Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

21
Dec

Shopping at the Christkindl Market

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Arlington, Texas is a place I, somewhat begrudgingly, currently call home. It’s got its good points, Arlington does, but its bad points are significant and will be the subject of a post sometime in the future I’m sure.

Today, I will focus on one of the good points. Arlington does have a thriving culture of outdoor markets and festivals. Four years ago, Arlington along with some local investors, created the first annual Arlington Christkindl Market. Marita Beth and I were there. The festival pales in comparison to the Christkindl Markets that I attended as a child growing up in Germany, but it’s a charming, delightful food- and beer-full event that gets better each and every year. It’s a multi-week festival and is open all 7 days of each of those weeks, so it’s quite the commitment for the vendors, but we see the same ones returning year after year, so we can only assume that its at least profitable if not excellent.

Shopping at the Texas Christkindl MarketThis shot was taken as Marita Beth was shopping and chatting with a Nepalese shop owner near the end of our visit. Its indicative to me of the type of person Marita Beth is – she will step into a shop and engage in conversation over what ever may strike her fancy. She’s lovely like that.

Today, the festival is renamed to the Texas Christkindl Market – I hope that the larger (Texas-sized) identity means that there are larger bigger things on the horizon for this lovely, if small, Christmas festival.

Cheers,

~KR

(Photo taken on 20 December, 2014)

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17
Dec

Dickens in a New Light

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Long time readers of the Daily KRuMB (yes, we know we’ve been lax, we hope to fix that soon) know that MB and myself, along with a passel of friends and chosen family, descend on Ship’s Mechanic Row and the Strand on Galveston Island for four days every year on the first weekend of December. This has been our tradition for nearly 20 years and will remain so for years to come. This year, however, was different. First, my dear friend – dare I say sister – and her charming husband joined us this year for the first time as part of the larger ostentation. And, what a delight it was to finally get to share all the fun that is Dickens on the Strand with them. Secondly, and far more sadly, our very dear friend, George, was unable to join us as he finally lost his battle with cancer. He had hoped dearly to make this one final trip, but the cards he was dealt did not take that into consideration and for all his bluster and bluffing, he lost the hand. We knew this was coming – we had known this was coming for nearly two years – yet still, it was difficult for all. We toasted his memory at the ball. We held Mourning Staves in portraits, we danced with his (digital) image, and we talked about him incessantly through the week-end. He was with us, regardless.Victorian Mourning

In the lead up to this finality, my wife ran across a Victorian photo that appears to be a trio of women gazing through a book of memories. With this image in hand (see to the right), we set out to re-create it as best we could. Finding a suitable location proved slightly problematic but we eventually moved a chair into the elevator lounge and draped the hall-tree with a large piece of black cloth. The lighting was just about right, but there was simply nothing to be done about that background. I just had to work with what we had. Several hundred photographs later from three different photographers, I settled on one and went to work with Photoshop and Lightroom to get as close as possible to the original in feeling if not necessarily in form.

 

 

 

This is the result. Mourning Portrait

In honor of George and those who have gone before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~KR (Written on 17 December, 2014)

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9
Mar

Fair Park in Dallas

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Fair Park in Dallas

6 March 2010

Yay! North Texas Irish Festival! We look forward to this event every year. It’s not as amazing as the Milwaukee Irish Fest—that’s the biggest Irish Festival in the country. But, we have the second biggest one right here in Dallas, and it has grown into a truly fabulous event.

For a while, I had become less than enthusiastic about it. Our favourite band had broken up and it took the wind from our sails, as it were. Then, came my personal realization that when I don’t know the people on the stage, I am much more likely to be somewhat bored by what’s going on up there. Even when the music is good. Call it a side effect of my very minor ADD tendencies, I guess. I just need something else to do while listening. And, despite my love for music, it doesn’t play the huge role for me that it does for Kyle. For example, right now, I am sitting in a quiet house, enjoying the sounds of the birds and the wind chimes. And, of course, March was always a difficult time financially, what with my income being seasonal and starting in April. The more financially responsible we became, the less money we felt we should be spending at the festival, which meant I couldn’t really shop and truly enjoy all the wonderful artisans and vendors.

That’s when I decided it was time to start to volunteer! I got my TABC certification, and I started working the whiskey tasting. I loved it. In my second year of doing that, there was a severe shortage of folks to pour beer, and I got transferred to a beer tent—and I loved that, too! So, this year, I worked my fourth year of the whiskey tasting and my third in a beer tent. I did two shifts, which earned two admissions and a free t-shirt. I still got to hear a couple of really wonderful bands, I got to walk through the vendor areas, but didn’t have enough time to spend money, and I had a blast. Kyle pretty much spent the day at the giant, outdoor “rock” stage, with dozens of our friends coming by to see him, and sometimes spending hours there with him. After the final show (which I got to see over half of!) we were part of a group of eleven or so that descended on a Chili’s restaurant on the way home. We had a delightful time winding down from the day before heading home to two wonderful dogs that were really glad to see us. I think it was a perfect day for both of us!

I snapped this photo between my shifts, as the sun was starting to set and the light was really nice.

If you haven’t been to Fair Park lately, it’s worth the trip. The grounds have been somewhat refurbished over the last few years, and this year’s big project was the long reflecting pool between the main buildings. Complete with dancing water fountains coordinated to music, it’s a lovely, sensory addition to the park. Nicely done, Dallas!

~MB

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29
Jun

Border Collies and Boys

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Border Collies and Boys

29 June 2009

I’d had a recent Facebook chat with Rex, so I knew there was a good possibility that he and the boys would be driving through our part of Texas sometime this week. But, I missed yesterday’s phone call, and when today’s came, they were only an hour out of town! Their timing was perfect, as I’d already finished the work I had planned to do loading tubs of fabric from the workshop into the trailer. I jumped in the shower, and checked my email, and it wasn’t long ’til the doorbell rang!

I knew to expect these two beautiful little boys to have grown like weeds. After all, it’s been years since I had seen them last, and well . . . boys do that! 😉 Gareth almost remembered me, and Tristan was still a tiny baby when his family moved from Texas, back to California. I have followed their growth as much as I could via photos online, but that does little to convey personality. It was a pleasure to get to see them, and their dad.

Almost as great a pleasure, though, was getting to see Charlie and Charlotte—the two border collies that round out their little travelling family. Any dogs that visit here are more than welcome, and doubly so those of the same breed as our two. But, what made this really special, is that Charlie (14) and Charlotte (9) are our ‘Tia’s parents. So, it was a real “homecoming/reunion” of sorts.

We had a great visit, and so did the little dog pack. On their way from California to Florida, where Rex is planning to settle down for a while, he had promised the boys he’d show them where they lived in Texas and where Tristan was born. I’m so glad the timing on this worked out such that I was still here, and not already on the road north.

Sometimes I think it’s really difficult to get the cat, or my two dogs to sit still for a photograph. Well, from now on that will seem easy! Try two boys under the age of ten and four hyper border collies! Like nailing jello to a tree!  In this photo, our ‘Tia is front left, and Cormac is front right.  Gareth is holding Charlie on the left, and Charlotte is under Rex’s arm, with Tristan in the center.

I went back to work after hugs and mutual safe journey wishes, and they were all once again on their way. I worked ’til about 7:30 or so when Stephen and Ed brought me the costume bits that I’m transporting to Bristol so Steve doesn’t have to fly with them when he visits. We went to Coker’s for dinner and Kyle met us there. Yet another farewell in the parking lot, there, and my last week marches on.

~MB

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24
Jun

Weatherizing and a Fabric Question

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Is this Kelly's fabric?

24 June 2009

Phase III of Energy Efficiency Program.

Well, we’ve been “weatherized” and now all we can do is wait and see if the electric bills get lower!

So, here’s the story on this, as I understand it.

In an ongoing attempt to be more energy efficient, the state of Texas has adopted plans and put programs in place, some of which can directly benefit savvy homeowners.  The flyer we initially received called it “a government mandated Energy Conservation Program.”

 In March 2000, the Utility Commission adopted the Energy Efficiency Rule 25.181 and Senate Bill Number 7, to promote energy efficiency. ( I looked these up, by the way, and Rule 25.181 seems to be so-named because it is 181 pages long!)

In 2001, The Residential and Small Commercial Standard Offer Program was developed for energy services to provide energy-efficiency services “to achieve cost-effective reduction in peak summer and winter months.”  It is designed to help conserve energy and at the same time promote awareness of the different things you can do to a home to make it more energy efficient.

Initially, these services were paid for via a special fee added to our electric bills.  Since then (I’m unclear on exactly when the change occurred) that has been revamped a bit, and instead of an extra fee being charged, the cost of this program was rolled into our cost per kilowat hour.  So, on the average, we all pay about 92 cents a month toward this program.  As a result, 90 percent of customers pay $0 to receive the benefits of the program.

The program is geared toward homes that are 100 percent electric.  Those with gas and electric may be eligible for some of the aspects of the program, at a higher cost.  But, even so, it might be worth looking into.

The idea is that a family living in a little house like ours (less than 1400 square feet) should not be paying higher electric bills than those in much larger, but newer, more efficient homes.  So, there’s a laundry list of potential small home repairs that smart hvac and insulation professionals are willing to do at no cost to the consumer, because they can bill to this program and get paid.  I’m not sure what the connection is, but the Encore Energy folks seem to be behind the money on this.

In our case, we received a yellow flyer on our front door from Brandon, of AAA Efficiency.  He is a small businessman serving the entire metroplex, and it is he himself who came to our house today.  It was his brother-in-law who came on Monday to do our initial assessment. Brandon’s number is 817.401.1132.  Times are tough for everyone, and if we can get our electric bill to be more affordable, and put money into the pocket of a local small businessman, I’m all for it!

Our guys do not do windows, so in that regard, we know we are still less than energy efficient—we still have the original aluminum frame, single pane windows that all builders used to cut corners in the seventies.  But, today’s weatherization process involved a rather lengthy process of sealing off air intake returns, and hvac vents, insulating the indoor unit itself (although we didn’t require that work on our unit that’s only five or six years old), sealing off under-sink outer wall where plumbing enters the house, and pressurizing the house to be sure nothing is missed.  I also got the friendly, forehead-thumping reminder that the fireplace flue should be closed when not in use.  (insert eye rolling, here.  I cannot believe I had forgotten that.) And, all this today was at no charge to us.

So, there you have it.  If you live in an all-electric home built pre 1990 or so, I’d say you should give this guy a call, or look into who else in your area might be a a part of this program.   And hopefully, we’ll all save a few pennies on our future electric bills.  I’ll try to remember to report back on this with the next bill we receive.

I’d love to hear if anyone else out there has already participated in this, or chooses to, having read about it here on the KRUMB.

My photo today is of a piece of fabric currently in residence in my workshop.  Pretty, but I don’t think it’s mine!  Kelly, is this yours?

~MB

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24
Jun

New Insulation!

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

New Insulation!

23 June 2009

Phase II of Energy Efficiency Program.

We got new insulation blown into our attic for the whopping big price of $68.74.

Yep.  That’s the amount I wrote the check for today.  And it would have been completely free if it hadn’t been for the six inches of existing insulation laid over the vaulted ceiling of our living room.  The rest of the house only had a pathetic two inches or so of insulation.  And that qualified us nicely for the energy efficiency program.

I spent my day working in my workshop, despite the early afternoon segment of time when the door had to be open!  Whew!  I guess it’s good practice for my summertime living arrangements!

The insulation truck and two workers arrived around 11:30—about an hour early.  They backed the truck up into the driveway, and proceeded to unload what looked like a giant vaccuum hose.  And, in a way, I guess that’s what it was.  They dragged it in through the front of the garage, and up the attic steps.  Once they got it all set up, it seemed to suck insulation stuff out of a hopper in the back of the truck, pull it through that hose, and then, somehow on the other end, blow it out into our attic! 

I ventured up the attic steps at one point, but I couldn’t see a thing.  So, I just raised the flash, pointed my camera into the darkness and clicked!  This is the shot I got.  It doesn’t look like much, but, I can see the difference between the old pinkish insulation, and the new greyish stuff . 

I’m not sure whether or not to believe the $800 approximate quote I got from the guy on the phone the other day, regarding what this would have cost us without this efficiency program.  But, even if that’s double  or triple the actual going rate, I figure $68.74 was a deal!

No Frills for a quick dinner and some trivia (at which we did not do very well tonight) with Brett and Jill.   Oh well.  Better luck next time.

~MB

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15
Jun

Sunday Morning Dog

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Cormac at my Feet

14 June 2009

Flag Day

I woke up earlier than Kyle this morning, poured my coffee and took the dogs outside with me for my garden time.  <insert sigh of contentment, here>  I took this photo of Cormac while I was there.

The timing was perfect, for just as Kelly and I decided we wanted breakfast, Kyle was up.  We arranged for Kelly to pick up a couple of things at the store on her way to us, and by eleven or so, we were all eating scrambled eggs and having a bloody mary.  Welcome home, Kelly! :-)

Next on my agenda, was attending Dana’s crop, and after allowing myself to get sucked into a chick flick with Kyle, I finally headed to her house around three.  Once there, I enjoyed the company of some wonderful women I love, and learned how to use the Creative Memories computer program.  Digital scrapbooking may just be the way to go for this busy girl.  We’ll see.

I got home much later than I’d planned and said goodnight to my husband who, sadly did not play in his football match due to a very sore back.  Bowling perhaps, is the culprit, there.  I’m not sure.  But, he’s unhappy and uncomfortable and I feel badly for him—after all, I am all too well-acquainted with back pain, and wouldn’t wish it on anybody!

Tonight’s a late night for me . . . my mama’s coming to visit!  I expect their arrival on Tuesday some time.  So, between now and then some housecleaning will have to happen!

~MB

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11
Dec

Our Lady of Sorrow

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

8 December 2008
A leisurely start to the day as we broke fast and bade goodbye to loved ones turned into an adventure hunt as Stephen & Marita Beth chased down clues. We drove or strode through 4 different graveyards (3 of them connected by a single drive, but technically different graveyards) in separate & distant parts of Galveston Island.
I’m not beholden to the concept of burial, preferring for myself the finality of cremation; however, I fully respect the sanctity of the decision and the necessity for the family to have a gathering place. I do, however, marvel at the intricate works that are erected in honour of the deceased and hold in my heart a special fondness for ancient cemeteries such as these on Galveston. This lovely statue was unravaged by Ike and stands silent sentinel over her ward in the first graveyard we visited:
Our Lady of Sorrow. I took many other photos, but unlike these stone sentries, I am not immune to the irritation of the mosquito and retired to the vehicle rather quickly abandoning the photo safari I had, briefly, undertaken.
After our tour of graveyards we returned to the Strand to gawk at a structure (the Fadden building) that holds special interest for both Stephen & Marita Beth. We then took an unexpected, but glad-we-did-it detour to the end of the island. The devastation near the tip of Galveston was nigh on complete and depressing to view. It did, however, bring home just how lucky we are as a species that we have the knowledge to learn from an experience such as Hurricane Ike and rebuild lives where we may.
Departure for home was much delayed due to our travels, but we were content & happy in each others’ company, although a certain sadness always accompanies the Monday after Dickens.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 11 December 2008 )

Listening to:
Vegas by Two Tons of Steel
from Vegas

Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 135 mm
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
ISO Speed: 200
Software: picnik.com

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10
Dec

Part of an Ostentation

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

7 December 2008
Day 2 of Dickens on the Strand and most of us are only barely recovered from Day 1 – part of the fun, I suppose.
I didn’t take as many photos on Day 2 as I did on Day 1 with only 248 making the cut; but once again I was faced with the challenge of what do I post? This is the one I settled on:
The Ostentation
While it does not show the entire group of us, it shows enough to prove the incredible & imposing sight we can be. Some years back some other friends of ours, who flutter along the edges of this core clique, labelled us the Ostentation. I think, looking at the photo, that not a one of us can complain of the label, and in fact I think many of us take pride in the term.
In this photo from left to right, front to back we have:
Front Row: Ginger, Denise, Marita Beth (my wife), BJ (new this year) & Kat
Back Row: Allyson, Larry, Rod (also new this year) & George
A large number of our Ostentation are missing from the photo, sadly, but that certainly didn’t stop this little pose from being one of the most photographed things on the Strand this day. There must have been more than a dozen photographers stopping & shooting over a 5 or 6 minute period. I’m proud to be part of the beauty.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 10 December 2008 )

Listening to:
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea by The Cure
from Wish

Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 28 mm
Exposure Bias: 0/6 EV
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS Windows

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10
Dec

Larry

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

6 December 2008
Galveston has recovered from Ike sufficiently that the 35th annual Dickens on the Strand took place, albeit smaller & more intimate & shorter than normal. This is a weekend I look forward to every year because I get to play. I get to play with friends that I don’t see often enough. I get to play in a manner of playing that suits my sentiment and makes me happy.
On this particular Saturday of Dickens I took 348 photos (that made the cut). It was difficult to decide on which one to use as my Photo of the Day. I eventually settled on this one:
Larry.
Larry is a dear friend that lives too far away in the hinterlands of North Milwaukee. In this photo, he epitomizes all that is good & great about Dickens on the Strand. And behind him, you can see the fuzzy colour of the hustle-bustle that is the festival.
Thanks Galveston Historical Foundation for providing us this festival.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 10 December 2008 )

Listening to:
Don’t Let Me Die Still Wondering by Flogging Molly
from Within a Mile of Home

Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 200 mm
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire
ISO Speed: 400
Software: picnik.com

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