The glory that is Buc-cee’s has come to Terrell, the town right next to ours. Do you know what Buccees (pronounced Bucky’s) is? It is an enormous gas station (42 gas pumps, double-sided), accompanied by a four-counter deli, a fleet of checkout stations, a palatial gift shop, a cookware maze, a specialty candy smorgasbord, and restrooms into which the entirety of Yankee Stadium could go and use the facilities at the same time.





Buccees is not for the faint of heart. One must walk approximately the length of the Sahara to cross the whole store. You can buy a drink when you enter and be dehydrated by the time you reach the other side.



Sounds marvelous, right? (Especially if you enjoy merchandise and walking long distances.) But Buccee’s has a dark side.

At the heart of this empire is … product markup. I know; you’re stunned. The prices on Buccee’s items are so sky high that one wonders if they are targeting those hypnotized by the road, or those who become weak and confused after wandering the whole store. Refridgerator magnets the size of a quarter: $5.99. Plastic cap gun: $15.99. Buccee’s name brand red licorice packet: $5.99. T-shirts: $19.99. Undeniably delicious beef jerky: $8.99. Tiny tub of melt-in-your-mouth cranberry pecan chicken salad: $6.99.

Maybe the best strategy would be to sell all our worldly goods and go live there hidden under massive product displays. I feel confident it would take even an employee weeks to find us, given the size of some of those displays. By that point we would have dug in and completed our infestation of the store, like really determined fire ants.






Until that time.. (sigh).. we will just continue to window shop. Mile after mile after mile. – Katie



Uncle Chris


There are some people

that you see

dangling a longneck at a party

or draped with children in a garden

and you think

what a cool guy

he looks kind

you like him

without even knowing

that he can change spark plugs

slam dunk a basketball

listen to his nieces talk about their hair

get the sofa into the truck alone on moving day

win more than half of the pinochle games

analyse lift factors of differing wing angles




and sometimes






even pretend to know about art.

You think

I would like him to be my friend.

He’s a good one. – Katie



A bit more Irish

At the risk of being boring about it, Irish camp seems worth one more post.


After two days of lessons and activities, the camp ends this:  all 170 kids gather in the cafeteria (largest space available) and play the official “Camp tune for the year” in unison. What does that entail?, you may wonder (if you are not yet bored with Irish camp news), and I shall tell you…


  • there are only specific instruments used to play this music: violin, flute, tin whistle, bodrun (irish drum), banjo, guitar, accordion, and keyboard (piano)
  • Irish music is in the form of tunes called reels, jigs, polkas, waltzes, hornpipes, and variants thereof.
  • the tunes are played in unison with a limited amount of harmony provided by piano, guitar, or accordion. (Even plucked instruments like the banjo or mandolin pluck the tune instead of strumming harmony chords.)
  • the music is remarkably FAST.

So imagine, if you will, 170 kids age 7 – 18 packed four rows deep, wedging their instruments between the arms and backs of those around them, fiddling or flutling, or plucking or plinking their (lightening) way through “Pa Paddy O’Sullivan’s Polka” with intensity and EVER INCREASING SPEED! It is an experience not to be missed. Especially because, as it goes, ever-increasing numbers of the smaller kids loose track of their place and the chaos grows steadily as they race towards the final note.


You have to be made out of stone not to find this experience wonderful. I found it exceptionally wonderful. Chaos and all. – Katie



Irish Social Dancing


Corrie wrote yesterday about our Irish Music Camp experience. This was a first for us: we had never really played Irish Music or gone to a music-focused camp but it was, yes, fantastic.

There were about 170 kids participating who were ages 7 to 18. The instructors were, for the most part, professional musicians hired to give lessons and demonstrations over the course of two days. I was asked to help assist in the beginner piano group, so I was a lucky parent who got to be around all these kids immersing themselves in all things Irish. (Not because I am an Irish musician, only because the camp director knew me and the regular beginning piano instructor was helping a sister who broke her foot in 5 places.)




Between their music sessions, the kids had optional classes in different areas, including choir (Gaelic pronunciation! Authentic tearful ballads about your true love dying in various distressing ways!), Gaelic Football (Amos: “It’s like soccer, football, and baseball all mixed up with a lot of running and screaming”), and Irish social dancing.

Both Corrie and Abbey tried an Irish dancing session. This was a little different than Irish Step Dancing, which is a very demanding art form that takes years to perfect. It was more like country line dancing with the traditional ethnic dance movements and steps mixed in. As I watched the kids try it, it was easy to pick out the ones that take Irish Step Dancing classes because they weren’t falling over or flailing their arms.




Corrie picked up on a lot of things quickly, and her gymnastics training helped with balance and mirroring her partner’s movements. Abbey was really enjoying the group participation and the moving to music.


Abbey danced for a while with a guy whose hair was longer than hers. I found this charming.









The instructor was a dark-haired dynamo who taught the steps, directed the musicians (did I mention that it was all done to live music provided by a couple of instructors who sat on stage tearing through one reel after another?), and called the movements during the dance, just like the caller at a square dance session. Just watching her left me exhausted. She probably organizes the takeover of small countries in her spare time.




There is a particular thrill for a parent observing your children try something new. We all have varying degrees of the kind of courage it takes to step out and be willing to fail in front of other people, and I feel more proud of them for being able to get back up and laugh at themselves and try again than I do when they succeed at something. The “try again” ability is invaluable, and often very hard for me. It was inspiring watching them! – Katie