Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kerrville, Texas - Sat., Aug. 23, 2014

Happy birthday to my son, Michael, who is 35 today! Michael you are a delight to be around, very down-to-earth, funny, gentle, dependable, smart, eclectic, and logical. Bob and I have enjoyed watching you grow and become who you are today. I wish we lived closer so we could go out to celebrate with you.

* * * * * * * * *

It's summer in Texas which means we've got to get up early to go outside for our exercise. Bob headed out to train with his San Antonio marathon group and ran four miles.

I met Susan at her house at 6:30 a.m. for a 66-mile drive to Kerrville, Texas for this morning's Volksmarch. Her son, Kyle, came with us. We started our 10K (6.2 mile) walk at Inn of the Hills at 8:05 a.m. The first part of our walk was along the Guadalupe River where we saw tennis courts, a pool, a park and a restaurant at the river's edge.

The first real point of interest was Riverside Nature Center with its xeriscaped grounds, Texas tallgrass prairie exhibit, and butterfly garden.

Xeriscape garden in Nature Center parking lot
Xeriscape plants like it dry and hot

A Native Garden, Native Plant Society of Texas
After a quick loop around the nature center, we entered the River Trail from the Nature Center parking lot. A stand of bamboo grew along the trail.

Bamboo along the River Trail in Kerrville
From the first pedestrian bridge, we had a lovely view of the Guadalupe River.

Guadalupe River
On our walk around Tranquility Island we saw a man feeding a squirrel. As soon as the squirrel took the food, it darted away to a rock where it posed with its food.

Squirrel with food racing away.
Here's the squirrel with breakfast.
Tranquility Island in the middle of the Guadalupe River is a beautiful place, lined with cypress trees. Since we were here two years ago, there is a new paved path across the island.

Old path and new path on Tranquility Island
Bark pattern on a Cypress tree
Guadalupe River with Tranquility Island on the left.
In the photo below Susan is pointing out cypress tree pine cones to her son, Kyle.

Agave (Century plant) in bloom behind Kerrville Library
Flowers in downtown planter
From Tranquility Island we climbed the stairs up to downtown Kerrville which has some beautiful historic buildings.

Captain Charles Schreiner's "home"
Detail of concrete work on the Schreiner home
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
We wanted to find the labyrinth at the church.  It was located in front of the arched entryway.

Susan walking the labyrinth
"Uh-oh, now where do I go?"
Beautiful zinnias
Rain lilies
Oldest family-owned barber shop in Texas
The rest of our walk zig-zagged through one of Kerrville's neighborhoods. We finished our walk in exactly two hours.

The three of us were hungry. We drove 1/2 block to our favorite fast food taco restaurant, Taco Casa. Bob and I love Taco Casa's tostadas. I had two regular tostadas and Susan had one super tostada. Kyled enjoyed his Chilada. It was as good as I remembered.

We drove back to San Antonio and I was home by noon. When Bob returned from his errands, we shopped at Men's Wearhouse, then had lunch at La Madeleine.

After lunch we went to see "A Most Wanted Man" with Philip Seymour Hoffmanand Rachel McAdams. Big lunch + dark movie theater = one snoozin' Susan. I slept through about the first third of the movie. Bob kept waking me up, but I didn't stay awake until I had missed most of the set up of the story. I definitely want to see it again so I can watch the rest of the movie.

All the best to you. Travel Bug out.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hannibal Pianta Lecture - Tues., Aug. 19, 2014

Tuesday evening Bob and I joined Susan and other members of the Randolph Roadrunners Volksmarch Club at the Universal City Library for a lecture by Paul Kahl, Jr. about Hannibal Pianta, a master modeler/architectural sculptor. The Volksmarch Club provided a dinner of meats, cheese, rolls, chips, fruit, potato salad and a variety of desserts, including Susan's blueberry crisp, which was warm from the oven.

Charlotte Kahl, Paul's mother, is chair of the Old Spanish Trail 100 group. Hannibal Pianta's ornamental cast stone work, and his father, John's, plaster work grace many historic buildings along the Old Spanish Trail. John Pianta was an immigrant from Italy who was already working in Texas. John worked as chief plasterer on the Texas State Capitol in Austin, and the Georgia State Capitol.

When Hannibal immigrated from Italy in 1905, he set up shop with his father who was already producing plaster ornamental capitals (decorative work at the top of a column). The significance of the cast stone ornamentation, as opposed to chiseled stone, is the rapidity with which building ornamentation can be created. Forms are used for the wet "cement" mixture to set up. Once dry, the cement ornamental pieces were trucked to building sites and installed. The ornamental "cast stone" used by Hannibal has lasted for almost 100 years with no cracks, crumbling or spalling (chipping or splintering) and feels smooth to the touch.

Paul Kahl and his mother, Charlotte, have been researching Hannibal's architectural art work on old buildings.

Our speaker: Paul Kahl, Jr.
Hannibal Pianta working on a large cartouche.
Much of the photography showing Hannibal Pianta's work is copyrighted so I could not include those photos in my blog. However, Paul Kahl, Jr. is an accomplished artist who has painstakingly recreated some of those old photographs in free-hand drawings. Paul gave me permission to publish photos of his artwork. You can see how beautiful ornamental cast stone work can be. [Caption in lower right or drawing below says: "Paul Kahl, Jr., Dec. 4, 2011, from photograph of work by Hannibal Pianta, ca. 1920's."]

Cast stone art work depicted in a drawing
by Paul Kahl, Jr.
Another drawing by Paul Kahl, Jr.
Here is another piece of cast stone by Hannibal Pianta:

In 2011, Charolotte created an architectural tour highlighting the work of Hannibal Pianta.

Below is a map of the architectural tour locations in San Antonio, and a photo of St. Gerard Catholic Church in Iowa, which has ornamentation by Hannibal.
Map of architectural tour in San Antonio,
and St. Gerard's Church in Iowa
Other cast stone ornamentation work done by Hannibal is prevalent on Thomas Jefferson High School, McNay Art Museum, Our Lady of the Lake Chapel, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Municipal Auditorium (now the facade for the new performing arts center), Central Trust Co. (now a Hilton), Cottonwood Building, the Aztec Theater and the Empire Theater, all in San Antonio, Texas.

Unfortunately Hannibal died at the age of 63 when the truck he was driving to a job site was hit by a train. Two employees jumped free of the truck, but witnesses said Hannibal did not try to jump out.

All of us at the lecture raptly listened to Paul talk about Hannibal Pianta. He was a true artist when it came to working with cast stone.

Thank you so much to Paul and Charlotte Kahl for the information provided on Hannibal and John Pianta. We enjoyed the talk. (And I loved Paul's artwork!)

We also appreciated the dinner sponsored by the Randolph Roadrunners Volksmarch Club.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Update on Bob - Tues., Aug. 19

Today is the day of Bob's cardioversion. We arrived at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. They took him back to the Catheterization Lab to prep him for his cardioversion. A few minutes later, the nurse came out to take me back to see Bob.

He was in normal sinus rhythm so they didn't have to cardiovert him. Yay!

They did want us to stick around to see Bob's doctor who was supposed to be in at 9:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. we were still waiting for the doctor. I had read two Entertainment Weekly magazines and made it half-way through a third. The doctor finally showed up about 10:20 a.m.

He talked to Bob for about 10 minutes, answered Bob's questions and sent us on our way. (We had been there 3-1/2 hours.) The doctor was pretty concerned that Bob's pulse was only 40, but Bob normally has a low pulse. Of course the first thing he wanted to do was put Bob on medication. However, the preferred medication would lower Bob's pulse even more, so that was not an option. The other medication he wanted Bob to use was one Bob had a bad reaction to in the past, so no go there either. Fine with us, we don't like to take medications.

Basically the doctor told Bob to continue his normal, everyday activities including basketball and marathon training. He wants Bob to make an appointment for two months from now (when we get back from our Michigan road trip).

Bob says if anything happens while we're on our trip, he's sure there are cardiologists in Wisconsin and Michigan. He plans to keep on doing what he's doing.

Tonight we're going to the Randolph Roadrunner's Volksmarch Club meeting at the University City Library. Tonight is a special program by Charlotte Kahl (Chair, Old Spanish Trail 100) on Hannibal Pianta, architectural sculptor. Mr. Pianta is responsible for a lot of the cement decorations that grace old buildings in downtown San Antonio and throughout Texas. Tonight we will learn about his art work and how it ties in to the Old Spanish Trail. Our club is serving free pizza, salad and dessert! Looking forward to it. I'll have a full report tomorrow.

I want to give a big shout out to Bob's mom, Louise. A few years ago, she made a "tree" for me to hang my souvenir and Volksmarch pin collection on. It was completely full. I asked her if she could make another one and sure enough last week I got one in the mail. I think I'm going to move all my Volksmarch pins to the new tree. You can see in the photo below how full the tree on the left is. The new one is a clean slate. Thank you, Louise, now I can go back to collecting my souvenir pins and be able to display them. I LOVE these display trees.

Here, too, is a photo of my patches I have earned Volksmarching. There are more somewhere but they're probably in storage in Oregon. (Do you like my high-tech, double-sided tape display?)

Volksmarch club and award patches
Snuggle bugs Sunnie and Bowie.
 Travel Bug out.

Movie Review: The Giver, Mon., Aug. 18

The Giver is a sci-fi movie set in the not-too-distant future. We learn of three friends who are about to graduate school and be assigned their life work by the Elders, chief of whom is Meryl Streep (looking old in a long gray wig). These three friends live in The Communities, housing built after The Ruin. All memory, emotion, color and diversity is erased by a morning shot of medicine required of all citizens. All citizens are treated the same regardless of skin color, occupation, and clothing (since all clothing is pretty much the same). All citizens follow the same rules which are iterated at the beginning of the movie.

We meet Jonas (Brenton Thwaite), one of the three friends, who sees and feels things differently. Jonas, Asher and Fiona have deemed themselves "friends forever."

At the "Ceremony of Growth" all graduates are assigned the work they will do as adults; their childhood is now over. "Thank you for my childhood." His friend Asher is assigned to be a Drone pilot and Fiona, a Nurturer, who takes care of infants in the nursery.

After being skipped over in the Ceremony proper, Jonas is singled out by the Chief Elder. He finds out he is "selected" (in other words very special) and will be Receiver of Memories. These are human history memories that range from terrible (wars) to beautiful and meaningful (weddings, music). Only The Giver and Receiver have these memories...even The Elders do not. The images are transmitted from The Giver (Jeff Bridges) to The Receiver via telepathic communication; however Jonas feels everything as if he is really experiencing it. The purpose of keeping memories alive is so the Receiver of Memories can advise The Elders on matters that concern The Communities.

The movie is black and white up until the point when Jonas begins to experience the past in his sessions with "The Giver" of memories. I loved this aspect of the movie. Slowly, items turn to color. The movie, along with Brenton's acting, gives the sense of wonder he feels when he rides his bike through the Communities; he experiences snow for the first time; he falls in love, and the intensity he feels during memories of the horror of war.

The other thing I loved about this movie was the calmness of it. Sure there were some exciting parts. In comparison to other futuristic movies recently, this one won my heart by its serenity and more cerebral approach (as opposed to smashing you in the gut with dark images and graphic violence a la Snowpiercer).

As Jonas learns more about the diversity of the past, he wants to share it with everyone much to the dismay of the Chief Elder, and his mother (Katie Holmes) who works in the Justice Department. Jonas learns of the dark side of his seemingly utopian community and feels a need to stop what is happening behind the scenes; things the citizens don't know because they're kept in the dark by their morning medication. This includes his father (Alexander Skarsgard) whose job is rather disturbing, but he knows not what he does.

There are biblical allegories as well. In one scene, Jason "tempts" his love interest, Fiona (Odeya Rush), with an apple that she can use to take her medication for her. All she has to do is put a drop of her blood on the apple before she sticks the apple on the medication needle. Then the machine will register she took her medication that day. Using the apple to deflect the medication will allow her the knowledge/emotion she currently lacks.

There is more to the movie that makes up the climax. I don't want to give it all away, but hopefully I've given you enough information that you will go to see it for yourself.

Once again the critics thought this movie was mediocre, but the fans love it. I give it 4-1/2 stars.

Monday night we watched American Ninja Warrior. I can't tell you how much I get into this show. I sit there and lean one way or the other, trying to make the contestants straighten out on the course. I tense up as they try to make it up the Warped Wall. Very good TV. I told Bob it's the TV sport I am most involved in. Both of us enjoy watching it.

The kitties were cute again tonight. Here they are...

Bowie and Sunnie
That's all I've got for Monday. Tuesday coming up.

Travel Bug out.

A Little Help from a Friend - Sun., Aug.17

A few days ago we bought our new Vizio HDMI flat-screen TV. For the life of us, we couldn't figure out how to hook up our Pioneer DVD/CD player and surround sound. Bob had everything taken apart and then  tried hooking up a Sony DVD player (extra one -- in addition to the Pioneer DVD/CD player -- that came with our rig), but all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put everything back together again in a fashion to make it all work cohesively.

Enter Ralph, my co-worker in the RV park office. I mentioned at work that we had been to Best Buy, looked at new DVD players, other cables/wires, and Bob had made a valiant effort to get our new TV to communicate with our old technology. No go. Ralph said he'd take a look at it because he thought it was a set-up similar to his new TV and old DVD player and he'd see what he could do.

Ralph at Random
Sunday after church, Ralph came over and looked at all of our components, assessed the situation, and told us we needed the 5-prong Monster cable to hook from our previously superfluous Sony (which was a precursor to HDMI technology) to our new TV, then we could run a cable out to the old Pioneer DVD/CD player to connect it all up with the surround sound system. He thought he had a 5-prong Monster cable "laying around" his rig that he wasn't using.

Long story shorter, he went back to his RV, found the 5-prong Monster cable, brought it back to our 5er, and hooked everything up. Voila! We now have working TV, DVD, CD and surround sound for all of it. Thanks, Ralph! I owe you some lunches at work. You saved us from buying a new DVD player and all new cables.

Sunday night, we watched a re-run of American Ninja Warrior to catch up before Monday night's Part 1 finals. It looks so much better on our new TV!

Over and out.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday Blog, Part 2 - Foodstock - Aug. 16

Saturday evening, five of us from Traveler's World RV Park drove an hour northwest to Boerne, Texas to participate in Random Family Fun Event Center's Foodstock celebration. This weekend is the 45th anniversary of Woodstock.

We arrived at Random and gave Vicki, Ralph and Randi a tour of the place. Seven food trucks were there to choose from with varied menus. You can see kids and dogs are welcome at Random. Dogs must be leashed and under control. Kids not so much. LOL.

Giant slide, in-ground bouncer, and Teka Molina Tex-Mex
Fat Bellies -- what a name for a food truck!
I think they called the next food truck "Scratch Bistro" because their food is made from scratch. And I can tell you from first-hand experience their food is awesome. The Ginger Soy Salmon was served over yakisoba noodles with cabbage slaw on top. The flavors worked together so well. It all melted in my mouth in one big happy taste explosion. I shared with Bob and he shared his chicken BBQ pizza with me. Vicki ordered Lobster Mac from Scratch Bistro and it was excellent too.

Z's Wood-Fired Pizza with a beautiful evening sky.

The big slide and in-ground bouncer - very popular with kids!

Ralph waiting for his food and more of the food truck lineup.
Usually a line here!
All of us were able to choose the food we liked. Vicki and Randi chose Teka Molina for fresh Tex-Mex, Bob ordered the chicken BBQ pizza from Z-s Wood-Fired Pizza, Ralph chose a meaty sandwich from Hippie Momma's, and, as stated above, I had Garlic Soy Salmon and herbed French fries at Scratch Bistro. All of us were very happy with our food choices.

Bob, Susan, Vicki, Randi at Random
Ralph and Vicki
Bob and I with our rootbeer
Ralph happily taking photos.
Once we had food, it was time for drinks. With 80 beers on tap, the choice was difficult. A few of us loved the root beer on tap. But Redd's Apple Ale, Woodchuck Pear Hard Cider, and Stella Cidre were also popular choices.

The music was wonderful, all from either Woodstock or the 60s and 70s. Lots of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Doors, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Santana, you get the drift.

When we arrived at random, the temperature was around 90. When the sun set, it cooled down nicely, especially when a strong breeze started blowing.

Our oldest son Randall works at Random and he spent some time sitting with us and chatting with Bob.
Chatting with Dad (Bob).
Deep in conversation
Eating and talking
Toward the end of the evening, Ralph bought a dessert pizza to share from Z's Wood-Fired Pizza. It was served hot with fruit sauce, caramel, and chocolate (I think). Thanks, Ralph!

he evening was perfect for eating, socializing, listening to music, relaxing, and wandering around the property. We'll definitely be going out there again! Want to join us?

Travel Bug out.