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August 26, 2019

Guilty! The Mastermind is gone and school is in session.

Over confident, the Mastermind was.

the mastermind of west lake hills austin 78746 

the mastermind raccoon of commons ford ranch 

This is his new domain. Not too bad.  

hill country middle school 78746 eanes 

#2 son was very excited to start Middle School.  

darla extreme picnic long center symphony in the park 

We attended Darla's extreme picnic at the Long Center for the last symphony on the lawn. It wasn't as hot as we had feared. The food was all good.  

aka mixology craft drink mixers austin 

Alicia made me a beverage using her hand made craft mixers.  

prize winners 

We were prize winners! 

August 19, 2019

We closed the loop on most of the eastern USA

Anchor Bar Buffalo Wings original

Kat loves chicken wings. When we plotted our course home, she requested a stop in Buffalo to explore the history of Buffalo Chicken wings. The Anchor Bar is credited with the original Buffalo style wing.  

anchor bar buffalo wings  

Wings were good, service was slow. We'd also been told that DUFFS had great wings. So we went there too.  

duff's buffalo chicken wings duffs 

They featured many warnings about how "HOT" their wings are, "our medium is HOT!". But the NY palate for spicy is not the same. The wings were good, but even the extra HOT were not as spicy as Plucker's medium….   

buffalo ny aloft rooftop bar view 

We caught the sunset from the rooftop bar of the hotel.  


Then we made our way to Chicago.

People often ask how my family can spend that much time in the car. We sort of have a system that works for us. The X5 diesel has a third row seat, #1 son gets that to himself. The middle row has a DVD system, #2 son selected a few new DVD for the trip to watch on repeat. The daughter has her iPad Pro and listens to music. Kat has her iPad playing Chinese TV shows (about what I have no clue), she also takes care of snack and food requests (we have a cooler of sandwich supplies).

I just drive and listen to my music. We aim to do around 500 miles each travel day, about eight hours. We typically stop once, for fuel, food and bathrooms. We aim to complete that stop in ten minutes.

mirrored kidney bean chicago cloud gate 

under cloudgate chicago mirror bean 


chicago art institute museum  

monet haystack chicago art museum 

We saw oodles of Monet, Manet (special exhibit), Bonnard, Chagall. Miro, Van Gogh, Picaso, Dali and Dubuffet too. It was $150 to get in, so we spent a lot of time there. I did get my student discount!

donald judd chicago art museum 

marc chagall stained glass chicago art museum 

chicago fountain married with children flush al bundy  

stepdog goji chicago 

Stepdog came by the hotel. We shared beers and a meal with friends that live in Chicago.  

gojira chicago 

trillium congress street in chicago 

Then we drove to Nebraska.  

rooster cock at the farm in nebraska beaver crossing 

We stopped by the farm. Kat had never been.  

family farm soybeans and corn 2019 

happy mom nebraska 

unhappy son 2 

everybody happy 

nebraska sweet corn shuckers 

True midwestern corn shuckers.  

sheldon art museum UN nebraska philip johnson 

To close out our summer art museum program, the fifth museum stop, the Sheldon in Lincoln, NE.  

david smith sculpture sheldon art museum nebraska 

The building was designed by Philip Johnson.  

philip johnson architect sheldon art museum nebraska 

sheldon art nebraska campus 

The museum is small enough to not be overwhelming for the boys. It's a nice collection and we enjoyed chatting with the Docent that accompanied us.  

sheldon art museum nebrask lincoln  

sheldon art museum lincoln nebraska  

ENOV schuster art 

(OK, the art above is by #2 son. I snuck that in there because it's quite fun). 

Then we drove to Dallas. 

dallas aloft downtown 

It was 103 out when we arrived at our hotel. The pool felt great! 

celestial beerworks dallas best beer 

Karen came to meet us for a pint at picnic at Celestial.  

celestial beerworks dallas neipa  

And then we drove home. A good bit of the landscaping I installed a couple months ago is dead.  



August 15, 2019

Albert is holding down the fort....

As I prepare to confront the Mastermind back in Austin/West Lake Hills... I have said goodbye to Albert the Groundhog.

albert the groundhog of vermont

Last summer, as we were racing to complete the bathroom renovation, we also found a large gopher hole dug into the side of the hill behind the house. It was decided that I should evict the beast. I thought I was clever, as I disposed of a large stack of shards and discards from all the porcelain tile scrap into his home.

But Albert clearly outwitted us all, he moved under the back porch. His new den is out of sight, and close enough to the house to benefit from of the heat during winter months.  

groundhog vermont albert 

I had to respect that sort of fortitude. We mostly let him do his own thing. He cooperated and posed for me before we packed up and left Vermont in summer of 2019. 

Fall was already starting to drop the temperature. A slight bit of color was starting to show up in the trees.

We will be returning to Austin to face 100 degree days, and the Mastermind.  

albert groundhog property manager hardwick vermont 

August 05, 2019

Tying up the loose ends, from the swim holes and waterfalls...

the deck is open elmore store pond vermont NEK summer 2019 

#2 son has started to name off places and activities he noticed had been skipped so far this summer. He specifically mentioned the deck at the Elmore Store and Lost Nation. We knocked both out. 

hardwick house on airbnb

I'm finishing the paint freshen up and I even replaced the garbage disposal in the kitchen sink.  

egyptian masonary technique fulcrum  

I had been struggling to lift a low end on this large stone paver. I mentioned to Kat "I'll have to think like an Egyptian". Then, the solution came to me. Instead of lifting the low end, where there was no access, I need to lift the high end, using a series of wooden wedges. Then I used a lever to get up high enough to insert a stone to act as a fulcrum. Then we dropped the paver and the low side did pop up! Thank you Egyptians and your pyramids of inspiration! We then filled the void with stones and lots of mortar.

The kids don't always want to be forced out of the house, and into nature. But they are usually quite thankful afterwards.  

bolton valley vermont  

wolcott vermont hardwick smim hole  

We've discovered a new swim hole that is just four miles from the house. It's such a relief to have a quick dip in the river after working outdoors.  

wolcott vt swim hole  

wolcott vt swim hole  

wolcott vermont river swim hole  

shirley mae hill farmstead greensboro vermont vt nek craft beer 

We met friends at Hill Farmstead. Mom enjoyed her last Shirley Mae of the year.

west danville vt 

We worked on a path down towards the large section of falls at our place in Danville.  

lvrt johnson vt  

More time was spent on the LVRT.  

black barn farm party 2019 bolton valley  

Black Barn Farm Party 2019 

bolton potholes vt black barn 

jester king at black barn farm party 2019 bolton vt 

I brought a Jester King to share with friends.  

pinthouse emilio triple ipa bolton valley vt  

bolton vt  

lvrt west danville hastings store joe's pond  


We've had a problem with trees this year. Two tall live trees had fallen, and two really tall dead trees were threatening to fall. We hired a tree guy to drop them. He did get them to fall right where we all wanted them (not on the house). The ground shook when that big one landed to earth.  

keiser pond picnic vt NEK pecham danville vt 

Yesterday was 71F and SUNNY, we had a picnic at Keiser Pond, down the road from our place in West Danville.  

bread and puppet theater circus glover vermont nek 

Then we ran to Glover to catch the Bread and Puppet Theater. #1 son was less enthused, "I didn't expect it would be so POLITICAL!".  

big flag bread and puppet vermont glover nek 

and this marks our last full week in the North East Kingdom of Vermont.