Summer 2012 Vacation Highlights and Links

Joey has finished posting all of the photos from our vacation this summer.  We drove about 5000 miles, through eight states, and visited four National Parks.

Check out the map below for details of our drive:

View National Parks Trip – Summer 2012 in a larger map

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are some of my favorite photos from the trip.  Below you can find the links to all of the photos, which, if you know Joey, you know there are lots of pictures!

Joey and friend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Laura and me at Grand Teton National Park

Joey, me, Laura, and Jason in front of Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

“Dancers” at Beauty Pool in Yellowstone National Park

Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park

Zion National Park

McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, Texas

Visit with Monica and Sean Foley in Golden, CO

Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone National Park: Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin

Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone Lake and Hayden Valley

Yellowstone National Park: Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Fall

Yellowstone National Park: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Glacier National Park

Zion National Park

Davis Mountains State Park and McDonald Observatory


View from 31st floor of Sheraton Dallas
I dashed off to Dallas on Friday for the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA) Annual Conference, where I gave a presentation on Audit Readiness. The conference was really great, with many good speakers and interesting topics. I got to stay at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, and had a room on the thirty-first floor!

An added benefit of the trip to Dallas was getting to hang out with Laura and Jason the day after their return from Amsterdam. I drove up to Denton to see them. Naturally I asked to go to Sweetwater for ceviche, and Beth Marie’s for ice cream. Reading that sentence, it dawns on me that beer, seafood, and ice cream sound like a terrible combination, but it is what I have whenever I go to Denton!  Beth Marie’s actually had Courthouse Pecan, which is my favorite of their ice creams.  They had been out of it my last couple of trips to Denton, so I was extremely pleased to get some!

I made it back to Austin in time for the All Saints’ Twenties and Thirties BBQ at Father Mike’s house. I am happy to say that Joey and I both plan to be in Austin through the end of 2010!

3 cities in 14 hours

Joey’s maternal grandfather, RD Cline, passed away last week.  We all called him Granddaddy.

One of my favorite memories of him occured the first time I first met him.  We were introduced, and within five minutes, he had opened up his wallet, which was full of pictures of his children and grandchildren, and pulled out a picture that he had of Joey and Joey’s former girlfriend.  He handed the picture to Joey and said, “I like LisaDiane.  This picture is no good anymore.  I need a new one with LisaDiane.”  We actually got a picture taken right away and sent it to Granddaddy.  That was the first of many portraits we have had made together.  Granddaddy was always the first person to get the new picture whenever we had one taken.

Granddaddy’s funeral will be in Texline, Texas on Tuesday, but there was a memorial for him in Port Arthur on Saturday, 16 January 2010.  Joey and I decided that we wanted to attend.  We drove five hours to Port Arthur, stopping along the way for breakfast.

BTW – there is a decided lack of Sonics in Houston.  I don’t know what the appropriate forum is, but I would like to lodge an official complaint!

We made it to the United Methodist Temple in Port Arthur a little before 10am.  We got cleaned up and changed in the very nice bride’s room at the church.  Joey’s cousin Marty was in attendance, having travelled down from Providence, Rhode Island.  We don’t get to see him very often, and we were glad of the opportunity, despite the sad circumstances!

After the service we had lunch and visited with Marty, Aunt Jan, and Uncle Ray.  Joey shared the pictures of Granddaddy that he had found amongst the hundreds of slides of family photos that he got from his parents house last year.

We got back on the road at about 2:30, and drove to Dorie’s house in Houston.  She was good enough to let us stop, rest, and visit with her.  After catching our breath, we got back on the road to head for home.  We managed to find a Sonic on US 290 on the way out of Houston.  Good ice, at long last!

We finally got home, took care of the dogs, and then fell into bed!  We were exhausted!

Sum up (this is for you Debra – I know you love the numbers):
Depart Austin: 04:45
Arrive in Port Arthur: 09:45
Depart Port Arthur: 14:30
Arrive Houston: 16:30
Depart Houston: 17:45
Arrive Austin: 20:45

Number of cities: 3
Total drive time: 10 hours
Total time way from home: 14 hours

P.S. Thanks to Lee and Billy for swinging by the house to look after KatyDog and Elanor!  They were most appreciative, and so are we.

Opera in Dallas, A Weekend in Denton – May 2009

Last Saturday LD and I loaded Ela into the car and made a roadtrip to Denton to visit Laura and Jason and to take in Laura’s new opera in Dallas. Ela stayed with Laura and Jason, and was well behaved around the cats (although she did knock over that one flowerpot in the livingroom).

We visited our favorite stops on the square – Beth Marie’s Ice Cream, Jupiter House Coffee, and Recycled Books, and added a new favorite – Laura’s new business, Massage on the Square. Laura and her partner Wendy have opened a very comfortable beautifully appointed studio right next to Recycled Books. LD blogged about it here, but this was our first chance to see her new space.

The Opera was on Sunday night at the Rosewood Black Box Theater – We saw the “Voices of Change – New Music Ensemble of Dallas” production of “Transformations” by Conrad Susa, adapted from the book by Anne Sexton.

The book is a collection of semi-autobiographical poems Anne built by retelling Grimm’s Fairy Tails in a mental hospital. And it is creeeeeppy.

The opera wraps selected poems taken word-from-word from the original work and brings them to life in music. And it is creeeeeppy too. Here are a couple of scenes from the “Transformations” telling of “Hansel and Gretel”:

The Ruby Jane Show at Central Market

Friday night Lee and I went to see the Ruby Jane Show at Central Market. They were spectacular. We were treated to some blue-ribbon bluegrass and high-spirited fiddle work as Ruby Jane Smith led her band through a set of original songs and standards. The cafe was standing room only as about 400 people crowded in to enjoy the music, but somehow I managed to take a picture when only a few people were between our table and the stage.

The Ruby Jane Show at Central Market

Ruby Jane’s fiddle work was wicked splendid, her exchanges with the crowd and her band were warm and charming, and her smile was electric. If you’ve not had a chance to hear Ruby Jane play you should go see her. You’re in for a wonderful time.

Check out the Ruby Jane Show at

So here’s a cute trick from the show – lyric substitution in the middle of Folsom Prison Blues (Imagine Ruby Jane hitting those Johnny Cash lows). Y’all know the original:

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine,
Since, I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom Prison,
And time keeps draggin’ on,
But that train keeps a-rollin’,
On down to San Antone.

One of her band mates ran a verse from the Who (same tune, new verse):

Ever since I was a young boy
I’ve played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain’t seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

Click on the cover to read more about Ruby Jane Smith at Austin360 (From The Austin American Statesman XL magazine):
Ruby Jane Smith in the Austin American Statesman XL Magazine

Massage on the Square

You may or may not know that in addition to being an amazing opera singer, my sister Laura is a registered massage therapist (RMT) in Texas.  From the time she was a little kid she would volunteer to give people a neck rub, and everyone always said she did a great job.  She took her natural talent to the next level when she attended massage therapy school between her undergrad and graduate degrees.  She has been working as a massage therapist for about five years (I could be wrong here).  She does all kinds of massage from hot rock to deep tissue.  She is always looking to improve her technique and learn new ways of working.

Laura and her friend Wendy started a massage business called Massage on the Square. Their first official day was 01 April 2009.  It is located in Denton, Texas, over the Recycled Books. As the name suggests, the location is on the main square in downtown Denton. I am very proud of her, and her new enterprise. If you make it up to Denton you should definitely take time to get a massage!

Laura sent these two pictures of the space to me, and I thought I would share them. Notice the text at the top of the wall in the second image. It is hard to read in the picture, but it says, “The best thing you can do for those you care about is take care of yourself.” That is the motto for their business – it is also on their website. Laura and Wendy have done such a great job designing their business, and I am taking this opportunity to brag on my little sis just a bit ;-)

massage-on-the-square-1 massage-on-the-square-2_0

Random Image Widget


The Etherlimits main page has a random image widget at the top right corner. Each time you visit the page, you see a different picture. Today the random image was a picture of me and my female cousins in Market Square in San Antonio. This picture was taken right after my grandfather’s funeral on 09 January 2006. I totally love this pictures, and since it is extremely unlikely that anyone else will see it on the random image generator, I thought I would share.

The five granddaughters of Esperanza and Louis Rodriguez, from left to right: Madelynne, LisaDiane, Laura, Lydia, and Katie

Trip to Fort Worth

DSC01657 Joey and I drove to Fort Worth on Friday night. The main purpose of the trip was to see Ross and Kat before they leave Texas and move to Baltimore, Maryland.

Joey got us all packed for the trip, and arranged for Elanor to stay with Lee, Billy, and Cali.  Troy came over to pick up Katy for the weekend.  As he left our house, he was holding her bed, and the bag with her food, etc.  He called Katy, she followed him into the driveway.  Katy was confused about what car to get into, since the tailgate of our CR-V was open, she she stood behind the CR-V  waiting to be lifted into the car (she is too old and arthritic to jump into the car on her own anymore).  Then she got fed up with waiting, and went to find her Uncle Troy, who loaded her into his truck and drove away.  It was pretty cute.

After a crazy day of work on Friday, that included many projects, and a child with chicken pox, we finally made it out of the house at around 5pm.  I had foolishly decided that I would be able to escape work by 2pm.  It did not happen.  My wonderful co-worker, George, asked me to take over some tasks for her because her son came down with the chicken pox.  Now, before those of you who have opinions about vaccines start in on George – I will inform you that you that she lives in the UK, where they do not routinely vaccinate for chicken pox.

We made it to Fort Worth around 9pm.  The furniture had already been shipped off to Maryland, so the house was mostly empty.  We helped Ross and Kat clean the house a bit, but mainly kept them company while they finished packing up the last of their stuff, and scrubbed walls and floors, and cabinets, etc.  We also got to hang out with their neighbors, Margot and Otto.

On Saturday Joey and I slept in a bit – we continued trying to be as helpful as possible with the cleaning, and then we went to lunch at Byblos.  Yum!  After lunch we drove over to Bethany Boba for some Bubble Tea.  When we made it back over to Ross and Kat’s house, Joey and I got into the car and drove up to Denton to visit Laura and Jason.

DSC01678 Jason was working, so we ate at Chili’s.  Joey’s insane cat allergy meant that staying at Laura’s house with her cats, Lee and Macy, was not advisable.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Denton.  I cashed in some of my Hilton points, so it didn’t even cost anything!  Laura hung out with us at the hotel after we ate dinner.  We had a great time, just visiting and enjoying each other’s company.  We went down to the lobby to get ice cream, and then we found a luggage trolley in the hallway, and decided to see how it worked as transportation for people – not so well, it turns out.  However, it did turn into a good photo op – Joey was ready with the camera, as per usual.

Sunday morning we went to breakfast with Laura.  Then we drove back to Fort Worth and spent a few more hours with Ross and Kat before driving back to Austin.

We had a great time, but it was bittersweet…  too short a time with our friends.  And it is really sad to see Ross and Kat clearing out their house, and know that someone else will be renting the space and living there soon.  Joey took lots of pictures of the house, so we will be able to remember it!

Hopefully we will get to visit Ross and Kat in Maryland.  My mom is voting for that option, and that is clearly all for the benefit of our friends – she cannot possibly have an ulterior motive, like getting Joey and me to her part of the country.

Episcopal Church Women Annual Meeting and Retreat

CIMG2760 Many of you know that I was president of the Episcopal Church Women at All Saints’ Episcopal Church back a few years ago.  The last year of my tenure, our church hosted the Annual Meeting of the Diocese of Texas Episcopal Church Women.  The meeting was well received, and everyone had a great time.  It was a really tough job, and I was glad to take a break and relax once it was done.

Apparently people sat up and took notice of the job I did as Annual Meeting Chairperson, because this past spring I got a call from the president of the Diocesan ECW, Anne Hart, asking me to be a Communication Chair for the Diocesan ECW Board of Directors.  My job is to manage communication to the Diocese of Texas newspaper, the Episcopalian, and work on the ECW website.  I had to think long and hard, but in the end I decided that my skills are very well suited to the job.  The officers of the Dioscesan ECW are elected and installed at the Diocese of Texas Episcopal Church Women Annual Meeting and Retreat.

CIMG2764 I asked some of my friends from church to join me at the retreat so that I would have moral support, and the pleasure of their company.  Misty, Lee, and Lindsay agreed to attend with me.  They enthusiastically voted for me on Friday night during the business meeting, and then they stood with me during the installation on Saturday morning.

We went to three great workshops together.  We attended a fun workshop called, “How can I keep from singing?” with Brother Gallagher of Holy Cross Monastery.  We sang until we were horse, especially Lindsay!  We also met a most flirtatious monk, Brother Bernard.  He wore a habit that looked like jedi clothing.  We were pretty sad we did not get a picture!  He joked and laughed with us the entire time we were together.

We also attended Elizabeth Gibson’s workshop on labyrinths.  Elizabeth gave a wonderful presentation, and I think all of us were moved by our labyrinth walk.  I could not stop thinking about how lucky we are to have such a fantastic, creative person sharing her ministry with All Saints’!

The retreat was held at Camp Allen.  The facility is superb, the food was good, the setting was magnificent. The weather was cool, but beautiful.  Misty, Lindsay, Lee, and I took a couple of great walks through a small part of the grounds.    We could not have asked for a better weekend!


frustrated grackle
tortilla in autumn breeze
I can’t fly like this.