Daily Archives: December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve 2023 . . .

Or 9 People and 8 Dogs!

Jan and I were on our way up to the Katy area about 8:30, with our first stop at the Trader Joe’s in LaCenterra Center so Jan could pick up a few things for today’s meal. Then it was on over to Brandi’s for our family Christmas.

Brandi already had a spread laid out, to which Jan added her Cream Cheese Sausage Balls and some other tasty tidbits.

A little later it was time for the gifts, with this year being a combination of Secret Santa and White Elephant Gifts, but with a $50 Minimum. Gift stealing was allowed, but only 3 times. I had my first two gifts stolen, but ended with a really nice knife.

In fact I think everyone ended up with something they really liked.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of talking, laughing, and grazing on the spread laid out in the kitchen

This was the only photo that I could get with everyone in it. Except me, of course.

From l to r: Lowell, Derek, Piper, Brandi, Linda, Jan, Chris, and Landon.

And yes, with Brandi and Lowell’s 3 dogs, and the 5 dogs with Chris, Linda, Piper, and Derek, we had 8 dogs with us today. And 6 of them are big dogs. But they’ve been together before, and everyone gets along, with no fighting.

And after a really great time seeing everyone, we were home by about 4pm.

A really great bunch of kids. Everyone gets along.

Tomorrow morning Cowboy Coffee going to be open from 8 to noon, so we’re going to get our morning coffee there, and then later have the Turkey & Dressing dinners we picked up from Cracker Barrel last Thursday.


I’ve got a lot of new stuff from Landon’s 3D Printer adventures, but I’ll just tease you with these two until tomorrow.

Here is a very nice red lizard. It’s about 9 inches long and articulated.

But the next one is really something. It’s a 2-foot-long Dragon, fully articulated, and comes right out of the printer that way.

No assembly required.

But even more amazing is that it glows in the dark.

This was taken in a completely dark bathroom.

Really something. And more tomorrow.

Thought For The Day:

Sometimes I have a lot of trouble separating that fine line between hunger and boredom.

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve . . .

Our Christmas Eve day started out with a relaxing morning sitting around drinking coffee and talking about our upcoming travels this year.

As it stands now we’ll probably leave here February 6th, which will be the 3rd anniversary of the beginning of our full-time life in 2008. We’ll first head over to Canyon Lake, near New Braunfels, TX to spend a few days visiting our friend Gina.

Then it’s on to Las Cruces, Tucson, Gila Bend, and then into Yuma around the 23rd of February to start ramping up for a rally that starts the 7th of March.

Everything after that is still kind of written in the wind. So we’ll see.

About 4 pm we left the rig for Brandi’s to pick up the mail, and then on to the storeroom to get some Christmas presents we had stored there.

Then about 5 we met Chris, Linda, and Piper at the King Food Chinese Restaurant in Webster.

Christmas Eve at King Food is a family tradition that we’ve done for somewhere between 20 to 25 years. We’re not exactly sure.

We’ve actually been eating there for 32 years, since December 1978 when we moved here from Alabama.

But this year was a little different since we now have to share Brandi with Lowell’s family in Oklahoma. This is why we had our King Food dinner with Brandi and family last Saturday night.

Any excuse to eat twice at King Food is a win-win.

After our usual great meal there, we headed over to Chris’ to open presents.

It’s always been a tradition in Chris’ family that they exchange personal presents on Christmas Eve, with Christmas morning reserved for presents left by Santa. But since Piper is 17 now, Santa doesn’t visit anymore.

Here’s Chris, Piper, and Linda, with Miss Piper checking out a new dress she received.

Piper Opens Presents

Piper gave her mother Linda this beautiful seahorse vase she made at school. There are actually two seahorses, one on each side. Piper did all this by hand.

Seahorse Vase

And here’s a bowl Piper made about 3 years ago. A very talented young lady.

2010-12-24 20.20.13

We left Chris’ about 7:45 planning on driving through some neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights, another family tradition of ours on Christmas Eve. But it had started pouring down rain while we were inside which put a damper on the light viewing.

So after a short while we headed back to the rig, to finish up the evening with one of the great coffees that Linda had given us for Christmas.

We chose Cinnamon Coffee Cake, which being DeCaf, was perfect for nighttime drinking.

And to go with it, we had one of the gifts we got from Brandi and Lowell, a box of Williams-Sonoma Croissants.

These croissants are fantastic, so good, in fact, that they’re on the list of Oprah’s Favorites.


They come out of the oven looking like this, but they start as little frozen logs. There were two types in our box, plain and chocolate-filled. And both are delicious.

They’re shipped overnight, frozen in a Styrofoam container. You let them thaw out and rise for 9 hours and then pop them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or 13 minutes in our convection oven.

They come out crispy, flakey, and fantastic. And a perfect match for the coffee from Linda.

All in all, a beautiful end to a great day!

December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve in Texas . . .

We woke up this morning to more heavy rain, a continuation of the previous day’s downpour. I know they need the rain around here, but it’s really getting soggy here at the park.

Jan and I left the rig about 11:45 heading to Brandi’s to meet up for our trip up to Katy, TX for lunch at Smashburger, and then the 3pm Christmas Eve service at Brandi and Lowell’s church, Crosspoint Community Church.

It was pouring down all the way, but we made good time to the Smashburger on Eldridge. This was our first time there, although Brandi and Lowell have eaten there several times

We all pretty much agreed that we like Smashburger better than Five Guys, especially the Smashfries. The burgers are hand-formed and generous-sized. Even Jan’s well-done burger was moist and juicy, and the fries were something else.

Although they have regular plain fries, their Smashfries are really different. After frying, they’re lightly tossed in a rosemary, garlic, and olive oil mixture. And they are delicious!

I also tried an order of their Veggie Frites. These are whole green beans and carrot strips, flash-fried for about 15 seconds and then seasoned and served with ranch dressing dip. Really, really good!

We got to the Crosspoint Church a little before 3pm and found seats in the very crowded chapel where we met up with Brandi’s BFF, Shawna’s family. Crosspoint is a Lutheran church, heavily steeped in music, both old and new.

The service opened with Silver Bells from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, then through Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, and many more, ending up with Silent Night and Jingle Bell Rock. Quite a repertoire.

Crosspoint Church

One of the soloists was Brandi’s BFF, Shawna shown at the mic in this photo.

Crosspoint Shawna

After a really good Christmas service, we headed back to Clear Lake to meet up with Chris and Piper at King Food. Unfortunately, Chris’ wife Linda had to work, so she couldn’t be with us.

King Food on Christmas Eve has been a White (now White/Morrison) family tradition for almost 30 years. In 2004 we even watched it become a white Christmas that night as it started snowing while we were there, giving us a couple of inches of white stuff.

After our usual great meal, we all headed over to Lowell and Brandi’s to open presents.

You should have seen Landon’s eyes light up when he saw his new horsey. He immediately jumped on it and quickly learned to squeeze the horse’s ears that make him gallop and whinny.

Landon Christmas Horsey

Miss Piper’s eyes also lit up when she saw her new HP laptop. She’ll be going off to college soon and she needs something better for her classwork.

Piper's Laptop

Finally about 8pm we headed home after a long, but fun, day. Tomorrow it’s time for another family tradition. Every year for a long time we’ve always had either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at Brady’s Landing up on the Houston Ship Channel.

So we’re looking forward to another really good meal.

December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve!

We were up about 7am (way too early for me) and pulled out of our site about 8:55 and right down the road to the propane fill station. I had made an appointment yesterday for 9am, and Bill Burden, the Ranger, showed up right on time. And he was quick too.

Ten minutes later I had taken on 28 gallons of propane, and was pulling out. I did have to stop off at the office to pay, but I was quickly back on the road with Jan following me in the truck as our next stop was the Colorado County Oil Company about 4 miles down the road, where we got about 35 gallons of diesel at $2.59 a gallon. Nice!

While we were filing up, Jan pulled in behind the rig and I got us hooked up and ready to roll. We pulled out at 9:50, having gotten propane and diesel and been back on the road in 50 minutes. A new record for us.

The trip back over to the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails was uneventful with not a lot of traffic. Or at least not as much as I had feared. We pulled into the park a couple of minutes after 12 and got a big welcoming hug from Kim, the head ranger.

We asked about vacancies in the ‘E’ ring, but she didn’t think there were any available. And there weren’t. So we drove over to the ‘F’ area, and after trying out three sites that proved to be too uneven to be able to level the coach without a tire in the air, we finally settled on F41, which turned out to be very level.

Just about the time we finished setting up, our friend Garland Scott showed up, having seen us driving around the park looking for a space. That’s Garland on the left, and his wife Valencia on the right, next to Jan.


We first met them here last April, so it will be good to see them again. Made a date to get together for dinner after the holiday madness settles down.

About 2:30 we headed out for Clear Lake to meet up with the rest of the family at our traditional Christmas Eve dining establishment, King Food. We’ve eaten here on Christmas Eve for about 30 years now, and this year was no exception.

Christmas King Food 1

Christmas King Food 2

And after our usual great meal, Chris headed to work on his motorcycle, Linda headed home, Brandi, Lowell, Landon, and Piper headed up to Katy, and Jan and I stopped off at a nearby Kroger’s for a few things for tomorrow’s party. Then we also headed up to Katy to spend the night with Brandi, et.al.

Landon’s really excited about Santa coming, so much so that he’s got Elf pajamas to wear to bed tonight.

Elf Landon

Really cute.

December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Travels . . .

Christmas Eve started for Jan and me this morning when we headed out a little after 10am. Our first stop was the Cracker Barrel right down at the next exit for breakfast, and to also pick up the Cornbread Dressing and Turkey Gravy that we called to reserve last Saturday.

And apparently a lot of other people had the same idea, at least the breakfast part, because the parking lot was full and there were people waiting outside in the rocking chairs. Pretty much like a Sunday morning, not a Thursday. Or at least not a Christmas Eve Thursday.

But while we were there to have breakfast, Jan was very happy to find that CB was already serving lunch, even though it wasn’t 11 yet. And Thursday being CB’s Turkey and Dressing Day, that of course is what Jan ordered.

Cracker Barrrel Turkey & Dressing

Did she forget what we’re having for dinner tomorrow? For my part, I stuck to the script and had breakfast. While we were eating, the server brought out our 2 lbs. of Cornbread Dressing and a quart of Turkey Gravy to take with us for tomorrow’s dinner at Brandi’s.

Traffic was heavy for a normal Thursday, but not bad at all, so we were down in the Katy area in just a little over an hour. But before Brandi’s, we made a couple of stops. Well, one stop, but two stores. The Harbor Freight Tools for me, and the 99 cent store for Jan.

I wanted a cheap pair of Channellock-type pliers to keep in my water bay, and Jan wanted to pick up some more wrapping materials. Lucky for us they were both in the same strip center.

We finally got to Brandi’s a little after 1 and got everything unloaded. While Jan wrapped presents, I worked with Landon putting together a Lego Santa Claus visit.

Lego Santa Claus

The box says it’s for 7+ years, but it certainly was a challenge for 5 year-old Landon and I. There’s never a 7 year old around when you need one.

About 4:30 we all headed over to the nearby Little V’s Vietnamese Bistro, one of our all-time favorite places. This was not our usual Christmas Eve eatery, since for many years we’ve all gotten together at King Food Chinese Restaurant down in Webster. But that didn’t work out this year.

The entire Friendswood contingent of the family, our son Chris, our daughter-in-law Linda, and our granddaughter Piper, all had to work at their respective jobs tonight. So as much we would have liked to keep up the tradition, it didn’t make a lot of sense for all of us to drive down to the Clear Lake area for just ourselves. So Little V’s it was.

Little V's Family

On the left side, it’s Lowell’s sister Sherry, our son-in-law Lowell, our daughter Brandi, and our grandson Landon. On the right side, it’s Lowell’s father Lendell, Lowell’s mother Sonja, and then Jan.

Landon’s thoroughly engrossed in watching a Minecraft video on Brandi’s phone.

Landon at Little V's 2

Everybody has their standard order here, starting out with an order of their Pork Spring Rolls.

Little V's Spring Rolls

Really great!  Very tasty with a crunch of vegetables, the slices of pork, and the herbs and spices.

Next up, I always have the Shaking Beef Vermicelli.

Little V's Shaking Beef Vermicelli

You can’t believe how tender the slices of beef are. The mix of vegetables really enhances the texture and taste in this dish. It’s a must-have.

For dessert, there’s no other choice but the Mini Creme Brûlées,

Little V's Creme Brulee

toasted up fresh when you order them. The perfect end to a great meal.

Getting back to the house, the ladies started a cookie/treat assembly line, making up Rollo Pretzel Bites and several others.

Brandi's Cookie Assembly Line

Wrapping up, Jan and I got back to the rig a little before 9pm, just to get ready to do it again tomorrow morning.

Really looking forward to having everyone together at one time.

December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve in the ‘Patch’ . . .

Oil Rig Christmas Trees

Although I’m writing this Christmas Eve, most of you will be reading this Christmas Day, so:


from the Texas Oil Patch.

Some gates and sites shut down for Christmas, while my site didn’t and that’s fine since I’m getting paid to sit here and do nothing. There is no one here and nothing going on. I’ve had two people in and out all evening, one topping off the diesel in the light towers and the other one double-checking some pressure readings.

But last night was an entirely different story. The shift started out OK but quickly went in the toilet.

It started with both AT&T and Verizon having cell service/data service problems in this area. I was having trouble getting online with my Verizon AirCard and my phone was showing only 1X. In fact I wasn’t able to upload last night’s blog until I got back to the rig about 5:30 this morning.

AT&T is what the iPad’s use for the program we log vehicles in and out, but it’s only used occasionally when we upload the data collected to the central server. Well, no problem since we weren’t supposed to be very busy anyway – only 10 vehicles or so all night.

But that was before some guy in an office somewhere decided that it might be a good idea to bring in all the equipment needed for the upcoming job here – Coil Tubing, Wireline, Fluid Tanks, Generators, Pumps, Fuel Tanks, etc., tonight!

Now normally we get a heads-up from the Company Man that we’ve got a lot of equipment coming in, but not this time. The only notice I got was looking out the window at a long line of headlights coming down the road.

Lots and lots of headlights. So grabbing the iPad, outside I go.

Now the company likes us to upload the vehicle data fairly often if we’re busy so we don’t lose anything if there’s a problem. So about 7pm I did just that when I had a short lull in traffic.

Big mistake. Big, big mistake.

Something about the flakey AT&T data signal locked up the iPad and froze the screen. But finally I got the iPad rebooted and figured I was in the clear. But No, it couldn’t be that easy. Now whenever I tried to start up the logging problem, all I got was an error message.

Rut Roh!

And now I’ve got more lights coming down the road. Well, no real problem. I’ll just go back to doing it the old-fashioned way, with paper logs. After all, that’s the way Jan and I have been doing it for the last 5 years.

But . . .

(You just knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you.)

there were no log sheets in the shack at all, not a single one. In fact there was not any paper either, just a few already-filled out maintenance forms.

And now I’ve got trucks waiting on me. Finally I see a stack of folded napkins, the kind you find in restaurant dispensers, sitting on the window ledge. So grabbing a handful, back outside I go. It’s not really easy writing on the textured surface of the napkins, but it’s getting the job done.

But . . .

(Yes, another one)

then it started to sprinkle. Not hard, just enough to wet the napkins so the ink starts wicking through the paper smearing everything. Crap!

Finally I was starting to run out of napkins, and so back inside for a few minutes, I saw a stack of SiteWatch Post-It’s that had fallen behind the console. So now I’m getting 3 vehicles to a Post-It and trying to keep track of all these little pieces of paper.

Then a Circle8 guy sees what I’m doing and hands me a company notepad.

Much better. Then about 2:30am it all wound down to a stop. I then went back and started transferring the napkin and Post-It scribbles to notepad pages.

Counting up, by the time I was done, I had logged 136 vehicles in the 8 hours between 6:30pm and 2:30am. That’s about 1 every 3 or 4 minutes on average. But I would get maybe 10 vehicles in a row and then have a 5 or 10 minute break before more started coming in.

Glad that’s over. When I got back to the rig this morning, I packed away in the truck a couple of legal pads and a pad of Gate Guard Services login forms.

Just in case.

Tomorrow Jan and I will have our Turkey & Dressing Christmas Dinner from Barth’s before I come back on this gate for the last day.

And now it looks like I have another gate STARTING Monday. This is the first time I haven’t just been given 3 or 4 specific days. So I’m hoping that the STARTING means it’s something long-term.

We’ll see.

December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas To All !!!


Jan spent the morning making her world-famous Sausage Balls and Green Bean Casserole for tomorrow’s big Christmas Dinner at Brandi’s.

Then about 3pm we headed up to the Clear Lake area, first for a quick stop at my client’s for a little bit to set up a system image backup on the Main Office computer. I’ll start it up remotely later tonight.

Then it was on to King Food for our big annual Christmas Eve dinner there. We’ve done this almost every year for many years, except for last year when we were gate guarding in south Texas.

King Food Christmas Eve 2017

And this year we had some new family members from Lowell’s side of the family.

From left to right – Jan, Sonja and Lendel, who are Lowell’s parents, Sherry, who is Lowell’s sister, and Zander, Grace, and Zoe. Grace is Sherry’s daughter, with Zander and Zoe her children. Next up is our son Chis, Piper, our grand-daughter, and Brandi and Lowell.

After a really great time as well as a fantastic meal, we all headed down to La Marque to visit the Houston Magical Winter Lights.

Houston Magical Winter Lights 1

Houston Magical Winter Lights 2

I’ll have more about this tomorrow.

December 24, 2019

A White Family Christmas Tradition . . .


First off Jan and I want to wish our many friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope this year was good to you, and that next year will be even better.

For the past 35 years or more, it’s been a White Family Christmas Tradition to have Christmas Eve dinner at our favorite King Food. Chinese Restaurant. I don’t know exactly how it got started, but I don’t think it had anything to do The Christmas Story movie. It could have been just the fact that it may have been the only one of our local places that was open Christmas Eve.

Sometimes it’s the entire family like two years ago,

King Food Christmas Eve 2017

and sometimes it’s just Jan and I like last year.

I think the only time we’ve missed in the last 10 years or so was Christmas 2016 when Jan and I were gate guarding down south in Cuero, TX during Christmas.

This year it was just Jan and I, and Lowell, Landon, and Brandi.

King Food Christmas Eve 2019 Lowell Landon and Brandi

Lowell’s parents couldn’t come down this year, and both Linda and Piper had to work today, so it was just the Five Amigos.

Here’s Jan showing off her light-up Christmas earrings,

King Food Christmas Eve 2019 Jan and Brandi

when she got photobombed by Brandi.

Hopefully we’ll be getting together with Chris, Linda, and Miss Piper as soon as we can.

One thing I found interesting is that while a lot of people in the States have Chinese food as part of their Christmas festivities, in Japan KFC fried chicken has been a Christmas staple since the 1970’s.

KFC Japan

Christmas and KFC in Japan

Now over there you’re likely to the Colonel delivering KFC dressed up as Santa Claus.

You just never know.

Coming home Jan and drove through a few neighborhoods checking the light show.

King Food Christmas Eve 2019 House 1

King Food Christmas Eve 2019 House 2

King Food Christmas Eve 2019 House 3

Sometimes entire streets get into the season.

King Food Christmas Eve 2019 Arch

Tomorrow morning we’ll be heading up to Brandi’s in Katy for our Christmas Dinner get-together. Really looking forward to it.

December 24, 2020

And To All A Good Night!


While orbiting the Moon on Apollo 8, Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968, Astronaut William Anders said, “We are now approaching lunar sunrise and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.”

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Oil Rig Christmas Trees

Merry Christmas From Texas, Y’all!

Jan and I headed up to the Clear Lake area to meet up with Brandi and the rest of the Morrison clan at King Food about 5pm. But we left early for a few errands along the way.

As I mentioned yesterday I want to replace the front disc brake pads on the Jeep this weekend so our first stop was at the local O’Reilly’s Auto Parts for a set of ceramic pads. Then a little further along, we stopped by our office manager Jennifer’s house to drop off a small present.

Finally heading up I-45 the next stop was at the office to pick up a couple of packages that had come in at the last minute. Then it was right down the block to my client’s home to drop off a Christmas present for them.

Now it was time to make our way back over to King Food. Since we beat everyone there, the first thing we did was to put in 3 orders of their Garlic Honey Crusted Crispy Chicken Wings.

King Food Garlic Honey Crusted Wings 4

This because they take a while. But they’re certainly worth the wait.

Christmas Eve King Food 2020

Starting on the right, we’ve got Lindell and Sonja, Lowell’s parents down from OK, and Lowell’s sister Sherry. Then on the left coming back this way, Lowell, Landon, Brandi, and Jan.

And for a change, Landon was all smiles in the photo. Must know that Christmas is getting close.

Christmas Eve King Food Landon 2020

Now that is a cute kid.

Since we’re all seeing everyone again tomorrow up at Brandi’s, we finally went our separate ways about 7pm, with Jan and I checking out some Christmas lights in a past favorite area of ours.

Christmas Eve Lights 1

Christmas Eve Lights 2

Christmas Eve Lights 3

Christmas Eve Lights 4

Christmas Eve Lights 5

The neighborhood we drove through used to be fantastic years ago, with entire streets coordinating their displays. But now, though there are still some very nice individual displays, overall, it’s a pale shadow of what used to be.

I think what happens is that families move out/die off and new families move in without the same Christmas fervor.

But we’ll give it another try coming home from Brandi’s tomorrow night, with a subdivision that’s on the top 10 list in the Houston area, so we’ve got high hopes for it.

We’ll see.

December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021 . . .

Merry Christmas 2021

After meeting Brandi, Lowell, and Landon at King Food for our usual great meal, Jan and I followed them back up to their home in Katy to spend the rest of Christmas.

Brandi did her usual fantastic job with the living room tree and decorations,

Brandi Christmas Tree 2021

Landon got his big present a little early since it was on sale last month.

Landon's New Computer 2021

A superfast computer and one of those widescreen curved monitors. Not sure where the jellyfish aquarium fits in, though,

I’m jealous!

And even the tree in the dining room is beautiful.

Landon at computer 2021

Merry Christmas To All and To All A Goodnight.

December 24, 2022

Eve . . .

Merry Christmas 2021

Today was an easy one with nowhere to be until we met up with all the kids at King Food at 5pm. Jan had done her sausage balls yesterday, so it was up to me to finish up my share of the Christmas goodies.

So I got started on my world-famous Chicken Cheese Ball. Well I hope eventually it will ‘world-famous’, but so far it’s the first time I’ve made it.

It started out like this.

Cheese Ball Start

And ended up like this.

Cheese Ball Finish

I guess the camera angle makes it look lopsided, but it’s really nice and round.

After tasting it I decided to add the dried cranberries for a little sweetness.

Hope it’s as good as it looks.

In hindsight, next time I’ll wear rubber gloves to mix it all together. It gets kind of sticky.

We all met up at King Food, and as I had previously requested, 4 orders of their fantastic Garlic Honey Crusted Wings.

King Food Chicken Wings 2

They take about 20-25 minutes to prepare, so it helps to order them ahead of time.

The way we do it here is everyone orders soup and a couple of their favorite dishes, which all go on the table together and get passed around. So everyone gets a little of everything.


Here’s the whole happy group.

King Food Christmas Eve 2022

I mentioned a while back about Landon and his BFF Sophie’s candy-selling business. Well, apparently it’s going great, grossing over $200 some weeks. Even some teachers are customers.

And the other day when Brandi and Landon were taking Sophie home, they passed some kids walking who pointed at Landon and said, “Hey look, it’s the Candyman!”

So I guess the news is out.

Tomorrow morning Jan and I are leaving about 8am, heading up to Brandi’s for our big Christmas get-together.

Really looking forward to it.