Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And now with the cowhide...

we found up in Fredricksburg at a very interesting shop. I would have liked to have spent several hours there -- if we go back during the Christmas holidays, I'm definitely putting that on my agenda. John wanted a cowhide on the wall behind the bar, so we thought this would look okay.  I kind of like it!

How well do you know these landmarks?

I got a 70% on this test...not the best, but not the worst either.  I admit I had to guess on several of them. This was fun.  Let me know how you here to start.  There are 16 images.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two of the three lights are up...

Home Depot let us down...we've only been able to find two of these lights.  We're going to do a Home Depot search this weekend to find another one...surely they have them at other stores?? please?!  Anyway, they really look great.  This picture doesn't do them justice, since the flash comes on.  They look great!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Today's Irish Word....

Uisce is the Irish word for water.
It is pronounced "ooska."
Seems like a word we should know.

My Grandmother's Parents

This is my fraternal grandmother's (Mary Catherine Russell) family.  They look rather well off, don't they.  Nicely dressed, although I'm guessing getting your photo taken in those days was quite an occasion, so they would naturally have worn their best.
I'm interested in the pins on the front of both the mother and Mary's neckline.  That must have been the style at the time in Missouri?  And that hair piece in her mother's hair.  Wish I had a better look at that. Notice that she has a ring on her middle finger of her right hand. What was that about? Did they wear their wedding bands on the middle finger?  I notice he doesn't even have one.  And, oh, mamma, those ears!
Do you think they were actually sitting outside by those trees, or was that a backdrop?
His last name is Russell (which I'm finding is English -- specifically came from the Normandy area) and her last name was Caldwell (which is Scottish.) Other than that, I have no information.  I think I'm going to have to look into or something since I seem to have more questions then answers.
John William Russell
Born: 1854, Died 1935

Mary Catherine Russell (my grandmother)
Born July 14, 1889
Died July 6, 1957

Medora Brakenridge Caldwell
Born  August 4, 1860
Died 1929 (?)

George Russell
No information on him

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What happened to that skinny gal?

John and I with his little cousin, Yvonne, who was in our wedding.  The photo is marked December, 1972.  We must have been home on leave from Hawaii.  Love those car styles behind us...I really miss the big cars.
Yvonne McCall, John and Pat Forsythe

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Movie Review -- Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Well, FINALLY!  The first blockbuster of the summer -- an action movie that I loved!  Very, very well done movie, with an interesting story line that leaves you wanting more at the end!
Stars James Franco (I'm not a big fan, but he did fine here) and John Lithgow was his father, suffering from Alzheimer's disease.  His son is a scientist, working to find a cure.

The apes were done so well, especially Caesar, the chimp that the movie revolves around.  What a great job by Andy Serkis - you can't help but feel compassion for his character. 
And if you want to know what happened to Draco Malfoy after Harry Potter, look no further!  He ends up being another despicable character in this movie, another guy you'll love to hate!

Just be warned, when Caesar speaks for the first time, you won't be expecting it.  I actually jumped in my seat!

Great job, and I'm looking forward to the next movie in this series!  PS: The theater was packed, and this is the third weekend that this movie has been out.  Must be doing well at the box office, too!

Mary Catherine Russell Schwencke

My fraternal grandmother.  She was married to Bruno in 1920(?) I have a note that she was a teacher in Kerrville, although I don't know that for sure. We had a brass school bell that had been hers in our home as long as I can remember, you know, the hand held one that they would stand in the door and ring for the children to come in from play time. Her family was from Missouri.  I wonder how in the world these two people met?!!
She was quite pretty, wasn't she?  They were a nice looking couple.
They had two children, my dad and his sister, Helen.
My memories of her are when she would come over to our home in Leon Valley on the weekends and Mom would wash her hair for her.  She had very, very long and thin hair that Mom would roll up on the top of her hair in a bun. She lived in a 2nd story room by then, along with another woman.  Mom told us that she had some mental issues (perhaps she was also bi-polar? It might have just been dementia and they didn't understand it as well as we do now) and that she couldn't live alone.  I wonder if this was a retirement place or assisted living place, but I don't know.  I wish I had asked more questions when Mom and Dad were able to answer them.

Mary Catherine Russell Schwencke
Born July 14, 1889
Died on July 6, 1957
Married to Bruno William Schwencke

Father was John William Russell
Mother was Medora Brakenridge Caldwell

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bar is almost done!

Plumbing in, sink in, tile grouted.  A few more touches, some shelving, running some electrical and then we're done!

Don't get lost, and keep hydrated in Ireland

Where is the bus station?
Ca' bhfuil an staisiun bus?  Say it this way: CAW WIL ON STAW-SHOON BUS?
(comforting that bus is just bus...isn't it?)

Once you get there, you can have a drink!
deoch Say it this way: JYUK

Bruno William Schwencke

My grandfather, who I vaguely remember.  I can remember going to their home, but the memories are very fuzzy.  I remember going upstairs into the house, and a detached garage with a room over it that had a bunch of books in it (probably belonged to my grandmother, who was a teacher.)  There was an open lot next to it, lots a trees, very shady. I was only 4 when he died, Mike would have only been 5, so not very clear memories there.

He was quite a dandy in his youth, wasn't he?  I think almost every photo I've seen of him showed him dressed to the nines, even though he was a builder and carpenter by trade.  My dad learned his building skills from his dad and had many of his old school tools.  I hope someone from the family ended up with those beautiful old tools, awls, planers, and drills.  I don't know where they went after the flood.

Bruno William Schwencke
Born March 9, 1883
Died on November 18, 1954
Married to Mary Catherine Russell

Father was Wilhelm Schwencke
Mother was Emma

Thursday, August 25, 2011


My new laptop came in!! WAHOO!!!!
Lightweight (only about 5 pounds), Toshiba Satellite Laptop.
That old HP is sooooo out of here!
My gift to myself out of my vacation pay out...aren't I nice to myself?

Let's learn some Irish....

John is really wanting to go to Ireland next year.  Of course, I'm always ready for a trip, so let's get ready for this one.  Here are two words we'll need to know - bathroom door signs:

Fir = Men
Mna' = Women

Well, that's a start!  Now if someone will just tell me how to pronounce them, at least I won't wander into the wrong bathroom.

Danny in summer, 1954

Here's a picture I found of Danny at 5 months old.  The back of the picture says "Danny 5 months, Summer - 1954" 
Mom is barely visible in the edge of the photo.  Mom had a difficult time during Danny's birth, I was always told that the priest had even given her last rites, they were that afraid for her.  She had to wear a back brace for months after that, and occasionally during the years after. She loved him so much, in part because of this, I'm sure, and in part because he was such a cute kid, so full of mischief!  
Pat, Mike, Danny and Mom

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My brother...

This photo has "Mike at 2-1/2 months" on the back.  He's about to retire from his job - in October, only a few short weeks away.  I'll post a contrast photo then! 

Must have been either end of December 1949 or January 1950.  Note, cloth diapers and PINS.  No such thing as Pampers back then.  Poor mom...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Male model?

JR was once chosen to be a part of USAA's marketing he is at the photo shoot. He's the handsome one! ha ha! Wonder if they ever used this photo....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Miss U Both!

I wish it was Sept. 16th already.  Only cooler.  Much cooler.

Movie Review --- The Help

Here's what you need to focus on in this movie....the eyes.  I was amazed at these talented actress's ability to convey their feelings through a look. 

Focus on Skeeter's big innocent eyes.  They are huge. Her eyes show the confusion of a young girl who was raised and benefited from the hard work of her family's maid, Constantine (beautifully acted as an aging maid by Cicely Tyson), and then are slowly woken up to the unfairness of the system.  Skeeter (played beautifully by Emma Stone) is the perennial awkward girl with unruly red hair and no experience with men or life, really.  Her mother is beside herself to get Hilly married, and with no man in sight, she's getting desperate. She's come home from college with two degrees and a burning desire to write. In trying to reinsert herself into the life she had in high school, she finds that she's outgrown her old group of friends who have all married and are starting their lives just like their mothers before them. Skeeter doesn't fit, and this uncomfortable feeling kick starts the actions that will open her eyes.

Aibileene is the maid of one of her friends that Skeeter interviews in her first job as a columnist for the local paper.  Skeeter needs to find out some household cleaning tips, and she's never had to clean a house.  Imagine! Focus on Aibileen's dead eyes.  This actress, Viola Davis, deserves an Oscar for her ability to show the pain of someone who's stuck in a role from birth.  She has suffered some huge pain in her life of raising her employer's children over the years, giving them the love and care that she was unable to give to her own son. Aibileen is the tempest in the tea pot of this tale, because of her courage to talk with Skeeter, when to even do so in this time in the south might have caused her to be jailed, beaten, or even killed. The fear is real.

Watch Minny's startled eyes, popping from her face in disbelief, in repressed anger, in rage.  Minny is the second maid to help Skeeter with her project, and being fired from her job by the town bitch is the impetus that pushes her over the edge.  In getting fired, Minny sets of the chain of events that keep the story moving with her gift of pie, with the change of address for the elder Mrs. Walters (played beautifully in this small part by Sissy Spacek. Kudos to her for taking on the role of an elder southern woman and giving it everything she had!)  I won't give away the delicious pie story, but it's hilarious.  Minny takes the brunt of being fired in her own home by putting herself at the mercy of her brute of a husband and by being black-listed by her ex-employer in town so that she can't find another job. 

Then watch out for the diamond hard eyes of Hilly - the spoiled, bitch of a young woman who used to be one of Skeeters best friends, but now has the role of queen of the roost in Jackson, Mississippi. She's super controlling, wielding the power of her personality to keep everyone in line.  Hilly is convinced that her opinions and power are unimpeachable.  She's nasty and conniving, and Bryce Howard made me hate Hilly.  Great job, because that's what you will want to do. When things don't go Hilly's way, back away (and she's counting on you to do so!) Retribution is the club that she wields.

Celia Foote is the newly married import of the best looking man in town, thereby assuring that she will be snubbed by the gaggle of young women in Hilly's crowd.  Celia's eyes are the clouded eyes of a woman who doesn't understand why she's being treated this way, why no one will return her calls, that doesn't understand this system of classes with the maids, who's been burned by the pain of not being able to carry a child.  The interactions between her and Milly are part of the unraveling of the distance between the races, and it's a large part of the joy of this movie. Milly fights against this, too, in her own part trying to maintain the status quo. 

I haven't read the book, but I've been advised by a very wise young woman (Katie) that there's so much more to each of these characters that they just didn't have time to put in the movie (at 2 hours and 17 minutes, it's well worth the time.)  I've put it on my reading list for this fall.  

Please don't think this is just a "chick" flick.  While most of the people in the audience mirrored our group of all women, it is a snap shot of the 1960s in the deep south.  I can remember many of the startling sights in this movie, the colored-only water fountains and entrances to buildings.  While not a part of this group of well-to-do people who had maids here in Texas, it permeated much of the south in that time.  I never saw a sign like that though, until we took a trip to Florida when I was about 11 years old.  I can remember asking my mother about why they had those signs on the buildings we traveled through on our car trip.  I'm anxious for my husband to see this movie and give me his impressions, since he was raised in that time in Florida.  It's an eye opener, and if you're sensitive - please take tissues!  I needed them several times, and the very end of the movie especially (those darn house lights came up right away), revealing many tears throughout the theater.  My eyes were full of tears! Not nice!

Thanks to my friends who went with me to see this movie, and for the great conversation afterwards! Let's do it again soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our babies....

JR age 7, Colleen age 4

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tap, tap, tap....

Colleen at a school talent show, showing off her tap moves!  That's one cute kid, and Goofy right behind her is awful cute too! Jeff, that's a side-pony, full up, w/bow. Ha ha ha! (Jeff's having to do KT's hair some mornings, so he's having to learn the lingo.  What a great dad!)
I'm sure that Kelli was one of the girls on the stage with her, but not sure who else was there.  Did I make those skirts??? I'm having a vague memory.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Grandparent names, still evolving...

KT's really starting to talk now, and most times we can decipher what in the world she means.  As far as our names, she is insistent in calling me "MiMi" right now.  And John is "Da-Did" as opposed to Jeff who she definitely calls "DaddY". 

We've tested her several times and she's very sure she is correct.  

Ron Burgundy?

He he he!!
It was the 1980's...that's enough explanation. John at his brother's wedding, making a toast to Bobby and Andrea.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mom Schwencke

Here's a couple of pictures of Mom.  The one in the navy blue outfit is dated 1970, looking pretty stylish! The second photo is her in front of their place at Canyon Lake and it's dated 1975.  They had this place either remodeled or completely replaced at one point.  Does anyone remember?  She must have been cleaning, but I never, ever, ever remember her wearing shorts, but here she is.  Amazing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

KT's Grammy....

Look at that Texas sized hair...whew!  These are both dated 1970, so that's the year I got married.  My only defense is that it was what was popular at the took lots and lots of Aqua Net to keep that up, I'll tell you.  Now the little curl on John's forehead....that was totally natural.  
I wonder what happened to that picture that Mom had up above the couch?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I miss these babies of mine....

Here I am with the kids, Colleen at 6 months, JR at 3-1/2 years old.  Sigh....  the date on the back of the photo (shocker! there's a date on this one!) is 8/17/80.  Geeezzzz, that was 31 years ago tomorrow. I can feel my bones cracking as I type.  Cool car, huh?  I don't know who it belonged to, though, it wasn't ours.
Oh, and that's "Black Doggie No-No" in the black hat.  I have no idea who the other lady was...bad memory.
Now, if you're wondering why Kathy had a moustache, you'll have to ask her....

Monday, August 15, 2011

A lovely bride...

I remember this day!  It was such fun, and such a personal wedding.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Update on the pavilion...

 We've been working hard out on the pavilion to put in the bar and I think John's done such a great job on it.

We've also put up a couple of TVs up off the floor, hanging from the rafters, one in front of the bar and one over on the front side so we can see it from the table.

The bar after it was stained.  John's put on one coat so far.  Down at the bottom where there's some paper and blue tape is the rock work foot rest.

These are going to be the lights that will hang down over the bar.  We thought the hanger looked like an "f"...what do you think?  We're going to replace the light colored shade with the brown one sitting by it.

Close up of the front of the bar.  I'm going to be shopping for something to put up on the middle there....not sure what yet.

The TV in front of the bar.

Who Done It?

 Had a blast last night at the Spaghetti Warehouse Murder Mystery dinner, "A Fist Full of Meat Balls!"  I've been wanting to do this for a long time, actually ever since we put on our own murder mystery at Halloween many many years ago.  I've always wondered if we did the thing right, even though everyone said that they enjoyed it.
After watching this production, I'm feeling so much  better about our own "production!" ha!!
It was very cute, although some of the actors seemed to be suffering from identity crisis...if you know what I mean.
All in all a great time!

Bellini (yummm!)

What a horrible picture...what in the heck is going on with my eyes.....(must have been the bellini)

Trouble brewing here....

...and the sheriff buys the farm!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Favorite Photo....

Isn't this the cutest thing?  I really love this photo of Jeff with John's mom, Gwen, a few years ago when we were in Florida for Thanksgiving.  I think this is the first time they got to meet Jeff.  *love this*

I'm finding all kinds of things as I clean out drawers, closets, corners, stacks, boxes, crates, shoe boxes, etc.etc. on and on....(shame--I'm an obvious hoarder. I'm blaming my dad.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Movie Review --- Cowboy's and Aliens

Oh, you know, 
I was really going into this hoping that this would finally be the big blockbuster movie of the summer that I've been waiting for.  I wanted to be awed, and in love with this movie, because the whole idea of this is right up my alley.  Cowboys.  Aliens.  Wiz bang!!

But unfortunately I wasn't blown away.  First, I think this movie suffered from some truly bad casting.  Harrison Ford brought the same character to this role that he's played in the last few movies - the curmudgeonly old bastard who barks at everyone.  This might have been played so much better by a Robert Duval or someone like that.  Harrison - not so much. Daniel Craig did okay, but John thought a Chris Pine might have done a better job there. Were they going for full on drama, or comedy, or campy-ness?  Because they didn't hit the mark in any area.
I was getting it up until the whole episode with the Indians and the girl reappearing from the fire.  Really?  Really?
The aliens were pretty good, although they reminded me of the same aliens from Super 8 earlier this summer, with the addition of some hands that pop out of their chests.

I give it a 6/10 and John says 5/10. Ho hum.  

It was amusing enough, so if you just want to wile away a couple of hours, I say go see it because you know - it's in air conditioning!  But it's not going to be the highlight of the summer.

Now, what movie is still coming up that will save the summer?

Oh Happy Day!

So Monday morning I log on to my bank account, and WHALLA!!!  There's a deposit of MONEY ($) there for absolutely no work that I did in July!!!!!!
I'm so retired now.
It worked.
I was giggling like crazy.
Very very happy!

Colleen wins first place!

Colleen asked me to see if I had a picture of her when she was in the livestock show in Bandera.  I know there was a few of them with her and the turkeys, but I can't find them in a quick search, and I'm not ready to attack that big pile of pictures yet.  That's a project for a nice, cold winter day (or several days and maybe a month!)  I did find this one of her with her blue ribbon for winning the 1st place in the cake contest - her Hummingbird cake was super delicious, and she won $100 for it, too.  Wonder what she spent that money on?

Monday, August 1, 2011

What I'm Reading...

I finally finished the last book in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay. I'm not sure how I feel about these books, they are interesting and yet horrifying at the same time.  It's much like the old saying about watching a train wreck - you can't really turn away.  
The story is interesting enough to keep you involved and want to find out what happens to everyone.  Several key characters don't make it, sad to say, but the world that they live in changes because of their actions.
The first movie of these books comes out in March, 2012.  They're going to need some cgi to make this work!