Archive for December, 2010

“MUST BE HEAVEN”

December 14, 2010

“Must Be Heaven” – Brenham, Texas

Dutch Apple Pie w/Blue  Bell Ice Cream

Sweeter than Blue Bell Ice Cream 

Pam and I drove to Austin last Friday morning for a family wedding.  The wedding was for Pam’s nephew, so we used this occasion for another Austin adventure.  We left at 9:30 AM so we could arrive at the airport to meet Lyndsey’s 2:15 flight and for Pam’s parents arrival at 4:10.

Usually, when we travel to Austin, we have a Starbucks stop at Huntsville and continue on our journey.  When we arrive at Roan’s Prairie, it is decision time.  We have a few favorite eating establishments in College Station and also “Must Be Heaven” is in Brenham.  So, Roans Prairie is the crossroads and time to go straight to College Station or turn left to Navasota and Brenham.  This trip we decided on Brenham.  “Must Be Heaven” is an old ice cream parlor type restaurant with great soups, sandwiches, etc.  Their sandwiches are made with homemade bread.  Then, of  course, they  bake  their own pies.  My two favorites are Coconut Cream and Dutch Apple w/ice cream.  Brenham just happens to be the home of the Blue Bell Ice Cream Company.  If you have never been to the Blue Bell Creamery, take the  time one weekend and take a tour through the creamery and sample some ice cream afterward. 

I took a few pictures so you can see for yourself without having to depend on my verbage in trying to give a good description.  The only problem with eating in Brenham (downtown), it is surrounded by antique shops.  But, if you are there for the day, it’s a great place to shop and  eat, or eat and shop.

After getting all the family gathered up, we attended the rehearsal dinner at Lambert’s in downtown Austin.  Saturday afternoon we loaded on the shuttle buses to attend the wedding at Laguna Gloria.  We had a great time at the wedding and reception.

Then on Sunday, it was time to return to the airport for Pam’s parents and Lyndsey’s flights from Austin.  Pam and I had an early supper at Corino’s in College Station and then on to Huntsville for another Starbucks treat.  It’s always great to see family and  it’s also great to be back home.

Each year at  Christmas, Pam  and I give each other the same gift…season tickets for Longhorn baseball and a contribution to The Longhorn Foundation.  That’s not the only gift we give, but we can always depend on each other for season tickets.  I mention this because we start getting excited at Christmas for the  upcoming baseball season.  We will be traveling each weekend the Longhorn’s are in Austin.  We have been staying at the same hotel for about six years and usually book the entire spring season at the beginning of the year.  The hotel keeps  a profile on us and know all of our favorite rooms.  By the time the season  is over the hotel staff think we are permanent residents and treat us  like  family.

Beginning on February 18, 2011, we will be having to make many decisions at Roans Prairie.  It is much easier on the return trip to Jasper.  We always travel through College Station and stop for supper.

Speaking of decisions….we begin making decisions early in life.  Sometimes we wonder why certain things happen to us.  When we really think about it, those things happen because of the decisions we have made.  It’s easy to try to put the blame on someone else or some other event.  But, almost always, it’s our own decisions.  Don’t get me wrong…I am not trying to say it is negative all the time.  We make good decisions as well as bad ones.  As we go through life, we hopefully gain wisdom and the decisions we make bring joy into our lives and those around us.

Wisdom comes from God and when we depend on Him to give us direction in our decisions, we are usually blessed.  He is ever faithful when we lean not on our own understanding  but depend on Him.

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“CHRISTMAS IN GELNHAUSEN”

December 7, 2010

 

Gelnhausen's Church. Deutschland. Gelnhausen is the city of Barberousse near Frankfurt

                                                                             Gelnhausen, Germany

Each Christmas I remember a very special time when I and four of my fellow musicians played Christmas music for the Gelnhausen area people.  We were in the Army band and decided to play Christmas carols on Christmas Eve.

I was necessary to get permission from our post commander officer, the Burgomeister (mayor) of Gelnhausen, and the priest of the church where we would play.  We had heard that when the bells rang in one of the churches it could be heard for 20 miles throughout the valley.  So, we decided that would be a great idea.  The bell tower at the church was quite a challenge.  It was necessary to climb a narrow spiral staircase to reach the top.  As we ascended the stairs, the space became smaller and smaller.  It became so tight the bass horn player had to take the bell off his horn.  But we made it.

When we reach the top of the bell tower, it was quite breezy.  It was a beautiful looking down the valley covered with snow.  We played Christmas music for about thirty minutes and then loaded in our jeep and drove out to the residential areas of town.

The church tower was awesome, but as we stopped in the different neighborhoods and began to play, the families came outside to stand on their porches and listen to the music.  Their applause was great and some of the families brought bottles of wine to us.  One family invited us in to their home for coffee and cognac.  We all sat around their dining table, shared our coffee and cognac with them, and their children showed us all of their Christmas presents.  They made us feel a part of their family and it was greatly appreciated because we were away from our families on this Christmas Eve.

That is why I have fond memories of this Christmas Eve in Germany.

We were blessed that Christmas Eve because we gave our musical talent to others.  I am sure they felt blessed, but the warmth they returned to us was the real blessing.  Even today this experience reminds me I am blessed more in giving than in receiving.  That is what Christmas is really all about.  Such a blessing God gave each of us with His Son…Jesus Christ.  So, this Christmas give the gift of love and prepare for a real blessing…because God  is Love.

“UNDER ATTACK!”

December 7, 2010

Monday morning at the office I was under attack!!!  I was attacked by “Security Tool.”  I don’t know whether it is a virus, spyware, trojan horse, worm, rootkit, keylogger, or adware.  I do know it is vicious.

I was attacked by this same program about a year ago.  I was able to purchase a program on-line to locate this intrusion and remove it.  Monday morning I tried the same software with no success.  Last year I had to contact tech support for the company that produced the healing program and they were able to assist me in solving the problem.  Yesterday, I contacted them and they were unable to help.  The trojan, work, or virus, whatever it was, had hit me pretty hard and would not let go.  The attacker had learned to go around the cure.

When I purchased my new computer last year, I purchased a new security program.  It was supposed to be one of the best available.  Somehow, the attack had breached my security.  So, I contacted tech support for my new security program.  After I explained my problem, they had me sign-on to their website and they took control of my computer.  All I could do was sit and watch my cursor do its thing.  It was really pretty interesting to see my cursor make its selections and perform the necessary actions to cure my computer ills.  I felt about the same as the first time I rode my bicycle with no hands.  (Look Maw:  No hands.) The tech also cleaned up some programs on my computer that were just taking up space…totally useless.  So, after almost two hours sitting at my desk with my telephone headset on, my computer was free at last!

One of my recent posts had this quote:  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”  — John Wooden

The more I tried to solve my computer problem, the more I realized the truth in this quote.  I was trying to do something for which  I am totally unqualified.  I was letting the problem interfering with what I can do.  Make a call to tech support and turn the problem over to them…they are qualified.

I try to look around me, see what is happening, and not only find the lesson, but learn it.  I am sure you already know where I am going with this.  How many times do we run across a problem in our daily lives that we are totally unqualified to take care of?  Much too often.  We struggle and struggle and struggle, and then we say, “God, I just can’t handle this one.  You are going to have to take care of this.”  Believe me when I tell you that all He as been waiting for.  It is in our weakness that God is glorified….not in our strengths.  When we have a God-tech problem,  we can’t handle it with human-tech abilities.  I’ve learned this lesson many times, but I also forget that its been learned many times.

The shortest and fastest way to the answer to our problems is going straight to God in the beginning.  It think it comes under the old saying:  “The shortest distance between to points is a straight line.”

“ENTHUSIASM”

December 4, 2010

From the “Wisdom Book”    

We’re constantly

striving for success, fame, and

comfort when all we really need to

be happy is someone or something

to be enthusiastic about.

—Dad (H. Jackson Brown, Sr)    

No Image 

I wrote a post recently about the “Army Mule” Pam and I used to move a cabinet to another room without emptying it of all the “stuff.”  After we moved the cabinet, I found out we were going to move it back to its original location.  She wanted to place it in the other room to see how it looked and if it was the right size for the location she picked.  So, after putting the decorator’s “eyeball” to the piece, Pam decided she wanted a bookcase made the same width, but three inches taller.

I found the above bookcase with bottom doors because this was just like what she described to me.  When I took the picture home, with the proper measurements, she said, “I WONT THAT!”  If you have ever watched the movie “Napoleon Dynamite,” you will understand.  If you haven’t, “I WONT THAT” will be totally foreign to you.

Sorry!  I strayed from the subject at hand. 

Anyway, I now have something to be enthusiastic about…not that I don’t stay enthusiastic 100% of the time.  Why am I enthusiastic?  I now have a project for  my woodworking shop.  I have just finished a few small projects for Pam and  Lyndsey, so it’s time for something else.  I always get excited and enthused over a new project for either/or both of them.  Why?  Because each of them really appreciate my efforts and do not hesitate to make sure I am aware of it.  It’s not too enjoyable if I just get a “Ho-Hum” response.  And, I know they are not just  “playing” me…they really appreciate each and every little thing I do.  So, I appreciate someone as a target for the enthusiasm I generate.

I guess everyone benefits….right?

So, I will be busy in the shop on Pam’s bookcase.  I am excited!  I have another project sometime in the near future.  Lyndsey, with her vast imagination, often comes up with a piece of furniture she would like for me to build.  Her next request is something totally new to me…but I found out they do exist.   A SLEIGH BED!!!  I’ve located the plans for one and probably after a few JB adjustments, I will start on this project.  It is a little more complicated than a bookcase with doors because I have built quite a few bookcases.  But, believe me, I am enthused.  I am excited.  And I know I will get a big hug and thank you….for the bookcase and the bed. 

When God gives me the opportunity to do something for Him, do I get enthused?    I try.  I know, that if I am excited and enthused about His plans, I will be blessed.  The reason for being obedient to God is not to be blessed.  That is the  end result, but not the purpose.  The excitement and enthusiasm are from the action of seeking to please God.  As a result, I am blessed.  It’s the same way with Pam and Lyndsey.  We are blessed by blessing others.  That’s the way things work in God’s Kingdom.

“EXCELLENCE”

December 3, 2010

From the “Wisdom Book”          

Excellence

is never an

accident.

—-Dad (H. Jackson Brown, Sr)   

 

I look forward to each season of the year.  There are many things positive about a new season.  In the spring we can look forward to the new growth on the trees and the beautiful colors of the spring flowers.  It is also a time to celebrate Easter…which signifies a new life itself.  It is a time celebrate the passing of a cold and dreary winter season.  I look forward to Pam’s Easter decorations for our home.  Then our home is dressed to celebrate of freedom on the Fourth of July.

After the summer comes the fall and it’s again time for dressing up our home in the harvest colors.  By the way, the Easter decorations have been gone for long  time.  When there is no season to decorate for, Pam just makes our home beautiful again with her favorite stuff.  The fall season keeps her pretty busy because Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are back to back.  But, at least she doesn’t have to go back to the standard decorations.

Pam is gifted with organization skills and  our attic is arranged for easy access to the decorations for each season.  She can usually retrieve all the decorations from the attic without my help, but Christmas requires both of us to bring the many storage boxes down to her sunroom.  After she finishes with decorating the rest of the house, it’s time for me to place the tree in it’s designated spot and string the lights (after I’ve checked to see if all the lights will shine).  She decorates the tree and the sunroom and everything is beautiful throughout out home.

 

 

 These are only a few of the areas that are decorated.  As you can see our home is beautiful and has been decorated with EXCELLENCE, and that is NO ACCIDENT. 

I have heard her say many times:  “If you are going to do something, do it with EXCELLENCE.”  She feels even more strongly when she is doing something in obedience to the Lord.  It takes effort and purpose to do something with EXCELLENCE.  Why would we ever want to settle for less?

“THANKSGIVING DINNER”

December 2, 2010

 

Thanksgiving Dinner at Hudson’s on the Bend

After a “Whoop Stop” visit on the way to Austin on Thanksgiving morning, we arrived a little before 3 PM at Hudson’s on the Bend.  This very fine restaurant specializes in wild game.  This was Pam’s first time to experience the great food served here.  The restaurant is normally open only for dinner each night, but they had a special Thanksgiving Menu and opened at 11 AM.  I made reservations for 3 PM so we could dine and then go to the hotel in time for the Longhorn vs. Aggie football game that night.  That’s about all I have to say about the game.  I will point out, however, after the Aggies victory (or the Longhorns lost), the 117th meeting of these two schools ended with the record standing at Texas 75, A & M 37, and 5 ties.

We had already studied the menu on their website, www.hudsonsonthebend.com , so we were ready to order soon after we were seated. 

Pam picks:

Ruby red grapefruit and avocado salad on an Austin bibb lettuce with a Pure Luck feta dressing and sprinkled with fresh pomegranates.

Hot and crunchy ruby trout atop jalapeno aioli with ancho sauce served with bourbon praline sweet potatoes.

Pumpkin cheese cake.

My picks:

Candied pecan crusted goat cheese atop local mixed baby greens tossed in a blackberry balsamic vinaigrette.

Ancho cured pecan smoked wild turkey served atop wild boar tamale cornbread stuffing and gravy served with bourbon vanilla pecan sweet potatoes and peppery cranberry relish.

THE WILD TURTLE –Caramel pecan pie dipped in Belgian chocolate.

We took our desserts back to the hotel to enjoy later. 

When we checked in at the hotel, they told me they were going to serve desserts in a short while.  We put our desserts in the refrigerator and Pam went to the dining room and retrieved a few treats to enjoy during the football game.  We saved our Hudson’s desserts for the next night.

Pam went out for the Black Friday event.  She enjoys shopping at The Arboretum, The Arboretum Village, and the newer Domain.  I usually drop her off for her shopping adventures.  I told her I was just like a limo driver….she said it was much better and I was better looking than the drivers she had seen.  With all the traffic of Black Friday, it worked out pretty good…we didn’t need to look for a parking space because I just vegged out at the hotel, and she would call when she was ready to change locations.  It is 3 minutes to one shopping area, 5 minutes to another, and 8 minutes to the Domain.

We enjoyed our special weekend, and after eating at El Mercado Mexican Restaurant, www.elmercadorestaurant.com we headed back to Jasper on Saturday afternoon.  Usually when we start home from Austin, the big, big decision is whether to stop at Starbucks in College Station or wait until we get to Huntsville.  If it is meal time, we have a couple of favorite places that we remember from our time living in College Station.  One of my favorites is The Chicken Oil Company and they serve a great burger and Texas Toothpicks (deep-fried onion and jalapeno strips).  On this trip, because we had already eaten, we opted for Starbucks at Huntsville.

We missed being with Lyndsey this Thanksgiving, but it’s a long way to Kansas City (not too far to see Lyndsey) and we are going to be with her in a couple of weeks for a wedding in Austin, and we will travel to KC for Christmas.  She had a great time on Friday after Thanksgiving by joining friends for their holiday feast.

 

 

Hudson’s on the Bend

Let us not ever forget to be thankful for all the things God has so generously given us.  First of all, He gave us Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.  He has provided us with family, friends, and more blessings than we can ever list.  So, to celebrate this time, I want to just thank God for his Goodness.

“WHOOP!!!”

December 1, 2010

Pam and I left Jasper at 9:30 AM for a Thanksgiving adventure in Austin.  We can always find an adventure in Austin, even considering the fact we are at the Longhorn baseball games each spring.  If they Longhorns are in Austin for the weekend…we are there.  We also find some interesting things on the way.

We take a “pit stop” usually at the “WHOOP STOP” on Highway 21 a couple of miles before we reach Highway 290.  What a terrible name for a convenience store.

 

The pictures above (except Pam exiting the Whoop Stop)  are only a sample of the “Aggie Stuff” in and around the store.

Pam and I lived a few years in College Station (where we met and married) and were familiar with most of the Aggie traditions.  It finally occurred to me that I didn’t know what the “WHOOP” was all about.  So, I checked Wikipedia and this is what it says.  “Whoop” – An exclamation of approval and excitement, especially used at the end of a yell.  ONLY JUNIORS AND SENIORS have the privilege to ‘WHOOP.”

So, now I know and so do you, if you didn’t have the knowledge already.  I guess I never realized what “Whoop” was all about because I’ve seen the exclamation at times when there was nothing to be approved or excited about.  And when I’ve seen 90% of the Aggie fans and non-student dates giving the “Whoop,” I know that they are not all juniors or seniors.  After graduation are you still privileged to “whoop?”  I guess it will never be clear to me….of course Aggies are really never clear to me anyway. 

The workers and patrons of the “Whoop Stop” never give Pam and I a “Whoop.”  I guess maybe it’s because our burnt orange clothing does not come under “approval or excitement.”  They are cordial…just not excited.  But a pit stop is a pit stop.

We often stop at the “Whoop Stop” and/or College Station.  After we leave a baseball game on Sunday, it’s meal time so we have a few favorite places to eat.  Dressing in burnt orange for a meal at Aggieland is very similar to when King Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in to the furnace.  The  King had the  furnace heated seven times hotter than normal.  Why?  Because they would not bow to the king.  Yet, they had no fear for their God was with them.  This really has nothing to do with entering a restaurant in College Station packed with Aggies.  I am only trying to manuever this story a little to get to a lesson.

All through our lives we will come across temptations and the worldly things we worship by placing them between us and God.  We never need to “go along  just to get along.”  Standing firm in our relationship with God often causes us to seem “different.”  Praise God for the difference.  By standing firm in our convictions, we can be assured of God’s presence as we walk through any temptations or difficulties.  Just as God was present with the three children in the furnace, He will stand with us in all circumstances.