Signs of Summer

You know that your summer must be going pretty well when you look back at the photos you've taken in the past 2 weeks and realize there's approximately 200 you'd like copies of. Just one of the many signs of summer! While I can't possibly post all 200 photos here, I do hope to share some of them with y'all, along with the stories that accompany them. Ahhh...stories: best served outside on someone's (preferably a loved one's) porch, hidden away form the oppressive heat, accompanied by the creaking sounds that only old, white, wooden chairs seem to make, the clinking sounds of ice against perspiring glasses of iced tea the only sound keeping your mind awake aside from the lulling voice of the storyteller. Zzzzzzz.

Whoa, almost put myself to sleep there for a second! Alright, so while not all of us may have access to the porch of a loved one this summer, I have a feeling that, by the end of summer, we all will come away with one thing in common: stories. And if you're like me, you'll come away with some (okay, so it's more like a ton) of pictures. Here's to summer!

To sunsets at the lake:

And feet raised high in the sky:

To beautiful mountain vistas. (Guadalupe Mountains NP):

And feeling like you're about to fry. (No, not really...I was fine...I think!):

To sublime, cool caves (56 degrees year-round) out in the middle of no-man's land where you can escape the world above and the heat that recently married it. (Carlsbad Caverns NP):

To a tree-lined creek that leads to aquifer-fed springs in the middle of desert-like West Texas...a welcome sight and swimming spot, indeed! (Balmorhea Springs State Park):

From hittin' the big city, the "Big D," if you will. (Dallas, Tx.):

(The Reunion Tower...it's main job is to rotate, be pretty, and, while we were there, be renovated. No elevator ride for us this time...but a good excuse to come back!):

To seeing all the animals at the Fort Worth Zoo. (The flowers/landscaping were reason enough to visit):

From playing on the playground with my niece and nephews to taking a swim in the pool. (In order of appearance: Emily, Jason, and Levi with his Papi...aka my brother, Michael):

To sleeping like rocks...or, as we say here in Texas, "hittin' the hay." (Just kidding...I know we're not the only ones who use that expression...it's all about the pride, though...the pride!)

And, if there is one thing for certain I have been getting a good dose of lately...it's pride. Pure, pleasant, plentiful, personal, perfect, personifical....wait, what? Huh? Uhhh...sometimes I just lose myself! I think you get my drift. (By the way, did you know that the word "drift" originated from the name of the cargo boats that used to pass through the small Texas town of Driftwood, via the Wood river. People never knew what to call these cargo boats, having been bigger than canoes yet smaller than steamboats, so the residents...often called "Driftwoodians"...held a town meeting one night, and unanimously decided to call them "drifts.") Isn't that fascinating?

Yeah...fascinating, but false! Oh, what pride can do to a person. If there is a second thing for certain, it's that I will never forget these past few weeks of summer. Not because I have approximately 200 pictures to remember them by, although that helps, but because through it all, I was with family, my family, which fosters a love and sense of pride within me all it's own!

And, last but not least, if there's is a third thing I know for certain, it's that summer isn't over yet, and plenty of trips and times with my family await! For now though, I think I'll just admire summer, and all it's signs and symptoms, from my front porch. Being swept up by the silence, with the exception of the rhythmic buzzing of the cicadas in the background. Awash in a mixture of peace, pride, and thankful prayer. Letting summer embrace me, and embracing summer back!


To Mongolia in a Mere 10 Seconds!

Before I begin, would you do me a favor?

Yes? Oh...good. I knew we were close friends!

I want you to close your eyes for 10 seconds (just sit back, shut your peepers, and take a few deep breaths). I'll wait!

How was that? Nice, right? Don't you love working for me? Haha.

Now, tell me, where did your mind go in those 10 seconds? Those 10 seconds you had all to yourself? It's OK if you say "um, uh, nowhere," because, to be honest, it would probably take around 10 minutes or so for your mind to go anywhere but here, where you are right now and what you are doing at this moment. But, nonetheless...it's important to let your mind get loose every now and then. Loosey goosey, baba ghanoushy! Like a chiropractic adjustment for your spine, 10 seconds of a breather is a great way to relax, realign yourself with reality, and as a result, help you to help yourself to be the best, most helpful person you can hopefully be!

Huh? Whaaat?

Don't worry, I lose myself sometimes too! Speaking of losing yourself, what I'm trying to say is that it can be beneficial to, every once in awhile, close your eyes, count to 10, and then open them again. It's like taking a sip of water...it's takes up a small part of our day, but it serves a beneficial purpose! Try it for a day, or for life...I think you'll come to see what I mean!

Enough rambling and psychobabble though...now tell me, where did your mind go in those 10 seconds?

Uh huh...uh huh...oh, I see...wow!...cool!...Is it my turn yet?

Besides the fundamental and lackluster cycle that I have going on 24/7 inside my head of what I need to do each day (that's another blog post for another time...or maybe never...can you say "OCD?"), here's a glimpse at where my mind almost always goes:

"Hmmm...Spain...travel...la vida de una aventuradora...I wonder how many people are asleep right now...how many are waking up...where are they going...who, if anyone, are they with...will I ever get to meet them?...the clouds...pretty, pretty, clouds...flying, staying home...comfort, family, blankets, fire, peace, love, joy...God...oh, how I love you God...with you I will go both near and far...my heart is yours, I am yours, lead me to where you want me to be, tell me who you want me to be, where you want me to go, what you want me to do...your voice being the whisper I hear in the wind...your arms being the peace I feel in the stillness of night...goats, horses, turquoise, rustic stone buildings, a windmill, a ranch...my ranch...with a guest cabin for visitors, and a creek to swim in, play in, and skip rocks in...hmmm...Mongolia!"

Ahhh...has it been 10 seconds already? See what I mean! Honestly, that was the best 10 seconds I've had in a long time. My thoughts vary each time I close my eyes, but lately, they've ended with "Mongolia". Self-help and imaginary travel are a potent combination, one that has me clamoring for more every time I open my eyes. A mere 10 seconds has never felt so good!

So, just as a Mom instructs her children to "remember to take their vitamins," I'm going to leave you with this instruction: "Remember to take your 10 seconds!"

Goodbye for now...I'm off to do some more in- depth dreaming (i.e. sleeping)...if that's even a possiblity!


*"Where my Mind Went," "A Lifetime Passed Beneath My Eyelids," and "10 Seconds or Less" are all temporary titles for my temporarily planned book, release date to be announced according to my temper.* Gracias, and Buenas Noches!


Between the Bluebonnets and Me

"Ohhh...how pretty!"

"Oooo...did you see those? How gorgeous!"

"Wow! Texas Hill Country, will you marry me?"

O.K. Time to take it down a notch. Inhale...and, exhale. Good. Good job! Now, focus...and this time, try not to get too obsessed/enamored with the bluebonnets and all their other wildflower companions, comprende?

"Alright, fine, I'll try," I say to myself as I stare back out the passenger seat window. This is just a glimpse into the battlefield of love that rages within my head when it is springtime in the Texas Hill Country...because, with Spring comes beautiful weather, bright, optimistic wildflowers, and daydreams of what your wedding day would actually look like if you were indeed to follow through on your marriage proposal to, in my opinion, the best part of Texas.

And daydream, I do. A nice, white, cotton dress, no shoes (all the better to feel the soft, green grass underfoot), possibly a pearl necklace, and a bouquet of my beloved wildflowers should do the trick.

Wait, but come to think of it, in order for me to have a bouquet of wildflowers at the impending ceremony, I would actually need to pick them. No, that doesn't sound right! Oh no, I think I'm starting to get cold feet...maybe I should wear shoes with my dress. No, that wouldn't fix anything. What about the wildflowers? They would never forgive me for committing such a ruthless act! In fact, I'm still not positive that it's legal (both the picking of the wildflowers, and the getting married to the wildflowers). Maybe, I start to reason with myself, it wasn't love after all...maybe it was just, dare I say... lust.

And with that, my mind begins to settle back into reality as I choose to accept the fact that a marriage between me and the bluebonnets and all their other wildflower companions would never work.

"I'm sorry bluebonnets, and all your wildflower friends...it's not you, it's me."

Honestly, we're better off just remaining friends. They make me smile, and I in turn, capture photos of them that will hopefully cause others to do the same. And that's what friends are for, right? To make each other happy, to share in each other's joy. It's the circle of life accompanied by the circle of love, if you will. And what a friendship we will always have, what a friendship it will always be...the one between the wildflowers, the bluebonnets, and me!

(P.S.) This post does not even begin to give you a glimpse of the beauty that can be seen out here in the Texas Hill Country. It's more like a peek!


Now Arriving in Carefree Country, Colorado

It was as though we had switched bodies or something...and I was observing myself while yet still being my self. Obviously when I "left on a jet plane," I really did just that...I left, took a respite from myself, and let the "country roads" of Colorado "take me home." (I've had John Denver on the brain recently...can you tell?) At least, the excuse of "taking a break from myself" is how I justified my actions/consoled myself when I realized I hardly took any pictures of our vacation to Colorado a couple of weeks ago. That, or there's always that issue of the oxygen levels experienced at high altitudes...you know, not enough blood flow to brain = fluctuating outlook on life (otherwise known as F.O.O.L.). But, who am I kidding? Let's get back to the switching bodies part. You see, while I was busy being afflicted with a currently undiagnosed syndrome, my mom was busy being "F.O.O.L proof " (i.e. She was busy taking photos, and serving as Photographer in Chief (otherwise known as "P.I.C.") while I was away from my post, er...tripod). Therefore, I must credit some of these photos to her. Thanks momma! But, most of all, I must credit them to that which stood before the camera lens, whose only syndrome was on occasion the change in weather...which only made it more beautiful! To Colorado, to the Country, and to those special moments in time that allow you to be Carefree! Amen.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Ice Falls and Ice Climbing...

And (last, but definitely not least) Snowshoing...


E.T. and Snow ... One Friend and One Foe

Everyone has something they're afraid of...right? Something that just makes you want to shriek from the shock of its sight or sound, squirm from the eerie feeling that it sends coursing through your veins, and shake and shudder to try and rid your eyes, ears, and mind of what you just saw and/or heard?

Yeah...that's what I thought! So, guess what that one thing is for me? I'll give you a hint: the answer can be found in the title of this post. If you said my friends, foes, or the snow, then I must tell you NO! If you said E.T., then you're right on the money. (Oh wait, bad analogy...money is green...E.T. is green...shriek, squirm, shake, shudder...ok, I'm good...I think.) Yeah, seeing that little guy/alien/amorphous creature thing just gives me the creeps! Which is why I wanted you to know that when I tell you my mom, dad, nephew, and I all went to go see E.T. and that we had a great time, I'm not telling you that we were probed onto a spaceship and transported to meet the real-life version of E.T. on an other-worldly planet, but that we actually went to go see my grandpa at his ranch. Lost and confused yet? Yeah...that's what I thought!

You see, E.T. stands for "Edmondson" and "Throckmorton," which are, respectively, the last names of my grandpa and my great uncle. So, no need to fear, the real E.T. is neither here nor there! Actually, it would be rare to find another human, let alone alien, out where my grandpa has his ranch. What you will find though is a place so special, words alone cannot describe the place it holds in my heart...I LOVE it out there! I could give you countless reasons why (the picturesque country, the horses, the cows, the donkey and the goat (BFF's), the smell created by said animals, the dirt roads that turn red after it rains, the majestic oak trees and the rolling plains that make sunsets just that much more beautiful...etc.), but it's simpler if I just tell you that, from where I stand, it's a little piece of heaven on earth. And I don't say that lightly!

Recently, we've been able to take my nephew Justin out there with us. I can see that he appreciates and loves my grandpa and his ranch just like I do, and that only makes our visits more special. He can horseback ride and bareback- donkey ride with the best of 'em! And now, he has a new friend in Rowdy, a puppy (soon to be hunting dog) my grandpa just acquired.

One more thing about E.T. (the ranch version) that I think we can all agree on is the time we spend gathered around a campfire, swappin' stories about the past, present, and the future. Especially those times when we're baking cake in oranges. But, that's a story for another time. Haha!

Oh, and in case the town crier in your neck of the woods (Wow, I just keep on gettin' butter...I mean...better at this country dialect/lingo thing!) didn't alert you to what passed through here (the Texas Hill Country...emphasis on Texas) a couple of weeks ago, I feel it is my duty to inform you that WE GOT SNOW! I know! Snow! It was pretty, and pearly, and, well, at the risk of sounding too superfluous, it was perfect.

Spanish: Hasta luego. Ojala que vayan con Dios!
Texan: See y'all later! God bless ya'!
English: Until next time. May God be with you!

All my love, ~April~