Monday, April 26, 2010

Travelogue Part 6- Life in Kerrville

This is the gate to the Mueller's house. I want to name my homestead and have a gate. I think it might start a trend in Woonsocket.

This is the view from their back porch.

Here is another one.

One more. I could have stayed on that back porch all day.

After Sea World, we got back to Kerrville which was full of sun. One of the perks of country life is a thing called a "mule". Not the animal, but a ATV that looks like a mini truck without windows, doors, or seat belts. I have no pictures of said mule because while we were off-roading I was hanging onto Leo, who is 20 months and dear life. I was also praying that none of the five children in the back would bounce out. It would have ruined a great afternoon.

For someone with an insanely acute fear of heights. Flying down a dirt trail from 2000 ft elevation in an open vehicle should have created a need for Xanax or a large bottle of wine. Instead, it was the most fun I have had in years. Maeve and Hilde can't wait to go on it again.

Jim has moved his family out to Kerrville because he is the new pastor of Hosanna Lutheran church.

It was really special to be able to attend the service. The girls had fun in Sunday School and then got to join mom in service. Jim is Hilde's Godparent and I think of him as our family pastor. Over the years Jim and April have watched my girls grow. They pray for us. We pray for them. So, when we get to celebrate communion together and he is leading, it is a reminder to me of how truly blessed I am to have them as part of our family.

I needed a lot of Kleenex that morning.

I love this. Hat storage at church. Only in Texas.

I love this little boy. I love his older brother and sisters too, but I worked hard to earn a smile from him.

We went to the James Avery factory while there.
He is a Texas jewelry maker who lives and works in Kerrville. His company office is a park like campus. Texas stone and wrought iron.
Buying a piece of jewelry from James Avery is another Texas tradition. Everyone gets a piece to commemorate a special event.

We all had fun choosing our first James Avery piece.

In between all these pictures, April and I chatted and chatted some more. We talked children, schooling, house keeping, marriage and Martha Stewart. All of our favorite things.

We all watched Annie together and sang all the songs. I am sure this was not Jim's favorite part.

We ate popcorn and ice cream for dinner.

I didn't cook the entire time.

Jim made the best eggs I've ever eaten. Farm fresh really has no equal.

I got to talk about Hope and Change and Love and Family and all the things that make life beautiful, while watching my children play and explore.

Texas is good for my soul.

Can't wait to get back.

Travelogue Part 5- It's a Sad, Sad, Sea World

We started off happy. Couldn't wait to get to Sea World.

We were soaked before we made the gate.

We stopped at the gift store for ponchos. A grown man in a Shamu poncho makes you smile even if it is pouring.

It was supposed to stop around lunchtime.

We tried to stick it out. Note the brave smiles

Just couldn't do it. It was about 65 degrees and my girls were purple and visibly shaking. Never been so wet in all my life. Never been so cold in texas.

We packed up and headed back to Kerrville.

Travelogue Part 4- Hill Country

The haunts of happiness are varied, but I have more often found her among little children, home firesides and country houses than anywhere else. (Sydney Smith)

After time in San Antonio the Perrin girls headed out to the hill country of Texas. Our friends the Muellers live there. There is Jim and April, the parents and Isaiah, Ivy, Vienne and Leo, the children. We also got to see April's parents Pat and Gary or Gainya and Papa as the girls know them.

I have to admit that if the Muellers lived anywhere, we would love visiting. They are friends who are like family and time with them is precious and beautiful.

Lucky for us though, they also live in a beautiful place called the Hill Country. It is miles and miles of pretty. I was trying hard to find a word that describes it and I would have to say timeless. It feels like it has always been this way and always will be.

We started our time there in Fredericksburg. We had lunch at Rather Sweet, a world famous, many magazines featured cafe.

After which we shopped and visited Wild Seed Farm to see Texas wildflowers. We also visited Becker Vineyards for a tasting with Henri. Then it was back to town to stuff ourselves with German food for dinner.

All of these children played beautifully while Jim, Gary and I were inside the tasting room having lovely glasses of wine poured for us by Henri. Thanks Gainya and April!

He knows he's cute.

Pretty poppies.

Fun fact: There are A LOT of Germans in Texas. It is kind of cool and weird at the same time but Fredericksburg is a large German town smack in the middle of Texas. You can thank Texas settling Germans for your flour tortillas. Before the Germans got there, they were all corn. You can also, thank them for adding the accordion to mariachi music.

Windmill at the Vineyard.

Still life of girls in Blue Bonnets. This is an obligatory Texas tradition in which I don't mind partaking. You can photograph Blue Bonnets all you want, just don't pick them. It's illegal and it is sure to get you harassed by a Texas Lady. You never want to be harassed by a Texas Lady.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Travelogue Part 3- Wrapping up San Antonio

It's your friendly neighborhood Texas tour guide again. Here is the last bunch of pictures from San Antonio. On Thursday, after we had seen the Alamo and had a disappointing, overpriced trip to the Texas Ranger Museum, we had to figure out what to do in the rain. We went the children's museum, which is very close to the Alamo. It was a perfect fit for a soggy three year old and her older and slightly-tired-of-sightseeing-cousins.

Here are Maeve and Hilde "dressing up"

Clifton said, "Aunt Jill, take a picture of me with Grandpa." :)

After the Children's museum, we ate lunch at the Mexican Manhattan. Go here when you are in San Antonio, you will not regret it. It is not fancy, but it is GOOD . They have the most authentic food on the Riverwalk but not the inflated prices. Their re-fried beans are the best I have ever had. For some reason I forgot to take a picture. Next time.

After lunch it was pouring outside! Clif took Brooke, the baby home out of the rain and he also picked up Kevin, Michele's nephew who is staying with them. They came back in later for dinner.

Michele, Sandy, Maeve, Hilde and I braved the downpour and hiked 7 blocks to the El Mercado or marketplace. It was quite a hike in the rain but we were determined. Who would have thought that 7 blocks East of the Riverwalk is Mexico? That's what it felt like. The market is full of little shops and cafes. All the people are hawking goods "Hencho En Mexico". It was a good place to get cheap souvenirs.

Also at the El Mercado is the Museo Alameda

It celebrates Mexican culture and is part of the Smithsonian. It was the best deal at $4 for all 5 of us. The exhibit was La Charreria, the Mexican Equestrian culture. No photography was allowed. Again, this was sad because the exhibit was beautiful and I would have loved to get pictures of all the fancy leather and bead work. However, I am good citizen and always follow museum rules.

Maeve and Hilde were fascinated by the combination of riding horses and fancy clothes. They even had saddles with emeralds and rubies.

We also had the undivided attention of the security guard, who acted as the tour guide. (Did I mention it was pouring? ) He was very helpful added interesting bits of information.

This is the San Fernando Cathedral as we were trying to rush to the El Mercado.

We were given trash bags to wear over our rain coats, because we were soaked by this point. I had to put our clothes in the dryer at the hotel. This was a foreshadowing of more rain to come.

These smiles were because we found a trolley to ride back to the hotel after the El Mercado. I don't know why we didn't think of taking it to the El Mercado. I am going to blame it on full bellies of Mexican food making us sleepy.

This is strawberry basil gelatto from a tiny store in the plaza near the Iron Cactus on the Riverwalk. This guy had great flavors and made us try them all. He was really nice and even knew where Woonsocket was. I ended up with this. Maeve ended up with Stracciatella (3 kinds of chocolate and a little salt) and Hilde had Spanish chocolate.
Last picture in San Antonio. This is us packed up and ready to head out to the hill country to stay with our friends in Kerrville.
Clif drove us half way there and we met April at the Rim, which is a very fancy and large shopping center. Thanks Clif! I am glad that we were able to get him to the Bass Pro Shoppes.
Now that you know what you have been missing, when are you going to San Antonio? I'll meet you at the Mexican Manhattan.
Next stop Cowboy Country.......

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Travelogue Part 2 - Trip to Texas - THE ALAMO

Everyone knows the big deal in San Antonio is the Alamo. I will admit it is very cool. Right smack dab in the middle of downtown is this little brick mission with a big history. The Alamo has come to symbolize the Texan spirit and fight. Even though it isn't very big it is awe-inspiring in a reverential way. People really did die here for something they believed in - an Independent Texas. Imagine if they had won.

These signs are for my dad. Clifton and I both reminisced about how my dad would make everyone read every sign. Really, every sign and marker and all the way through. You might even have to stand and have your picture taken in front of one.

Very cool sign. It is a more dramtice shortened version of this "Unsheathing his sword during a lull in the virtually incessant bombardment Colonel William Barret Travis drew a line on the ground before his battle-weary men. In a voice trembling with emotion he described the hopelessness of their plight and said, “those prepared to give their lives in freedom’s cause, come over to me.”

Without hesitation, every man, save one, crossed the line, Colonel James Bowie, stricken with pneumonia, asked that his cot be carried over.

We crossed it too.

Looking up at the top.

We couldn't take any pictures inside. This was disappointing because the best part was inside. There were all different rooms with artifacts.

One room was where the women and children were kept safe. They all survived. We three girls appreciated that room.

Then in the main hall they have flags for each state or country that sent men. Each flag had a banner for how many men were.

Of course every tour of the Alamo ends with a picture with a ranger.

The funniest part of our tour took place in the courtyard. Around the church is a beautiful courtyard and then the outside wall. We were touring the courtyard and I said to Clifton and the girls, "Oh this courtyard is beautiful, wouldn't this make a nice place to get married?" to which Clifton replied, "Uh, Aunt Jill maybe getting married at the Alamo isn't the best way to start a marriage." He has a point. As brave as they were, they were doomed from the start.

Travelogue Part 1 - Trip to Texas

This is the blog equivalent to viewing other people's vacation slides. I completely understand if you zone out now.

Maeve, Hilde and I headed out to the great state of Texas last week for a week filled with fun and adventure and more rain than I have ever seen in Texas.

For the first part of the week we were in San Antonio. We stayed at the Drury Inn on the Riverwalk and it was awesome! Since the hotel had free hot breakfast and free, very yummy appetizers (plus cocktails), it was basically us and a lot of elderly people. One thing you know about that crowd is they love to eat, especially when it's free and they love to chat. Since I love to chat too we met several nice people from all over and had a lovely cocktail hour.

We also spent the time with my nephew Clifton, his wife Michele and their very adorable kids Sandy and Brooke. Here are some shots.
Pony-ah, dog they have.

Sandy on the River walk boat tour. She has the Litkenhaus smile. It is more of a smirk but that's all you get.

How cute is this! Maeve and Hilde enjoyed being the "big kids". The first few hours Sandi just hollered for the Big Kids when she wanted Maeve or Hilde.

Sideways picture of Clif and Brooke, I can't figure out how to turn it.

On the couch trying to get happy group shots but no one was really interested.

Playing with the baby.

Great shot of Brooke and Michele.

Shots from the Riverwalk Boat Tour. These were all before Hilde, Maeve and I got pooped on by a bird. Luckily we had on raincoats and Michele had baby wipes, so we survived.
We had a great time with our family. I haven't spent that much time with Clif in years. It was nice to have hours and hours together to get to know Michele and the girls. Maeve and Hilde had so much fun with Sandy and Brooke.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Maya Angelou

In all the hubbub of Easter, I didn’t check my email for a good 3 days. Oh the dreaded email backlog!

Well, one piece of email wasn’t lousy and I am sorry I missed it. This message was from the Writer’s Almanac. It is a quaint little piece put out by NPR and Garrison Keillor with a daily poem and some interesting facts about authors.

April 4th was not only Easter but is also the birthday of one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou. Actually, she is a favorite of all the Perrin girls. We studied her in poetry last year and Maeve and Hilde loved her. She is probably my favorite modern, women poet. I do realize she is the only modern, woman poet some of you know. I also realize that some of you only know her because she is Oprah’s friend. All I can say is shame on you-read more poetry, Maya Angelou is worth knowing.

Anyway, as a belated Happy Birthday Maya, here are some of our favorites. Enjoy!

by Maya Angelou

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Here’s another:

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Here is one more, because it’s my blog and you should read more poetry.

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be. Yet it is only love
which sets us free.