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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 3 - 26th, 2011 - Texas...Houston, Austin, Seagoville - Part 2

Tom and Kathy Stewart's home is so beautiful and perfectly designed I would buy it in a heartbeat, if we could afford it. Every bedroom opens out to the beautiful backyard pool area that is designed to be as livable as the indoors. All of the rooms are so well thought out and comfortably appointed that we immediately settled in and felt welcome. Oh I want a house like this when I grow up!
Lee and Cheryl Baumann were to arrive around 11:00 AM on Wednesday but then Cheryl canceled, leaving Lee to come alone. By some odd roll of the dice, Lee ran into one delay after another causing him to sit in airports for the better part of his day, arriving closer to supper time. Poor Lee! While waiting for Lee, the four of us set off to explore Austin by car. The weather was gorgeous and the day sunny blue and very warm. We stopped for lunch at their favorite Mexican dive and feasted on tacos, enchiladas, flautas, and every other fattening dish we could stuff into our guts. It was delicious! Some time during the course of the day, Kathy showed us her hand which was wrapped in a splint, explaining that she had sustained a fracture and was scheduled for surgery the next day. She was apologetic thinking she had let us down by ruining all of our plans. We told her that was rubbish because our plans were simply to visit them, and since  they and their home are so lovely, we are content to just be there. That night the 5 of us had a sumptuous bar-b-que feast, laughing cracking stupid jokes and lamenting the absence of Cheryl. Early Thursday morning Tom and Kathy set off for the hospital. Frank, Lee and I enjoyed the resort style living, going for a long walk along the lake, taking a dip in the pool and waiting for the return of the Stewarts. Tom sent us periodic updates...still running behind....Kathy sedated but still waiting... By noon, she had still not been taken into surgery. Frank and Lee settled themselves in front of the TV to watch golf. I played games on Lee's iPad. Mid afternoon we received word that Kathy had finally gone into surgery. The surgeon soon discovered she had multiple compound fractures, and her surgery lasted several hours. They didn't get home until around 7 PM. Kathy was rigged up with some crazy looking bright blue foam pyramid that she had to wear to prop her hand up from the elbow. She was ordered to keep it upright for some 3 days or so. Clever Lee immediately began calling her "Smurfette", because the big foam pyramid was indeed Smurf Blue. She was still anesthetized and so weary that we left her to rest and set off to the local boat club on the lake for a good old fashioned homemade hamburger. We enjoyed live music and people watching as the young studs came and went in their power boats with babes hanging off the bows. Now our intended group of 6 had dwindled down to 4. Lee flew out after breakfast Friday morning, and sensing that Kathy was in serious need of peace, quiet and rest, we took our leave as well. The visit was truly enjoyable, and we left feeling so sad to be saying goodbye to these precious friends.
We enjoyed a nice drive back to Houston, stopping at the 290 Diner just on the outskirts of Austin for the famous Chicken Fried Steak. Heart valve cloggingly good!
We got a good laugh when we returned to Debra and Sandy's house. They had moved the television back into the bare-floored living room and were sitting on kitchen chairs, using their large Igloo ice chest as a coffee table. They greeted us with smiles and cold beer. It was great to see them, and we laughed and celebrated the circumstances that had somewhat forced this reunion. The next few days were spent socializing with Debra and Sandy in between their dealing with insurance issues and contractors. The wheels turn slowly unfortunately, and they continued to live in a home with plastic sheeting for a ceiling and bare concrete for flooring but it takes a lot to get these two down. They looked at it as a blessing, and so did we, that we had been there when this happened, that we ended up getting to see them while in Houston, and a further bonus that they would get the new floors they had been wanting. We did drive down to stay with Jen and Trace for a few days on her days off and then brought Trace back with us. My entire family was converging on Houston. We were planning to celebrate Mom and Dad's 60th Anniversary early (while we are here), which is actually in November, and Trace couldn't wait to spend time with his cousin, Tre. The party was set for Saturday at Mom and Dad's. The intention was for Mom and Dad to relax and enjoy the family visit and celebration while the rest of us did the work. The concerted effort yielded a splendid brunch buffet. Everyone was there but for Clint and Sarah. I think it was a lovely and love-filled event for Mom and Dad. It has been years since our little Johnson clan has been able to be together at one time.
By Tuesday, everyone had cleared out and were either back home or heading for home. Frank and I said our farewells to Mom and Dad, and made a sad departure from Jen and Trace. Every time I leave my grandson, a little piece of my heart breaks. We drove up to Seagoville on Thursday to spend our last night with Bev, and D. Our flight from Dallas to Sydney departed late Friday. My sister went into work late that day so that we could have coffee together and spend our last bit of sister-time before Frank and I set off for the land of OZ.

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