Silent Nights

We decided to stay close to home for Christmas, so we headed to Loyd Park for a weekend camp-out. The park was nearly empty, the weather was unseasonably warm, and all was eerily quiet. After setting up camp on Wednesday afternoon, we settled in for our extended stay.

For our first night feast, we enjoyed grilled salmon and veggies, while watching “Deadly Ringer,” an episode of The Bionic Woman originally broadcast in 1977. In it, Jamie Sommers meets Lisa Galloway, a woman who underwent plastic surgery to make her look like Jamie so she can steal Adrenalizine, a secret compound invented by Rudy Wells that gives people super strength. The doctor who performed Lisa’s plastic surgery plans to sell the compound on the black market, but Lisa foils his plot when she hatches a plan of her own: After being treated so well by all the people in Jamie’s life, Lisa decides to permanently switch places with Jamie. After Jamie proves her identity to Oscar Goldman, he helps her confronts Lisa, who’s experiencing a pretty serious Adrenalizine hangover. In the final scene, chairs are thrown, tables are broken, and Lisa eventually accepts that she’ll never be Jamie. She’ll have plenty of time back in prison to undergo the deep psychotherapy she so desperately needs to accept herself.

Later, we were delighted to happen across a broadcast of The Trouble With Angels, one of our all-time favorite films. Directed by Ida Lupino, the 1966 comedy is about two girls in an all-girls Catholic boarding school run by nuns. It stars Hayley Mills and June Harding as Mary Clancy and Rachel Devry (the girls) and Rosalind Russell as Mother Superior. Other nuns are portrayed by Marge Redmond, Mary Wickes and Portia Nelson, all of whom went on to play nuns in more films and TV shows. Jon’s mom, who attended the all-girls Notre Dame Academy, says the film accurately portrays life at a Catholic girls school at the time. We look forward to seeing the film every year at holiday time.

On Thursday, Jon spent several hours editing a grant proposal and updating the Heart of Texas Camping Unit website. Cliff supplied needed nourishment, including an impromptu cook-out of hamburgers and fries. The warm weather seemed to lend itself to an old-fashioned grilled burger. After a much-needed nap and a Christmas Eve phone call to Jon’s mom, Cliff commenced with cooking the holiday feast: Roasted Cornish hen and vegetables, accompanied by a fine bottle of Conundrum Cabernet. Dinner was followed by a moonlit walk, complete with a glass of honey whiskey. We were struck by how still everything seemed to be: no wind, no sounds, no stirrings. Just the two of us walking under a brilliant moon as if we hadn’t a care in the world. A silent night.

Christmas Day found us relaxing with our doggies in Cloud 9, scanning Facebook, continuing to work on the HOTC website  and enjoying quiet Christmas music. Jon placed another call to his mom, so we could chat with his brother and sister, who were visiting her. Because Christmas fell on Date Night, Cliff grilled a magnificent ribeye, with veggies and rolls. A bottle of Gnarly Head Pinot noir proved to be a perfect accompaniment. A surprise call from Cliff’s sister provided an update on the Christmas gathering at Cliff’s brother’s house in Houston. Afterword, we enjoyed a campfire under a moonlit sky, followed by a late-night walk. Another silent night.

On Saturday, the threat of severe weather promted us to cut our trip short by a day and return Cloud 9 to the safe shelter of covered storage–but not before enjoying morning coffee with Irish cream, bloody Mary’s and tequila sunrises, and a brunch hash with eggs and bacon. Almost as if on cue, the gusty winds ushered in a change in the weather pattern, bringing our Christmas camp-out, with its silent, moonlit nights, to an end.