Thursday, November 26, 2009

The table is set...

We decided to have an evening meal this earlier we ate sandwiches for lunch...and chips and dip. I'm hoping everyone gets an appetite back for all the food that's cooking now. We are abundantly blessed....

Gracious God, we thank Thee for all Thy mercy, love and goodness. Grant thy blessing unto those who are not so favored as we, and help us to be faithful in return for all Thy mercies. Amen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This last week of November

Thanksgiving. A time of giving thanks. And cooking and eating 'til your stuffed. Today I am thankful that we got the day off and that I can cook in my flannel pajamas. The weather is gorgeous, with just a little chill in the air. Jordan is flying home tonite. Cameron is staying in College Station for the big game...representing us all there. Will is home and still sleeping. Thankful, thankful, thankful.

Birthday flowers sent to me from Jordan

I turned another year older yesterday. Thankful? Yes. Not the older part....but the alive part. Kindergarteners are big on birthdays. So as I walked through classes yesterday, I was greeted and sung to by lots of sweet 5 year olds. At the end of the day, I told one of the car riders at my cone, a kid who was in kindergarten last year, that it was my birthday.

Me: Today's my birthday.

Him: It's my early birthday.

Me: What does that mean?

Him: Thanksgiving is my real birthday, so today is my early birthday.

Me: Wow! That's so cool.....cause Thanksgiving is my LATE birthday!!

Him: (just a very blank stare at me....with one eyebrow lifted)

I ended the day celebrating with some of my favorite people....5 of the kindergarten teachers at Lupe Tortillas. Sombrero on the head and all. If you're not from the south....and Texas in particular....let me explain that all Mexican restaurants celebrate patrons' birthdays by putting the huge sombrero on the patron's head and serenading them with a Spanish version of Happy Birthday. Never does this take place without the thought of lice...for me anyway.

It was a good day.

The last couple of weeks since I returned from London were not as busy as they were tiring. I definitely suffered from jet-lag. And now I know what that feels like. It feels like tired. So one night, while talking to Will on Skype....he asked if I was going to have the house decorated for Christmas by the time he got home for Thanksgiving. Ooooohhhhh. Just the two words....Christmas and Thanksgiving...spoken in the same sentence made me wince.

But then like Nike tells us....Just Do It... I just got up and did it. Will is my most sentimental kid. He loves the holiday traditions....which makes him a real Hackney. The Hackney men LOVE Christmas decorations. Not the doing and decorating part.....just the part where it's done and they are sitting back admiring it. So for Will, I did the doing part.

There was a slight glitch this year. We got out the white tree....that is only 2 Christmases old...and it was filthy. It had been in its box, taped up tight and stored in our garage....and yet dirt still got in.....and apparently moisture as the wires were starting to rust. I was so disappointed. Chuck and I headed out to get another tree....another white tree.

However, we ended up with a green one. A skinny green one. It was a compromise. I wanted white. Chuck wanted big, monster size green. So a skinny green one was the winner. I say "she who decorates should get to pick"......but Chuck's face was so pitiful looking when we stood near the white ones. Hackney men and their strong traditions. Trees are supposed to be green.....whatever. My white tree sparkled and twinkled and reminded me of Whoville and Cindy Lou. And how can one not be happy when thinking of Cindy Lou?

The Santas are out, the tree is up....the table is still decorated for Thanksgiving.

The holidays are merging and overlapping.

Take a look at that pumpkin. The most adorable pumpkin ever. My friend and London traveling companian, Karen, took an ordinary plastic pumpkin and did it up Mackenzie-Childs style. This might possibly be my favorite pumpkin ever. I'm not sure I can put this away after Thanksgiving. It may have to stay out.

I placed a couple of black and white ornaments in my iron basket.

The holidays are definitely overlapping here.


The Nativity.

We believe.

Have you paper-mached your cheap wooden bowl yet? I threw a few ornaments in mine....

which is already filled with "finds."

Wherever you spend it, whatever you eat....I hope your Thanksgiving is full of blessings.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Slight Incident With The Baggage....

Karen and I had a departing flight from London's Heathrow Airport at 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, November 7. We arrived at the airport around 9:00 a.m. which gave us plenty of time to check in, go through security, have a light breakfast and even do some last minute shopping in the airport. We headed to the gate to begin boarding around 11:00 a.m.

We got on the plane and got all situated. Situated in our tee-tiny seats. We watched others get on and get situated. We waited....and according to our watches, it was almost time to start pulling away from the gate. We waited and waited.

We waited.

We waited.

And then the friendly voice of the pilot came on over the intercom and stated that there had been a slight incident with the baggage....and that pictures had been emailed to Houston and they were waiting on an answer. "Folks, it looks like it will be about 30 minutes. We'll let you know as soon as we hear back from Houston."

Baggage? Slight incident? What...the baggage spilled open? The baggage is ugly? What is a slight incident?

Okay. Thirty minutes go by. Another announcement. Still waiting to hear back from Houston. It's going to be another 30 minutes.

Okay....ditto the above paragraph.

Then after 2 hours on the parked plane, the pilot comes on and tells us, "Folks, we need you to evacuate the plane.... get all of your belongings and take them with you. will be given a food voucher for 5 pounds (a little under $7) for a refreshment. We will be updating the situation as soon as we know something."

And so we get off....and wait....and wait. People are asking questions...lots of questions. Airline employees are being vague.

Just what is this slight incident with the baggage?

We are finally told that the baggage handler drove the cart into the aircraft and put a dent in the tail. Well, WE aren't really was sort of spread like gossip through all the waiting passengers. Wow.

And then they tell us that engineers are being called in to do a compression see if the dent will turn into a hole at 40,000 feet. Again, we get this information from other passengers who heard it from other passengers.

Really? A hole? In a airplane? At 40,000 feet? That would be a possibility? That doesn't sound good.

Fast forward 4 hours...oh, you get to fast forward....but we were in slow motion those 4 hours.
Four hours filled with spending our food voucher at an airport restaurant, shopping for nothing at the few airport shops, sitting, walking and doing lots of sighing.

Finally, the engineers gave it the big okay and we were told to prepare to board the plane again.

Here's the thing. We (about 200 of us) were sooooo ready to just get on a plane that was heading towards the states...that we didn't really care that there was a slight chance this plane could blow a hole. I was in a total state of TRUST. Trust in an engineer who we never even saw. I he smart? Is he experienced? Shouldn't he have to get on the plane with us?

But like cows....we just all got prodded back on the plane with dumb looks on our faces. Tired, dumb looks. We finally pushed away from the gate around 5:30 p.m. And with the exception of one big drop/turbulence while flying over the OCEAN....we had a good hole....and landed in Houston safely at 9:45 p.m......3:45 a.m. London time....almost 19 hours after arriving at the airport that morning. Wow.

I did call Chuck as soon as they evacuated the plane to let him know we would be late and to watch for information on the airline website.

This is what I said: There's been a problem with the plane. Someone ran into the plane with the baggage cart and they are waiting on help from Houston.

This is what he heard: There's been a problem with the plane. Someone ran into the baggage area on the plane and they are waiting on help.....

He thought a person had run into the baggage area of the plane and was hiding. He thought surely this would make the he watched for it all day. Nope, nothing so exciting. Just lots and lots of waiting.

I can tell you now that I was secretly hoping we might just be put up in a hotel for the night....just one more night in London.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

London...Day 7

Friday, November 6, 2009

On this day Kathy ordered a driver to take us to Windsor Castle. While living there, our hostesses don't have their own car but use a service when needed. The mass transit system is so great that one really would never need a car ...except for taking day trips like this to the countryside...a car is much more direct and less stops than the transit.

If you look behind the line of trees, you can make out the outline of the castle.

We're almost there.

This large picture of a bird's eye view of the entire castle was on the wall....this gives you an idea of how large this place really is. It was impossible to capture that with my camera. I think this almost gets you there. I mostly tried to capture small areas of detail....very castle-ly details.

A castle cat. Or a guard he was hanging around the area where The Changing of the Guards was about to take place.

My view of The Changing of the Guards. Let me just say that tourists make their very own fashion statement....myself included.

The band is leading in the guards.

Do you see the little man sticking his head out of that window?

I will always wonder just who that little man is.

Field Trip.

Royal Mail? As opposed to Regular People Mail?

The buddy system.

Even the lanterns were crowned.

Castle walls.

Guards marching past young love.

The guard cat is leaving his post.

And out comes a new cat. The Changing of the Cat.

Leaving the gates of the castle to walk the streets of Windsor and Eton.

I took this picture to remind myself that it's almost Thanksgiving. Think about....the British don't celebrate this holiday now do they?

This reminds me of my house.....the Eating House.

The Christopher Hotel, Grill and Bar. I had to stop to take a picture of this because the newest member in my family is Christopher...Jordan's fiance. And this green? It's the color of the bridesmaid dresses. So this picture is for Jordan...

...and Chris.

The crooked house.

While this picture should have been deleted....I kept it because it was taken from my seat on the bus leading back to Kathy's from Windsor on our very last night in London. It is cold and rainy outside and I am tired and not really ready to go home....yet ready as I'll ever be.
This was indeed the trip of my lifetime.
The people were nice. The food was good. The city was clean. The weather was perfect. Our hostesses were extremely kind and generous with their time and space.
The weeks leading up to this trip, I started praying to stay well. Swine Flu...or as I call it, Hiney Flu...was running rampant through the schools. And if anyone should have gotten sick, it should have been me. But I didn't. Prayers answered.
I also was extremely busy the weeks and days leading up to this trip, so I didn't have time to get nervous about the flight. Until the day before. I prayed for safe travels and a calmness. Prayers answered.
I prayed for the ability to stay in the moment of each day.
To literally just soak it all in while in London.
Prayers answered.

To Kathy and Andy - Thank you. I cannot imagine how I could repay you for opening this opportunity up for me...and allowing me to bring a friend to travel with...and taking such good care of us while we were there. The food was the best and the beds so comfortable. The best part was walking the streets you walk and eating at the pub you eat at and feeling like I now have a better understanding of you and your life.
To Karen - Thank you. You are the best traveling companion.
A. Because you're a girl. B. Because you like to shop. C. Because you are so generous.
I cannot imagine having taken this trip alone....or how different it would have been with Chuck. This was The Girl's Trip to top all Girl's Trips. Give my thanks to Jerry for sharing you.
To Chuck - Thank you. Who knew when I booked this trip in June, that our daughter would be getting married the same year the other two kids are in college? We are the Hackneys and that's how we've always rolled. All or Nothing. Thanks for the ALL!
I hope I can return to London with you someday...
but don't drag me through too many museums....
or I'll drag you through adorable shops.
To my readers - Thank you. For always stopping by here. I am so sorry if I bored you with all of my pictures from London... but this blog also serves the purpose of memory for me. If I didn't write it down quickly upon return, there was a chance I would forget all the details.
I wish I could have put the smells and sounds as well as
the beautiful autumn weather on here for you....because it was the package deal that made it all so wonderful.
The next post will be the last post about this pictures but a really good story!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aggie Ring Day

Yesterday was Aggie Ring Day...and Cameron got her ring! This ring represents her hard work and some very stressful days up to this point. We were invited to go with her to pick her ring up and Chuck had the honor of putting it on her right hand. She grinned all night.
Heading in the alumni building to get her ring.

Gig''s official now.

Cameron and her friend, Michael...who also got his ring last night.

A huge Aggie Ring bronze sculpture is now on the site of the alumni building and was the setting for thousands of photo ops last night.

Work hard......and good things happen.
Congratulations Cameron.
P.S. After taking Cameron out to eat, we were invited to attend her Ring Dunking Party. This tradition must have been started by a bunch of boys....the ring is dropped into a pitcher of beer and then the beer is chugged until one gets to the bottom of the the ring.
My daughter stood proudly with 6 guys and 1 other girl...for a total of 8. He who finishes first wins. And then is extremely sick and bloated ....but no one mentions that.
I would like to brag (?) that my daughter came in 3rd. She beat the boys.
She took carpool home and is safely in bed today 3:00 p.m.
I don't even want to know what all happened after we left...shortly after she came in 3rd.
But I was young once...I'm pretty sure I could take a real good guess of some of what happened.

London...Day 6

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On this day, we headed to open antique and vintage market in what was once a train station. The market vendors have their wares out in the middle and are surrounded by cute shops and eateries. It was wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.

Books, old coins, vintage clothing and jewelry, a flea market but way, way better...because it was inside and everything was laid out on tables in rows. So much to see....too little time. I could have stayed until dark. I feel sure I left something there that was supposed to be mine.

Rows and rows of other people's junk. I only looked at small stuff...

knowing it had to fit in my suitcase.

On the way to the ATM....for more pounds. Sites along the way caught my eye. The only time I have seen hydrangeas this lovely is in the floral department of Hobby Lobby. Now I know they really do exist.

I didn't take a picture that showed how large this market was. There were rows and rows of vendors. Too much to see....but I gave it my best

Another area of the market held new items.

Lest you think London is only old and is also very modern and growing.

Seating for 2 on a very small sidewalk.

This is what I will remember about London....cute markets up and down the streets.

The prettiest colors are found in nature first.

Eggs? Eggs.

A market window.
My reflection is in the window....above the jolly old guy's shoulder...on the right.

After our afternoon coffee, Kathy headed home and Karen and I returned to Oxford Circus for one more trip to Liberty's Habberdashery....and just to see the sights one more time.

Storefront windows dressed for Christmas.
What you can't see, is that some of these bears were moving.

Christmas caroling...

Bears up to something...

The lights at night lit up the whole area.

Marmite window display...look at the tree....very creative.

This is the West End Broadway in NYC....the theater district. Karen and I ended up this far down because we were looking for those dang red telephone booths that we had seen everywhere. We were going to stay out later and have dinner but we couldn't find a phone to call our hostess Kathy. Our cell phones didn't work and we were in a pickle. What the heck did we all do before cell phones?

This picture is for Wizard of Oz addict.
This child of mine knows every word to the movie....she's watched it so much.

This map of the world is labeled with the time in each zone.

Jet lag is I know.

In the upper right corner of this subway map, is the area known as Hackney. Chuck Hackney really wanted me to get over there but we couldn't fit it I hope this picture will suffice.

If not, Chuck Hackney will have to take me back to London some day.

Because we could never find a phone and Kathy was expecting us, we headed home. It was really a good thing because we were tired and a delicious dinner was waiting. This sleeping guy was my neighbor on the subway. I couldn't help taking his picture because he was fast asleep and holding on tight to his Red Bull.

Perhaps when you drink it all day, it loses its power to keep you going.

This might have been my favorite day....I loved the Spitalfield Market.
Kathy knows me well....