Thursday, March 31, 2011

1 Week Down, 3 to 5 To Go

For those of you following the progress of my law school application with the same bated breathe with which I await news of my future, I must regretfully inform you that I have no new news to offer you. It has been one week since Texas Wesleyan deemed my application complete in all respects and ready for review. Bribery is out of the question; but, if this goes on much longer, shameless begging and pleading may be forthcoming.

While you wait here with me patiently (or less so depending on your temperament), please enjoy some recent candid shots of Boo and J.G.

J.G. making a valiant effort to "help me work.

For future reference, cats really slow down your words per minute ability.

Boo and J.G. sharing a bed on the back porch.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Car Review: 2011 Hyundai Elantra GLS

It occurs to me that I need to provide my readers with some content other than humming the theme from Jeopardy while tapping my feet waiting impatiently for word from Texas Wesleyan regarding my law school application. No. There has been no change since my last post. It’s only been 5 days two of which were weekend days. What were you expecting? Seriously, y’all will hear about it as soon as there is anything to tell.

At any rate, it just so happens that I have an excuse to write another car review. It’s also my first opportunity ever to write a review for a new model year of a car that I’ve previously reviewed. As you all will recall, I drove the 2010 Hyundai Elantra to Beaumont about 2 months ago. Business took me out of town again last week to the hippie capitol of Texas: Austin. As with my previous out of town business trips, I rented a car. This time, the nice folks at Avis set me up with a 2011 Hyundai GLS.

Did the 2011 perform better than the 2010? Does it look better? Is it more comfortable? Is it a better value? These questions and more will have to be answered by people better qualified than me. That’s not to say that I won’t try to take a stab at giving you the benefit of my unqualified opinions.

First off, let’s set the stage for a moment. Avis gave me the keys to a white exterior with mostly beige interior GLS model. It was a fairly basic car as far as options are concerned. At least, it was basic by present day standards. Back in the 70s, you would have considered this puppy fully loaded. Today, it almost qualifies as bare bones, stripped down beater car to “only” have power steering, power windows, power locks, AM/FM/CD/XM Satellite radio, AC and cruise control. Honestly, I can’t remember when the last time I heard of a new car being offered with window cranks and without AC. According to Hyundai’s website, this particular model with the 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine and 6 speed automatic transmission will set you back $17,800 including freight. Not a bad price for the package all things considered. You could spring for the “Limited” package, get a few more bells and whistles and pay another $2000 to $4000 in the process for such modern conveniences as a rearview camera, navigation system, pushbutton start, premium sound system, and leather seats heated front and rear.

Most of those “premium” options I can live without. Especially the heated seats. It doesn’t get cold enough, long enough here to worry about it. Besides, The Queen says I’m a walking space heater. So, why bother. I’d probably get into a wreck watching the rearview camera trying to catch someone picking their nose in traffic. I don’t have much use for nav systems since I know my way around the DFW area pretty well from living here almost my entire life and having the wetware equivalent of a moving map display already installed from the factory and programmed with an uncanny ability to find my way back to any location I’ve been to at least once. The Queen did mention the desire for a GPS unit the other day after winning another Magellan Award for “creative navigation in an urban setting.” Leather seats are nice, but…why? This is an economy car. Optioning the stuffing out of an economy car is counter intuitive. If you want a luxury car with all the luxury car bells and whistles, go buy something from Cadillac, Lexus or one of the other brands. If you can’t afford new, buy used.

Anyway, I’d better move on from the soapbox and actually talk more about the car again.

Let’s talk about looks for a bit. Aesthetics are a very personal thing for most of us as we’ve discussed before. You’ll either love this car or hate it. This is not my mother’s Hyundai I assure you. It’s not even the 2010 Hyundai I drove barely 2 months ago. According to Hyundai’s website:
The 2011 Elantra bucks convention with a style that breaks free of the traditional compact car ‘blah’ factor.
No argument there. “Blah” is definitely not a word I would use to describe the styling of this car. Unlike the 2010, it is most definitely not “non-descript”. To my eyes, this car is actually attractive. It’s a whole heck of a lot better looking than the 2010 Ford “I’m A Frickin’ Brick” Focus. Your opinions may vary about the styling, and that’s okay. If we all had the same taste, there would only be one car company. To each their own.

Let’s move on shall we?

The interior styling takes its cues from the exterior. More swooping and flowing lines. The interior looks nicer than the interior from the 2010. The beige fabric was accented with black and simulated brushed stainless steel in the dash and door panels. Something about the beige with black and silver didn’t look right to me, but at least it wasn’t stodgy looking. A few minor gripes with the interior before moving on. One: the driver’s side window sill was too high just like in the Ford Focus. Two: the driver’s side door arm rest was too low just like in the Ford Focus. Three: the driver’s side middle air vent was mounted in a location dictated by the flowing lines of dash that placed the cold airflow of the AC directly in line with the 3 o’clock position of the steering wheel resulting in my right wrist being constantly frozen.

How about those seats? I do want to track down the Hyundai engineer who designed those seats and buy him a drink. He has seriously earned some kudos in my book. Of the small cars I’ve driven so far, the seats in the 2011 Elantra were the best. They weren’t perfect mind you, but they were real close. There are only a couple of minor things keeping them from achieving greatness in my opinion. First, the side bolsters are a little high making vehicle exits a challenge by resisting the efforts of a persons’ thighs to swing out of the car in advance of putting said persons’ feet on terra firma. Second, there was no lumbar adjustment. The curve of the seat was almost perfect for my back, but there was just a smidge of space in the small of the back unsupported that would get uncomfortable after a while. Third, there was maybe a little bit too much springiness in the seat on really bouncy stretches of road. The seat cushioning was adequate if not even good. However, when you would hit a good bump, you almost had the feeling of bouncing on a small trampoline. I’m not sure this is even really a negative. Personal preference issue perhaps.

The Ronco sliding vanity mirror design has made a reappearance for the 2011 model year minus the goofy ceiling mounted vanity light. I suppose the ceiling mounted light could possibly be an option on the “Limited” model, but I wouldn’t know for sure. We also see an updated, dare I say improved, map pocket cup holder graphic. It seems that the good people at Hyundai realized that their 2010 design made no sense whatsoever, and they have gone back to the drawing board in search of greater clarity. Now, it seems, capped bottles are kosher for this receptacle; however, other unlidded beverage containers are not. That, or they are trying to tell you not to slosh your coffee on your water bottle.

Moving on to the numbers geekery part of the review, let’s discuss fuel economy. Hyundai claims this car will get 29/40 MPG out of 12.8 gallon gas tank. Oh, before I forget, Hyundai thoughtfully included a multi function trip meter that included settings for average speed, average miles per gallon, distance, elapsed time, etc. After resetting all metrics before leaving the house, I achieved 38.9 MPG on the trip traveling south for 184.1 miles at an average speed of 64MPH. On the return trip home, I was able to get the average miles per gallon up to 41.8 briefly before settling into a sustained average of 40.7 MPG for a stretch of 32.8 miles after a pit stop at an average speed of 62 MPH. Those numbers were achieved without making any concerted effort to drive sensibly for better gas mileage. Of course, The Queen does claim that I normally drive like a “grandpa” anyway. So, your experience may vary. All things considered, those are still good numbers especially when you compare them against the numbers put up by the 2010 a couple of months ago. Bottom line, you could do a lot worse and it’ll be hard to do much better this side of a diesel or hybrid.

The build quality seems to be much improved from the 2010. The door skins did not noticeably bow out when pulling the door handles. The doors made reassuring “thunking” noises when being shut. There was no major rattles or squeaks that I could hear. There was a bit of road noise when passing over a particularly rough patch in a construction zone, but that is to be expected. Fortunately, I did not have any encounters with flying objects. So, I cannot comment on the strength of the windshield.

To sum things up, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra GLS is a pretty good car for its intended purpose. Before giving it the Shepherd K “I’d Buy It” seal of approval, I’d want to put it up against the 2011 Ford Focus (which a quick look at Ford’s website reveals a 2011 model makeover) in a head to head comparison. But, I feel confident in saying that the Elantra and the Focus would be short list contenders for a fuel efficient, reliable commuter car if one were in the market for such a vehicle.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Waiting

Progress...if you want to call it that.
Our records indicate that your application is now complete and ready to enter the review process.  We encourage you to check back regularly to track the status of your application as it moves through our process over the next 4 to 6 weeks.
I feel like the minion from Despicable Me who drank the anti gravity formula and floated out the window into space. "Phhfff."

Monday, March 21, 2011

D'oh...[Face Palm]

I really, really hate it when I make a mistake. I really and truly loathe it when I make a mistake on something important. For instance, my law school application. I dutifully logged in to the super secret status check page thoughtfully provided by Texas Wesleyan this morning hoping for, but not expecting, an update since this is their first day back in the office after Spring Break. 

Lo and behold, there was a status update. At 8:30 something this morning no less. The status said:
we noted that your application had incomplete Character and Fitness information
They provided me with a person and a phone number to call (the same one that was listed last week) which I did immediately. The person answered the call on the second 8:30 something this morning no less. I was expecting her to tell me that they were waiting on the last of my letters of recommendation to come in. 

I was not expecting her to tell me that my college transcripts didn't match up with the info reported in my application. Question 10.(a) of the application reads thusly:
(a)  Has any college, university, or law school ever dropped, dismissed, disciplined, disqualified, or placed you on academic probation for academic or behavioral reasons or were you allowed to resign or withdraw in order to avoid academic or disciplinary action?  Are any disciplinary charges pending or expected to be brought against you at any college or university?  (The record of such action need not be retained in your file to require disclosure.)         
When I first submitted my application, I answered that question in the negative. 

Imagine my surprise this morning when I was informed that my college transcript reflected academic probation from fall of 1990 to spring of 1992.


I had completely forgotten about ever being on probation even though my college grade reports, which I have dutifully kept even after almost 20 years, clearly states that I was on probation during the time frame in question. I guess I should have taken a closer look at those grade reports before completing my application. I don't even have a good excuse for it like being in the middle of fraternity hazing or incapacitated by a horrible accident.

So anyway, the nice lady at Texas Wesleyan explained exactly what I needed to do which was submit an updated application page correcting 10.(a) from "no" to "yes" with a written explanation as to why that particular college felt the need to stick a dunce cap on my head for the better part of a year. I cobbled together what I feel is a plausible if somewhat vague explanation true to the best of my knowledge given the fact that it's been almost 20 years since and I have no specific memories of much of anything relating to the three courses that I failed leading to my probation. Much has transpired since then as you might imagine.

Hopefully they will have mercy on me given that: 1) it's been 20 years, 2) my GPA from my major courses was 3.15, 3) I did make the honor roll after being released from probation, and 4) I've spent the last 15 almost 16 years handling litigated insurance claims. That and 5 lawyers were willing to sign their names to letters stating that I know what the heck I'm doing and would make a good lawyer...without me paying them to say so.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Wait Continues

I just thought I'd give everyone a quick update on the progress of the law school application. I received a polite email from Texas Wesleyan with a log in ID and password to monitor the status of my application which I promptly used. At the time I put in my application, LSAC had not yet sent in my credentials report as they were waiting on a couple of my recommendation letters to come in. Those came in this week, and I checked the TW site for any updates. Nothing. They are still saying my application is incomplete, but they do provide a contact person and phone number to call with any questions. Which I tried calling. Only to find out that this week is Spring Break, and the school is closed.

Grumble. Curse. Glare.

So, I'm sure they will get right on my application when they get back to the office next week.

Or they'll be hearing from a very impatient prospective student. Technology has made us an impatient lot don't you think?

In other news, since my days as a work from home wage slave are numbered, I thought I'd take a minute to reflect on some of the fringe benefits that I will miss once I pass the bar and start fighting the good fight.

1) Everday being business casual.

2) Bathrobes and slippers being considered business casual.

3) Netflix.

4) My office romance doesn't involve a co-worker and is heartily encouraged by my spouse.

5) My boss being 900 miles away.

6) Knowing exactly who ate my pint of Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk in the freezer.

7) My office mates wearing fur coats and not having opposable thumbs.

8) Guns and ammunition within easy reach of my desk.

9) My commute lasting less than one minute and burns no fossil fuels (unless you consider flatulence from a 41 year old to be a fossil fuel).

10) Conference calls being taken in the backyard with a pitching wedge and a headset.

11) No one complaining if I take off my shoes and walk around barefoot.

12) If I want to take a nap during my lunch hour, doing so in the comfort of my own bed.

13) Shaving being optional.

14) Having the music cranked as loud as I want.

15) No thermostat wars.

16) My office being a mess and no one caring...okay, no one but The Queen caring.

17) Fur therapy anytime I want it...and sometimes that I don't.

18) Not worrying about catching the office illness de jour.

19) Cleaning my guns at work not causing a panic.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Miscellaneous Bullet Point Update

Today's my birthday, and I'm just not in the mood to do a long post. So, instead, I'm just going to do a quick bullet point update.

  • As of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning at 1:45 AM, I have officially applied to the law school at Texas Wesleyan University in Ft. Worth, Texas. 
  • I was the walking dead yesterday because I didn't finally get to sleep until 3:00 AM.
  • The Queen is "encouraging" me to also apply to SMU's Dedman School of Law.
  • Whether I apply and get accepted to SMU or not, I will likely choose to go to Texas Wesleyan for two reasons: 1) TW costs $50K less than SMU over the life of the program and is unlikely to provide with $50K worth of value above what TW will provide me over the life of my career, and 2) SMU made me mad when I visited their campus...bunch of snobs.
  • We heard back from the vet today about the Yakmaster's test results. No diabetes, no worms, no viruses, no obvious anything. He's slightly anemic and has a slightly elevated white blood cell count. The vet thinks he's got an intestinal flora imbalance. Bottomline, we have to find the food he WILL eat and get him fattened up while giving him some probiotics. 
  • The Yakmaster hates probiotics.
  • I hate spending $250 to find out the Yakmaster has an upset stomach. 
  • Gunshow Sunday with number one follower Ken in Ft. Worth. One and all are welcome to join us (I'm lookin' at you Bob S.).
  • I'm really, really, really wanting to come home with a new armory addition from the gunshow...
  • ...but my bonus doesn't hit the bank until Tuesday.
  • After Tuesday, it will be home improvement time to get Castle Erickson ready to sell 'cause I'm not taking care of a house and a wife while attending law school.
  • Fortunately, the main necessary tasks involve tiling floors. 
  • Unfortunately, The Queen wants to do more than just floors.
  • I'll make you a really good deal on a nice 2300 sq. ft. house with 1600 sq. ft. workshop on 1 acre in a Dallas suburb in a great location.
  • Today, for the first time ever after uncounted attempts, I finally won a round of advanced, four suit spider solitaire. Woohoo.
  • I really need to get back into a better shape. The shape I am in is no good. I'm the heaviest I've ever been. I just had to buy a pair of 38" waist jeans (up from the 29" waist I had in high school). I joke that I have 12 pack abs.
  • The sad thing is that it's no joke.
  • I hate exercise. 
  • I hate feeling overweight. 
  • I love food.
  • I am so screwed. 
Have fun. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Cuteness...It Burns

It really is dangerous for me to walk into a pet store. I have a very soft heart when it comes to animals, and I have a very hard time saying no. It's even worse when it's one of my favorite breeds like a Boston, a Lab or a Boxer. So, it was VERY hard to walk away from this little girl early this evening.

Those eyes. Those ears. Those legs that go every which way. She was so soft and wrinkly. It was really too much for one man to bear. The only thing preventing me from bringing her home tonight was The Menagerie that would be waiting for me when we arrived home tapping their paws with disgusted looks on their faces implying that we had lost our ever loving minds. That and the vet bill that I had to pay yesterday for the Yakmaster 5000 who is off his feed again and had to go in for a work up to find out if it's serious or just garden variety finicky feline syndrome.

I did get The Queen to agree that, when we are ready, a little Boxer lady will be our next addition to The Kingdom's zoo.

New Joke

A lawyer business associate of mine sent me a joke today that I just have to share.

Did you hear about Smith & Wesson's new handgun? It's called the Obama Union Employee .38 Special.

It can't be fired no matter what.

Bah dah boom.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


So, there I was catching up on my blog reading on Monday morning...'cause the weekend was a tad busy with the family get together on Saturday following which The Queen and I spent Sunday with my mother, my sister...the devil, and her kids...the wonder nieces. Anywho, as I was saying, there I was reading away when I came across Brigid's post dated Sunday. Seems someone sent Brigid some blog bling called the Stylish Blogger Award.

It comes complete with rules and a little blog bling picture that looks like this:

As with most blog bling awards, the rules are pretty simple: cough up some secrets (seven actually) that people don't know about you and nominate some folks for the award (fifteen actually). Imagine my surprise when I continued reading to discovery that Brigid had selected me as one of the bloggers to which she was passing the award along.

I am genuinely flattered by the recognition from someone such as Brigid who is a phenomenally better writer than I am; however, I'm still scratching my head as to what it means to be a "stylish blogger". A little help from the readership would be nice about now. I know it ain't got nothin' to do with my fashion sense or lack thereof. How would you describe my style?

Anyway, since I'm claiming the award, I supposes that means I have to abide by the rules. So, here goes.

1) I am a Sabbatarian. Long time readers will know that my faith is not something I talk about often despite the irony of me claiming the title of Shepherd K. I've always tended to be fairly tight lipped when it comes to my beliefs. It's not that I'm embarrassed about them or anything. I just try to live my beliefs instead of wasting my breath trying to tell people what they are.

2) I am a licensed (albeit not current) pilot. For my 16TH birthday, I was given flying lessons. My instructor was my grandmother who was an ATP rated pilot, FAA Safety Inspector and one of the two women first hired by the FAA for inspector positions back in the early 1970's. I've been planning on writing about that part of my life, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

3) I am 6'4" tall, and I am horrible at the game of basketball. It's true. This white man can't jump. Or shoot. I'm a terror on rebounding though.

4) My office is extremely cluttered, but very well organized. Trust me on this one.

5) Briefs. Defintely not boxers (much to The Queen's dismay).

6) I have had a moment of perfect clarity. It was not as enlightening as it sounds. (Slamming on the front brakes on a motorcycle is a bad idea. Especially in rush hour traffic. One of these days, I'll get around to sharing that story too.).

7) I cannot dance anything more complicated than a two step.

1) 911 This Better Be Good. This is a recent addition to my blogroll and also, apparently, my most recent follower. I admit I have a morbid fascination with the world of stupid people. Where better to indulge that fascination than in the world of police blogs? Snark-o-plenty.

2) GunDiva. One of my long time followers and all time most prolific commenter. She writes for something like a hundred blogs now. At least it seems that way. I know of at least five she's got going right now (does that mean I can move on to nominee number 7?). She writes about horses, guns, life in general and the occasional medical related post.

3) PKWynn of I used to work retail as a cashier for Walmart and Best Buy back in college. Every once in a while, you really need to get back to your roots...and get a healthy reminder why you left that line of work.

4) John the Texaner of All You Really Need. "A Blog of Guns, Food and Photography". Need I say more?

5) Candance of Crazy Texas Mommy. You want to talk about style? There is no mistaking this woman's style. I've never met her in person, but I have no doubt that I could pick out of a crowd blindfolded the second she opens her mouth.

6) TJIC of Comments for Dispatches From TJICistan. TJIC is currently off the air due to a little misunderstanding with the authorities in his home state of Massachusetts (I hate spelling that friggin' word). Hopefully, he'll be back up soon.

7) Momma Fargo of The Boogie Man is My Friend.... Another popo blog with the snark turned up to 11.

8) Mary Whitsell of ResidentAlien. Great stuff about teaching and living in other cultures.

9) Lawyer at Lawyer With A Gun. I'm cyber stalking him. Just for fun...and to keep my skills up. I'm not weird or anything. Shhhshh. Don't tell him.

10) Captain Tightpants of I Aim To Misbehave. I admit to shamelessly stealing his idea. He changed his blogger name from his first name to Captain Tightpants as a double homage to the show Firefly. I thought that was brilliant and co-opted it by changing my blogger name to Shepherd K. in my own little homage to Firefly. He's another police blogger, but he has the added extra special bonus of being on the bomb squad for his department. Great guy. Regular commenter. Give him some love.

11) Rick O'Shea of Bullet Points. How can you not like a gun blogger with that name?

12) Blue Steel with Point Blank Range. Go check out his Sunday, 2/27 post. The picture alone is worth a giggle or two.

13) Melanie of One Hot Mess. Another of my long time followers. She's a tad busy with school and all now, but she posts when she can.

14) Bob S. of 3 Boxes of B.S.. One of these days, he and I are going to have to go shoot something together.

15) theJu of My Curious Life. My oldest niece's blog. She's only done a couple of posts so far. Be patient and kind. I'll know if you're not.

I'm Back...

…more or less.

First off, I want to give my deepest thanks and a crushing bear hug to all my readers and followers for their heartfelt condolences following the passing of The Queen’s grandmother. A lot of people think that society is becoming less caring and polite. I find it comforting that people who only know me through my erratic and deranged writings can express their sympathy for the loss of someone they’ve never met. It gives me a small amount of hope for the basic goodness of mankind.

Surprisingly, everything went smoothly following grandma’s passing. If you ever get to know my in-laws and their planning skills, you will understand how momentous a statement that really is. The hospice nurse was at the house within 45 minutes to pronounce her death. Coincidentally, a repairman showed up at the house to fix grandma’s adjustable hospital bed a little bit after that. He had apparently been called sometime ago by the hospice folks even though the bed belongs to the family and not rented through Medicare. When we told him that his services were no longer necessary due to grandma’s death, he informed us that he was also the guy who also picks up any rental equipment. So, the oxygen tank, bedside table, potty chair, etc. all left the house before grandma did. The hospice nurse took care of calling the funeral home. A very nice gentleman came by the house and had grandma wrapped in a sheet and laid on a stretcher in less than 10 minutes including the several minutes required to get the stretcher in the house and around our furniture obstacle course. Everything was taken care of by 3:00 PM including dismantling the hospital bed, sweeping the floor and disposing of items no longer necessary.

There were tears from The Queen (and a few from your humble Shepherd as well – it’s hard not cry when my Queen tears up). Understandably so as she was very close to her grandma and the one present with grandma when she finally passed. I was close by since my office is located right next to the room where grandma spent her last 7 months. My mother in law is taking things very well for having just lost her mother. So far, she has shown no outward signs of grief.

There were a few moments of laughter too. When grandmother passed, she was lying on her side curled up in her bed and her mouth was wide open. The hospice folks cleaned her up to get her ready for the funeral home and straightened her out on the bed so she was lying on her back. However, when they finished, grandma’s mouth was still wide open. The Queen, her father and I were standing there in grandma’s room chatting about one thing or another, and I had a sudden snark attack that could not be controlled. I said, while head nodding towards grandma’s open mouth: “Hey, you know, we could have a game of pitchin’ pennies.” That got a giggle or two.

There was no funeral or memorial service. Grandma had made it clear she did not want a fuss made over her. Besides, most of the family is scattered over large parts of Texas and California making a single location funeral service impractical. Even though she already had a burial plot bought and paid for back in California next to her husband, the decision was made to have her cremated. We did have a small family gathering of immediate family at my brother in law’s place in Granbury on Saturday. We planned it at the BIL’s place because my FIL and MIL had not felt free to leave the house due to grandma’s condition. You could tell that they really enjoyed being able to get out without worrying about who was taking care of grandma.

We all seem to be doing good overall, but we are still adjusting. Grandma was such a fixture in the house and the routine so ingrained that we are just now getting comfortable with the change. On Saturday, my MIL mentioned that she still goes through the kitchen and thinks about what she needs to cook for grandma. I’ve caught myself a couple of times on my way to my office looking to where grandma’s bed was to see how she’s doing. We’ve all teased each other about “Okay, who’s going to wake up grandma?”

If I had to use one word to describe how we are all feeling at this point, I would have to say “relief”. That may sound callous to some, but it’s the truth. When you’ve watched someone you love go from being a vibrant, outgoing person of tremendous faith to what I described the other day as a “geriatric infant” - someone who can no longer care for themselves, carry on a basic conversation or even recognize their own name, then you will understand. We are thankful that her passing was peaceful as we prayed it would be. We are thankful for the time we had together with her. Above all, we are thankful for our faith through which we know we will get to spend time with her again.

In closing, I’d like to share a few photos of grandma with you from the time that I’ve known her.

This photo was taken on my visit to California with The Queen to meet Grandma for the first time when she was still living on her own. This was probably 1998 or 1999. Remember the hat.

Grandma being escorted down the aisle at The Queen's and my wedding. The tall, goofy lookin' guy escorting her is my now brother in law. Remember the dress.

This photo is from the fall of 2005. Grandma was a person of great faith. She got down on her knees to pray and read her Bible everyday until she was no longer able to kneel or see. Even as her eyesight faded, she wasn't going to let that stand in her way. Her magnifying glass was always tucked into her Bible. Even when the magnifying glass was not enough and her body would no longer allow her to kneel, she would mutter prayers to God whenever she felt the need to be close to Him.

Remember the dress and the hat? She made it her daily task to shuffle out to the mail box after which she would sit in the front yard to watch the world go by. This photo is from June of Texas (not long before she had her fall that precipitated her slow decline). She absolutely loved her long, warm velvet dresses, and she would not be caught dead out in public without her hat. Once upon a time, she went to a thrift store with The Queen and The Queen Mum for a little shopping. She sat at the front of the store on a bench with her hat in her lap, and someone walked by and dropped a dollar bill in her hat. We joked that they needed to take her shopping more often.