I flew in to Dallas on the 18th. It's been eventful though not always in the most positive sense of the word.

Here's where I'm staying: At John Nord's house. He's my old juggle buddy with the McKinney Juggling & Loan. I lived with him for about a year before I headed off to Taiwan.

John is an enigma: He's in some ways a very close friend, but this flies in the face of the overriding reality is that he's an extremely private person. He hand-sews juggling bags for a livelihood. You can see them at his Juggling Thingies website. <shamelessplug>They're excellent and moderately priced juggling beanbags; consider buying some!</shamelessplug>

You may have noticed the light blue van in front of John's house; this has been graciously loaned to me by my brother, Barry. I'll be spending most of tomorrow (the 26th) at his house, and there will be more pics forthcoming. Meantime, take a gander at his beautiful wife, Karen, pictured on the right!

Here's my son, Merriman.

To my utter amazement, he has finally elected to grow out his hair a bit. Ever since he had any control over the matter (i.e., could voice his personal preference), he's kept his hair cropped short, as in Marine Corps short. I always dropped hints that he ought to let it grow out at least once so he could 1) see what he "really" looks like, and 2) take advantage of his youth to grow a proper lion's mane, this being an opportunity he won't have all his life; as I'm now finding out!

Anyway, Merriman appears to have a slight natural wave, which I think he gets from my side of the family. Notice also the look of gentle joy.

Here, I'm having him pose with the lush rosemary bushes out in front of his mother's house at 770 (on Lake Lavon).

This is my youngest daughter, Winifred, in the midst of bearing a pot of boiling hot water; a nice pic, I think!

Actually, this is an earlier picture, chronologically speaking; Merriman wasn't at the house yet. So I hung out with Win, my ex, and some new family friends. We played a fun card game 'til my tired ol' bones were calling out for warm milk and crackers and beddie-bye!

The next day, however, I got a couple of posed pics of Winnie so she could send them to 'Net buddies; so they can see what she looks like. I particularly liked this interior shot of her posed below a framed picture. I did an interesting trick here; if you look close, you might be able to detect. I 1) took the photograph from off to one side, so I wouldn't get flash glare from the "duck girl" framed picture, 2) digitally removed Winnie, 3) digitally "corrected" the perspective of the picture so it would look like a "head on" shot of the picture and wall, then 4) digitally pasted Winnie back under the framed picture. I think it came out great. The best part is that I got the smile off her by hamming it up behind the camera; so I've taught myself a basic trick of the professionals!

I always liked this "duck girl" painting in part, I think, because it reminds me of Win; the spirit of the "duck girl" is like the spirit of Win. Don't you think?

I also dropped in on my old pal Jeff Tharp, aka Tharpo the Clown.

Here, we see Tharpo doing something he does so well; giving out free advice to would-be entrants to the field of clowning. I'm not kidding; I've seen him do this at least one other time when in his presence: Someone calls, asking for advice on how to get started, and he starts rattling off a concise wealth of info. It's really quite selfless! Think of it as yet another manifestation of the Christmas Spirit.

Tharpo has become quite the wine nut over the last ten years or so, and has a collection of wine and wine-related paraphenalia. Here's a wine rack slash shrine to juggling. I may not know much about wine, but jugging is a passion we both share.

While hanging out with Tharpo, the projected cold snap descended upon us, delivering a modicum of snow and pushing the thermometer quite low.

I ran out to get some images. It's actually fairly common to get at least one storm near the New Year that dumps a little snow, ices up the roads, and makes the driving a little treacherous. It took me an hour and a quarter to get from Richardson, back home to McKinney; normally a 15-minute drive!