2020 December 31 New Year’s Eve

Thursday, December 31, 2020.

Today 40° | Cooler. Showers and chance of thunderstorms in the morning then showers likely and chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 40s. North winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph. Chance of rain 100 percent.

At 7a.m. it was 35° and raining hard. Radar showed a large storm front heading straight North out of Mexico and the Gulf. West Texas getting frozen precipitation – snow or hail? At 5:30 I went out to get the mail. It was still raining so I drove to the mailbox. I could tell by the way it hit the windshield that there was snow mixed with rain.

Tonight 35° | Cloudy with a slight chance of showers and isolated thunderstorms before midnight then partly cloudy after midnight. Lows in the mid 30s. West winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent.

THROWBACK THURSDAY

  • 2013 was Ella and my second winter in Texas and our first year in Liberty Hill. We had our Hitchhiker fifth wheel on a site in lovely Rio Bonito Cabin and RV Resort.

  • We settled on a Liberty Hill for what may appear to be an odd reason. The Liberty Hill United Methodist Church had a large sign on highway 29 advertising their annual Wild Game Feed. We saw it as we were headed back to Iowa in the spring.

  • I (maybe we) wanted to attend the wild game feed.

  • Once we knew we would be coming to Liberty Hill in the Fall of 2013, Ella contacted the Methodist church and requested to be put on their monthly newsletter’s mailing list. That way we could, in a small way, start becoming part of the community.

  • We also began researching RV parks in the area. Rio Bonito was contacted and reservations made for October 2013.

  • Ella also began emails with Pastor Randall. She described us as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

  • The first time a visited the church, Pastor Randall shock hands and said, “I know who you are. I don’t remember your names, but I know who you are.”

  • It was shortly after that when he asked if I would be Santa for the town Christmas Parade. When I asked if they had a suit or should I wear my own, he called someone. I heard him say, “Mr. Williams is a man of stature.” That is the nicest way out ever been called big and fat. 😀

  • The day of the parade, we were introduced to Marissa (who later became our chiropractor) and her father. We rode in/on his antique Singer automobile. It was manufactured in England, but had a left-hand steering wheel. Though very sporty looking, it had only a 9hp engine. It was plenty fast enough to crawl along Main Street in the parade.

  • The following year we also lead the parade. That time on a tractor pulled hayrack.

  • I was scheduled for the parade in 2015. By that time I had begun working as a mall Santa. I request as received the scheduled day of the parade. However, due to rain, the parade was rescheduled for the following week. I was unable (and unwilling) to schedule another day off during the very busy mall Santa season. I contacted my friend Frank Smith (another white bearded man – though of less “stature”) to lead the parade.

  • Thursday is trash pickup day. I pray those men and others who have to be out in the storm.

Another day of playing Fast Track.

As I write this, we are in the last few hours of 2020. World wide this has been a year of terrible loss, our hardship and trials, of major adjustments in our private, social, and financial lives.

Ella and I have, for 8 (?) years, been snowbirds. We’ve pent summers in Iowa with family and friends (and gainful employment). Then March of 2020 hit with a strange new virus and 2020 became a four letter word. We continued to make plans to leave our Texas home for the summer. However, as March turned to April and April to May, the disease had become a full blown pandemic.

Ella and I, due to age and health, became “at risk” people. At that point it became apparent that we needed to stay “hunkered down” and forgo Iowa.

Spring became summer and summer in Texas can become quite warm. This is when our air conditioning decided to quit. Our collective six kids decided that our lifestyle was no longer sustainable.

Without the infusion of money from my summer job, we were (are) financially bleeding to death . We needed to close the leaking wounds in our monetary body. It also required some economic surgery. We needed to divest ourselves of storage units, Cutty’s Camping Club membership, and our trailer in Iowa.

Over Memorial Day weekend and the week following, Arik, Jenny, Amber, Linnea, Rob, John, Dawn, Brandon, Audrey, Jason, Nathan, Keith, and Joey worked a miracle. And I want to thank God for sliding so many pieces into place for it all to happen. Everything in Iowa was closed out.

The next step was to become Texas residents. To have Texas drivers licenses we needed to have Texas plates on our truck. To have Texas plates on the truck it needed to pass a Texas motor vehicle inspection. To pass a Texas inspection we needed to have insurance with our Texas address. We had a Texas addresses. Yay!

We got the insurance but failed the vehicle inspection due to a cracked taillight. On the way home, we stopped at O’Rielly’s auto parts. The taillight Assembly seemed awfully expensive. However, the young man at the counter assured me that they would match anyone’s best deal. I went online and found it for forty dollars less plus shipping. O’Rielly’s matched it and I bought it. However, they didn’t have it in stock at that store. But they could have it later that day. I said, “I’ll pick it up tomorrow.”

The next day I got the taillight assembly and installed it while still in their parking lot (just in case I needed anything else). From there it was back to the inspection place. Though I had to sit and wait for my turn in line, it was a quick look at the taillight and we were on our way.

Now, to get our drivers licenses. We needed birth and marriage certificates. We had gotten those while back in Iowa. We needed our Iowa licenses, and proof of a Texas address. Our new insurance card (on my phone) provided proof of address. However, due to the pandemic, all but one licencing place was by appointment only. We eventually got in and got our temporary Texas drivers licenses. I had checked a spot on the DL form to get a Texas voter registration. Ella didn’t see rusty question so never checked the box. She had to order a form through the mail.

We voted early. Not the first time, because our names were not in the system. We came back a week later and I was a registered voter but Ella was not. Ella cast a “provisional ballot.” Which meant her vote and her new registration form were placed in an envelope. On elevation day, the envelope was opened and her name was checked for registration. Since her name was now in the system, her vote was counted.

Early in the summer we began the search for an apartment in the area that we can afford. The search slowed to a crawl from November through December because of my hours in the Santa chair. Pray for us.

On other news, we have lost took many friends this year, some due to Covid and some for other reasons. We have had friends and family have Covid and recovered. Thanks be to God.

I’m glad that this year Will shortly be history. But I don’t expect the sun to immediately burst forth and bluebirds to begin singing. I also don’t expect to go back to “normal.” I expect a new normal to be found where people can once more gather with family and friends, where business’s, churches, cinemas, restaurants, and entertainment venues will once more become safe.

Have a safe and healthy 2021.

Good bless you all.

  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

2020 December 27

December 27, 2020

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.

So Far Today 75° | 52°

Yesterday 67° | 41°

Average 59° | 41°

FORECAST

Mon 67° | 58° Cloudy

Tue 68° | 62° 40% Chance Rain Showers

Wed 66° | 35° 30% Thunderstorms

Thu. 39° 27° 30% Chance Snow Showers

  • Wait! What? Thursday’s predicted high of 39° and snow showers? Hey now, just a cotton picking minute. That is Upper Midwest weather! What’s it doing in east central Texas? Don’t like it. Don’t like it one bit.
  • _____________
  • We received a text from Leigha asking if we wanted to join them for a spaghetti dinner. Yes, of course. We haven’t been with family sounds early in November.
  • I took the scheduled covid test today. I should have results in the next day or two. I repeat, I’m not sick and I have no symptoms, this is just to verify that I didn’t catch anything from anyone this Santa season.
  • We had scheduled groceries for pickup after the covid test. We gathered the groceries and headed toward Adam and Leigha’s. It was really nice to sit and visit. To get caught up. They’ve been to New Orleans and San Antonio since we saw then last.
  • It was around 8 when we arrived home and unloaded the groceries. I had a surprise. I thought I had ordered a 2 pound chunk of brisket. What I received was 11.66 pounds of brisket. I made room in the fridge for now. I have no idea of what to do with that much brisket other than cook it and share it with friends.

  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

2020 December 26 – Anniversary

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.At 7:00 p.m. it was 41° and clear.

FORECAST

Daytime: Sunny. High 68°. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph increasing to south 10 to 20 mph in the afternoon.Nighttime: Warmer. Clear before midnight then becoming partly cloudy. Lows around 50. South winds 10 to 15 mph.

  • Today is our anniversary. 27 years, through thick and thin, ups and downs, sickness and health, joy and heartbreak, good times and bad we’ve shared them together and with the Lord’s help made it thus far.

For our anniversary, we have a deck of question cards. They’re designed to stimulate conversation about topics we may never have discussed. Questions like:

  • What was the most agonizing hour of your life?
  • What was your proudest moment from the past 12 months?

  • Our other and somewhat more expensive anniversary gift to ourselves was the 8 quart Instant Pot Duo + Air Fryer. My first, second, and third attempts to make it work failed. Hours later, I discovered the start button.
  • Don’t look at me like that! The first Instant Pot didn’t have a start button. You selected the function, set the temperature and time and it started. How was I to know that the need one added a superfluous start button? Well, yes, it it’s listed in the owners manual. But so what? The manual is mostly superfluous also.

We ordered to-go lunch at one of Ella’s favorite Mexican restaurant. We then hurried home to dine with our best friends – each other.

We played many games of Fast Track while also answering questions from the Our Moments game.

After spending the last month and half sitting in the big Santa chair at the mall, I decided to schedule a covid test. I’m not sick. I have no symptoms. This is only a verification. I was tested preseason, so this could be called a followup test. Sensible precautions were taken, children sat 6′ from Santa. Both Santa and visitors wore masks.

Ella received a present and a phone call from son John today. That gave her a double smiles.

  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

2020 December Christmas Eve

Thursday

Last day for Santa this year

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.

.

Another gift to Santa. Notice that it is sugar cookie flavor. Some real thought went into this gift.

This is what I wore to and from work today.

I got home inn time to pick up Ella and beeline to church where we had Christmas Eve service in the parking lot over FM radio.

That’s all for today. It’s Christmas Eve and Santa has a few miles to go.

All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

Santa is gone until next season have a merry holy day and a virus free 2021

2020 December 21

Monday

3 days left

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.

.Another letter to Santa from a youngster who its also wanting gifts for others.Santa had two toddlers who were very excited to see him today. This one and my last visitor for the day, an 18 month-old who came running in yelling, “Santa Ho Ho.”I’m afraid that’s all for today.

  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

2020 December 18

Friday

6 days left

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.

Only 6 more days for Santa to visit with children and adults before he heads back to the North Pole.Santa gets some very special mail from very special people. This is just a small sample from today’s mail.Santa attempted to mimic this pose – and failed, which got a chuckle from mom.

One photo shoot every ten minutes!

That was our (approximate) average today. That is one way of saying that we were busy with a capital BIZ! We left no one waiting in line for more than a few moments. At the same time, I don’t believe any visitors felt rushed. Children had quality time with Santa and parents got the poses and photos treat they wanted.We even had a few brief interludes when there was no one to photograph or for Santa to talk with.http://armchairsermons.com My NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted most Sundays 10 AM central time

  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

2020 December 17

Throwback Thursday

7 days left

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.

.

THROWBACK THURSDAY

My 5x great grandfather, Jacob Coons fought during the American Revolutionary War. He was ethnic German born 1740 in Culpeper Virginia. (Virginia became a State June 25, 1788) His father, Joseph Kuntze, was an immigrant from Niederndorf, Prussia (modern day Germany).Jacob enlisted in the German Battalion of the Continental Army August 24, 1776.Notice that as a soldier he was paid $6.66 a month.

The German Battalion or German Regiment or 8th Maryland was an American infantry unit that served for about four and one-half years in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Authorized in May 1776 as an Extra Continental regiment, the unit recruited ethnic Germans from Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Continental Congress appointed Nicholas Haussegger to command the battalion, which initially organized in the strength of eight companies. While the unit assembled at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a ninth company was added. The battalion fought at Trenton in December 1776, where its soldiers called out in German for the Hessians to lay down their arms.A week later, the German Battalion was in action at Assunpink Creek where a number of its troops were captured, including Haussegger. The next day, the unit fought at Princeton. After Haussegger defected to the British, George Washington appointed Prussian volunteer Henry Leonard d’Arendt to command the battalion. The battalion served with the 1st Virginia Brigade at Brandywine and Germantown in September and October 1777. The following June the German Battalion fought at Monmouth. Late in 1778, the unit was assigned to Edward Hand‘s brigade and served in the Sullivan Expedition in the summer of 1779. The battalion transferred to the New Jersey Brigade before being dissolved in January 1781.” – Wikipedia

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  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

2020 December 09

  • Have you ever had one of those days where everything is just a little off?Since my format for the blog remains fairly constant, I use the cut and paste method. This morning I brought up yesterday’s post and started editing it for today. However, I made a nearly fatal error. I forgot to copy yesterday’s and paste it to a new post.Once I realized that I had erased yesterday’s post – and after the panic attack had subsided – I remembered the “undo” function. However, that only restored partially what I’d removed. Then It dawned on me that I hadn’t updated the altered post. That meant I could go to the web and copy it from there, bring it back and paste, then re-save. That’s what I did to completely restore yesterday’s post. Whew!

Have you ever had one of those days where everything is just a little off?Since my format for the blog remains fairly constant, I use the cut and paste method. This morning I brought up yesterday’s post and started editing it for today. However, I made a nearly fatal error. I forgot to copy yesterday’s and paste it to a new post.Once I realized that I had erased yesterday’s post – and after the panic attack had subsided – I remembered the “undo” function. However, that only restored partially what I’d removed. Then It dawned on me that I hadn’t updated the altered post. That meant I could go to the web and copy it from there, bring it back and paste, then re-save. That’s what I did to completely restore yesterday’s post. Whew!

Today we had only three appointments scheduled and we had only a few walk-ins. As usual, Santa had more visitors than ones who bought photos. I don’t understand why they don’t try to turn visits into purchases. I guess they aren’t taught any sales techniques.
  • It costs the company nothing to take photos of the visits. If the photographers look at the screen and say something like, “Aw, Look at that, isn’t it precious?” or “That would make a great Christmas card, wouldn’t it?” If they still don’t buy, you’ve lost nothing. But if you take the photo, they might.

http://armchairsermons.com My NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted most Sundays 10 AM central time

  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

2020 December 06

Sunday

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.

Rather than a sunrise photo, I decided to capture the sun as it shined through the trees and cast shadow on the drapes.

Today was communion Sunday. Because there is no in person worship at the moment, communion packets were provided for every one.

It was also the 2nd Sunday in Advent, so each family lit the 1st and 2nd candle that were provided for us.

  • Today was a short day for Santa at the mall. I worked 12 to 3 and Aaron worked 3 to 6. It was also a pretty full day of photo shoots. I believe that we had 17 scheduled and worked in some unscheduled also plus those who just came to visit Ann’s not take pictures.
  • Ella spent the day at church. I dropped her off about quarter to eleven, I then went on to work. While I spent the day with children, Ella sat in the foyer of the church for collection Sunday. We collect food and miscellaneous items for the food pantry/thrift store. We also collect aluminum cans. The cans are sold to a metal reclamation center (junk yard) and the money helps fund one of our missions. The collection was from 2 to 4.
  • Since I was off at three, after changing from Santa to Tom,and driving the half hour or so from mall to church, I was in time to gather up my bride and a garbage bag full of cans.
  • With neither of us home today, no warm and hearty lunch/supper awaited us when we arrived. Neither of us felt like doing something as complicated as heating a frozen pizza, we ate cold cereal with sliced strawberries and bananas. Possibly a healthier choice.

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2020 December 02

Wednesday

Welcome, family and friends, to our daily journal. Share it with your friends. It is a way of remembrance for us and a point of contact for you.

.I tried to photograph this Christmas light display without much luck..I was off work at 3:30 ants on the road by 3:50 and arrived home about 6:45. The reason for The delay was I stopped for a good pantry pickup. The pick up started at 5:30 and there were more than 200 cars in line. It moved efficiently but not quickly, as it takes time to load each vehicle. I shot a short video of what I thought was all of the vehicles lined up. I was wrong. There were an equal number of cars or of sight behind the building and unknown numbers still stacked up on the street as I was leaving..I know it’s not much of a post but on tired — it’ll have to do.
IF YOU ENJOY OUR JOURNAL, LIKE, COMMENT, AND/OR FOLLOW
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  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams