Thursday, September 11, 2008

Here We Go Again

It looks like I get to work from home again on Friday. Ike is headed our way and will probably give us substancial rain and wind. They have declared an evacuation for Galveston and Baytown. When I drove past the local gas station, cars were lined up four deep at each station. We are well stocked at home and will "shelter in place".

Sunday, September 7, 2008

To Arizona and Back

This has been an active month for us. First, Jon and Crystal stopped in Houston as they were returning from Arkansas to BYU. (Bet you didn't know that Texas is directly in the middle of the road from Arkansas back to Utah.) They were also able to fly to Florida to attend a family reunion with Crystal's family in Disney World (courtesy of Crystal's father!)

When I dropped them off at the airport for their vacation trip, I also dropped Anne for a flight to Arizona. We now have a beautiful little grand daughter named Storey Jennette Vermillion. (Remind me again, Keith, how many grand kids do you have - I forget....)

After J/C spent a few days in Houston after their vacation, they took off to Utah. At the same time, Leanna and I left to drive to Arizona. Leanna graduated a year early from high school. We had a very nice time on our road trip. We listened to our music and enjoyed the scenery.

While in Arizona, I was also able to spend quality time with my grandson, Jakson Clyde Vermillion (2 years old). He is full of energy and we had a great time together.

While I played Grandpa in Phoenix, Anne drove Leanna up to BYU and helped to settle her in the dorm. (Notice the "Texas Pride"!) Thanks to Jon for helping to set up her computer.

After Anne/Mom returned to Arizona, we held a birthday party for Anne's mother in a local church. It was nice to see all of Anne's family.

Here is the address to my web album if you'd like to view all the pictures from our trip. (Copy and paste in your browser address bar

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Best Thing about a Tropical Storm

Many of you may have heard that a tropical storm (Edouard) quickly formed in the Gulf and hit Houston this week. (I don't know where people learned how to spell. It's pronounced "Edward".)

Many people went nuts preparing for the storm. All the grocery stores had a run and you couldn't find bread or bottled water anywhere. I guess we have lived in Houston so long that we don't get excited about little storms. I had to pick up some ice cream (on sale for $1.99) and some pickle relish for our hot dogs last night, so I stopped at the local HEB. It was a mad house with every cashier lane open and people waiting six deep at every lane. My ice cream almost melted!

It must have been a slow news day. The television stations really played the storm up with their reporters dressed in rain slickers and standing in front of the ocean. Only problem was, it wasn't much of a storm. The surf was flat. I actually heard one reporter saying, "We've had constant wind speeds of 4 to 5 miles per hour, even gusting up to 6 mph".

I have seen what a big storm can do, and I respect them. But this was just a little bit of nothing. Here is the radar shot of what hit us. We got a total of 2.5 inches of rain out of the storm and no wind to speak of. The Houston area is over 5 inches behind in rainfall this year, so we welcome the moisture.

The best thing about the Tropical Storm is that I got to work from home. ExxonMobil didn't want employees on the road in case we got heavy rainfall and flooding. So if our job didn't require it, we could work from home. I could get use to that! I could sleep in a little longer. I wore my jeans and t-shirt. I didn't have to fight traffic to and from work. I got to eat lunch with Anne/Mom.

I set up the card table in the bedroom and turned on the satellite XM radio. We have wireless so the computer worked fine. I have a cell phone so I talked to India and Europe, as well as a number of people here in Houston. The worse thing about working from home is that I probably got more work done than if I was at the office. No one stopped by to chit-chat. All I had to do was work.

Anne/Mom doesn't believe that I worked very hard. "All you do is sit there and type on the computer!". But I think she liked me being around. (She's got this thing for me . . .)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

One Way to Waist a Saturday

If you take Defensive Driving in Texas, you get a 10% discount on auto insurance. Since Harris County has one of the highest insurance rates in the country, it makes sense to take the class every three years. (The insurance company doesn't tell you when your discount is going to expire, but Mom tracks that kind of stuff.)

Over the years we've taken the class at my office, over the internet, etc. The class lasts 6 hours and you must pass a test with a 70% score or better. Many take the class to get minor tickets dismissed.

This time we discovered the perfect place to take defensive driving - the Golden Corral! (Jon, you'd love this.) We have a Golden Corral around the corner from us and a DD class is held twice a month. Six hours to watch Goofy cartoons, eat, listen to lectures, eat, share driving stories, eat - you get the idea. Thus the title - One way to Waist a Saturday.

Actually, only the lunch was included in the fee. But they supplied us with juice and rolls in the morning. (I have to admit that I scarfed some bacon several times as I walked past the buffet during breaks.) My lunch was big enough to satisfy me for the rest of the day. I even got tired of the deserts.

Mom and I each got 100% on the final exam.

We volunteered at the college on Friday night and were asked to come back again tonight. We like working there.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Don't Remember Growing Old

There is a song from Fiddler on the Roof where the father sings about growing old and not being aware of it. I feel the same way. My passport will expire early next year so I must renew it. I pulled up the form on-line and started filling it out. It will be good for the next ten years. I listed my height and eye color. Then I got to the question about hair color. Hmmmmm - am I still brown? Salt and pepper wasn't a choice? Gray? Aaaugh, I listed my color as gray! When did this happen to me? I'm too young to be old!

We have only one more month until we drive out to Arizona/Utah for Beth's baby and to drop off Leanna at school. Mom and I will then be Empty Nesters. It has been a long time since Anne and I have been alone like this. It sounds kind of fun, but I'm sure it will be an adjustment.

We are looking forward to the visit from Jon and Crystal in August. I'm glad they are only one day's drive away from us.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

They are called GRAND-kids for a reason

I had a free air ticket that I had to use before it expired, so I took a quick trip to Arizona in April. I went to see my name-sake, Jakson Clyde Vermillion! Oh, and I was able to see Beth and Zak at the same time. I was able to be there for Jakson's two-year birthday celebration. I've heard someone say that grandkids are the blessing you receive from not having killed your own kids when they were teenagers. :-) I enjoyed being with the Arizona crew and being away from work for a short time.

The big gift that he got was an authentic Radio Flyer Classic Red Dual Deck Tricycle. Of course, Jakson was more interested in the box it came in than in the tricycle itself. His legs will have to grow a few more inches before he can ride the trike, but he has the right idea. Until then, he will have to satisfy himself with the box it came in.

I was able to help Zak work on their back yard. We laid down paving stones on the side of their house for a play area for Jakson. We also smoothed and seeded the back yard so they will have some green stuff to walk on. Zak is finishing a small room under the stairs for Jakson that I helped with. It will be a nice play area for Jakson. (You have to be under four foot tall to stand up in it - perfect for him!)

Mom and I have been doing the usual. She has been busy collecting props for an opera the Lone Star College is putting on. We have been hitting the thrift stores (on half price day, screaming deals no less) to pick up items. Mom has been working at the college at the ticket booth for a play they recently put on. (I didn't go to it.) Mom also volunteered two Saturdays to help with a Prom Dress Give-Away project. Dresses, shoes, handbags, jewelry, hair pieces, shawls, etc had been donated for inner-city and disadvantaged youth. They even had tuxes for boys. We attended a Jazz class concert this week at the college. Next week, we will volunteer to work at the opera - taking tickets and serving refreshments.

Mom won some free passes to a movie premier. We saw the "Forbidden Kingdom" with Jet Li and Jackie Chan - a great guy flick with wonderful karate fight scenes - who cares about the plot or dialog? We also went to see Iron Man this week (My reward for having worked hard with her cleaning the house on Saturday.)

Springtime in Houston is wonderful. The weather is very pleasant and everything is green and growing. But I can't help but think of all the leaves I'm going to have to rake next fall.

We have only three more weeks of seminary - but who's counting? Well, we are. In fact we made a countdown chain - kind of like the red and green paper chains we would make at Christmas time to countdown the days until Christmas. Each day we tear off one link from the chain.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


It's March in Houston and that can only mean one thing - hay fever! Opps, I mean the Houston Rodeo - YeeHaw! As you can see, we really got into the spirit of the day. Mom won free tickets to the Rodeo, and you know that we never pass up a free thing. I took off work Tuesday afternoon and Leanna got off from school a little early.

We enjoyed looking at the student art. Many of the drawings and pictures looked so real that we thought they were photos. We like looking at the handmade quilts. Of course, we like to wander through all the vendor stalls and see what is for sell that we just can't live without. (Fortunately, we didn't find anything like that!)

We enjoyed the animal displays and the rodeo itself. We had the best seats we've ever had. The weather was perfect. The rodeo is in Reliant Stadium, where the Houston Texans play football. (The stadium of the famous Janet Jackson Super Bowl costume failure.) Our favorite part of the rodeo every year is the calf scramble. About 40 teenagers try to capture, rope, and drag an uncooperative calf into the middle of the arena. There are only 20 calves for them to chase and catch. They get to show the calf in the livestock show next year. Very fun to watch.

There was a concert after the rodeo. Somebody named Kevin Fowler - never heard of 'em. We left after one song because I had to get up the next morning to teach seminary. Mom and Leanna were tired too, so no one complained.

Speaking of March and hay fever, everything is in bloom in Houston now. My eyes are itching like crazy. It seems like it was only three weeks ago that I raked my final leaves of the season. In fact - it was! Now here the trees are sprouting again. I get no rest.

Mom and I spend Saturday cleaning and organizing the garage. Those HGTV show really inspire her! At least the garage looks much better now. But I'm afraid we've only just begun. We took much of the good leftover stuff from our garage and donated it to the local Habitat for Humanity. (We still have a lot of stuff to get rid of.) I had saved all the window sun screens that I had made before we replaced the windows. They collect all kinds of building materials and appliances and then use it to help the less fortunate. We did our thing to help the community!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is it February already?!

I look at the calendar and see that we are approaching the end of February. I enjoy reading everyone else's blog, so I guess that I better be more diligent in writing something on mine.

Here are some of the activities that have been going on recently. First of all, Leanna turned 17 this month. We celebrated by going to "Taste of Texas." Very nice steaks, very pricey! But she will never turn 17 again so we treated her.

My nephew (who is a year older than I am), Michael Criddle (Melvin's oldest son) came to town on business. He spent his last night in Houston with us. I took him to the temple for a session before dropping him off at the airport the next day.

I have an old missionary companion coming to town this next week on business and he will be staying with us. I look forward to swapping old stories with him. The only problem is that I am hosting a week-long training workshop and will have very little time. I even had to get a substitute seminary teacher for this week since I have to go into the office early and may have to work late. I have people coming in from all over the world.

Mom has been on a lucky streak lately. No, she didn't win the lottery. But she did win tickets (great seats) to the Houston Rodeo next month. She also won the door prize at the "old ladies at the college" class for a $50 dinner at a nice restaurant. This past week we attended a free, Smooth Jazz concert at the college. Afterwards, they had refreshments. A perfect date - great entertainment and then they feed you - all for free!

I assume many of you have already seen how Mom has redecorated the Master bedroom. She made the curtain and all the pillow covers. It took a long time to find the bed spread and lamps. Doesn't it look great?! Watching all those HGTV shows really paid off!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Years Day

I had a "Texas" type of New Year's day. First, since we live in the south and it is still the growing season, I spent the morning raking leaves and mowing the lawn. (Bet none of you did that on New Year's day!) Next, since it's NYD - and there is lots and lots of football on the tube, I enjoyed the many games. In fact, I'm using the laptop while I'm lying here in bed watching the Rose Bowl as I write this blog.
We invited our local missionaries to spend yesterday with us. They agreed to come, and brought six other missionaries with them. We had 4 elders and 4 sisters. I had set up the back room with the ping pong table, air hockey, and foosball. (It was their P-Day and they weren't suppose to tract the day before N.Y.) Mom had sandwiches for them to eat. We baked cookies for dessert while they played games. They seemed to have a good time. It was nice that we could give them some service.
Mom got out a puzzle that we put together during the evening. (Leanna had to work last night and then went over to a friend's home to light fireworks.) It was a puzzle map of Texas that was educational as well as fun.
Mom is cooking some "little smokies" and some of those spinach balls that we frequently have during the holidays. It smells great. She sure makes it hard to lose weight!
We've done some maintenance items over the holidays. Our garage door always seems to stop working when the weather gets cool - it goes up two inches and then comes back down. I called a specialist to come and fix it. (Mom is now happy that she doesn't have to get out of the car to help the garage door open when it's cold.) Next, we hired a guy to come and grind the tree stump that was next to the back room. I've never seen that done before. (It made lots of great mulch for us.)
Mom and I will spend tomorrow at the temple. I am enjoying sleeping in during the holidays. We've gone to the library a couple of times already to get movies and reading materials. It has been a very nice vacation/holiday time. I'm sure I'm going to be sad to see the end of my time off.