Texas Hill Country Road Trip

The original title of this post was to be Beer, Brisket and Bluebonnets, in anticipation of enjoying an abundance of those delights in the Texas Hill Country. It was pretty clear within a short drive from Austin to our first destination, Bee Cave, TX that we were about two weeks early to see blooming Bluebonnets. With or without Bluebonnets, these country roads are worth the drive.

Armed with a list of things to do and plenty of time to roam we flew into Austin, TX and set off toward Bee Cave. Over the next six days, we logged approximately 700 miles on our rental car in a fairly contiguous loop from Austin. The drive included highways, bi-ways, country roads and even a Texas “mountain.”  Continue reading

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Captured Moments – Balance

Life was pretty intense before retirement; running a business, maintaining our home and raising our child took a lot of energy and created a lot of stress. Our days had purpose but they rarely felt balanced. The highs and lows were extreme, with periods of calm in between. It was like listening to a heavy metal movie score, with occasional soft strings thrown in to slow the pace and calm the mood.

Our accomplishments are gratifying to look back on, but being retired feels like the best possible reward. Life is joyful and unhurried  – more like elevator music.

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A typical week includes household maintenance, social time, exercise, hobbies, volunteer work, we time and me time. We stay motivated and energized by always having something to look forward to. Our retirement life is predictable, but never stale or boring.

It sounds cliche, but retirement is about living your best life. We believe we are there right now and are eternally grateful for good health and the resources to live the life we choose. How about you? Have you achieved balance in your retirement life?

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My Valentine

In three months time, Malcolm and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We met on a blind date when I was thirty and he was twenty-nine. He had a friend that happened to be dating a friend of mine and they decided to play Cupid. I am eternally grateful that they did, as that date was the beginning of our love story.

Malcolm was a refreshing surprise in the 1980’s with his “Boy Scout code of ethics” and gentlemanly ways. He was self-assured and accomplished, but not boastful; a man among boys.  One by one I met friends who respected and admired him, colleagues and clients who trusted his advice and relied on his wisdom, and family who adored him and supported his dreams.  He was (and still is) the smartest person in the room without trying to be. It is a fact easily accepted by those who know him.  Malcolm is honest and straightforward; the kind of person who tells you things you may not want to hear, but need to. I fell for him right away. He was easy to love.

Before Malcolm, I don’t think I really understood what “unconditional love” meant, or the kind of confidence and security that real love and acceptance and can promote. He did that for me. It feels amazing to be with the one person in this world that I was truly meant to be with.

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Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart! I love you with all my heart!


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Captured Moments – Reach Higher

Malcolm and I were at our favorite spot on the beach a few days ago, doing as we always do, which is to sit and enjoy a few moments of solitude; waves crashing into the rocks, birds floating overhead, lost in our thoughts and feelings – our version of tranquility.

There were many people on the beach this afternoon and at first we were bothered by the crowd – this is our beach and we are used to having it to ourselves. It was not long though before we were intrigued by the delight of a young boy who was obviously caught up in his own imagination.

Waves are a funny thing, they come in patterns, and if you are astute enough, or lucky enough, you can predict their crescendo against the rocks. He had it all figured out and was conducting a symphony.


The “minor fall and the major lift”…


Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, …..

This week our captured moment is a reminder of what each of us has inside -imagination, strength, perseverance and a will to succeed. Don’t stop at the crescendo, there is so much more to discover.


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Captured Moments – Preserving the Past

It is fairly easy to safeguard digital images today, but for those of us who still have shoe boxes (or plastic bags if you live in Florida) filled with fading prints from days gone by, it can be a challenge. The best solution that we have found is to scan the photographs and then upload them to a photo service such as Shutterfly. Once they are uploaded, we can take our time organizing them into albums.  It is a tedious process that requires a lot of patience, but it is worth the effort. We do not print all of the albums that we create, but at least we have them safeguarded and can print them if we want to.

Below is a screenshot of a page from the first Album that we created in 2008. The book was a gift to our daughter and included favorite family photographs from her childhood. All of the pictures were patiently sorted and scanned before being added to the pages of the book. That was also the year that I decided to purchase a digital camera!!!

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When we were married, the photographer gave us about 200 4×6 “proofs” in which to narrow down to twenty that were presented in a beautiful 10×12 leather bound album.  Last year we scanned all 200 proofs and created a 12×12 hard bound book which includes almost all of those photographs. I enjoy tweaking the pages and have not yet printed the album. Maybe one day I will decide that it is ready. Below is a screenshot of a page from that album.

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Increase the size of this page to get a better look at the sidebar. You will notice how easy it is to arrange photographs, change backgrounds, and add embellishments to the pages. You can even use a photograph as the background if you choose. There is an option to allow Shutterfly to arrange your photos, but I prefer the Custom option since it gives the user complete control.

It is very rewarding to take old photographs from this…

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to this…


There are a lot of very good on-line photo book services to choose from when creating your books. You can look at their ratings here. I have tried a couple of other services, but have never found a compelling reason to change from Shutterfly. I hope you will be encouraged to give one of them a try.

With experience, I have gotten better at arrangements and commentary, and now enjoy the challenge of presenting the highlights of our lives in an annual photo journal. Creating our Annual Photo Journal is how I stay current with organizing the thousands of photographs that we take each year.

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Generally, the process is to remove the SD disc from my camera and add the photos to a laptop as soon as possible after taking the photographs. Once there, I can sort, edit and upload desired images to Shutterfly, creating folders and albums as needed.  The current Book is always a work in progress, and easily accessible, so I can work on it at my leisure. Stored books are also available and can be tweaked and polished until we decide they are ready to publish.

The books on the coffee table below represent  highlights from the past several years of our lives along with a few “trip specific” books. We love looking at the past and reliving our family memories and travels.

We still have hundreds of old photographs that need to be scanned and organized, but we have become comfortable with the process, and will eventually complete the task. The key for us, is to be realistic and break the job up into manageable pieces. Pitching fuzzy photos and duplicates are at the top of the priority list; followed by sorting and dating. Scanning begins only after we have narrowed down the “keepers.”

There is no guarantee that our daughter will cherish and appreciate these books, or the effort we have made to preserve the memories of a family whose lives were lived well. But, without a doubt, we will look at them and smile until our last days. That alone makes it worthwhile.

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