Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recovery Ward

Just a brief pause in normal proceedings to catch up on the sick ward. While I was in Houston, Mojo and Coco had dental procedures and Dixie had her spaying and declawing done. All are home and well at this point, but it has not been all roses.

It took a good 48 hours to get the effects of the anesthesia out of Coco's system. She slept for the better part of the first day home, getting up to eat and to make quick trips outside, and then returning to her base camp on the chaise to sleep some more. In addition to her dental, she had a little growth removed from her ear and for the moment Mommy is forbidden to mess with her ear. I have to check its progress from a distance. (If you have ever had an acne cyst removed, it was somewhat akin to that - just a little pocket that collected goo.) Her teeth are beautiful, although she lost two molars that had come loose, and her ear is beginning to settle down now.

Mojo had a dental as well. I always worry about him when I leave him somewhere because he suffers from the odd epileptic seizure when he is under stress. He made it through his boarding, his dental and recovery just fine, with extra caution having been taken with his anesthesia to reduce the possibility of triggering a seizure. Once he was home, however, he was anxious and would not let me out of his sight. He seemed to be doing okay until I was getting ready to go to work on a morning last week when it was raining (both he and Coco are terrified of thunder), and the extra stress produced the seizure I had been half-expecting all along. Now he has settled down somewhat, but is still a bit nervous, especially about going outside and getting too far from the house and safety.

Dixie came home with post-anesthetic inebriation that was almost comical. She fell over and ran into walls and gazed at you with dilated eyes. She was definitely on some medicated trip, but she did not seem to be suffering any pain and she came home with two more days of pain meds that kept her sleeping. However, over the weekend she developed a worrisome cough. I ended up taking her back to the vet on Monday morning where they came to the conclusion that she had developed a throat infection from the intubation during surgery. More antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs were administered and now she is back to her old self. Scout is running for her life and Boo is regularly boxing Dixie's ears. It is one of those cases where you are glad to see your rotten little kid getting back to normal. A sick Dixie is a sad sight.

There are times when I am thankful I do not have to put my 5 kids through college or buy them the latest fashion fad or worry about them driving or doing drugs. However, I'm here to tell you that having 3 sets of medical procedures performed in one week, plus a revisit for the cough, plus the boarding fees gets expensive.

Shoot, my nerves got so bad during this recovery period that I even ran out of amaretto and had to go get another bottle. It's a good thing we were staying with a cousin while in Houston and didn't have plane fares and hotel rooms to pay for. My travel budget for the year has gone flat, thanks to the travel expenses of the dogs and cat.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Week on the Road, Part Last

As a final note for part 4 of the vacation travelogue, here is a hint of a miniatures scene to come:

As you can tell, there was no way I could leave this little display cabinet behind. It wants to be an Egyptian vignette.

Our last day of vacation dawned with beautiful weather. We ended our visit with Maxine with a leisurely breakfast at IHOP and a careful job of packing the car for the return trip. It was quickly apparent that we would need to stop off at home for an unloading before we went on to bail Mojo, Coco and Dixie out of the hospital. We decided to drive up through the countryside and hit I-10 well out of Houston.

Right. We were talking 90 to nothing on the way out of Friendswood and about twenty minutes later realized we had forgotten about the need to turn right and head toward Alvin. We realized that when we saw the sign welcoming us to League City, which is in the exact opposite direction of the way we had intended to travel. There was no choice but to hop on I-45 to take us to the Sam Houston Tollway and then to I-10 in downtown Houston. How better to end a vacation in Houston but to drive on all the feared freeways?

Fortunately the good weather and our having waited until after the main rush hour to depart led to an uneventual trip through the freeway puzzle and we were topping the hill outside of Smithville shortly after noon. As we neared Smithville, I remembered a store there that I thought Lana would enjoy, so we veered off to downtown and we spent a nice hour browsing Feather Your Nest. Of course, we added to our pile of goodies in the back seat.

By this time we were hungry and tired of travel, so we made a brief stop at home to drop off luggage and our pile of purchases and then headed to Elgin to rescue the animals. We ate some good Mexican food at La Morelia and then had a joyous reunion with the wee ones, all of whom were still just a bit drunk from their procedures the day before.

When we got home, everyone was just a little bit miffed with Mommy so they clustered around Lana and gave me baleful looks. Dixie was still somewhat sedated with pain meds and was literally bumping into walls. Coco and Mojo spent most of the remainder of the day catching up on their sleep. Boo and Scout had been exceptionally good during their stay at home alone (only one roll of toilet tissue was shredded).

We had one final vacation event that night. In our tour of Bastrop on Monday, we had been invited to come to a performance of the play that was currently playing at the Opera House. We decided that we needed to experience the ambience of the theater before committing to it as the location for the UDC's January event, so we joined a moderately sized, enthusiastic audience for that evening's performance of "Murder by Poe".

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The mystery stories of Edgar Allen Poe served as the backdrop to the play, which each story being re-enacted for the audience within the framework of an over-arcing storyline involving a mysterious woman in white who was seeking refuge in a sinister house in the woods. The performance was by turns comic and tragic and each tale brought surprises springing from closets and balconies and even one from below the stage. I won't say more except to recommend that you see the play if you have the opportunity. The ending was another surprising twist that brought all of the elements together in a conclusion that I did not see coming. I will be looking forward with anticipation of future productions.

Thus ended our fall 2009 vacation. We found that we could see just as much, eat just as well, buy just as much, and have just as many unexpected detours along the way as when we fly half-way across the country. Can't wait for the next excursion in spring 2010.

For now, it's back to work!


Monday, October 26, 2009

A Week on the Road, Part Four

Overnight a weather system came on shore from the Gulf and brought with it rain and wind and a tornado watch. We cancelled our planned breakfast out in favor of staying inside until the weather had settled down. We were to meet Lana's sister for lunch in Alvin and we were relieved when the rain and wind died down mid-morning in plenty of time for us to make our appointment.

It is hard for the casual visitor to know when Friendswood stops and Alvin starts. It was only a 15 minute drive to our meeting spot and did not involve a freeway, which was a relief considering the weather. It was cool and misty, but eventually the rain tapered off and we had a pleasant day of sight-seeing in Alvin.

What you may ask is there to see in Alvin? Well, lots as it turns out. After meeting up with Janie at Buddy's Old Time Services, a car repair shop she owns with her husband, we set out to locate a couple of parcels of property that my ancestor Dr. Henry Hodge had owned around the turn of the century. (We have to have a requisite amount of genealogy per day on our trips.) I had determined the addresses of the two tracts, so we set out to find them. It turned out that both were on the main street that runs through Alvin.

It is too bad that my Hodge ancestors did not hang onto some of the property they acquired. Dr. Henry owned acreage in Lee County, town lots in Lockhart, acreage in Brazoria County, and town lots in Roby. In Alvin, he owned both sides of an alley that currently runs alongside a bank:

and two lots where there is presently a Mexican Restaurant:

In wondering what might have resided at these locations when Dr. Henry owned the property, Janie took us to the museum where we were able to look at an old plat of the town and confirm that we had located the correct lots, but there were no old photos available of the properties in question. Later in the day we met a gentleman at City Hall who did not have photos either, but he was able to tell us a little about what was going on in the town at that point in history. I don't think it had quite sunk in for me until we talked to him that Alvin would have suffered damages from the great 1900 hurricane that devastated nearby Galveston. Only 17 structures remained standing in the town after the storm, so whatever had sat on the property when Dr. Henry bought it, it was most probably not in existence at the time the family sold it after his death in 1904.

That concluded our genealogical portion of the day. The rest of the day was just fun. The three of us girls went to the Alvin Antique Center and Marketplace. We started our visit with lunch in the Milk Pail, a wonderful little tea room at the rear of the store. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was wonderful if you love antiques, fine china and tea party elegance. After filling up on their tasty chicken salad, tomato basil soup and bread pudding with rum sauce (I had lemon zest cake instead of bread pudding because I can never resist a lemon cake), we spent the next few hours browsing the large antique mall.

Needless to say, we added more to our back seat. Lana made a great find of a half-dozen vintage hats, some vintage doilies and a greyhound figurine. I found more books.

Not long ago I ran across a complete set of the Golden Books Children's Encycopedia, a set I had owned as a child and could remember reading to tatters. I had purchased that set and given it a place of honor in my living room. I had not known until now that there was a companion 6 volume set of atlases. I found the complete set of atlases in Alvin and now they have been added to my collection.

I also found a display cabinet for a future miniature scene and it was this small cabinet that was the real problem to tote home. It was a 2-foot high glass pyramid with one interior shelf that I intend to use for an Egyptian scene. Of course they did not have a box that would fit it, so it was wrapped carefully in tissue and I held it in my lap all the way back to my car, where we carefully packed it with blankets in the back passenger floor space.

Lana's hats were individually wrapped in white plastic bags and we carefully placed those in a single layer in the luggage compartment. (When we packed to come home, they were carefully positioned across the top of our luggage to prevent their being crushed.)

Despite the temptation, I did not purchase the oak side chair that I thought was such a good buy. It wasn't because I have will power but because I could not figure out how it would fit in the car to come home. be continued one more time...


Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Week on the Road, Part Three

We arrived in Friendswood safely, with only a moderate case of jangled nerves. The freeways in Houston aren't really any worse than those of Austin or Dallas, but the drivers are considerably more aggressive. They whip in and out of lanes at maximum speed with inches of clearance and they are not at all hesitant to let you know when you have committed the unforgiveable sin of being a courteous, careful driver. God forbid you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. That is an invitation to have someone attempt crossing 4 lanes at one swoop.

Looking at the map, we had estimated it would take a half hour to make our journey and were a little disbelieving when the dollhouse store proprietor had told us it would take more like an hour and a half. Always listen to the locals, because that was exactly how long it took us to negotiate I-45 a distance of twenty miles.

We arrived at Cousin Maxine's and were welcomed literally with open arms. Cousin Maxine and I are 4th cousins in a shared Mobley line (Reason Mobley is great-great-great-grandfather to us both). She is a genealogist par excellance and retired about ten years ago from the top post of Houston's Clayton Library, a major genealogical research center in the United States (probably 3rd behind Salt Lake City's Family History Library and Fort Wayne's Allen County Library). She knows every nook and cranny and resource they have to offer and had volunteered to be our personal guide for a day at her library.

Cousin Maxine's house is also a fairly impressive research center. One bedroom of her house is lined with bookshelves that hold her collection of reference books. Another bedroom holds her computer and is also lined with bookshelves that hold the notebooks containing her years and years of family research. There are multiple file cabinets and I did not even look inside the closets. Bottom line, if you are researching Mobleys and Lewises, she's your go-to gal. Someday I hope to have a home research library just like hers. It's a great way to spend your retirement years. Just walk down the hall in the morning and you are in business.

Thankfully Maxine knew a way to get to the library that did not involve I-45, so we arrived about five minutes after they opened and with unjangled nerves. We were delighted to discover that they were in the midst of their annual book sale. Books that had been donated that duplicated books they already had were being offered for sale at ridiculously low prices. I bought 10 or 12 books - mostly thick books that take up a lot of room. Lana bought another half-dozen. The back seat was beginning to fill up.

We had the forethought to bring along a picnic lunch to eat in their snack room, so we never had to move from our sunny (mostly, but in late afternoon rain clouds moved in) table next to the Georgia bookshelves. I spent some time exploring their microfilm collection and was able to eliminate yet two other Texas counties where my missing marriage record might be lurking. We happily worked until 4:30, when we pooped out and headed for home. We ate supper on the way, so by the time we arrived home we were resuscitated enough to head to the back bedrooms and continue our research in Maxine's library.

It was very gratifying at the end of our research day when Maxine pronounced that we were very able researchers. She has worked with the best and we felt that was high praise indeed. We spent some time each evening of our visit batting around ideas for breaking through our brick walls and getting her objective opinion on some questionable records we had found. We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the company of such a knowledgeable researcher.

The next day took us in a different direction, to be covered in the next post.

In a slight detour from topic, it has been interesting today to observe Miss Dixie's recovery from surgery. She has not seemed to feel bad, but she wants to be close to Mommy and she doesn't want to share Mommy with the other kids. She hovers nearby when I am on the computer, keeping an eye on me.

Both Boo and Scout have been spending time in my lap today, happy to have life back to normal. I was amused at one point when Dixie stood it as long as she could from her vantage point on the desk, reached over and bit Scout's back hard to get her to leave. The next interloper was Mojo, who Dixie didn't dare bite. She took a different approach, reaching out to touch him with her paw until he got irritated enough to move down to the dog bed under the desk. At that point, Dixie decided she might ought to claim Mommy's lap for herself and she oozed down into position, where she took a nice long nap.

"I've been sick." installment, locating Dr. Henry's property in Alvin.


A Week on the Road, Part Two

Day two found us up early. Big Red was packed to the rafters with everything but the kitchen sink. Leaving on a trip requires preparations similar to those required for a military invasion. On this occasion I decided to risk leaving Boo and Scout at home, but Dixie, Mojo and Coco were spending the week with the vet. Dixie was scheduled for her spaying and the two dogs were having dentals while I was off gallivanting in the wilds of Houston.

So the back seat was full of pet carriers that were full of dogs and cat, their bags of food, their toys and leashes, our cooler of drinks and bag of snacks, camera bags, etc., while the rear compartment was full of suitcases, briefcases, totes full of family notebooks, makeup bags, a sleeping bag and pillow (I was to be sleeping on a cushy couch). We were full to capacity, a fact that would become problematic at a later point in my story. A mere 17 miles later and we checked the dogs and cat into their rooms at the vet and our vacation was officially begun.

For the first stop at a point of interest, I introduced Lana to an important site of Texas Baptist history. My alma mater Mary Hardin-Baylor College and that other Baptist college in Waco had their beginnings in 1845 in Independence, Texas. (Independence also claims the distinction of "Birthplace of Texas".) The girls' college sat on one hill and the boys' college sat across the valley on another hill. Baylor Female College eventually moved to Belton and became Mary Hardin-Baylor while the boys' college moved to Waco and became Baylor University. All that remains of the original buildings is a set of columns that belonged to the girls dormitory. We alumni of Mary Hardin-Baylor feel the need to return to this touchstone from time to time.

Old Baylor ruins at Independence, Texas

The last time I had my picture taken in the archway of the columns was in the early 1980s. To those of us steeped in the traditions of Mary Hardin-Baylor, to stand in the archway is to feel like you have come home.

Just down the road is Washington-on-the-Brazos, where the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed in 1836. There is a very nice Visitors Center there and we stopped for a brief visit.

The next item on our agenda was to stop at the Grimes County courthouse to check their indexes for possible records of my peripatetic ancestor, Dr. Henry Hodge. The Grimes county seat is in Anderson, a tiny little town that grabbed that distinction before neighboring Navasota overtook it in growth. We were surprised at the lovely courthouse that sits on an island in the center of a traffic crossroads.

Grimes County Courthouse in Anderson, Texas

My hopes to find a missing marriage record here were dashed, but even proving theories wrong is time well spent in the pursuit of ancestors. We quickly checked their deed records as well. This is apparently one of the rare places that ole Hank lived where he did not buy and sell any property.

So we were soon on our way again, this time to visit Dollhouses Unlimited in Spring. Oddly enough, Lana and I are not only fellow genealogists, we are also fellow miniaturists and we try to visit any dollhouse store that is in close proximity while on our research trips. We spent a little over an hour prowling through a store that was new to us. We naturally each acquired a pile of little things for our miniature projects.

So far, so good. We had only added a few small bags to the car, which thanks to our having dropped the pet carriers and pet food off earlier, fit easily into the back seat. It was time to head to the home of Cousin Maxine in Friendswood, where we would be staying for three nights.

Friendswood is directly south of Spring, with Houston lying between the two. There was no way to get there without entering the bowl of freeway spaghetti, so we took a deep breath and dived in. We were about 20 miles from Friendswood as the crow flies. About 90 minutes away as the Houstonian drives. And it was rush hour. be continued


Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Week on the Road, Part One

The semi-annual traveling road show that is Cindy's and Lana's continuing excellent adventure series took place this past week. We decided to do our traveling within the State of Texas this year and on this trip we headed off to the Houston area.

I don't look forward to driving in Houston, but the fact is that one of the nation's best genealogical research libraries is located there and we periodically venture into the rat's nest of freeways in order to partake of the wonderful resources to be found there. More on that later.

Before we left Bastrop, we spent a day scouting for a location that the United Daughters of the Confederacy could use for their January celebration of Confederate Heroes Day. We started with the museum maintained by the Bastrop County Historical Society, thinking that might be the solution. We had a nice visit with the curator and in the course of the conversation, I asked her about a photo I had heard was to be found there of Matthew Dunkin, an ancestor on the Mobley side of the family. She was at a loss until she thought of a book in their collection and when she brought it out for us to examine, I was surprised to see that it was a relatively new book on the history of McDade that I had missed getting a copy of when it came out last summer. Again, more on that later.

We were concerned that the museum might not be large enough to handle the gathering in January, so we proceded up the street to check out the meeting room at the old First National Bank building. We enjoyed a nice conversation with the volunteer who was staffing the Visitors Center that day and with a lady who heads the Main Street project. The interior of the Visitiors Center houses the original bank counters, brass teller's cages and vaults of the old bank, as well as photos of historic Bastrop along the walls. It was rather like briefly stepping back into the 1880s and I could picture my ancestors stopping in to withdraw money from their accounts.

During our visit, we got a nice lead on a possible meeting place and our next stop was the historic Bastrop Opera House. We met the gentleman who manages the operations there and got a personal tour of the facilities. The Opera House is a lovely old building that dates back to the 1890s and live theater productions are staged there on a regular basis. During the course of our conversation, we were invited to come back on Friday night to see their latest production, "Murder by Poe". As you may be expecting at this point, more on that later. The Opera House turned out to be an ideal location for the January event.

Happy that we had hit on a solution for the UDC's needs, we spent some time touring Bastrop and I began to try and make contact with the local author of the McDade book, hoping to be able to obtain a copy to add to my local history collection. Late in the afternoon, I reached her and made arrangements to drive out that evening to her home in McDade to pick up the book.

I'm always surprised to find out how many people in the area know me or know of me through my website. Audrey knew immediately who I was and of my family's connection to the history of McDade pottery. At one point she casually mentioned that my great-grandmother Hodge's house is still standing. That was news to me, since Mother had been under the impression that it had long since been torn down. She was born in that house and we had tried some years before to locate it, and failing to do so had come to the conclusion that it no longer existed. Audrey gave me directions and I was able to go by and get photos before dark.

The house that once belonged to Cora Mobley Hodge.

A photo taken probably in the 1920s on the porch of that house.
(Second from left is Cora Hodge, seated is Mary Caroline Mobley.) be continued


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Being a Social Butterfly

The welcome relief of some cooler temperatures has brought with it the desire to get out and do things again after a summer of hiding inside to avoid heatstroke. This week has been rich with opportunities to socialize.

On Thursday night I attended the quarterly meeting of the Bastrop County Historical Society. This time we met in the older portion of the county courthouse, in the second floor courtroom, for a presentation on the outlaw activity in and around McDade during the mid to late 1800s. I had not been to one of their meetings in quite some time and it was nice to be back. The speaker was someone with whom I had been exchanging emails for several months and had not yet met. Lisa is a native and current resident of Ontario, Canada, but has adopted McDade as a second home. A dozen years ago she read a book about the infamous 1883 Christmas murders which inspired a passion to research that era in McDade's history. She has spent an enormous amount of time digging in the archives at the courthouse, unraveling the facts of who was involved and what really happened.

The program was well attended and it became quickly evident that a lot of us local historians have personal reasons to be interested in this particular subject. (My Mobley line has a connection to a man who was murdered by the McDade vigilantes.) It was a very enjoyable evening and it was nice to finally meet my email pen-pal.

This morning, I headed to the Oak Hill Cemetery in the Camp Swift area of McDade for the dedication of a memorial marker honoring the Confederate service of great-great-granduncle Hezekiah Madison Mobley. A chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans group out of Kerrville was involved in the dedication and brought a half-dozen or so of their members in full Confederate dress, along with their guns and cannons.

These cannons and guns were fired at various intervals during the ceremonies and never failed to make me jump.

Just before the ceremonies began, we had an unexpected additional entertainment. The National Guard was apparently running some maneuvers over at Camp Swift. Large troop helicopters would fly over and then drop out a group of para-jumpers. About three large clusters of parachutes floated through the sky just before we started. It was an impressive display.

The dedication ceremonies included participation by great, great-great, and great-great-great grandchildren of Hezekiah and Sarah (Jones) Mobley. One of his great-great grandsons, Scott Dunbar, a member of the SCV group in attendance, gave a detailed biography of Hezekiah and an overview of the battles he would have experienced. Of the five sons of Reason and Lucretia Mobley, Hezekiah and his brother Joseph (my great-great grandfather) survived the war. Their three brothers perished in battle.

At the close of his talk, two great-grandchildren unveiled the new monument that has been added to Hezekiah's gravesite.

The ceremonies ended with the tolling of a bell and the playing of "Taps". In addition to the participation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, two ladies from the Order of the Confederate Rose placed roses on the graves of both Hezekiah and Sarah. Hearing Hezekiah's story and experiencing these tributes to his military service was most moving and it was a privilege to be present and a part of the occasion.

This event brought another opportunity to meet some fellow researchers I had known only via connections on the Internet. I enjoyed a brief conversation with two Dunkin researchers and we patted each other on the back for our respective genealogical websites. (Hezekiah's mother was Lucretia Dunkin, sister of Matthew Dunkin who began the McDade pottery.) I also had the pleasure of visiting again with two Mobley cousins who have helped me in the cause of my research in that line.

The morning alone would have made for a great day, but I wasn't done just yet. From there I went on to the annual Cattlemen for Cancer Research fundraiser in Hills Prairie where I got to visit with kinfolks on the Hodge side of the family (the Pattons and the Pekars) and eat some barbecue. Finally, about 3 o'clock, I ran out of steam and headed home.

Nothing suits me better than a chance to pursue my interest in history and a chance to mingle with family. This has definitely been a good week and next week I'm scheduled to visit another cousin who is as big or bigger a genealogy nut than I am.

It's nice to get back into action.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Twelve Years Ago

I was working on the horrible closet cleaning project again last weekend and uncovered a box that I had almost forgotten was in there. I had sealed that box back in 1997 and it has sat in the dim corner of the storage closet ever since. It was pushed to the back of my memory, but as soon as I saw it, I knew immediately what it contained.

Twelve years ago today I attended a concert at the Performing Arts Center in Austin with a good friend of mine. It was the second time we had gone together to see this particular performer and we had debated whether we would go. He was no longer wildly popular as he had been in his prime, back in the '70s. The first time he had come to Austin he had sold out the Erwin Center. I didn't get to attend that concert. It was several years later that she and Mother and I had gone to see him at the Erwin Center and at that point the concert was staged using only half of the massive arena.

I thoroughly enjoyed that first opportunity to hear him in person, but the night was not an unqualified success. He had been a little irritable that night. The performance was great, but there were some disgruntled remarks made (justly so) about the state of Austin's downtown district and he seemed a little put out that we weren't familiar with and readily singing along with the songs from his latest album. I enjoyed the experience, but it had left a tiny bit of sour taste in my mouth and I thought carefully whether I really wanted to go see him again when the opportunity arose in 1997.

We conferred and decided that this might be the last time he came to Austin and we still loved his music and that yes, we would go. We took some ribbing from our friends when we bought the tickets, because it was no longer in vogue to be his fan. We headed to the concert that night, and discovered there were a lot of us loyal fans left in the area.

He was in a fantastic mood that night at the PAC. The acoustics of that auditorium are fantastic and his voice was probably better than it had ever been, strong and pure and never faltering on the high notes. He joked, he told stories, he sang every familiar favorite and a few new songs that we had not yet heard. He played the heck out of his guitar. We left on a musical high. We were so happy that we had attended that concert and had the opportunity to hear him in such a wonderful performance.

It was exactly one week later that we heard the tragic news of his death. The appearance in Austin had been the next to last concert of his life. He had been in California, piloting a new plane he had just acquired. Something went wrong and John Denver died when the plane crashed.

It is always something of a shock to hear of the sudden death of a celebrity, but it is even more of a shock when you just saw that person in vibrant health. I was devastated, but also thankful that I had had the opportunity to see him again and to hear him again. I was grateful that the concert had been such a positive experience, with John singing better than ever.

A funny thing happened at this point. Naturally his music got a lot of airplay for a week or so following his death, but I couldn't bear to listen to it. It was a very long time before I could bring myself to listen to the John Denver albums I owned. I took advantage of the opportunity to buy the CDs that were quickly reissued after his death, but they sat in the cabinet unheard. I had not yet worn the T-shirt I had bought at his concert and I never did wear it. I gathered the T-shirt, the ticket stub, the news articles and the People magazine tribute, placed them in a plastic bag and packed them away.

A few months earlier had seen the sudden death of another celebrity. Princess Diana had been tragically killed at the end of August. I had accumulated a number of magazine tributes, the special CD issued by Elton John and the newspaper announcing her death. These, too, I had placed in a large plastic bag.

I stopped by The Container Store one day and bought a pristine white box. Into that I had put all the Princess Diana material and all the John Denver material, sealed the box and placed it in the back of the closet. There it sat until I ran across it this week.

After twelve years, I can listen to his music again. I can even sing along now without getting choked up. But there are songs that he sang that night that I still can't listen to without feeling a twinge of pain. We had such a great sense of happiness and such a wonderful sense of comaraderie that night when he performed Dreamland Express, he singing the verses and the audience singing the chorus. Whenever I think of that concert, I think of that song. I discovered this past week that someone who attended that night has posted audio clips from the concert on YouTube. The quality is lousy, but as soon as I clicked on the link to hear Dreamland Express, I was transported there. A brief moment in time with a group of people who were in full enjoyment of an artist's work.

It was a privilege to be there and I will be forever thankful that I made the decision to go. I will always picture John Denver the way he was that night - relaxed, happy, and giving a flawless performance for his fans.