it was a lazy morning and my camera was handy.

 

February 17: At the Condo

A couple of pictures for today's entry:


On the Patio
(Picture at left)
The Carolina Jasmine on the patio is already in full bloom, and looks nice against the statue of St. Thomas that Fred gave me years ago for the outdoor space.

 

 

 

(Picture at right)
On the same day, Lucky and Zack were playing in the study, with Lucky occupying the high ground on top of the cat tower.


In the Study

 

February 22: Springtime On My Patio

I have a few flowers and roses on my patio that Fred has planted, but the springtime star is always the Carolina Jasmine that Grant and I added to the patio a couple of years after we moved in. It is almost always a riot of beautiful yellow blooms at the height of spring, as you can see here:

 

March 30: Fred's New Guitar

For quite a while, Fred has been wanting to get back to playing a guitar, which he did a long time ago. Now that he has a lot of free time, he's been investigating guitars that are easier to play than the old one that he has had for many, many years. He finally settled on an "Easy Play" guitar from Zager Guitars. (You may not have heard of Zager Guitars, but if you listening to music in the late 1960s, you probably remember hearing the name.)


Denny Zager (L) and Rick Evans

Denny Zager (b. 1944 in Wymore, NE) and Rick Evans (b. 1943 in Lincoln, NE) met at Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1962 and they were joined by drummer Danny Schindler in the seminal Nebraska band the Eccentrics, until Schindler's tour of Vietnam in 1965. Evans also left in 1965, but reunited with Denny Zager in 1968.

"In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)" was written by Evans. The song warned of the dangers of technology, portraying a future in which the human race was destroyed by its own technological and medical innovations. The last stanza of the song suggests mankind undergoes a continuing cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

"In the Year 2525" hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. It claimed the No.1 spot for six weeks. It also topped the charts in the UK. It attained the No.1 spot on July 20, 1969, the same day that Neil Armstrong took "one small step for a man". It was at the top of the charts during the Woodstock Music Festival was going on, and was nominated for a special Hugo Award that same year. It sold over four million copies by 1970 and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in July 1969.

The song was originally written in 1964 and had been originally recorded and released in 1968 on an independent label. The record became a regional hit, prompting RCA Records to sign the duo and rerelease the song nationwide. An album of the same name rollowed. Total sales of the original hit recording (including singles sales, album usage and compilation inclusions) now total over 10 million units worldwide. The song was their only hit, and qualifies them as a "one hit wonder". Zager now builds custom guitars at Zager Guitars, which is based in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Evans has largely stayed out of the public eye, but resurfaced for some online commentaries about "2525" in 2013.)


Fred has been researching guitars for a couple of months, and he continued his research while we were in Florida. He was looking for a guitar that was a little on the small side, and easy for someone with shorter fingers to play. He must have read a hundred reviews of various guitars before settling on one from Zager, and then it was just a matter of which one to get.

He settled on what Zager calls an "Easy Play" guitar; it is one that is forgiving of guitarists who find it hard to stretch their fingers across all the strings, because it is made a bit smaller than a standard instrument. Many of the online reviewers thought it the best choice for a newbie, and Fred found a wealth of online information about the guitar.

When he decided on the one he wanted, he called Zager and ordered it, timing the order so it would not arrive until after we had returned from Florida. Sure enough, during the first week we were back, the guitar showed up on my doorstep.

At right is the first picture that Fred had me take of him after he'd gotten the guitar out of its packaging and all set up, ready to play.

Fred also asked me to take a series of pictures as he unboxed and set up the guitar, and I also took a first movie of him having a go at playing it. The best of these pictures, as well as a player for the movie, are below:


The Guitar Has Arrived

Voila! The New Zager Guitar


Ready to Play

(Mouseover Image Above for Video Controls)

 

April 8: Around the Townhouse

Today was a beautiful day and I thought I would just take some pictures of my patio and island and maybe a couple next door at Cynthia's. Along with Floyd across from me, the three of us have been working on the plantings on our patios and around our houses to make them look better, more colorful and less monotonous.


Patio North Wall

Patio South Wall

At one end of the north wall of the patio by the living room, the Pope John Paul rose that Fred planted five or six years ago is always a standout performer, with lots of white blooms for a period of three or four months in the spring and again in the fall. On the south wall by the garage is the fountain that adds sound and a visual element to the patio.

Fred has added three yellow roses bushes in the island behind my house; the groundcover grows all around them. Next door at Cynthia's, she has completely redone her island- save for the crepe myrtle that was already there. Here are a couple of pictures of the island between her house and Stu's:

All the roses Fred has planted are doing well- the John Paul, the yellow roses in the island, the Betty White rose by the garage and another red rose by the garage. Here is a bloom from each rose (the red one having been taken inside and put in a small vase):

(Click Thumbnails to View)

 

April 13: The Yellow Roses of Texas

Last fall, Fred and I planted three yellow roses out in the island behind the house, and this spring they are putting on quite a show.


Yellow is my favorite color for roses (and for lots of other blooms as well), so I am happy that these three yellow varieties are doing so well. They are very pretty on the plants, and we bring some of the blooms into the house to brighten things up as well. Here are more pictures I took today of the roses:

(Click Thumbnails to View)


 

April 19: The Blooms at Downhill Run Acres

Fred, of course, has lots more plants and flowers around his house; he spends a great deal of time planting and cultivating them. Every so often, he brings me some pictures he's taken of them, and I got some more of them today:


Fred, of course, has his rose garden, and has been working in it and on it for twenty years. Way back when, I helped him lay the Windsor stone borders for it, and do a good deal of the weeding. But he has blooms, including wildflowers, all around his property. Here are some of the pictures he's brought me today:





(Click Thumbnails to View)


 

April 23: Blooms in My Kitchen

At Fred's house, his flowers are all blooming, as they are at my house as well. Fred brought some blooms down with him today, and also cut some of the blooms from around here, and they are arranged on the kitchen counter:

 

April 26: Fred's Car is Finally "Fixed"

After a month at Huffines Hyundai, Fred's car was fixed perfectly save for one thing- his crumpled license plate. To solve that problem, Fred applied for and got a personalized, conservation plate, and today he put it on right outside the courthouse in Sherman.


The license plate has the horny toad (native to Texas and the mascot, as it turns out, of Texas Christian University) and is one of those where part of the fee goes to conservation causes.


 

May 6: From Downhill Run Acres

Fred has brought me another batch of pictures of the lovely flowers blooming up at his place, and I want to include them here. Instead of giving you a bunch of thumbnails to click on, this time I'll use a slide show. You control it. Just click on the ">" button at the right of each pair of pictures to go to the next pair (or click on the "<" button at the left to go to the previous pair).

1 / 9
2 / 9
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June 25: My New Keyboard

As you saw above, Fred got a new guitar this year- my birthday present to him. He has returned the favor, getting me an early birthday present as well- a new electronic keyboard.


Fred's been impressed that I can pick out melodies on a piano by ear. It takes me a while sometimes, but if I can hum the song in my head then I can eventually work out the melody on the keyboard. That, and being able to play Heart and Soul and Chopsticks, is about the limit of my expertise, though.

It would be nice to know how to use both hands, and actually play something more than just a melody, but I just never got around to doing anything about learning any more than I know now. But Fred thinks that if he can get back into the guitar and try to pick it up again that I can either take some lessons or take lessons online and at least learn some basic techniques.

I suppose he is quite right; we have looked online and there are plenty of instructional videos, and also a great many songs that are in the form of videos with little bars that drop slowly to show you what keys need to be hit at what time. I have already tried putting one of them on my phone and then taking it in to the keyboard and playing it. I can already see that I will have to figure out how to slow it down until hand position becomes as second nature as it is in typing.

At left are the first two pictures of me at the keyboard. Will I ever get good enough to actually play recognizable songs at a reasonable tempo? Who knows? But I suppose Fred is quite right when he says that I still have decades of retirement in front of me, and learning to play is something I can do even if other, more physical things, become difficult.

When we got the keyboard set up, we realized that, unless you plan to wear headphones, that external speakers are required (which actually makes sense given how compact the keyboard is). So we will head up to Fry's tomorrow to get a good pair. I also plan to get a tablet soon which will have a larger screen than my phone and thus show the instructional videos more clearly. Now I just have to find an inexpensive music stand to put the tablet on...

 

June 28: A "Bookworm" Milestone

Today's entry is really just so I can record my progress through my current game of Bookworm. A few years ago, Fred's stepmother, Nina, told me about a word game she had on her computer, so I went online and got a copy of the little free game. Called "Bookworm", the objective is simple: make words with adjacent letters in an 7x7 grid. The longer the word, or the more unusual the letters, the more points you get. There are also the usual bonus tiles and bonus words where you can earn extra points. For example, if I can ever make the word "HOOPS", the word displayed below the bookworm, I'll get maybe 50,000 points instead of the thousand or so I'd get normally.


When you make a word, those tiles disappear and the ones above them drop down. Sometimes, other tiles drop down as well. Periodically, a "flaming red tile" appears at the top of the grid. If it ever reaches the bottom without being used in a word, the game is over. If you continue to make short words, you get more of these burning tiles; you can forestall them by making longer words, but you will get some anyway.

As your score mounts, your rank changes. I forget what they all are, but eventually you reach "Bookworm Supreme". At that level, they ran out of different names, so if you keep playing, you'll stay a "Bookworm Supreme" but your rank number will increase. When you reach a new level, you get a screen like the one at left, and then the game continues.

Nina said when she told me about the game that her high score was 20,000 or so. The first time I played the game, I didn't do that well, but it didn't take me long to get the hang of it, and on my third or fourth game I reached 100,000. I finally got into a "groove" where I discovered that if you keep the average word length above four, the burning tiles are manageable (although if you get one that turns out to be a very hard letter to use, you could be in trouble). Anyway, I play the game for fifteen minutes at a time, and you can save and continue a game indefinitely. Today, it was raining out, and I played a single session of three hours (although I was away for some of that time and left the game running). As you can see, in this game I've reached the 37th level of Bookworm Supreme, and the game in progress has lasted over four days (of game time, not clock time). My score at the moment is about 34,000,000 (the score is at the top of the screen and I forgot to include it in the frame). So long as I don't run into some real bad luck, I think the "groove" can continue.

When I lose this game (which I have been playing for more than two years of real time), I think I will give it up. And even though I have a very high score, there are people online who claim scores three and four times as high as mine. Either they've had the game for many, many years, or they play it very frequently and for long periods of time.

 

July 9: From Downhill Run Acres

As he often does, Fred has brought me some pictures of the mid-summer flowers and blooms from his rose garden and elsewhere around his house up in Van Alstyne. Many of them were pretty enough to include here.


Sometimes, the flowers that Fred photographs are out in his pasture, or wildflowers that might grow somewhere on his property. One example is at left.

But most of the blooms are from plants that he planted intentionally. We are a bit beyond the blooms from his rose garden; you probably saw some of them above. Now there is a mid-summer selection. I've put these pictures into the slideshow below. To go from one picture to another, just click on the backward and forward arrows in the lower corners of each picture; the numbers in the upper left will tell you where you are in the show:

1 / 18
2 / 18
3 / 18
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5 / 18
6 / 18
7 / 18
8 / 18
9 / 18
10 / 18
11 / 18
12 / 18
13 / 18
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17 / 18
18 / 18
< >

 

August 5: Fred's Birthday

Fred's birthday is actually on the 6th, but since we were going to see Steve and Mario this weekend, and since Mario's birthday is on the 8th, I ordered a cake for the both of them, and I took it over to Steve the day before we were to be there- so it would be something of a surprise.


So many of our friends have moved or were otherwise unavailable this year that I eschewed trying to plan a party, and we just spent an evening with Steve and Mario. The four of us went out to El Fenix for dinner, and then came back to Steve and Mario's as we usually do. That's when I asked Steve to get the cake out of the fridge for our dessert.


I think both Fred and Mario were surprised, and that was my intention. A couple of days later, we were over at Greg's house, and he had a gift for Fred for his birthday. It was an original acrylic that Greg spotted, and it brought together to aspects of Fred's many interests- buffalo and music. It was an amazing gift, and when we got it home, Fred carefully took two pictures of it close up, and I have recombined them into this single image:


 

June 28: Another "Bookworm" Milestone

Today's entry is really just so I can record my progress through my current game of Bookworm; you've already seen one entry for this year, and this is another. If I am lucky, there will be more at some point.


This is the word game that Fred's stepmother, Nina, told me about years ago; the object is to make the longest, highest-scoring words you can from adjacent letters in an 7x7 grid. When you make a word, those tiles disappear and the ones above them drop down. Sometimes, other tiles drop down as well. Periodically, a "flaming red tile" appears at the top of the grid. If it ever reaches the bottom without being used in a word, the game is over. If you continue to make short words, you get more of these burning tiles; you can forestall them by making longer words, but you will get some anyway.

The first time I played the game, I didn't do that well, but it didn't take me long to get the hang of it. I finally got into a "groove" where I discovered that if you keep the average word length above four, the burning tiles are manageable (although if you get one that turns out to be a very hard letter to use, you could be in trouble). Anyway, I play the game for fifteen minutes at a time, and you can save and continue a game indefinitely. Today, I reached level 74, and have just become a 43rd-level Bookworm Supreme. I am closing in on 50 million points.

When I lose this game (which I have been playing for more than two years of real time), I think I will give it up. And even though I have a very high score, there are people online who claim scores three and four times as high as mine. Either they've had the game for many, many years, or they play it very frequently and for long periods of time.

 

November 6: Hanging Guy's Painting of Valle Grande

Some months ago, Guy asked Fred and I for a couple of pictures of places we'd been that were special to us, and we obliged by sending him a selection, one of which was a photo we took of Valle Grande, northwest of Albuerqueque in New Mexico.


A short while ago, when we were visiting San Antonio, Guy presented us with a painting he had done based on the picture of Valle Grande; it turned out really well.

We wanted to find a really good place to display it, and we chose a spot on the wall up the front stairs, where anyone coming into the house could see it easily- and we can enjoy it each time we go up those stairs.

We got out the stepladder and Fred and I chose the height for the picture, got it leveled, and hung it. When we stepped back to the bottom of the stairs to have a look at it for final placement, Lucky bounded up the stairs and up onto the stepladder. So we just had to go get Fred's camera to take a couple of pictures.

Incidentally, if you would like to see the original picture that we sent to Guy, just click on the painting in the left-had image at left and I will show it to you.

 

November 6: Around the Dallas Townhouse

Since I had my camera out to take the pictures of the hanging of Guy's artwork, I wanted to take a few pictures around the townhouse that I intended to use (and did use) on the album pages for 1984 and 1985 (to contrast the first pictures I took of the townhouse with the way it looks now). Thanks to climate change, it is early November but everything around here is still lush and green:


The Living Room
 
The Dallas Townhouse


The Front of the Dallas Townhouse
 

The Garage and Island

 

November 7: A Farewell to Barbara Reynolds

If you have seen many pages in my photo album, particularly those from 1995-2005, you cannot possibly have missed mention of our good friend, Barbara Reynolds, and the many ways that our lives have intersected with hers from the very first time we met her at a dinner at the Hong Kong Restaurant near the Arboretum. Present that day were some folks that had become close friends of ours- Ron Drew, Lowery Evans and Lynne Richardson. Today, Fred and I drove up to McKinney to visit her.


As we have done before, we asked Barbara if we could stop and get her some lunch somewhere, and she picked Whataburger, and so we stopped there on Eldorado Parkway and then headed over to her house.

From our first meeting, Barbara had become a fixture in our circle of friends. She was present at numerous gatherings held at our house or at Lowery's; she was a regular attendee with us at the Dallas Symphony; she was a great help when I moved my Mom from her condo to the Bentley, it was she who discovered that the Heywood-Wakefield furniture that my Mom had purchased in 1951 and which I had to dispose of when she moved to her apartment at the Bentley (a retirement home) was actually worth a good deal of money (about three times what my Mom and Dad had paid for it a half-century earlier); I worked with her and Paul on the Bodi-Blo project in the mid-1990s; we took Lynne and her to San Antonio to stay with us at Ruckman Haus (the B&B owned by our friend Prudence Lucas); and she actually rented my Mom's condo for a couple of years after my Mom moved.

Barbara has had a hard time in the last few years; she has been on supplemental oxygen for quite some time, and on our last few visits has hardly been able to get around at all. But her mind is still quick, and we enjoy our conversations with her. On this visit, though, we learned that her two children in Midland, Dusty and Roni, have arranged to bring her out there so that they can take care of her (much as I did for my Mom in moving her to Dallas in 1996).

This was not to say that her daughter in McKinney, Heather Simpson, wasn't able to do that, but Heather and her husband have had their own concerns in recent years and have relied on 24-hour caregivers to make absolutely sure Barbara had everything she needed. Dusty and Roni thought it was time that they, too, took some of the responsibility for her increasingly necessary care, and so the family agreed that she would move. In addition to the picture of the three of us above, left, here are a few more pictures we took on our visit today:

 

Barbara Reynolds: A Postscript (March, 2017)

Our visit in November would be the last time we would see Barbara, because she moved about two weeks after. Through our mutual friend, Paul Shamberger, we got regular updates on how Barbara was doing in Midland- which was not, as it turned out, very well. In early February, 2017, Paul, Fred, and I began talking about making a weekend trip out to see her, but we did not get the chance. Her illnesses had progressed rapidly, and we were saddened to learn that she passed away on February 22, 2017.

 

November 16: Fall at Downhill Run Acres

As he has done frequently, Fred has brought me today some photos that he has taken around his house up in Van Alstyne, and I want to include a few of them here, including this reblooming iris- "Harvest of Memories". Here are some of those pictures:


Click Thumbnails to View Pictures

 

November 21: Another "Bookworm" Milestone

Today's entry is really just so I can record my progress through my current game of Bookworm; you've already seen a couple of entries like this one for this year. If I am lucky, there will be more at some point.


This is the word game that Fred's stepmother, Nina, told me about years ago; the object is to make the longest, highest-scoring words you can from adjacent letters in an 7x7 grid. When you make a word, those tiles disappear and the ones above them drop down. Sometimes, other tiles drop down as well. Periodically, a "flaming red tile" appears at the top of the grid. If it ever reaches the bottom without being used in a word, the game is over. If you continue to make short words, you get more of these burning tiles; you can forestall them by making longer words, but you will get some anyway.

The first time I played the game, I didn't do that well, but it didn't take me long to get the hang of it. I finally got into a "groove" where I discovered that if you keep the average word length above four, the burning tiles are manageable (although if you get one that turns out to be a very hard letter to use, you could be in trouble). Anyway, I play the game for fifteen minutes at a time, and you can save and continue a game indefinitely. Today, I reached level 78, and have just become a 47th-level Bookworm Supreme. I am closing in on 55 million points.

When I lose this game (which I have been playing for more than two years of real time), I think I will give it up. And even though I have a very high score, there are people online who claim scores three and four times as high as mine. Either they've had the game for many, many years, or they play it very frequently and for long periods of time.

 

December 9-10: The Birthdays of Ron Ruckman and Karl Gleim

This weekend, Prudence and Ron Ruckman, along with Guy Blair, have come up to Dallas to join Nancy and Karl as well as Fred and I to celebrate the birthdays for Karl and Ron, both of which occur in early December. We were happy to have Guy stay with us for the weekend so that Nancy's house would not be so crowded.

On Friday, we all went over to Fort Worth to the Kimbell Art Museum to see the exhibit "Monet: The Early Years", taking advantage of the membership we bought for Nancy at the "Le Nain" exhibit a few months ago. There was no photography allowed in the Monet exhibit, so I did not do my normal "documenting"; it was held in the Piano Pavilion. I did take a couple of pictures in the main building while Prudence and Nancy were looking through the gift shop:

 

Guy spent Saturday with us over at the townhouse; we actually went over to the Arboretum to walk around for a while (although we didn't carry our cameras with us). Late in the afternoon, we headed out to Nancy's house in Grapevine.


Ron's favorite restaurant here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is Bob's Steak and Chop House out in Grapevine. It is located a couple of miles from Nancy's house, so it is pretty convenient. We have been there more times than I can count.

Ron likes it because there is a section of the restaurant with some overstuffed chairs and a good ventilation system where he can smoke his cigars and watch sports on the big screen television. When we sit out in the dining room, he usually has Prudence order for him while he makes a beeline to the smoking area, returning to the table when his food arrives.

This evening, though, he and Karl chose to sit in the bar area itself, inside the smoking area, which allows him to smoke his cigars at the table. While none of us, save for Ron, really look forward to inhaling a lot of cigar smoke (and cigars produce a lot of it), it was Ron's birthday and in any event, we aren't there for a really long time. The worst part about eating at the bar is that the tables are very small and you are sitting in high-top chairs. As the dishes Bob's serves are large, and the bread and other stuff take up a lot of room as well, these small tables get very crowded.

But we always enjoy the meals here, and of course are very grateful that Prudence and Nancy almost always invite us to these gatherings. Around the table in the picture at left are Karl, Guy, Fred, Ron, Prudence, and Nancy.

As we always do, we enjoyed very much helping Ron and Karl celebrate their birthdays (as we do helping Prudence and Nancy celebrate theirs). We thank them very much for once again including us in their celebration!

 

Those are the last of the miscellaneous pictures for this year, and you can use the link below return to the index for 2016.


Return to the Index for 2016