One of our many blessings this year for which we were thankful was being able to spend Thanksgiving Day with family. It was five years ago that we last had this opportunity. Usually we fly home for the Christmas holidays; this year our trip home was earlier in order that we can sail to Phuket in December and await monsoon winds to send us to points farther west. We will miss Christmas with the family this year, but were fortunate to instead spend Thanksgiving Day with extended family.
Tuesday we drove out in the countryside to visit friends at their new smaller ranch. The autumn leaves with the purples, reds, oranges and all shades of yellow mixed with the evergreens were beautiful on the rolling hills. New is a relative term, as our friends have lived there for over 4 years; but this is the first opportunity we have had to see their new property. And a lovely property it is! Barbara and Bob previously owned a large ranch near Waco that backed up along the Brazos River (usually dry bed area) to the President George W. Bush ranch in Crawford. That was also beautiful country -- which required much more work. Barbara and Bob sold the large spread while Bush was still in office and downsized to a "mere" 15 acres farther east. In many parts of the country 15 acres would be considered a nice size, but Bob feels confined by too-close neighbors after living on his larger ranch. I prefer the smaller place. Who needs all that work with cows and horses and tree clearing and all the other chores attendant to a large ranch. The smaller place is very comfortable and very pretty country. The main home is beautiful and comfortable, and the huge covered back porch overlooks the swimming pool, two more smaller houses and horse pasture and that round thing that is used when training horses (can you tell by that description what a city gal I am?) I hope they are happy in this home for many years. Their 13-year-old grandson Jake lives with them and he enjoys the local school and church. It is just a great place to live. One thing I had forgotten is how very many Baptist churches are in rural Texas. All religious denominations were well represented in the small towns, but Baptist still predominates.
Bob treated us to a delicious traditional chicken-fried steak dinner at a local cafe. We couldn't even remember the last time we had eaten chicken-fried steak and cream gravy. How very cowboy Texas all the other patrons looked! I miss these down-to-earth people who frankly speak their minds yet are the most kind-hearted and generous folks to be encountered anywhere on this planet. Bob and Barbara and Jake are lucky to live where they do.
Thursday morning we drove to College Station for Thanksgiving Day celebration with Bill's brother Theo and his family. Bill's sister Helene and her adult children and grandson drove down from north of Dallas, and his brother John drove up from Houston. Our 2 sons and their families also drove up from Houston. So there was quite a houseful of Rouses gathered around 2 televisions for the annual rivalry football game of University of Texas vs. Texas A&M. Thank God the game was in Austin this year so we did not have to contend with the crowds and traffic. Every person at our Thanksgiving celebration was an Aggie or Aggie supporter except for one nephew who has not yet learned the true way of life and supports the Teasips. Needless to say we gave him a hard time when the Aggies beat TU that night.
Back in Houston on Friday afternoon for our final weekend before flying back to the boat in Malaysia. No Black Friday shopping for us. Instead we helped our son and grandson decorate their Christmas tree. That was much more enjoyable than fighting crowds in shopping malls buying things we do not need. This afternoon we are visiting a gym in Houston to give the young Chinese Kung Fu master a photograph of his parents, whom we met at their home in the Hutong in Beijing when we visited China last May. This will be a complete surprise to him; we promised his parents to give him this photo. Tonight we will visit once again with friends in far west suburban Houston. Our final night will be spent with our younger son Aaron and his family, and Aaron will drop us at the airport on his way into town for work early Monday morning. Our flights will take us from Houston to Tokyo to Singapore, crossing back over the International Dateline and jumping forward one day. We reserved the Transit Hotel inside the Singapore airport for 6 hours, arriving Tuesday night at midnight. I cannot remember having previously paid for a hotel room by the hour, so this is a first for us. Then our final flight from Singapore to Langkawi departs around 11:00 Wednesday morning. Here is hoping all 3 flights are on schedule.
This month visiting home was busy and enjoyable. Now we are ready to get back to the boat and get moving again!