Weekend In the Country With ALF Class XVII

A weekend ago, George Beatty and I car pooled to a country house near Chappell Hill, TX where we and over a dozen other classmates from American Leadership Forum's (ALF) Class XVII took part in a rousing talkathon that stretched from Friday evening until nearly noon on Sunday. Most of the talking was done in proximity to food.
On Friday evening eight or nine of us ate Fiesta's pork carnitas with the requisite 'big green salad' that my daughters know so well. We sat at that dining table from 7:00 until 10:30 when another classmate arrived late and hungry. While she ate her carnitas and salad, the rest of us brought out a redo of cheese and crackers and without pause, we all kept on talking until midnight. Here's my ALF buddy Thomas Jones at the dinner table.
This class is never at a loss for words. Two new conversation topics spontaneously erupted this time around. Never before have we talked about 'getting-older' health issues nor have we ever discussed caring for elderly parents. Well, we've reached the age and stage for such talk. though we didn't scrimp on politics and the doings of classmates.
Here's Joe Williams, the classmate who keeps those emails coming so we can all keep track of one another.
Saturday morning six or eight of us headed out over the hills for a grand walk. Beautiful country, but the trees are dying here just as they are in Houston's Memorial Park.
Leading the way, my ALF buddy Thomas Jones stopped to point and say, "Oh." What he meant to say is, I am sure, "There's a snake in the grass." A very long, skinny, still snake in the grass.
Ida and I kept walking until we were about 20 feet away from the others, all of whom surrounded that snake and watched until it swung a 90 degree turn and slithered off into the bushes. Some of those in the circle jumped. Really high. I won't say who. We got an email on Monday with a full rundown on exactly what kind of Texas snake we'd seen. It was a Texas rat snake, not venomous. No, it's a constrictor. I could barely read the words that characterized the snake as both aggressive when cornered and capable climbing. I believe I saw it jump in the air when it turned that 90 degrees, but I've been told I exaggerated. Only my classmates jumped.
Saturday lunch/brunch was big food. Cynthia Briggs brought enough to feed us all for several days. We made a big dent in it.
We filled our plates and headed toward those picnic tables and chairs we'd moved to a spot under the trees.
It was easy to get comfortable in the shade, so our picnic lasted several hours.
Easy time to take photos of classmates too. Above is a photo of George Beatty, he, a fellow traveler to Turkey a couple of years ago, and Thomas, he who said "Oh" when confronted with the Texas rat snake.
Below are Alice Aanstoos and Cynthia Briggs. And below them are photos of Leo deLeon, Graham Painter (making a grand gesture) and Becky Udden. We had a lot of Class XVII at this gathering. And missed every single one of those who weren't there with us.
Becky brought brisket and cheese grits for supper and there we were again at a very full table, eating and talking and talking. If I'd written this post a week ago, I'd have remembered more about those long rambling conversations. However, nine days later, the whole wonderful weekend is slightly blurred. A sure sign of age.
In any case, these are some of the folks with whom I climbed a mountain in Colorado in the summer of 1999. It was terrific to share a visit with so many of them. The bucolic setting was quite wonderful too. Many thanks to our hosts who lent us their home in the country.