91 Years YOUNG! The BEST 2-1/2 hours of conversation I’ve spent in years! @ Johnson’s Rock Shop (Video at the end!)

Both my daughter and a friend of my sister’s had told me about Johnson’s Rock Shop in Livingston, Texas.  Ok, cool – some pretty rocks to see right?! I mean I’m expecting a tiny room with some fancy rocks…eh…ok..not EVEN close…boy, was I wrong!!! This is a magical adventure and somewhat of a “spiritual” one for this chick!! When I tell you it’s in the middle of nowhere…I’m talking you will be driving on 100% dirt roads!!! Was it worth the trip??? OMG yes!!!! Upon my arrival, as Mr. Johnson sat on the two-seater porch bench, he asked me if I’d been here before? When I told him no, but two people raved about it, he patted the cushion beside him and told me to have a seat and he’d give me a little history about it.  That began and turned into the best 2 1/2 hour conversation I’ve had with anyone in years!!! I just love this man!!!  His wit, intelligence, sharp mind and winning personality to match all of this was such a gift to behold! I absolutely had the time of my life speaking with Mr. Johnson! However, once I was invited into his Music Room, and I finally got to see the beautiful photos of the late Mrs. Johnson, his bride of 71 years who unfortunately passed away at age 92 on September 12, 2016, that is where the real passion and liveliness just exploded!!  To hear Mr. Johnson speak about his wife, Margie Louella aka Momma and hear how very deeply he is still in love with her was like having a secret part of a romantic movie!!! It was the most sincere and heartfelt love story I may have EVER heard a man express and/or truly feel for ANY human being EVER! It’s a moment in time I will NEVER forget! My words are just not sufficient!!  He’d tell me all about his beautiful wife, with the great, long legs that looked like Marilyn Monroe.  Then he recited some of the poetry he’s written which was every bit as special. Later in the Music Room though, I got a HUGE treat! Mr. Johnson sung for me one of his original songs with the original recording he had made of it – sorta like karaoke but singing along to his own music if you will.  Even broke out his harmonica to accompany it! Is there ANYTHING Mr. Johnson CAN’T do?! Nope, I doubt it….plumbing, AC work, electrical, auto repair – you name it as back in the day you had to learn these things! That said, I stayed way past closing time chatting with Mr. Johnson as he sipped a mini Bud and I had a lemon-lime soda.  While I simply ran out of time (I am somewhat night blind and it was getting late), I never even got around to “shopping” there as the conversation to me, with Mr. Johnson, was worth sooooo much more than anything else – but I will for SURE be going back and buying some gifts and maybe a treat for me – saw some beautiful jewelry pieces!!! I will forever be grateful of my afternoon with Mr. Johnson and hope I get to have many more!!!! He is really the TRUE GEMSTONE there!!!!

PS Mr. Johnson’s grandson is in the process of producing a DVD of Mr. Johnson’s poetry and songs soon….I will be ready with my cash the second they are available!!! Treat yourself too and if you EVER get the chance to go…GO!!!! Beautiful rocks and souls!!!

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Front View of Johnson’s Rock Shop – 238 N. Lincoln Wiggins St., Livingston, TX 77351
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So you walk down the drive and see all this petrified wood, a bazillion million rocks and that my friends, is just the beginning!!
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Sorry, I love animals and couldn’t resist getting this one 🙂
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Yep, this is a mere glimpse of what you will see – tip of the iceberg!
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Might want to call first to be sure they are open as they are not open on Sunday’s anymore
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Each of these individual rooms have treasures waiting for you inside! It’s really magnificent and all built by Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their children.
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If you look at the room on top, that’s what Mr. Johnson built for his son, Tommy 🙂 – he’s so very proud of all of his children and grandkids!
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There’s more to discover around each corner!
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But this…this is the BEST room!!! It’s Mr. Johnson’s Music Room! He insisted on playing me a Merle Haggard song that illustrated his point of how Merle would often sing a song then tell the story behind it.  In this case about Jimmie Rodgers, which is a favorite artist of Mr. Johnson’s (see proof of this below:) ) .  I promised I’d find a particular cd of Merle’s called “Same Train – A Different Time:  A Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers” with a PS that if I didn’t like it, he’d even pay me back for it! 🙂 Love that confidence and passion!

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I’m saving the music video for later, but listen to his great poetry. The first for his beautiful bride :). Second for teenagers 🙂

He said this poem was for me 🙂 – how can anyone not adore this man and his zest for the love of his life, Margie – his passion for his music, songwriting and poetry…oh, yea…and the Johnson Rock Shop 🙂

Sorry that my words just can’t possibly capture or express my beautiful few hours with Mr. Johnson but I tried 🙂

Enjoy!

Elizabeth and Max

Doing Time in Huntsville Prison, Bonnie and Clyde, Prison Rodeo and Art and “Old Sparky” The Electric Chair

What better to do on a cloudy, drizzly day that visit the Texas Prison Museum! I could really go on a rant here about how frustrating it was for me to see all the incredibly gifted and outstanding artists that have been in and out of Huntsville instead of utilizing their talents in the art world but, it “is what it is” – truthfully, I’m just jealous that I wasn’t born with any artistic wonder but NOT jealous that I’m not incarcerated for sure! 🙂 Anyway, enough of me blabbing…

Wooden Motorcyle by Mark Cahill, inmate at Huntsville State Prison
Wooden motorcycle by Mark Cahill, inmate at Huntsville State Prison (sorry about the quality of pix but it was hard to try to get a clean shot)

This wooden motorcycle was started around the turn of the century by inmate Mark Cahill in the Ferguson Unit Craft Shop but then he got his privileges taken away and the motorcycle was donated – unfinished. However, in 2014 Mr. Cahill took up residence again in Huntsville, was asked to complete the project and there ya have it!

Let’s move right along to this next art – again, sorry about the poor images but it was hard to get decent shots for me as I didn’t want to be rude to other patrons 🙂 (and I’m not “there” yet as a photographer 🙂 ) . But isn’t this crazy – urrr – please use your artistic talents on the outside 🙂 !!!! (sorry, I’ll shut up about that now :))

How many animals and faces in one carving? Texas Prison Art
How many animals and faces in one carving?
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Texas Prison Art
Texas Prison Art
Texas Prison Art
Bonnie and Clyde's Pistol at The Texas Prison Museum
Bonnie and Clyde’s Pistol
Clyde Champion Barrow's Letter to Henry Ford 04/10/1934
Clyde Champion Barrow’s Letter to Henry Ford 04/10/1934

Allow me to provide some background about the Texas Prison Rodeo. In 1931 Texas Prison System’s General Manager, Lee Simmons decided to start a Prison Rodeo for the general recreation for the prisoners and entertainment for prison staff and their families. In a few short years, the events grew into a paid event with loads of public attendees, (our family personally attending too). Initially, it was only for experienced ranch hand type of prisoners.  In the 1940’s it became open for any man with enough guts and no prison issues within the past year to become eligible to participate in the tryouts.  They even had a “hard money” event where 40 inmates in red shirts would face a  wild bull and try to grab to sack of money from it’s horns!!! The money would be between $50 and $1500 – can you imagine this taking place today?!! I can remember THAT part of the rodeo to this day along with how terrified I was to watch!  We saw Freddy Fender perform that day in the mid ’70s so I was probably 10-12 years old. October of 1986 was the last rodeo and The Judds were the entertainment, that was the end of “The Wildest Show Behind Bars”.

 

Yes, we used to have Texas Prison Rodeo's! My parents took me to one even!!! Huntsville Prison Rodeo
Yes, we used to have Texas Prison Rodeo’s! My parents took me to one even!!! I can’t believe it now as an adult

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The Wildest Rodeo In Texas - Texas Prison Rodeo
The Wildest Rodeo In Texas – Texas Prison Rodeo – Only in Texas!!!
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) - Texas Prison Museum
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) – Texas Prison Museum
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) - Texas Prison Museum
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) – Texas Prison Museum (the property cards are the units in the prison)
Creative Contraban from Huntsville State Prison
Creative contraband from Huntsville State Prison

All of this was made with soap by an inmate on the "sly"

All of this was made with soap by an inmate on the “sly”

The old ball and chain
The old ball and chain

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Roses made of toliet tissue by a female prisoner and the boat is made of match sticks! Huntsville State Prison
Roses made of toilet tissue by a female prisoner and the boat is made of match sticks!
Saw Blade Artwork from Texas Prisoners
Saw Blade Artwork from Texas Prisoners
Saw Blade Art by Texas Prisoners
Saw Blade Art by Texas Prisoners
Saw Art Up Close
Saw Art Up Close
Old Sparky The Electric Chair. From 1924-1964 there were 361 men were electrocuted in the Huntsville "Walls" Unit. In 1977 Texas switched to Lethal Injection.
Old Sparky The Electric Chair. From 1924-1964 there were 361 men were electrocuted in the Huntsville “Walls” Unit. In 1977 Texas switched to Lethal Injection.

Ok, that wraps up our tour of the Texas Prison Museum. But wait…

Just out of curiosity, (and please be respectful of other’s beliefs)…are you FOR or AGAINST the Death Penalty? 

 

Wake Up And Let Your Little Light Shine! It’s Saturday=Happyday!

Hope everyone have a wonderful weekend and let’s their little lights shine!!! This little dude is better than putting plugs in your ears and he had a beautiful song to sing!

No clue what kind of bird this is but I liked his tunes
No clue what kind of bird this is but I liked his tunes

Happy Weekend!

Max and his Human Elizabeth

Books: Electronic, Audible or Paper?

What are your top 3 book recommendations?? Paper, Electronic or Ear Driven?? 

I have to say I was inspired by The Mexi Movie’s blog after reading her About Me section – go check out her blog too!

As a child, I once got in trouble when first learning to read – I always wanted to read a different kind of book than “Run Spot Run” type of book.  I’d argue with my Mom that “normal people don’t talk like that”, and it was boring! Good thing both parents were avid readers and explained I HAD to read the books the teacher said to read in order to become a better reader, BUT I could also get my own books at the library as long as I read the school ones.  Great – but as a painfully shy little girl, although I loved reading…I would rather take a failing grade than give an oral book report, this started to hamper my reading enjoyment too as I began to associate reading with stress!!! My 5th grade teacher, (whom I reached out to as an adult to thank profusely), changed all that for me and I was allowed to do my oral book reports with only her or could choose to write my report! We even had a contest to race across the room with a string that was strung in a zig zag pattern along the ceiling of the classroom with clothes-pins holding our names based on how many pages we had read and it was a “race” to get to the finish line! Funny, I still remember that and how it made this noncompetitive little girl competitive! Thus, my love for reading!

My eyes are pitiful now, (transitional lenses help but still not that great), so although I do love reading, it’s become easier for me personally, as a result, to use the kindle or audible.com but it concerns me that soon we won’t be able to get a “real” (physical, paper) book and that to me, is a shame.  Yet sure is wonderful to drive to work and back (about 40 minutes each way) and have someone tell me a story using my audible.com subscription! Makes it soooo much more enjoyable dealing with traffic! My Kindle is great for lunch time at my desk sometimes and waiting at the doctor’s office, etc. However, any chance I can find to give an actual book as a gift I take in order to do my part to keep actual bookstores alive 🙂 

Gosh, I’m just a chatterbox today! (Sorry!). Ok, so my favorite books are:

Jonathan Carroll’s Sleeping In The Flame and pretty much any of his books!  What a nice, funny and engaging guy too! Met him once at the first booksigning event I ever attended in Austin back when my Dad was alive. 

Pretty much anything by Harlan Coben but the first book of his I read hooked me which was Deal Breaker. He’s also a cool dude in person and once again, met him at a Houston booksigning.  (Love the fact my Dad TOLD me WHEN and WHERE we were going and to put it on my calendar to come pick him up!) 🙂 

Having Our Say:  The Delany Sisters ‘ First 100 Years by Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany and Amy Hill Hearth is definitely a top 3 for me!

Haven’t found a bad Jodi Picoult book yet either but no particular favorite. 

My question today is, are you fans of paper, audible or electronic books?

What’s your top 3 book recommendations?

Thanks for visiting!!!

USA Travel Advice Needed – New York City, Colorado, California, ideas?????

Welcoming vacation ideas in the USA – help!

HELP!!! Those of you that have gone to some cool places in the US – I need your advice!!!
Trying to decide where to vacation for 5-7 days! I seldom have the $$$ or time to take a trip outside of Texas, so I’m trying to decide where to go. Two years ago my daughter and I celebrated her 30th and my 50th in New York City! It was a dream come true that we had discussed some 2 years or so earlier while sipping on drinks at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Still can’t believe we went and all the fun we had!!! We planned it just right so we would be there when all the Christmas decorations would be up. The trip was WAY beyond our wildest dreams!!! It started when we met our flight attendant, Robert of jetBlue – we got our “flight wings” (yes, the kind kids get but I’m just an older kid :), he kept giving my daughter free beer (I had an active DVT in my leg at the time, so no booze for me). We met an incredible young lady at our hotel who we still chat with who really went above and beyond to welcome us – including a GIANT cupcake and balloons in our room upon our arrival! Yep, we sat on the REAL Santa’s lap at the Macy’s on 34th street. A cab driver fell head over heels with my daughter and a 10 minute cab ride to go see the Apollo ended up being about 5 hours instead and he wouldn’t take a cent – I had to literally throw money into the cab when we left!!! He showed us all around the city and would take our photos in front of places and show us secret places with the best views,etc. He even BOUGHT us (her)(ha!) an umbrella when it started to pour down rain while we went to see the Statue of Liberty! I can’t even BEGIN to tell you all the places he took us!!! Can you envision a FIVE hour personal tour of NYC?!! It was amazing!!I could literally write a BOOK on our time there!! Many people told us before we left how rude New Yorker’s were….we surely NEVER EVER experienced even one rude person – quite the opposite!!!

Anyway, that leads me to today….part of me is dying to go back and see so much more, maybe even stay in Chelsea this time and bring my camera this time instead of just my cell. Then again, Colorado with all the mountains, snow, nature – well, not something I can see here for certain and my daughter and her new hubby went recently and wow does it look spectacular and like a photography dream and so peaceful!!! Then there’s California; San Francisco seems pretty nice but maybe too pricey?

So what do you recommend? I’m totally open but don’t want to be in any heat like Texas!!!

Thanks for your suggestions in advance!!!

The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints in Spring, Texas

I seem to be hitting the various churches, temples, etc. lately and this is one I’ve seen lots of photos of before so off to The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints in Spring, Texas I went.

Upon driving up one thing is very noticable….they really take pride in the cleanliness and I’m talking sparkling clean exterior! Beautiful flowers welcome you to the church along with fountains, trees, finely trimmed bushes and gleaming white everywhere!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints colorful flowers
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints colorful flowers

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sparkling clean fountains

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sparkling clean fountains

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with I THINK Angel Moroni on top of the Temple
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with I THINK Angel Moroni on top of the Temple (but don’t hold me to it as I am not a member, etc.)

Again, not 100% that is indeed who sits on top of the temple but according to Wikipedia “in Mormonism, an angel who visited Joseph Smith on numerous occasions, beginning on September 21, 1823. According to Smith, the angel was the guardian of the golden plates, which Latter Day Saints believe were the source material for the Book of Mormon, buried in a hill near Smith’s home in western New York. An important figure in the theology of the Latter Day Saint movement, Moroni is featured prominently in Mormon architecture and art. Besides Smith, the Three Witnesses and several other witnesses also reported that they saw Moroni in visions in 1829.

Moroni is thought by Latter Day Saints to be the same person as a Book of Mormon prophet-warrior named Moroni, who was the last to write in the golden plates. The book states that Moroni buried them before he died after a great battle between two pre-Columbian civilizations. After he died, he became an angel who was tasked with guarding the golden plates and directing Smith to their location in the 1820s. According to Smith, he returned the golden plates to Moroni after they were translated and, as of 1838, Moroni still had the plates in his possession.[2]

So, there you have it…to me, it’s just a beautiful place to look at.  Please be respectful if you visit and don’t ask if you can go inside, the answer is a very polite no. I met four young teenaged church members outside who could not have been more cordial, polite and kind.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serene bench

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serene bench

More pretty flowers
More pretty flowers
birds at LDS Church
Even the birdy’s love the pristine conditions here! This little guy let me get inches from him!

Thanks for popping by and sharing in our mini-adventures!

Max and his Human

Help – I would LOVE to get to know you! (Yes, I’m a goofball!)

As a new blogger, I honestly don’t have a clue/direction of what I’m doing half the time. I don’t have a real “gameplan”, I just thought this blog would be a good way to make myself more accountable to take more photos and learn photography and yap about whatever.  In the process, I am meeting all sorts of really fun and talented people here from all walks of life! I love that! I’d love to get to know you all better too!!! I’ve created a tiny little poll if ya’ll would be so kind as to help me get to know you all a little better! Feel free to ask me questions too! Thanks so much for playing!!! I know, I’m a giant goofball!!!

Thanks!!!

Elizabeth and Max