August 25, 2014

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Jim and I walk everyday and I usually bring my camera everywhere I go. Some deep cleaning, Pledging cupboards, cleaning the window runners,  hand washing, and etc. yesterday, so today, you get hodgepodge. Our neighbor has a bird feeder and I managed to get a few good shots of a pileated woodpecker several days ago.

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He came,he ate.

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I like the way they hang on to eat. For some reason or other, the jays come and hassle the other birds, but this feeder foils them and they can’t get anything out of it.

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The finches have their own feeder and the jays can’t get their seeds either.

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The river is low, we notice a camp across the river that in past years had but a  narrow strip of gravel in front of it.

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The river has such beauty and serenity.

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I didn’t think this picture across the river would turn out. A small deer has nothing to fear to browse during day time.

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Thunderbird Thousand Trails Park has sites on the hilly side of Ben Howard road as well as  the river side of Ben Howard. We walk both. Someone planted ivy on this tree.

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It will eventually reach the top of the tree and most likely kill it. Reminds me of the strangler figs we saw in Costa Rica. The tree dies and the fig remains standing in a circular shape of the tree it killed. Of course, sometimes, the fig dies too.DSC08542 (Copy)

On the way to town, one day, I spotted a huge tree with bright red “berries”. It was huge and I could never find it again to take a photo. Several smaller ones were about.

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A close-up of the clusters and the leaves. It may be a kind of pepper tree. The huge one I saw was spectacularly beautiful.

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The day we went to the parade, we had one of the worst lunches I’ve ever paid for at the Sock Eye, a restaurant with a beautiful view of a lake, but untrained wait help, slow service, and tasteless food. I can only think of twice in my life, I wrote a note and complained to the chef and manager about the food.

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Late in the afternoon, I tried to read my book, but cheerful, fun voices floated up from the river as people enjoyed a Sunday river float. I got up and took a few pictures. Jim, with his impaired eyesight, took his pictures blindly, hoping for the best.  Thunderbird Thousand Trails on the Skykomish river, is one of my favorite spots to stay.

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One of these time, I’m going to take this trip, “….down the lazy river, come as you please…” as it says in the song.




July 7, 2014

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I’ve been accused of hosting this family reunion  just to get my yard in shape. Doug came up and painted the deck and rebuilt the horseshoe pit and the new chicken coop. The coop came about because daughter Virginia is moving to Australia with her family for a semester. I inherited the chickens from her.

Ken removed trash, went to the dump, did some weed eating, moved heavy tables and umbrellas off the deck and into the yard.  His boys, helped out by bagging excess leaves, and myriad other routine but neglected maintenance. It was a massive effort because—I blame Jim— I travel so much I have little time for yard work. I had trees overhanging the house, foot deep leaves, little repairs, my orchard unfertilized and mostly unwatered. Aarrgh!

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The first to arrive for our big soiree was my recently widowed cousin, Gary, from Southern Cal. He came on Wed. July 2nd, so I told him I’m not cooking. He took me to an Italian restaurant and since Italy was on the wall, he said we could pretend we went to Italy. We were very close as kids.  On Thursday, I put him to work painting benches.

Hey, Mom? I don't have paws.

Friday Afternoon, Kristanne and Austin arrived, hamming it up. She has a newer car and a new license plate reflecting her dog rescue volunteer project.  The license plate holder reads, “All my children have paws.”   Austin looks a bit skeptical about that.

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Bev and Ted arrived later, and set up their tent as usual.

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Tyler, their youngest, got the job of stomping all the plastic bottles to make room in the recycle containers for the stuff to come.

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Cedric & Virginia were the last to arrive on Friday. We have a measure grid on the wall, and Owen was proud to tell me he is taller than his dad. They were jet-lagged, having just returned at 3:00 a.m. from New York where some of Cedric’s family lives. We spent the evening playing a new dice game, called Left, Right, Center. Great for all ages. When it got dark, everyone moved inside and we played one of the kids favorite games, Black Magic. Since we celebrate on Saturday, the only celebration of the official Independence Day was the hanging of the flag.

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Saturday morning, Virginia and Kristanne took their traditional morning walk at 5:00, and did 8 miles. By afternoon, jet-lag caught up with Virginia and she slept for two hours in a chair.

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Daniel and Owen had dish duty Friday night. In the morning, it was Theo and Austin’s turn. Because of the water shortage, no dishwasher was used. The dishwasher is used as a drain board.

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Laurie and I worked on some salads to go with the barbecue.

Helping Doug cut veggies for the shish ke bab

Kristanne helped Doug cut veggies for the skewers while they discussed favorite tunes.

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Alec works and attends college in So. Cal. He flew into Sacramento, and Cathy picked him up and brought him to Murphys. The boys inflated all the tubes for the flume.

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Abbie loved feeding snacks to the chickens. DSC07057 (Copy)

Niece, Rena came directly from FLorida to the reunion, her first time. Her boyfriend Chris, suffered some jet-lag too and took a long snooze, too.  Before the big feast, we headed for the flume. We waited for people who said they were coming to show up, and didn’t. But, it is late in the day, I’ll finish this blog tomorrow. I was having too much fun to take thorough pictures, so, there are big gaps in our event.






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My sister Dawn’s celebration of life was held yesterday in Sunol, CA. population about 300.

DSC03512 (Copy) Dawnie’s youngest daughter, Debbie served as caretaker through those tough months before her death. She knew that Dawnie’s joy in life came mainly from her  family, particularly, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Her only son, Tom, pointed out the main events in her life, how she met their father, the birth of four children, facing death and divorce, working, working, working, while I mentally toted up her most obvious character traits. She was a hard worker, uncomplaining, and could be quite stoic. Never self-aggrandizing, nor prone to taking credit for her accomplishments. She was like a mother to her younger siblings.  She helped me through teenaged angst, convincing me of my worth, and beauty when I knew I was an ugly duckling. When her children were growing up, she proceeded to  mother and shelter all who came with-in need. Her children have those same traits.

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At a recent funeral I attended, I looked about and saw so much life in the room, and the same was true here. But, since she was my sister, I couldn’t dispel feelings of sadness for those missing faces and the heartache of loss, as well.  Her daughter’s Kim, and Penny, pre-deceased her, the most heartbreaking thing a parent can face. Kim’s son Ryan, his wife Cody and their children. Ryan claimed as a grandson Dawnie always told him he was perfect.

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The girls in Dawnie’s family from right to left. Kelly, Penny’s daughter. Kaitlyn, Kim’s daughter. Julie, Debbie’s daughter. Casey, Kim’s foster daughter.

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Dawnie’s niece, Christine Juliot and her son Seth, with his wife and kids.

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Dawnie’s other niece, Vickie Julliot.

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The Juliots are from Dawn’s husband’s side of the family.

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Debbie made sure there would be things for kids of all ages to do. The message here is clearly Grandchildren are our most important assets.

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CJ and grandpa.

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Margaret and Abby.

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Dawnie was an inveterate card player, scrabble and boggle champ and in her later years, a collector of eclectic jewelry. Plenty of all decorated the room. Everyone was invited to take a pin and earrings to wear for the event, which we did.

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I am wearing a Hershey’s kiss on my sweater and some gaudy gold balls on my ears from her collection.

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I tried to make sure I got a picture of everyone but I sprained three fingers in a fall yesterday and the fingers didn’t swell up until i drove home. So it has been slow going this morning and I’m just going to post pictures. and a link to the complete album at the end.

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January 30, 2014

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My sister, Dawn, died yesterday after struggling with cancer. This is her high school graduation picture. img005Dawn%27s%20first%20Communion%20at%20Hardwood. (Copy)

Her first communion. Families mostly took pictures on special occasions.

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Dawn, the oldest, Bill, the first son, and myself, the baby.

img526Dawn%2CMaryRuth%2CBill%2CDan%20inside%20car. (Copy)Then, another brother, Dan, peeking out of the car.

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In her Air Force Uniform.  I idolized my sister when we were growing up.

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We didn’t have a family picture taken until Dawn was married and had four children of her own.  In front is Norman, Mark, on Dad’s lap, Clark on Mom’s lap, and Dan.

Mark died at age 50 in 2005. Dan died at age 59 in 2002. It is hard to lose siblings. But, I’ve discovered that those we lose are never gone. They stay with us always. I am thankful for remembrance of the times we shared.



July 9, 2013

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Our annual family reunion is really a family and friends reunion. The first to arrive on July 4th was Wendy and Paul Lothrop from Southern California. Long time friends of my daughter Kristanne.  it was designed to be a surprise for her because she hadn’t seen them in a about two years and didn’t know they were coming.

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Doug was cutting tile for one of three tables he rebuilt.

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Kristanne and Austin arrived next. After having a chance to visit with Wendy and Paul, and since we were waaaay behind schedule with extremely hot weather, my inability to do very much, and a lot of things left undone for too long, Doug put Kris to work on the barbeque table he rebuilt, staining the wood trim and later two coats of Varathane.

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Austin hung the flag, washed and tested all the squirt guns to make sure they worked, emptied the garbage and sorted recycling for a run to the dump before the big event on Saturday.

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He only had to toss one gun.

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On Friday, the young cousins arrived. Abby got sparkles in her hair and the boys sported newly painted mohawks for the occasion. Later Kristanne fixed a mohawk for Austin, too.

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Sisters, Bev and Kathy. Bev is mother of the boys and Abby.

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Kathy always brings something zany for the kids, this time some 4th of July sunglasses…

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…and some weird teeth for herself. Boy, what Hollywood can do to make you look old.

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Ted and Bev set up the first tent. The kids played on the trampoline and had squirt gun wars all day, while Wendy kept us all fed.

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Doug put Ted to work patching tubes that went dead.

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Virginia, Cedric, Theo and Owen arrived late on Friday, but the kids got some trampoline time in and we adults played a game called What’s Yours Like?

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It is a guessing game, brings a lot of laughter, and the good thing, is you can snack and drink with the game without worrying about getting your cards or board wet or spilled on or greasy. More reunion stuff tomorrow. Have to visit the Chiropractor this morning.







The motorhome is parked at my son’s home where I’m expected to remain until July 17th.

Mary is in Las Vegas, Nevada for her grandson’s high school graduation. Yesterday it was 113 degrees! Today’s forecast is for 110 degrees! Yowee! I’m glad I’m not there!!

Tropical Storm Andrea has finally moved on. Here’s an indication of how hard it rained…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…


The driveway to my son’s home…


My current set-up…


Enjoying visiting with family is another joy of the full-timing lifestyle!

The red dot on the below map shows our approximate location in the State of Connecticut. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…


Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein


On October 27, 2012, I created a two-minute video titled America The Beautiful. The music America The Beautiful is by Christopher W. French. The photos, which I randomly selected, are from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia (not shown in that order)…are mine. Yup, That’s me standing in front of the Post Office in Luckenbach, Texas…Y’all!

Click this link to start the video. Make sure you have your speakers turned on and go to full screen asap.

If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2013
For more information about my three books, click this link:


April 6, 2013

High stakes yard work is kind of an exaggeration. Difficult as it seems in this cool and rainy weather, I have to think about heat coming on while I’m gone. You can lose an expensive, mature shrub in a week in withering weather without an intact sprinkling system. My housemate and I checked the system and it needed two small repairs. The sprinkling clock works, and I can rest in peace when I return to the motor home, hopefully on April 15th. 

It’s killing me that Jim is having soooo much fun while I’m missing some great craft beers and the friendly folks of Vicksburg.

Brian, my computer guru is set to come tomorrow and help me out. This morning I’ll evaluate my insurance coverage before paying the bills and then attend an engagement party in the afternoon. Shoot, I haven’t been to an engagement party among friends in…?? (I’m not counting that extravagant engagement shower In Louisiana.)  I’m not sure what to expect. I know chocolate and cherries spell romance so I did put together a chocolate bouquet and a cherry surprise. These kids are 25 years old so I hope to toast them with this old saw:

Here is to Karli, may you always have diamonds on your fingers and knock-em-dead-destroy-the-paycheck-dresses to wear.

And to Danny, may you have an indestructible paycheck.

 Karli and Danny aren’t as materialistic as that toast suggests, but it always brings a laugh and they don’t read my blog. What I really like to impress on young people is the definition of treasure.

Before getting on-line this morning, I cruised through some old family photos and put on slideshows of my grandkids at an earlier age. What a pleasure my pictures are to me. A keen reminder that real treasure is our family and friends. 

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Lake Charles Mayor, Randy Roach, listens to Jim explain what he liked or didn’t like about Lake Charles and/or Louisiana.  What we knew about Mayor Roach  before we met was that everyone likes the guy. He is very much a people person and really gets involved in the community. We talked for 45 minutes about our life-style and impressions, and his philosophy of governing. He likes to see money put into infrastructure of the city that benefits families, not any fancy buildings or glittering trappings of office. He is very proud of the city parks. Located in neighborhoods so they are very available to everyone because he believes they  invite wholesome activities for children. The Mardi Gras itself, involves families and children. We notice that theme over and over in Lake Charles. He gave us a great overview of Lake Charles’  strategic location in Southern Louisiana. All roads lead to Lake Charles for jobs,arts, business and quality of life.  In fact, we met two couples who came to visit and decided to move here. That speaks volumes.  Mayor Roach served two terms in the State Legislature before his 12 years as Mayor. (He didn’t tell us that.)  We left with the keys to the city.

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We attended the Royal Regalia with Renola Simon. Each Krewe has their own ball,  by invitation only,  to see the marvelous costumes.  The regalia is a promenade for the community to see the beauty of the Royals.  The young royals were introduced first and seated to witness the adult Kings and Queens promenade . Leading the first Queen was none other than Mayor Roach. I think she has a title  other than the Krewe be- knighting of their royals, but it is a learning process and I’m not sure how everything is done.

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This is an overview of this huge building and the promenade. The young royals are seated to the stage on the left to watch each Krewe promenade. They have attendants who quickly roll up their long trains so they do not get stepped on as the promenaders exit on both sides of the stage. Then they roll the trains back out again. It was mind boggling. Queens Elizabeth and Beatrice have nothing on Louisiana’s royalty, aye! In fact, when Queen Elizabeth attended Mardi Gras, she was invited to a private ball. She with others  paraded before the Krewe Queen. She stood, used to having people bow in her presence. She quickly bowed to the Krewe Queen, who then got up and bowed to her.

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The hall has rotating spot lights making  picture-taking very difficult. If you get a decent shot, the timing, the movement, the distance for us, high in the bleachers, it is mostly  luck. So, you are going to see some blurry photos.

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This was the clearest photo I took all night. With about 50 Krewes, they move very quickly on to the next Krewe in line. Renola’s Cajun Krewe did not enter the regalia this year. Their queen is chosen by whomever gets the slice of King Cake with the baby in it. Most Krewes vote for their King and Queen. Renola explained that each of those feathers costs $35 each.

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Not all of the Kings and queens have elaborate feather head dresses, but most of them do. Just look at their head gear. You have to have a special closet to store these costumes.

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Another beautiful head dress.

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The kings and queens for 2014 will be chosen right after Mardi Gras so they can budget for their costume, design, and chose it. Most of them are now professionally designed and made. Renola, who is  80 years old, has been Queen for her Krewe twice. She made her own costumes.

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There is much color to the promenade, but I noticed most of the Kings and Queens wore white. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Equally gorgeous are the 12 to 15 foot long trains.

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Not all Krewes are big. Some new Krewes are small and are made up of family members only.

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For many couples, their  social life revolves around their Krewe.

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The Krewe chooses their music for their promenade and some is jazzy, some is rock and some is krazy. All fun.

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Several Krewes concentrate on the Chicken Run part of Mardi Gras.

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New this year, to many oohs and ahhs was a lighted costume. Quite the feat.

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This King and Queen costume is once again as tall as the person wearing them. Fantasy in bloom.

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Then there are the gargantuan costumes that are 8 to 12 feet tall.  These are not king and queen regalia. They  put them on the promenade to show these magnificent costumes for our enjoyment.

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These are very challenging to carry, as well as build. Some take 4500 hours, according to Renola.

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These speak for themselves. Such a deal!

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Yesterday’s blog about Brownsville, I neglected to mention that the city does not allow plastic bags. When you shop, you must bring your own bag or carry purchases as they are. What a treat it is to visit an area without plastic bags clinging to every alley, puddle, barbed- wire fence and twiggy bush along the roadsides. Residents are aware of the huge conglomeration  of plastic bags that reaches the ocean and gets caught in a swirling ocean vortex often described as the size of the state of Texas. In windy country like South Texas, that ban is very meaningful. Thank you citizens of Brownsville.

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From Brownsville, we drove North East along the coast. At one point a sign indicates -Sixty Miles To The Next Service Station. We figured we were probably driving across the King Ranch, or part of it. We saw a sign for Yburria Ranch, which is another huge ranch holder like King, Kennedy and others that acquired huge Spanish land grants at three cents an acre.

We parked at the  Kingsville Elks Club #1226, then went to visit the Kings Ranch Museum. On the drive over, we noticed the King Ranch Saddle Shop. The museum doesn’t allow photos, but is beautifully done, and well worth seeing. A family history is shown in a  23 minute video of the family.

One grand-daughter climbed a tower in the 1940’s and took pictures of the cattle milling,  the men working the cattle, and photos of life on the ranch. These photos blown up to one- story size are the centerpiece of the museum, viewable from below and a walkway above.  Other, bigger than life photos and a ranch buggy and car collection take up  most  of the lower story.  In the entrance, a rug  depicting the King Family holdings that once covered a floor in their office buildings, is two stories high.

Richard King ran away from home at age 11 as a stowaway and ended up eventually in South Texas. A hard worker, he lived frugally.  He met Robert E. Lee and Lee advised him to buy land and don’t ever sell. And, that is what he did. He bought the Santa Gertrudis land grant situated on a river. He went into Mexico just over the border from Brownsville and invited a whole village of people to move to his ranch and help him build it. They did.

I was impressed with King. He treated his help like family. They were family. They lived remotely and his children grew up side by side with his vaquero’s families. They ate the same food; he built a chapel and school for the children. And, some of the descendants of the vaqueros still work the King Ranch today. He dug wells and opened up the vast dry lands to productive pasture. He brought the first Brahma bull in to mix with his herd and began the Texas Long Horn tradition and better beef. There is much about this family you will like.

King died at age 60 of cancer and his wife and one son-in-law continued to build up the ranch.   She lived to age 92, basically unchanged by wealth. Down to earth, hard-working, kind and helpful. Her  daughter who succeeded her as matriarch of the family was the same. Subsequent generations have played with money, race horses, planes and politics. And, other  businesses, like a dairy that produced 1000 pounds of butter a day. Saddles,a Hardware Store; they became growers with orchards of citrus and pecans. They employ a lot of people and own ranches in Australia, South America and one in Africa.  They have become preservationists for wildlife on the ranch.

I especially enjoyed a beautiful saddle collection.  One car in the collection had built in holsters in the metal to carry hunting rifles. There are several very original cars in this collection if you are a car collection addict.

From the King Museum, we learned we had passed by the Kennedy Ranch Museum at Sarita, in that wide expanse of “no services”.

Kingsville Elks Club

Jim and I repaired to the Elks Club bar for a drink before dinner.




April 18, 2012

Closer to leaving Murphys and joining Jim gives me pause to realize how much and how little I got accomplished in my time at home. I didn’t catch up with everyone I wanted to see or everything I wanted to do. Yet, I finished some complicated projects. There is never enough time in our hurried lives. It makes sense to stop and smell the roses.

I took time out to have friends for dinner. We call Paul, The Famous Paul Moeller, because he is known by everyone in the county. He has videotaped every event to the tune of 3 shows a week since 1983. Unstoppable, at 84, we know he has to slow down, but doesn’t. And Pam Quyle, hard-working, involved with everything that is art. She has been in this county the longest, from childhood. She is owner of Quyle Kilns, and meets people from everywhere in the world on their way to Big Trees. She educates everyone who walks in her shop and has this unlimited memory of everyone in the county, especially connected to the old-time families. Always finding a home for someone who needs a place to stay because she has this big  heart and  fields  a steady stream of people  in need of help.

And Margo, the most popular and well-known woman in Murphys. You can’t walk down the street with her because she gets stopped too many times. Everybody knows Margo. She pours wine for Chatom Vineyards and has as many local friends as out-of-town friends, and many from other countries. She speaks German, French and English.  She doesn’t have to work and keeps planning a second retirement.  Chatom doesn’t want her to leave.

I promised cactus to anyone who wants a piece, so Pam took my picture hacking off a hunk for Margo who loves cactus. Still more than half of it to go. Any takers?

As I look at my pictures these past couple weeks from the new camera, they seem mushy and over bright. Slightly out of focus. I’ve got to test it and see if I can discover the problem before the  warranty is up.  And, I ordered plane  tickets for my return to New Mexico , and now the things undone loom larger.  Still, can’t forget the  roses.


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