December 27 San Diego to Houston

While in San Diego, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Lara and her family. The kids and I baked cookies one day and pies the next, as well as other less fun preparations. It had been a while since I had done baking with kids and I enjoyed it very much. Both Justin and Alyssa were a lot of help. Lara brined the turkey and got it cooked Thanksgiving Day and we had a truly delicious meal. It was a lot of fun and we took pictures of the group to send to Sean, since he wasn't with us. Later that weekend Ashley took us to a nearby junk yard where she had seen an Orange Bishop flitting around the trees lining the street. We were very lucky that day, the bird was still hanging around in the same area and we got to see it. In fact, it sat in the tree and gave us a good show. I guess the Bishops have expanded from Los Angeles down as far as San Diego, since Juan said he had seen them around too. This was the fifth life bird we had seen on this visit to San Diego. We saw three at the park where we walked every day with Lara. Sort of amazing when you consider we've only seen ten new birds this year.

Alyssa & Justin with cookies

Juan & Lara

Margie & Riley

Cleric & Ashley

Leaving San Diego on the 3rd of December, we stopped first in Yuma to visit my beautiful granddaughter Channie. I wish there were a way to see her more often, as we always feel like we are just getting to know each other again on these short annual visits.

Then on to Tucson and a nice weekend visit with Randy and Ginny. I opted out of the hike up Finger Rock Trail but Riley, Randy and Ginny had a great time going up to the Cottonwoods and resting on the big boulders there in the dry stream bed. Back at home, Ginny showed us lots of pictures of their new grandson Atlas, and we showed them lots of pictures of our grandkids--such fun! I guess our age is showing. We especially enjoyed a dinner out at our favorite Mexican place in town, Macayo's, plus much good home cooking by Randy and Ginny.

Randy & Ginny on Finger Rock Trail

Tucson sunset from the wash

Next was a stop at Bosque del Apache NWR to visit the Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes that winter there, and again we got to see another life bird--the Tundra Swan. There was a group of five on one lake and three more on another. It was very exciting. Afterward we drove on up to Albuquerque to visit Shannon and Dresden and Riley's cousin Mary Ellen Baxter and her husband Wayne. We had a very nice visit with Mary Ellen and Wayne and got to see lots of old family pictures and hear the stories to go with them. Very interesting!

Riley with Wayne & Mary Ellen Baxter
We got to help Shannon and Drez pick out their Christmas tree and put the lights on. She hasn't had a big tree in a long time so not sure what she was doing for ornaments. We left before ornaments appeared. They took us out to see the "River of Lights" Christmas display at the Botanical Gardens. It was quite beautiful--impressive! Another night they took us out to an Indian casino west of town to a concert with "Asleep at the Wheel" and Willie Nelson. Wonderful to hear that type of music again, especially Willie after all these years. Hard to believe that he's 76. Both Shannon and Dresden prepared some fine meals for us all. Shannon's step-daughter Jen lives with them and it was nice to visit with her too, and to learn how her CAD job is progressing.


Dresden & Shannon

River of Lights display

Giraffes in lights

We made a short stop in San Saba to visit my cousin Sharon and her husband Doug. They took us to the new Mexican place in town for dinner, and we spent the night in their driveway. We played some dominoes and had a very good time. Both were fine while we were there, but we've heard that since we left, Doug had to go to the hospital for pneumonia--home and well now, hopefully for some time to come.

Sharon, Doug & Margie
We spent the weekend in Austin with Lloyd and Richard--always have a good time there. Richard had helped Habitat for Humanity finish another house and Habitat was having a dedication for it as well as five others that had been finished. It was a nice ceremony and the families all looked happy with their new homes. What a great organization! Leslie had us all over for a very pleasant breakfast on Sunday, and while there, her kids gave us a concert and we all did some carol singing. Lloyd recorded it all to play for Mom on Christmas Day. Icy Blue left us here to stay with Leslie and go back to her classroom--no more pictures with him popping up!

Ben at the piano preparing to play "Elf Silverhammer"

Zazie playing "Mary had a little lamb" on guitar

Lloyd & Leslie playing "What Child is This?"

Jonathan & Leslie

On arriving in Houston, we stopped by Rebecca's to visit her and Jonny. I was pleasantly surprised that Jonny seemed to recognize us and hated to leave him again even for just a few days. We spent Christmas at my sister Nancy's as usual and both Richard & Lloyd came, as well as Nancy's son Jimmy and his family and grandson Lee and his wife Lesly with their new baby Lucas. There was lots of food and lots of good company. Jim had even brought Aubrey over to spend the day with Mom. Mom seemed to enjoy the day some of the time and slept the rest of the time. She spends a lot of time sleeping these days and doesn't eat much at all. Nancy gives her Ensure to make up for her lack of appetite. This was our first Christmas without Stevie Lynne and we all missed her very much--especially Nancy.

Nancy, Lesly, Lee & Lucas

Mom sleeping in wheelchair

Richard & Beverly

Taylor & Katelyn

We are now staying in the driveway of our Thornton Rd. house. I need to do a lot of yard work and other things here, but we have Jonny staying with us, so it's more fun to play with him. He took his first steps on Christmas Eve and now tries to walk everywhere--he manages 6-8 steps before crawling again. I put one video up on Facebook of him walking to Rebecca. We are both happy that Rebecca is allowing us to have so much time with him. We've missed him these last few months.

Jonny almost 10 months old

Jonny standing in RV

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

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