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Home from Texas

Well, I’m finally home after two and a half weeks away in the States with Penny. My bags are unpacked, the washing is done, I’ve cut Sam’s hair, and managed to get a large, aggressive, stroppy bull off our front lawn. Life so quickly slots back into full swing. 🙂 This morning I woke to the sound of heavy rain and even hail…lit the Homewood and made some porridge before the kids got up, and then we spent a lovely cozy morning doing school in front of the fire. The bliss of home schooling. 🙂 While I read, Jake and Sam both whittled spoons with the whittling knives I brought back for them from America.

We had a wonderful time. I’ll mention some highlights below…I seem to have lost my camera (grrr) so only have the photos from my iPhone. (Darn, it means I’ve lost the cool photos of us riding a huge Texan long-horned steer.)

The day we left for America Dad read Pen and I some verses from Ephesians and then prayed a blessing over us before we left. It was wonderful. We drove out the drive but stopped when we heard a plaintive meow – Pen’s cat was in the van! Just as well she spoke up when she did. 🙂

We had a good flight over to L.A. Got a little bit of sleep. We had a hassle free change over and got the flight to Dallas, no problem. Beverly and Kirk, the organizers of the homeschooling conference, were there to meet us. They took us to their lovely home in Canyon Creek Drive. They have the most beautiful, long back section that leads down to a creek in a deep gully. Apparently beavers used to play there all the time, but were finally trapped and taken further north because they were felling all the trees on the nearby golf course!

We were given the studio room which has two beds, a sofa, small kitchen and bathroom. Lovely! We’ve been enchanted watching the squirrels darting up and down trees and playing.

Unfortunately my laptop screen died that first day…meant I had to buy a new cheap laptop so I could use my powerpoints etc. A bit of a fiasco. “Oh, I love technology…”

The next day we set off for Arlington, where the book fair/conference was. Spent several hours setting up the booth in a massive hall. My books were there (yay!), and Pen and I worked feverishly putting stickers on, hanging the banner, setting up the booth, having sound checks…

Had a wonderful Mexican meal that night, then tried to get some sleep before our early start.

At the end of the first day we were both exhausted! Nothing could have prepared me for the hugeness of the fair. So many people (6,400), so many book stalls with soooooo much amazing product. After walking around it for a few minutes, I thought I’d be lucky to sell one solitary book.

Really enjoyed doing my workshops –  I did six in all. Meanwhile Pen did an amazing job talking to people at our booth all day! Both collapsed into bed that night. Second day at the fair went even better than the first. Slightly smaller, but we met so many wonderful people.

Some good news is that I now have an American distributor – Grace and Truth Books. They took all my remaining stock and will handle my Amazon orders also.

We had one full day off the first week and made the most of it!  We got an early morning train, two actually, and a bus and finally got to the Stock Yards in Fortworth. Watched a cattle drive up the main street of majestic longhorn Texan cattle and cowboys. Great!

Then we went for a trail ride along the Trinity River. Oh boy! It was hilarious. Penny was put on a lovely grey instead of the one she wanted – a small chestnut quarter horse which the Mexican guide rode. Within minutes she looked very unhappy cos her horse was so slow! Our guide just rode ahead with nary a word….Pen got more and more agitated with her slow horse and our rude guide….

At one point he made a motion with his hand at me and mumbled something and then went off the track up a small rise. I duly followed him…he shouted something at me again, and I urged my horse after him…he waved his hand again and finally I stopped following him, realizing he was wanting to get away from me to go to the toilet in the bushes!

When he’d done his business, Penny had caught up, looking very agitated. 🙂 The next minute she had somehow commandeered our guide’s horse and put him on the slow one. It was hilarious. I heard him mutter ‘sluggard!’ to the horse a few minutes later. I couldn’t stop laughing. There was my stroppy sister on the horse that she’d wanted….the two of us then gave him a piece of his own medicine and rode off into the distance leaving him way behind. It was so funny. Every now and then he would call out to us, ‘Wait!” 🙂 Oh dear, we got some laughs out of that trail ride! It was worth every cent.

We also got our photo taken in old clothes…real southern belles. 🙂 And we found a wonderful antique shop! It was there I bought my real treasure – an old cast iron potato masher!

On the way home at 9pm we got caught in an amazing electrical storm at the train station – horizontal driving rain, and lightning that lit up the sky every few seconds. The next morning we heard that a tornado hit 30 kms west of where we were in Fortworth, killing 6 people. Shocking.

We did three concerts that week and then I did a couple of workshops at another home schooling conference – much smaller one this time!

Then it was on to Ywam base in Tyler, Texas. Kate and I actually went there nine years ago. A deer ran across the road and jumped the fence just as we pulled in the drive. Lovely. It was so good to be out of the city and in the beautiful countryside. We had a beautiful motel room at the Ywam base. We did a 40 minute slot with the kids at church in two different services, and a house meeting at our friend’s place at night.

Then it was on to Ventura, an hour north of L.A. However the flight to L.A only allowed 18kgs baggage, whereas our flight back to NZ allows 23kg. Pen was well over the limit so she donned five skirts, a dress, jeans, two vests and two shawls. 🙂  What a sight!

We stayed in the lovely home of one of my little fans. Her mother had written to me six months earlier saying that if I ever came to the U.S they would love to meet me. She writes for Focus on the Family. They took us blueberry picking, and picnicking…they’d really gone to a lot of trouble planning lovely things for us to do. Hannah, who is ten, had made a model of our land after reading The Barn Chronicles…

Cari, her mum, had arranged a mums and daughters evening – what a joy! We had a house full of them – beautiful young girls, many of whom had been lent my first book by Cari’s daughter Hannah.  What a beautiful evening! Cari had made an amazing supper…we sang and shared and told stories. It was so much fun. Then I signed books and had lots of photos taken with each little girl. It was such a special time. What a lovely, personal way to finish our trip!!! It was a real highlight.

The next day they took us to the Santa Barbara mission, built in the late 1700’s. One of 21 missions built up the coastline…

I loved the rustic building materials and the  internal courtyard…

On the way back home we stopped at a beach and had a swim. The water was quite cool and had a lot of seaweed in it, but we loved it. Funny to think of it being cold back home while we were lapping up the sun. 🙂

So many wonderful memories, so many new friends…what a great trip. Thanks so much all of you who prayed for us. We had a fantastic time. And how wonderful to be able to enjoy it all with my twin sister!!!! You’re the best, Pen!

Who is who?

Well, if you made it to here, you deserve a medal! Time to go to bed now….

Love and blessings,

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