Herman Santala’s Passing

In the wee hours of a chilly autumn morning, our Mama (Helen Santala Pickens) woke up my brother Kenny and me, where we were sleeping together upstairs in the old farmhouse north of Flagler, Colorado. Mama told us that our Grandpa, her father Herman Santala, was very ill and that our Daddy (William Charles Pickens) …

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The Hugo Municipal Pool

Hugo’s little-known Tornado

I was being pelted by sand the size of BB pellets, thousands of them hitting me at once. Mommy screamed at me to get into the car, it’s a tornado…

picture of an old crank telephone.

Telephones in my life, and how they have changed.

My first telephone call: When I was really young, I remember that going into town to call my grandmother in Kansas was a very special adventure. I don’t remember what particular occasion was tied to my first memory of this, perhaps our trip to Kansas for Christmas. We didn’t have a phone at the farm in those days so when we needed talk to someone by telephone, we would have to make the long 14 mile trip into the small town of Flagler, Colorado.

A recent picture of the old chicken house.

The Old Chicken House & Things South

As far back as I could remember, the chicken house was just an old, ugly building that no one could see. For the usual visitors to the farm, it was hidden from view by the house and by the trees around it, and, of course, by the well house and the barn. And the chicken house smelled to high heaven!…


Memories from Colorado Last night I woke up to the wonderful smell of baking bread in our house. Earlier this week, because of the Texas 2021 Winter Arctic Outbreak, all the stores and businesses in our area had closed down, and we had run out of bread. So I started a loaf in our bread …

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“Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…” — W.B. Yeats

I will update this blog as more happens. First came the pandemic. Second came the insurrection at the United States Capitol. Third came letting the power die over a large part of Texas…. Yesterday, February 15, 2021, at the beginning of this adventure, we did have power for a few more hours than some of …

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Snow in Austin, Texas ! ! !

Our reaction to the first day of snow in Austin. This was followed by a week of extremely cold weather that brought cripple Texas .

The Old Bunkhouse

The old bunkhouse on our farm was a house that had been moved from one of the country schools near our farm. I think the teachers had lived in this house while teaching at the country school. There were two rooms in the house, probably for two teachers at the school, so that the students …

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The Pickens Barn

The old barn on our farm had an interesting story. When I was in the fifth grade my teacher, Mr. Dorsey, told me that he had grown up on a homestead (a farm still held by the family of the first settlers) four miles south of our house. He said that long before my family …

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USO Party

Marilyn and Gary’s Courtship

By Marilyn and Gary Pickens Arriving in the Bay Area Marilyn’s version: As a background to this story, I was living in San Francisco almost by accident. The Vietnam War had been going on for several years when I had applied for the job of U.S.O. Mobile Units secretary in San Francisco. It was May …

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Mira-Dera in San Diego, California

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time, long, long ago there lived, far away on the prairies west of the mountains, a strong, tall dark-haired young man who was intelligent and brave. As he grew up, he learned the ways of farming in his land. He drove tractors and trucks from a very young age. He learned how …

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The Old Well House

The well house had originally been a barn at one of the rural schools north of us, before it was moved and re-purposed. As I will explain, it eventually enclosed a new water storage tank that was supplied by a new well and windmill that Daddy put in after he moved to the farm from …

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Stadtpark in Hannover Germany

When we were in Hannover visiting our daughter and her family in May 2018, the Stadtpark near their home was our favorite place to play. The grandkids and I would go there at least once a day, to run over the grass, play with a ball, and annoy the ducks and the large goldfish in …

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Helena Reciting a Poem

Helena, almost 7 years old, has learned a poem by heart as a school assignment. She is proudly reciting it for her grandparents in Texas, giving them some good advice in German.

Helena Learning to Swim

Helena and Grandpa bought swimming tickets for the pool in the Congress Hotel Am Stadtpark, which was near the Freiermuth apartment in Hannover. They went over every day for a practice session, and by the time the tickets ran out, Helena could go all the way around the pool. She stayed close to the edge, …

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McDonald Observatory

On my return trip from Denver, after I had been up to visit my mother in Colorado in 2011, I diverted my route home in order to visit the McDonald Observatory and Big Bend National Park, in the far reaches of West Texas. It made my trip three days long, rather than the usual two …

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Big Bend National Park

After I left the McDonald Observatory, I proceed to Big Bend National Park which was 130 miles to the south. This fact was not known to me when I left, on the map of Texas, it appears to be a short distance. But I had a worrying problem, I was running low on gas, and …

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Bike Ride with Julian

On Friday, July 31st, I joined my daughter’s English friend Julian on a great bike ride through the countryside south and west of Stuttgart, Germany. It truly was a beautiful ride; within minutes of leaving his house in the village of Vaihingen we were riding through lush green farmlands and forests, quite beautiful to my …

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2009 Trip To Europe

This was a visit to newly discovered family we had never met, combined with a trip to see our daughter and her husband. Meeting the Margutti cousins in Essex, England for the very first time! 2. Hanging out with Larissa and Hans Georg in Stuttgart and vicinity. 3. Speyer Cathedral, consecrated in 1061, has been …

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Kaho’s beautiful wedding dress creation stars in Larissa and Hans Georg’s 2008 Summer Celebration in Ludwigsburg.

After a simple civil marriage ceremony in Switzerland in the autumn of 2007, Hans Georg and Larissa moved to southern Germany. It is the custom in Europe to have both a civil ceremony and a church ceremony. The civil ceremony is always first, because the church ceremony has no legal standing. The church ceremony is …

Kaho’s beautiful wedding dress creation stars in Larissa and Hans Georg’s 2008 Summer Celebration in Ludwigsburg. Read More »

Sunday’s Bike Ride

Today Daniel and I rode twenty-eight miles north along Parmer Lane. What a great ride–the temperature was in the mid seventies, with almost no wind. We started from the Avery Ranch subdivision shortly after seven AM and we rode for about two hours, only stopping at stop lights and when we turned around to head …

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Hot Ride at the Veloway

Daniel, Stan and I rode about nineteen miles at the Veloway this evening and it was hot! The hottest ride of the season, about one hundred degrees Fahrenheit at the start, according to Motionbased. Here is the Motionbased report:

Monday Night’s Trail Run

Daniel and I ran at Bull Creek Greenbelt this evening. We started at a new location in a small parking lot at the intersection of Spicewood Springs Road and Old Spicewood Springs Road. The trail was beautiful. We took a single track trail up along the tops of the cliffs. Occasionally we could get a …

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Dad’s Day Du Race Report

Today I came in first in my age group (60+). Yippee! My very first Du and to be able to pull this off. Yippee! Guess all my running and biking has trained me better than I thought. Now I need to start planning and training for bigger and better duathlons. This one was a small …

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Thursday’s Run

This evening I ran three and three quarters miles. It wasn’t as hot nor as windy as the night before, but it was still pretty warm: about ninety-three degrees. I ran to the south end of the Highland Mall parking lot, then ran along Guadalupe Street to T.A. Brown Park, and returned home. I was …

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Trail Run at Bull Creek Park

This evening Daniel and I decided to run at Bull Creek District Park. It is a little further from work than the Barton Creek Greenbelt, where we usually run, but I have heard so much about the trail that I still wanted to do it. The Hill Country Trail Runners used to have a Sunday …

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Sunday’s Ride

This morning I went out for a bike ride to the river and back. I wanted to explore new routes to downtown for several reasons: 1) I want to be able to get down to the river to run early in the morning. I really don’t want to drive a vehicle down to the river …

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Thursday’s Run

I ran two and a half miles this evening using the new route. It was hot and windy; not quite as windy as the previous few days but still windy. For some reason Motionbased is down so I can not upload my run. I will do it later. Finally at 10 PM I was able …

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4.5 Mile Run Near Home

This evening I ran four and a half miles near home. I choose a new route because I was wanting to put in near five miles and passing the house would be boring plus there would be a temptation to stop each time I passed. So on map my run I plotted out a longer …

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Five Mile Run

This evening I ran five miles on the Hike and Bike trail around Lady Bird Lake. I was prepared for a hot slog similar to last week, but about a mile into the run the wind came up and it started raining lightly which cooled the air down and made running a whole lot more …

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