Sunday, June 23, 2019


Gypsy Rhapsody
(a 1977 Airstream that loves state parks)

Hi, Folks, I'm doing some "crawfishin'" today...
as they say in Louisiana.  
definition...backing up.

Vannie, Dave, and myself are nestled in our spot
in Gloria Gonzales' RV park in Questa, NM.
We have been here since Memorial Day Weekend.'m "crawfishin'"...
backing up a bit to catch you up 
on our shenanigans.

Heading out from Texas homebase...
Bye Bye...see ya in October.

Lake Colorado City State Park
First stop on our way across Texas...
It's a beautiful park, and well kept up.
We've stopped here before, and there are never very many people
or trailers around.  I always wonder if travelers know about this place.

Vannie and Dave had their first hike of the summer while here.
The wild flowers were out in force.
The trail was "bustin' out all over".
Some of the rock formations looked like Picasso sculptures.

Come on, Folks...let's go on that hike with V and D.

The Texas State Plant
The Prickly Pear Cactus
Vannie found out that the fruit of this plant makes delicious jelly.
I see prickly pear jelly in our future.'s not Christmas, although those red berries on 
that green holly 
branch sure looks like the holiday season.

Our first "Picasso sculpture"
Let's see...I think it could be a lady.
You know Pablo never had the body parts in the right places.'s a lady.!!!!

Vannie, be careful. You know you can't get to close to the edge.
Just might go ka-plunk.  Yikes...
Anywhoo...That's Lake Colorado City.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do.
I'm half crazy all for the love of you...

There I go ... breaking out in song.  Just can't help myself.

It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage...
But you'll look sweet
Upon the seat,
Of a bicycle made for two.

There...that's it...the whole first verse.


That cactus again...Sometimes the blooms are a slightly different color.

I wish I knew all the names...
I even had Vannie trying to find them for me online.

What is Hidden in that Midden?
Midden...trash heap
These little woodrats are excellent midden builders.
They find feathers, fur, grass, sticks, bottle caps to build their middens.
V and D didn't see any woodrats or middens, but they are out there.

Moving right along...!!

Looks like fireworks just exploded in purples and pinks.
Or it might be a pom-pom on a LSU Tiger's cheerleader shoe...
What do you think?

Aww...a wee yellow primrose.
Soft as a kitten...
Beautiful as a sunset...
Sweet as a baby's golden curls

The man in the red shirt...
Follow him...he knows the way...
or thinks he does.!!!

Or...maybe he just read the sign..."Trail straight ahead"
Hard to make a mistake.

Oh my goodness...
I can hear Vannie and Dave's granddaughter (Maddie) right now...
"Vannie, look at this's soooo cute.!"

"A Bride's Bouquet"
It even looks like it's got tiny little seed pearls in it.
Can you see them?


Looks like figs...but I don't think so.

A tissue paper flower????
Not unless that woodrat made it out of some of it's midden tash.

Next Picasso Sculpture..
This lady looks a little disjointed
or maybe she's had a joint. 

More berries...
I don't think V and D tried them out.
They left them all for the woodrats.

The man in the red shirt AGAIN...
but this time there's no sign...
I think that's at the end of the trail, Dave...
or maybe you just need to turn around and backtrack a little bit.
Come on, you can do it...let those Boy Scout skills kick in.

This looks like a Christmas ornament.
Or it might be a beadwork brooch.
I love it, no matter what.

Picasso Sculpture
This lady collapsed right in the middle of the trail.
She was so exhausted from all that posing.
It does look a little unfinished, but you can never tell with PP.

Well, Sir...Vannie tiptoeing through the wild flowers.

An Abstract Painting...
Just never know what you might find on a trail.

Another PP Sculpture
"Nude Green Leaves and Bust"
The real thing went for $106.5 million a few years ago.
...and you can say you first saw it at Lake Colorado City State Park.

Time to head on down the road...
Can you see that dust storm out in the distance?
It was terrible...We haven't experienced that before.

All bright and shiny at our next stop...
Bottomless Lake State Park
Roswell, NM

We have stopped here often.
There was a fire nearby this time.
Lots of firemen in the campsites.
Vannie said there's nothing like a bunch of firemen to start the blood pumping.  lol

Just out of Bottomless Lake on Hwy 285...
and then this happened...
The wind was horrendous.
It literally blow off our fiberglass cover on our truck.
It happened so quickly, we hardly noticed it.
I saw it before V and D, but there was no way I could warn them.
Thank goodness it didn't cause a wreck involving us and/or other motorists.

We went back to look for it.
Found it across a fence in a cow way to retrieve it.
It must have acted like a giant Frisbee. we just kept rollin' and enjoying the beautiful New Mexico sky.
Check out Vannie's "cloud" jacket she got in London...
Yes, she bought it because it reminded her of the NM sky.
Pretty much hits the nail on the head...

A few more "crawfishin' stories before I'm caught up...
More to come...hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Remember these 2 State Parks
Lake Colorado City State Park...Texas
Bottomless Lake State Park...New Mexico

Check 'um out sometime.!!!

Saturday, June 1, 2019


Vanette Harris

Gypsy Rhapsody, the usual writer of this blog, has given me
some time and space to share something very important to me.

Janet Lovelady was my 1st cousin.  I called her Jan and she called me Vannie.
We never lived in the same town, but we loved each other like sisters.
My Cousin Janet passed away May 9, 2019 at the age of 74.
I was asked to do the eulogy at her memorial service on May 18.

This is for you, Jan.


Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, Catherine Parr…and Janet Ruth Lovelady
How do these all relate to each other?  ...These ladies were all wives of Henry VIII…and that includes Janet Ruth Lovelady. 
My Cousin, Janet…was a deep-rooted history teacher.   She breathed it. She lived it.  She loved it.  I don’t really profess to know her favorite time of history, but I suspect it was the 1500’s.  She loved everything about Henry and his wives…their castles, their clothes, their food, and just the knowledge that they were married to Henry, so when I think of Henry wives, I always think of My Cousin Janet.  

My Cousin Janet…was born on January 15, 1945.  Exactly 16 years after Martin Luther King, Jr.  That was something she was very proud of…having the same birthday of MLK, Jr.  It also helped that she was a school teacher, so after MLK Day was official, she got an extra day of vacation.  Since I was also a teacher, I would often fly to Dallas and help her celebrate.  Those weekends were always filled with Mexican food, Godiva Chocolates, shopping at Sam Moon’s, and gallons of Blue Bell ice cream.    Sometimes we would even include other cousins…Amy Pesnell, Lisa Tipton, and Emilie Salvagio.  We called those times The Green Girl’s Reunion…Green being the maiden name of our moms.

My Cousin Janet …was a funeral home brat.  I know we have all heard about army brats, but maybe were not aware of a funeral home brat.  Janet’s dad, Jack, was an undertaker.  Her mom, Ruth, was an elementary school teacher.  Being an undertaker in the 50’s often required one to move from one town to another…taking the best job available.  I remember visiting Janet in the summer.  There were living quarters above the funeral homes for the undertakers to reside.  Aunt Ruth tried to make us read or take naps in the afternoon when the funerals were going on downstairs, but the quieter we tried to be, the more we would giggle.  Those summertime visits were tough on Aunt Ruth.

My Cousin Janet…loved art.  She liked to go to museums to see it…she liked to buy books about it…she liked to visit artist’s homes…she liked to buy it.  One of her favorite partner’s-in-crime when it came to purchasing art was JoAnna Smith.  There were several places in Texas where these ladies would go into a buying frenzy, but the one they loved the most, was Act I Gallery in Taos, NM.  Oh my goodness, they were both putty in the gallery owner’s hands.  They would go in saying they were not going to buy anything, and come out with art works in hand…or they would have put several pieces on lay-a-way.  Who knew one could put art on lay-a-way.  One of the most surprising pieces that Janet bought was the one with a bartender standing at his bar with hundreds of bottles of liquor on shelves behind him.  Janet was a teetotaler…even before she became a Latter Day Saint…so why the bartender? She said she just loved it…the details…the colors…the bartender, himself…so she bought it…

My Cousin Janet…was an adventurer.  I remember when we were kids, she would dream and talk about us moving to California together.  A little town on the outskirts of San Francisco called Sausalito was her dream destination.  Plans change…we grew up…I got married…she experienced 2 teaching jobs in Louisiana…and she moved to Dallas. Dallas was a Godsent for her.  She because closer to the Johnston’s…and even lived with our Aunt Eula for a while.  Aunt Eula was our mom’s oldest sister.    She was befriended by ladies from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints…and eventually joined that church…to the surprise of all her Baptist relatives.  But, you know what, it didn’t bother her one bit.  Janet never let other people’s approval or disapproval of her actions deter her from her goals. Her travels took her too many parts of the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and China.  During her Middle East visit, she had to make an emergency evacuation because of the outbreak of war.  She rode an elephant in China.  She experienced London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfort.

My Cousin Janet…loved going to Red River, NM.  In the late 90’s Janet, Dave and I, and a friend from Lafayette, Gordon Bilello, bought a time share at the Caribel Condos in Red River.  She, Dave, and I had planned a trip out west during the summer of 1996.  Janet was looking to buy a place in New Mexico.  She thought that it would be a better place to live for her allergies.  At the last minute I was accepted for a teacher workshop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  Did that deter her from going? way…she said, “Dave, let Vannie go to her workshop, and lets you and I go to NM.”  So My Cousin Janet and my husband headed west.  The airconditioner in her old car broke in Wichita Falls.  Then when they rolled into Dalhart, TX, there was only one place left in town, The TriState Motel…one room.  Not a 5 star motel, but it worked.  They finally made it to Red River.   They looked at lots of real estate, but most was too expensive.  Just before they left to come home, they discovered the Caribel Condos…a timeshare facility.  It was 8 weeks a year, it was affordable, and they met up with Gordon in the Dallas airport on the way home…and decided to buy the condo together.    She and Gordon (a confirmed bachelor) went to Red River together one time.  Gordon likes to tell the story that they stopped at every DQ all the way across Texas.   

My Cousin Janet…was a dyed in the wool Democrat…in a sea of Republicans.  Yep, she loved Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama.  She watched the 5:30 National News religiously.  I had to always check the time before calling in the afternoon, just in case it was too close to 5:30.  She had an opinion about each and everything on the news.  She would talk to us about it…and talk to the TV about it.  In the last month of her living at home, she finally admitted that she had stopped watching the news.  I couldn’t believe it.  What had happened?  She only had one word…”Trump”…She didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t ask.

My Cousin Janet…loved visiting Bernice, LA in the summertime.  She got do things that she never got to do at home…several of these things occurred at our Aunt Aunean’s house (her mom’s sister)…digging potatoes in the garden, milking the cows, feeding the chickens, and sliding down the banister.  We would walk around town, go to the movies by ourselves, play in the sprinkler, eat cookies until we got a stomach ache, listen to Mama Green (our grandmother) read the comic strips in the newspapers and dip pretend snuff made from cinnamon and sugar.  Our grandmother was a snuff dipper…she taught us that delightful activity.   

Some little known facts about My Cousin Janet were… She loved baseball… she helped me design and make Mardi Gras dresses for my daughter, Emilie…She was the god mother of my son, Ashley…so she thought it was perfectly OK to give a 6 year old a 6 foot long Asiatic Rat Snake (that’s another whole story)… she never had a new car until 2015… she wanted to be an antique dealer or a small business owner of some sort…  she was a 3 timeshare owner - one in NM, one in Texas, and one in Florida…at one time she was part of a watermelon stealing episode … she didn’t drive until she was in college… she learned to ride a bicycle when she was in her 40’s (David taught her)… she was a whiz at creating porcelain dolls and stained glass until her arthritis made her stop… she was a gourmet cook. Dave always called her “Cuzan Cuisine” …

My Cousin Janet…was a storyteller.  She could tell the best stories…always really juicy and funny.  After her last fall, she continued with make-believe stories, but she believed them…one day she was living with kings and queens…one day she was opening up several small businesses or buying a huge building, except for the bottom step because it was pink…one day she was married and had a baby.  And then another baby came along.  I was really so happy for her.  She was getting to experience life in a whole new and exciting way.  I really think Jesus was blessing her…remember the story of Sarah in the Bible.  She had a baby in her 90’s…well, the Lord saw fit for My Cousin Janet to have this experience, too…only it was in her mind…REAL only to her.   About a month before she went home to be with Jesus, David and I had gone to have lunch with her.   This particular day she was tired and wanted to go back to her room.    Then she started telling me that she had written a book about parenting and had published it.  She was excited about having accomplished this at her age.  Then she turned to David and said “Did you feel loved and valued as a child?”  He paused for a moment and said, “Yes, I did.”   That brief pause was a holy moment… At first I felt a sadness associated with that brief conversation…and since that visit with Janet, David and I have talked often about being loved and valued.  And now I realize we shouldn’t think of that visit as a sad one… What an awesome “end-of-life-lesson” from my Cousin Janet.!! Yes, there were times in Janet’s younger life that she did not feel loved and valued.  But this I know for sure, through her life’s journey, she experienced an abundance of love and being valued through her Tx friends, her TX church, and her Tx and La families. And she gave love, and made others feel valued.   And, of course, the most unconditional love and being valued coming from her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Thank you for this reminder, Jan.  Being loved and valued is something we all want and something we can all give. 

Thanks for the memories, Jan...

The old Carol Burnett Show always ended with a song.
I think it fits the occasion.

I'm so glad we had this time together..
Just to have a laugh or sing a song,
Seems we just got started and before you know it,
Comes the time we have to say "so long".