Today the old man and I went back to our Place Of Origin (POO, for short)... Paris, Texas. Actually, he was born there. I only graduated from high school there. Nonetheless, we spent the first few years of married life there. Prior to the Onset Of Kids (OOK), we spent the vast majority of our time with Stephen & Susan Barackman:
This is how they look nowadays, although except for a few more white beard hairs on their chins [snicker], they really haven't changed much at all. Susan and I share a passionate love of horses and spent hours riding and drawing and blabbing and collecting Breyer models and whatever else we could find an excuse to do together. She's wacky and at least as chaotic and goofy as me, if not more so... which meant we were perfect together. heh
It was in their living room that I saw my first episode of The X-Files. This was a life-changing experience for me. We also spent many an hour watching every possible permutation of Star Trek, and we discovered Red Dwarf together as well ("Everybody's dead, Dave."). Believe it or not, we all four even went to a Star Trek convention in Fort Worth in 1992. I did not dress in a Klingon suit, but I did get Majel Barrett Roddenberry's and Marina Sirtis' autographs.
Steve & Susan have many four-legged children responsible for much joy and chaos in and outside their house. Currently they have about ten cats (only two indoor ones), three dogs, and three horses. This one's Freddy Cougar:
And this is Naomi, who was our kittycat until we moved to Iowa. She was always an outdoor kitty, and we knew that Iowa winters were probably not going to be healthy for her, so Susan adopted her. She's actually still alive, eleven years later, albeit she's extremely old and frail and blind in one eye. She still has her characteristic "squeak" meow, very quiet and unassuming and loving and, as always, The Cat Who Walks By Herself (props to Kipling for such an apt description):
We also dropped by the home of an elderly couple whom we've known for many years. They have never owned a telephone, believing it to be a waste of money, so we have difficulty keeping up with them and knowing whether or not they're sick. Thankfully they were still in the house they were in when we last visited them several years ago. It's odd to know someone who actually has never owned a telephone.
On the way back west out of Paris, I decided to stop and get a couple of pictures of the Smiley Meadow (oh, okay -- official name is the Smiley-Woodfin Native Prairie Grassland, but the locals all just call it Smiley Meadow). It's a large parcel of land that has never been plowed, not even once. Actual prairie land, untouched except for grazing cattle from time to time and an occasional planned grass-fire to help the native grasses re-seed. The hay that is sometimes harvested from this meadow is bought by zoos to feed animals who require this sort of native diet. If you click on the picture, it should bring up an enlarged version which you should be able to read without difficulty.
Sometimes when I see this meadow, I imagine a covered wagon rolling across it, heading west. It's a beautiful, serene place.