Christine was invited to speak at a local environmental group today. She enjoyed it, and made a difference in this world, and I’m so proud of her. Those that don’t know, Christine used to hate to speak in public, but recently, I think she’s discovered how powerful she can be when she does speak. Here’s the write up from the website of the group she spoke for:

Screening of FLOW, a Documentary Film about Water
Submitted by gg_joni on Mon, 03/09/2009 – 10:41am. GreenGirl Outing
Start: 03/29/2009 – 2:30pm
End: 03/29/2009 – 4:30pm

GreenGirls and their guests are invited to a screening of the 84-minute documentary film, FLOW. This is Irena Salina’s award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century, The World Water Crisis. Christine Engler will lead a short discussion following the movie. More on Christine below movie details.

Filmmaker Irene Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question “CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?”

Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround. You can view the trailer at

Christine Engler has a BS in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University with a specialty in Water Resource Engineering. She worked in the field of water resource engineering for 10 years. During this time, she was involved in the regional water planning effort for the state of Texas. The topic of water sustainability on the planet had always been of interest but was recently fueled by an article she read discussing the dire drought situation in the western United States. Shocked by the movie Flow, she wants to make a difference regarding the water crisis on our planet and raise awareness of individuals to protect and conserve this life giving resource.

**This event is open to GreenGirls and their friends, spouses, and significant others.

Event: FLOW: For Love of Water (documentary film)
Date: Sunday, March 29
Time: 2:30pm-4:30pm (film viewing will begin at 2:45pm)
Location: Private residence near Zilker Park — (details will be provided via News) — maximum # of guests is 18.

Please RSVP by March 26. Be sure to include the number that will be attending. We can accommodate up to 18 guests.

To receive announcements about upcoming meetings or outings, subscribe to News

She just told me to add this to this post:

Go sign the Article 31 petition, which states:

Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 156 user reviews.

Murrell Cato Helmke, 86, died Thursday, March 19, 2009 at Duke Raleigh Hospital.

A resident of Magnolia Glen on Creedmoor Road, Murrell remained an active and enthusiastic participant in all aspects of her life. She loved her family deeply and valued the friendships she had made both here and abroad. She will be greatly missed.

Preceded in death by Jim, her husband of 58 years.

Murrell’s survivors include son, James Helmke and wife, Bronwyn; daughter, Gretchen Weakley and husband, Terry; daughter, Karen Rectanus; niece, Helen Barrow and husband, Brad; grandchildren, Karl and Tim Rectanus, Hannah, Jon and Matthew Weakley, Maggie and Abby Helmke and Derek and Gregg Helmke; six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews living around the globe.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.

In lieu of flowers, Murrell asked that donations be made to a charity of one’s choice.

Arrangements made by the Cremation Society of the Carolinas.

Online condolences can be made at

From the News & Obeserver website.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 231 user reviews.

It’s hard for me to write this post.

My Great Aunt, Aunt Murrell passed away today.

Murrell was my mother’s aunt. Her mother’s sister. She was a Cato.

My mom called me this evening to tell me the news, and it sounds like Aunt Murrell passed away like she lived:

Full of grace and dignity.

Christine and I got to spend some time with Aunt Murrell back in 2005 on two occasions: We spent some time in Raleigh with her and that side of the family and then she came to Austin with two of her grandkids.

I’ve never met a woman who lived a more full life, or lived it with such grace and vitality, and who was truly sincere and committed to every action she took. Aunt Murrell is an inspiration and role model, and I can only hope when I look back on my life it was as full and honest as hers was.

You will be missed Aunt Murrell … by many. My only regret is not spending more time with you. We will remember you always.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 264 user reviews.

I took this photo of Grayson and Christine in March of 2007:

And I got a call from a guy, asking to use it as the cover art on an album he was planning on putting out soon. We chatted on the phone, and I got this email from him shortly thereafter:

From: Jonathan Kessler
Subject: A Mother’s Kiss
Date: January 25, 2009 1:35:01 PM CST
To: John Engler
Cc: Ted Kastelic

Hi John,

It was good speaking with you today.

Thanks for giving us your permission to use your photograph for the cover of our CD “Wisdom of a Kiss”, and for sending us a high-res version of the picture to use.

We’ll credit you on the CD – is the wording here OK with you?

“Cover Photograph by John Engler, ”
Also please include your mailing address so we can send you some copies of the CD by way of thanks.
It’s a wonderful photograph and we’re really pleased to have found it and to be able to use it.  It captures the concept “Wisdom of a Kiss” beautifully.

Turns out they’d found a photo of mine on flickr that they liked a lot for their new album.

So, I sent them my mailing address, and the photo in hi-res versions…

And just the other day, I found the art on their website.

So, go to their band’s website, and take a listen… I really enjoyed the songs available on their website. You will too, I bet:

Thanks Folk in A!

Go buy a copy.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 213 user reviews.

I woke up on this morning, and was surprised Christine had let me sleep in a little. Grayson woke me up by singing “Happy Birthday To You” to me, over and over until I got out of bed. It was pretty cute.

I smelled breakfast cooking, and got downstairs to a fresh omelet that Christine had just finished making me. Jack was still asleep, but he rolled into the kitchen not too long after me.

I helped get the kids dressed for school a little, but left for work early, because I had a lot to get done.

Worked all day. Got about a thousand “Happy Birthday” wishes via facebook, IM or email throughout the course of the day, which was touching.

Went by NxNW on the way home, to visit with a client of ours over a beer, then called Christine to let her know I’d be home soon, so she could load the kids up in the car, as we were planning on going to Chuck E Cheese’s for a small family birthday party.

I got home, walked in, and the house was dead. No activity. I suspected something was up when I spied some balloons in the kitchen, but wasn’t sure.

I walked into the kitchen, and was surprised by my family, crouching down behind the couch in the den, springing up and yelling “SURPRISE!”

It was hilarious. Grayson had the look of absolute and pure joy in his face. A look I’ll never forget. Jack was excited as all get out that he was able to surprise his Daddy.

Christine had a look of massive accomplishment in her face as she really did accomplish something amazing. (you try keeping a 4 and 2 year old quiet while Daddy unlocks the doors and takes his time putting his stuff from work away).

There was a cake on the table, and balloons in the air, and the boys were exstatic to be getting ready to have dinner and a cake.

I proceeded to cook steaks that Christine had been marinating all day. She finished up the baked potatoes and brussels sprouts (it’s okay, I LOVE brussels sprouts and so do the boys).

We had cake, and then put the boys to bed (after a bath to wash all of the icing off their faces and hands).

Overall: a great birthday. Probably one of the best I’ve had in a long while.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 182 user reviews.

This past weekend we went camping with Marc, Cyndi, Rowan and Kaelyn, and Ted, Joan, Lydia and Leo. And man did we have a blast.

Bastrop State Park has to be the best place to go in the spring with the kids… especially when Cyndi’s mom lets us borrow her trailer to sleep in. I’m going to have to buy me one of those soon.

The kids got dirty, and had a blast. Seriously dirty, and a serious blast.

Photos here.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 293 user reviews.

I posted a lot of photos the other day, and haven’t had time to write full entries for them all, so here’s a list of the photos, with some comments:

  • Lakeway, November 27, 2008: We had a blast out at Debbie and Raymond’s lakehouse for Thanksgiving. Cheri and Greg brought their kids up, and we all played. I got some good photos of the kids being kids, making cookies, making smores, eating smores, eating the gingerbread-man cookies they’d made, and generally having fun.
  • Hardin Kids, November 29, 2008: Cheri asked me if I’d take some photos of the kids for their Christmas card, so I did. I’m pleased with the four options we came up with for them. Great kids + great parents = great photos.
  • Hot Chocolate, December 10, 2008: Just some fun posed photos of Jack and Grayson drinking hot chocolate at the dinner table on a cold-ish December day.
  • Friends’ Christmas Party, December 14, 2008: We went over to Joan and Ted’s house, to have a little Christmas party with Leo, Lydia, Joan, Ted, and a friend. The kids made cookies, traded gifts, Ted smoked meat all day for dinner, and then we all headed the Luminaries show at the Texas Wildflower Center. There are some great photos of the kids, Blue Santa, and good friends in this set.

I have more to write about, and more photos to post, so stay tuned!

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 168 user reviews.