On Thursday, the weather turned quite cold. We drove to Fleming's Steakhouse in Plano to meet our nephew Andrew and his girlfriend Amber. My brother and his wife originally had meant to join us, but they ended up going to South Carolina to be with my sister-in-law's family. I had the turkey dinner, which proved quite tasty. We enjoyed the company.
In the afternoon, I walked in the parks and listened to the radio broadcast of local sports team losing a football game.
On Saturday November 28, I walked in Bethany Lakes Park. I got some good pictures of the Cypress trees in their Autumn color. On Saturday I also walked on the Watters Branch Trail, where House Finches and Northern Cardinals feasted on the seed pods in the little wetlands section. In the afternoon, I went to the McKinney Performing Arts Center in downtown McKinney (20 minutes north) for the annual Christmas Carol performance. This 75-minute version is always very good,and now is a holiday tradition for me.
I have seen professional versions I enjoyed less than this one. I am very fond of the novella. I think lately how a handful of novellas shape me. In 2019, I was pleased to add Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cousin Phillis" to that list.
On Sunday I walked on Cottonwood Creek Trail from Allen Station Park. I liked seeing a Red-Bellied Woodpecker on a low-lying bush filled with berries. When i walked in Glendover Park, I saw Slider Turtles enjoying a spot of sunshine. Our church had its Christmas choral service, with lots of carols and a grand choir performance of "Magnificat" by Mark Hayes. I liked that this piece was the right length, had a good sound, and did not stray into pop music--it was a very good service.
The first week of December proved a solid week of work. I made good progress, and kept things moving. Saturday morning December 7 I drove to Love Field and caught a plane to Birmingham, Alabama. Then I rented a car and drove to Cullman, Alabama. I planned to attend my nephew's wedding. Cullman proved to be a town of 16,000 in the Appalachian foothills. In the afternoon, I drove to Hurricane Creek Park, a park with trails into a densely wooded area with huge stone boulders and a lovely flowing creek. I saw little waterfalls and rivulets here and there.
I ate barbecue turkey at a place called Lawler's for lunch. I had somehow made it to Alabama without my sport coat, so I also went to a Belk store and bought a sport coat for roughly 100 dollars. The Belk store was filed with holiday shoppers. I liked the sport coat.
That night, I gathered with my sister's family, and her son's intended's family, for a dinner at The Brandin' Iron. The Brandin' Iron was just the kind of small-town-metal-building-chain-place that its name implies. The food and service were good and the atmosphere was extremely casual. I sat next to my sister's former father-in-law from a past marriage,and it all worked out okay. I enjoyed getting a chance to meet my nephew's wife (they had had a civil ceremony even before the formal wedding) and her mother.
First thing Sunday morning I drove from my La Quinta Inn room to Clayton Covered Bridge Park in Cullman County. This covered bridge was built in 1904. A grist mill building was nearby. I saw lots of woodland birds in that small park, and got pictures of Titmice and of a Carolina Wren.
Later Sunday morning I drove up to Decatur, fifty minutes north, to eat breakfast with my sister. She directed me to the neighborhood park in that area (we were in a house from which she moved some time ago) while she made eggs and bacon. I enjoyed visiting with her. She and her husband live in northern Oklahoma now. Her husband had been enlisted to run wedding errands.
In the late morning, I drove over to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge to watch birds from the large Wildlife Observation Building. I saw hundreds of Sandhill Cranes, as well as several other species. In the visitor center restroom, I changed into my sportcoat, a dress shirt and a tie. I drove into the Bankhead National Forest, which was lovely. I wished I had more time to hike some of its trails. On the radio, a public radio show featured a woman telling the story of going with her immigrant parents to Greece to un-bury her grandmother.
I arrived at the Barn at Shady Grove in Double Springs just prior to the 3 p.m. time I had been asked to arrive. My nephew and his bridge were taking photos wit hthe photographers. I took pictures myself of the setting, the chandeliers, the way the announcements were displayed--the things I fancied that a professional photographer might not take. As I had suspected would happen, only one professional picture involved me (and I suspect that this may not have actually been taken), so I actually had time to hike. But I was glad to be there to keep my sister comfortable and to see my nephew and niece. I liked the way the new sportcoat worked out, too, and a non-professional photo of me standing with my Maid of Honor niece turned out well.
The wedding was lovely. I rarely eat cake,but I am glad I ate a bit of the groom cake, which was more chocolate than its intended German Chocolate, but nonetheless a great cake. The wedding venue was just grand. I had scoffed a bit about a Sunday evening at 5 p.m. wedding, until I realized how much less expensive that space must have been on a Sunday night. Then my respect for thrift overcame my dislike of having to catch a 6 a.m. Monday flight to return from a weekend wedding.
I drove back to Birmingham and stayed in a Holiday Inn by the airport. I returned my rental car that night, so that Monday I just headed to the gate. I made my slight without an incident, and was in my office by 9:45 a.m. I do not know if or when I will visit northern Alabama again, as none of my family lives there now.
The week of the second of December proved an eventful work week. I learned of things that may keep me busy the next few years. On Thursday, my wife flew to Kansas City to meet with family members on some matters. The first night, I made a crockpot meal of beef, potato, and carrots. It turned out all right, though the beef, unlike the usual, overcooked a bit in my slow-setting crockpot. My Friday meal turned out much better, as beef and sauerkraut and potato made a fine meal from the crockpot. The weekend weather turned Spring-like. I got some family matters billings paid, I walked in Brockdale Park, where I saw a flock of Turkey Vultures. On Sunday I walked on the Watters Branch Trail, and watched Eastern Phoebes and House Finches.
Saturday I had taken Beatrice on a walk in Glendover Park. But Sunday she proved uninterested in a second walk. She sometimes shows a hint of her very advanced age. Lately her medication causes little spots where her fur will thin and then regrow. She still has a good time, though. Instead of going outside, we played the game in which I throw her stuffed red lobster.
Saturday I created a new song using the IXI software programs Mammut, Noiser, Audacity and a simple flute. It came out pretty good. Its title is "Cave." A similar effort Sunday afternoon with a Can-Jo sample, Mammut, Noiser and Audacity proved less workable and too darn noisy.
I also fell asleep Sunday evening, when i had hoped to read my current long-lasting read, Thor Magnusson's "Sonic Writing." I had read some on the plane to Alabama the prior weekend, and really find the book interesting, but for some reason am not making it a daily driver.
My wife returned on Monday, just in time to greet a massive cold front. Her visit to Kansas City involved heavy snow, so we were glad her flight was uneventful, except that she got a seat with inadequate sitting room.
We watched "Little Women" on Tuesday night, the one with Katherine Hepburn as Jo. I liked the interview on TMC with Greta Gerwig about the film. I look forward to seeing her take on "Little Women," recently released.
In the shivery-cold I visited Breckinridge Park. Birdlife proved abundant, as often happens in Winter.
Yesterday I finally created and picked up my Christmas Cards. I waited to long to make them. I suppose they will be New Year's cards for some recipients. I chose photos from Christmas Day 2018. That day must have been a bit dark, as the cards have a kind of somber Christmas vibe.
I saw American Goldfinches at Garland's Bradfield Park. I was glad my assistant was back after a day off Monday. He helps me get more things done.
Today I must call a company about a bill it claims is unpaid when I sent an email showing it was paid. I will get it straightened out.
from Dreamwidth, because two posts of the same text are twice as nice