December 31, California & Texas

We've been in Highlands, Texas, for two weeks now, following a great visit in Escondido for three months. We had a wonderful time there and an especially fine Thanksgiving with all of Lara's family. We had hoped Keith would be there with us at that time. but it was almost another week before he showed up due to a late start from Seattle. He sold his house for a good profit and is hoping to find work and live in the Phoenix area. Lara's daughter, Channie, who is currently living with an aunt outside Phoenix in Queen Creek, was able to come and we were so happy to get a longer visit with her than usual. We also got a surprise visit from my sister Nancy and her daughter Carol the day after Thanksgiving. Nancy was visiting Carol in Joshua Tree and they drove over for the afternoon. It had been years since Nancy had seen Lara and Ashley, so it was a wonderful visit.

Hay ride at Pumpkin Patch: Andrew, Justin, Ashley, Juan, Alyssa & Lara

Cleric picks his pumpkin

Sisters: Ashley, Channie & Alyssa

Day after Thanksgiving

We were in Escondido long enough to see all but one of great grandson Cleric's soccer games. It was fun to watch the improvement the kids made in their understanding and ability to play the game. We also continued to visit Sean every other week. He has since gone before the review board and has been told he will be released from the SHU (solitary) back to the normal prison population in March. This means that next time we visit we will be able to give him a hug and stay for up to six hours, instead of one.

Cleric's soccer picture

Sunset at Dixon Lake City Park

Cleric & Alyssa

Justin playing his Xbox game

While in Escondido, I made a baby quilt (the usual "Sleepy Bear" pattern) for Lindsey's expected baby boy, Jacen Tyler. I thought I was getting it to her at the last minute, but Jacen took his time and didn't come until Dec. 30, so it arrived plenty early.

"Sleepy Bear" quilt for Jacen

Jonathan, Jacen, Ryin & Lindsey

Ashley got me interested in the "Twilight" series. I read the books and watched the first three movies on DVD, so I would be ready when the fourth, "Breaking Dawn," was released. It was in the theaters during Thanksgiving, so we had a "girls" day and went to see it together: Lara, Ashley, Channie, Alyssa and me. It was a lot of fun and we were all happy with it and wishing the last one would come out before next November--no such luck. I still think the author, Stephanie Meyers, read "Wuthering Heights" too many times as a teenager; it has definitely influenced these books.

While Keith was there, he and Riley went on a camping trip to Anza-Borrego State Park. It was too cold to do it on the motorcycles, as they had hoped. Otherwise, the weather cooperated and they had a good time. They did several hikes, including the one to Palm Canyon.

Keith at Anza-Borrego

Palm Canyon

After we left, we took Interstate 8 to Interstate 10 and headed for Texas. We did go through Tucson but didn't get to visit Randy and Ginny as Randy was ill (better now). We did stop for a couple of days in one of our favorite Texas state parks--South Llano River State Park--but the weather turned rainy so it was not as pleasant as usual. We did see a lot of wild turkeys wandering around the park, along with plenty of deer.

We've been enjoying our stay in Highlands (about 25 miles east of Houston), spending a lot of time with great grandson Jonny. He truly enjoyed Christmas this year, helping to decorate Nancy's Christmas tree as well as his own. He was always so glad to see a Christmas tree wherever we went. It was fun to see the joy he felt in this season, and thereby feel it ourselves. We spent Christmas Day at Nancy's and were so happy to see all of her family. My brothers and their wives came from Austin for a couple of days after Christmas, so we got in some birding while they were here. Yea! Haven't done as much of that this last year as in times past.

Jonny, Margie & Nancy

Riley & Jonny

Rebecca & Tony

Sisters: Rebecca, Sarah & Jen

We plan to leave here on the 16th and go down to Padre Island for some three weeks to be beach bums. Then we will return to Highlands and stay through Jonny's birthday on March 2, before going on to Albuquerque.

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

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