Photos of the Week: November in Texas

From the archives, taken back in November 2009. This is a park in New Braunfels, and Joey is the boy waving to the other children. He was about 2 1/2 when these photos were taken.






 

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Photo of the Week:The Live Oak

This is my contribution to those who love bluebonnets, only, it’s not of a bluebonnet, but a live oak. The bluebonnet was photo bombing. Enjoy.

For more on bluebonnets and pictures of them, read Squatters.

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas Defends the First Amendment

From the office of the governor:

Governor Greg Abbott today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling:

“The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature. Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States.

“Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.

“The Texas Constitution guarantees that ‘[n]o human authority ought, in any case whatsoever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion.’ The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion; and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, combined with the newly enacted Pastor Protection Act, provide robust legal protections to Texans whose faith commands them to adhere to the traditional understanding of marriage.

“As I have done in the past, I will continue to defend the religious liberties of all Texans—including those whose conscience dictates that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. Later today, I will be issuing a directive to state agencies instructing them to prioritize the protection of Texans’ religious liberties.”

Dear Lord, expedite our move to Texas, please…

Squatters

We call them squatters. Who are they? They can be anyone, your neighbor, people from out of town, foreigners, legal and illegal aliens, the young, the old, … anyone. They usually travel in groups of two or three, but sometimes, entire carloads come and join in the squatting. They always come the same time every year, without missing a beat. They come, they look, they squat, and after what seems like an eternity of 20 to 30 minutes, they finally get up and leave.

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Dark Skies

Nothing like a Texas storm to give you something to look at… and don’t fret. The weather will change in another 10 minutes. AS the joke goes, I love all four seasons of the year, especially when I get to experience them in two days time all in Texas.

DarkSkies

Feeding Birthday Girl

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Andy brushing Birthday Girl last time he was at the ranch.

I just came back from feeding the horse, Birthday Girl. Since moving back to my Dad’s ranchette, Blue Creek Ranch, it’s become sort of a ritual with us. We both go out, get on the golf cart, hunt down Birthday girl, bring her back, and feed her. It’s a simple and easy routine that keeps us going across the place almost every night.

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Good Southern Food

I was perusing Facebook this morning and noticed that my friend Andrew M. had a post about a women in South Carolina asking for “diet sweet tea.” That was humorous in and of itself because “diet sweet tea” is called “unsweetened tea.” I know that you can add those poisonous pink packets of powder to the tea to make it taste sweet and have less calories, but I’m convinced it is better for you just to add the sugar to the tea and drink it that way.

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Texas Bound!

Lord willing, this time tomorrow I will be loading up the U-Haul truck with all my worldly goods and possessions in order to head back to Texas. Given that, this is my last post for a while unless I can figure out that app on my iPhone and use it to post while in the hotel tomorrow night.

The over all point is that the number of posts that I make for the next few weeks will probably diminish. Here a few photos of my destination. This little cottage is where I will be living for the next few months.

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Blue Bell Ice Cream: Top 10 Flavors

Given that we are just coming off the July 4th holiday, in which thousands of calories were consumed in ice cream alone, I thought it appropriates to list my Top 10 favorite Blue Bell Ice Cream flavors. Especially given that just moments ago, I polished off a bowl of one of my Top 10s, a bowl of Dutch Chocolate with the last remaining scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip. Realize, that is far as I’m concerned, I don’t care for any other type of ice cream other than Blue Bell. I know there are those who like differing brands, but for me, Blue Bell is the standard. This is for several reasons. First, Blue Bell is the best. Second, Blue Bell Ice Cream is from Texas. That heaven that the cows believe they are in, is none other than Brenham, TX, where I have lived and my father currently lives. Brenham is a slice of heaven for me. Every time I go to my father’s ranch, I think I’m in heaven. Finally, growing up, we always loved ice cream but knew the it was truly special when we could have Blue Bell. That is still true today!

So without further adieu (that’s French for get to the point) here is my list of Blue Bell flavors.

Number 1 — Natural Vanilla Bean. By far the best of all their vanillas because it captures the flavoring just right, and like the rest of the vanillas, you can add to it for a fine creation. My favorite addition is chocolate syrup with crunched up Oreo cookies and whip cream.

Number 2 — Dutch Chocolate. This is what, in my opinion, God had in mind when He thought of the word “chocolate.” There is no better chocolate ice cream or representation of what chocolate ice cream should be than Dutch Chocolate. After all, it’s chocolate which means that it is heavenly by nature, an Dutch which means that it’s the ice cream of all TULIP wearing Calvinists!!!

Number 3 — Mint Chocolate Chip. How they came up with this idea, I will never know, but it’s like the mint Girl Scout cookies turned into ice cream. Plus, it’s a year around ice cream so available all year long. They also have seasonal ice creams which are … seasonal.

Number 4 — Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. The best of two desserts. Cookie dough, which is the best time to eat the cookie, and ice cream. I know this one may have been invented by those liberal loons back on the east coast, but Blue Bell took the idea and perfected it.

Number 5 — French Vanilla. Much like the Natural Bean Vanilla, only French.

Number 6 — Caramel Turtle Fudge. A seasonal ice cream, but one worth waiting for. They add the caramel, and like anyone who loves a Snickers or a Milky Way to chocolate you have something special.

Number 7 — Peaches and Homemade Vanilla. This one makes the list at the recommendation of my Dad, who lives in Brenham. Using Texas-grown peaches, they have combined one of their top vanillas for a Sunday treat that is worth the wait and anticipation. It’s season because once the peach crop has come and gone, so has the ice cream. We haven’t had a shipment arrive here in Jackson yet. I keep hoping.

Number 8 — Banana Split. Everything that those of us who like banana splits think that it should be.

Number 9 — **Dessert Trio – Brown Rim 
A triple treat of your most favorite desserts combined with our ice cream. Smooth vanilla ice cream loaded with chocolate chip cookie pieces, luscious pecan brownies, and chocolate-coated cake pieces all surrounded by a swirl of rich, chocolate sauce. (OK, this is so new, I haven’t tried it yet. But alas, another Blue Bell flavor to look forward to!)

Number 10 — Cherry Cheesecake. Another seasonal delicacy worth the wait. Since my love for cherries has increase over the years, so has my love for cheesecake and cherry cheesecake ice cream.

OK, that is my list. What is yours? Please… no Benjamin & Gerald’s ice creams please. All they do is add extra sugar to that which everyone else is already doing and charge an arm and a leg.

Blue Creek Bliss: A Glimpse of Heaven

I think God gives us glimpses of heaven on this side of glory. There is the joy of a new borne babe, the joy of a loved one coming to know Christ and the joy of being known by Him who saves us. But He also gives us the glimpses of what heaven will be like. For me, one of my favorite places on earth is my Dad’s ranch which he has named Blue Creek Ranch. I love going there. No matter what time of year it is, it is one of my favorite spots on earth. It often gives me glimpses of heaven. I know, there are songs about Texas and if you want to get a glimpse of heaven, then Texas is the place to look. I don’t mean it in that sense. What I mean is the sweetness of family, along with the beauty of a place, the memories, the specialness that only comes through time and love, we get to see a place as a glimpse of heaven. I say only a “glimpse” because heaven will be far better than any place on earth, no matter how special a place may be.

My special glimpse is Blue Creek Ranch. A lot of that has to do with the fact that my Dad is there. I really enjoy spending time with him and his lovely bride, Donna. There is always plenty of food, conversation and fun. In fact, going to visit usually leads me to renewed vows of diet and exercise after my visits.

Certainly, my Dad is the one that really makes the place special. He has worked this small piece of Texas for 22 years and it really shows. When he and his second wife bought the place back in the 1980s, it just had a small cabin, one worn out cattle shoot and a barn that had fallen down. The place needed a lot of work. Granted, he had a lot to work with given that there was plenty of vegetation and three ponds on the place. But as anyone who owns a bit of land knows, it all needs work. You cannot buy a piece of property and sit around waiting for it to improve. It doesn’t happen.

From the pastures, the fences, the drive way, the barn that he built himself, the tool shed, the well house, the new house he and Liz designed and had built, the farm house that went from being a building with two rooms to a beautiful cottage, to even the dam on one of the three ponds, my Dad has worked on all of it. It shows.

For 22 years the place has steadily improved. I find such peace with every visit. It doesn’t matter if the weather is cold and damp as it is so often at Christmas time, to the hot-scorching summers, I enjoy being on the ranch. I even lived there for a time back in college. The ranch is about 55 minutes from Texas A&M and my freshman year in college, I lived in the cottage. I must admit, it wasn’t bliss back then. The ranch is no place to live for a single, lonely, college man. Again, the place is nice on it’s own. It has the glimpse of heaven aspect because of those I love. When they are not there, it can get extremely lonely. That may be one of the reasons my Dad is selling the place. He turns 80 next week and I think there is just a bit too much work for him to do. He and Donna want something a bit more manageable. I can’t blame them.

The cottage I lived in when I was in college.

 

Given that, the Blue Creek Ranch will no longer be my glimpse of heaven. Remember, God gives us glimpses of heaven, He doesn’t give us heaven on this side of glory. True heaven will never end. It lasts for all of eternity. So the glimpses of heaven we do have, come to an end at some point in time. Otherwise, we would be like the foolish tribes of Israel that never crossed over the Jordan into the promise land, thinking that somehow, we have arrived at the promise land.

 

The view coming up the driveway.

 

Birthday Girl

Blue Creek Ranch will eventually pass into the hands of someone else. I’ve accepted that. Unless I somehow strike it rich as a televangelist, I don’t think I will be able to buy it from my father to keep it in the family. Since my siblings have the same luck I do in playing the lottery, then my Dad will sell it and the glimpse will be gone. Again, I’m OK with it. God has blessed me through my father’s labor and toil with a glimpse of heaven. And when we all get to the true heaven, Dad won’t have to work so hard to keep the place up. In fact, I think our Heavenly Father has a few angels around doing that for us. We will be able to sit on the porch, talk about the glory of God and His blessings to us, for all of eternity. Gone will be the need for repairing fences, feeding the horses and mowing the lawn. The Bliss will be eternal. But for now, we have to wait for God to give us our glimpses of heaven, so that we continue to look forward to our eternal home.