It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Big D - Day 4 Redemption and Home

Tomorrow is always another day and you do have to put the past behind you, learn from your mistakes and resolve to make the future better.  I experienced that today with the final day of the dog show.  I will not weight down this post with complete details about all my motivational thoughts, but I walked out of the hotel as a woman determined to move on. 
Okay Mom, I got you this blue ribbon.  Are you pleased?  Can we just go home now?
Here's a quick run down on the show:  We got in the ring and he didn't walk too well, but stacked on the table perfectly and remained focused on the treat in my hand while the judge looked at him.  "Smokey" (thanks S. for the laugh!) didn't pick up any tape or debris from the floor this time!  Today's judge was pleasant and easy to show to.  We beat the other dog in the class, although I felt a little bad because the owner was a delightful older lady that only shows at limited shows.  But she gave me a hug as we left the ring, so I knew there were no hard feelings.  We went back into the ring for Winner's Dog and he did well.  The judge took her time deciding and looked carefully at each dog.  I'm honestly not sure why she picked the winner that she did, but the dog she chose for reserve was a beautiful cream. 

Today was a better day and I have a new, positive attitude toward what I'm doing.  I've re-grouped and moved on.  Bentley was a good sport about the trip and went along agreeably with each activity.  I tried to make sure I didn't tire him out, leaving aside some of the things I wanted to do.  I knew he was exhausted last night when he curled up and went to sleep before I turned out the light.  As we headed home he was asleep before I pulled up onto the freeway.  He slept most of the way, occasionally standing up on the console and looking at me like, "Mom, are we there yet?"

I stopped in Hill County for him to have a walk break at the rest stop.  I have to digress, remember when these stops were called "road side parks"?  They are now referred to as "safety stops" to be politically correct, I guess.  Anyway, he wasn't interested in the purpose of the stop, but I found myself marveling at the flatness of the land while he smelled around.  Living in an area that is nothing but low rolling hills I am amazed at the straight lines of the land in this area.  I've always enjoyed making this drive and watching the hills give way to the flat lands planted with crops.  Maybe that's why I like road trips because you can watch the changing of the land and foliage as  you drive along.

This modern windmill was running at the safety stop and I had to make a picture.  I've always loved to see windmills sitting in fields or close to barns with the blades spinning away.  I'm always saddened to see one that has fallen into disrepair.  I wondered later if there was a description about this one and I suspect since it was running and there is a tank near it that it might actually be pumping water.  I'll have to stop again and investigate!

One final funny event for the trip home.  I decided to take a fairly new toll road (130) to avoid Austin traffic and possible home bound holiday traffic congestion.  The toll road offers speed limits of 80 and 85 mph.  It is through farm lands, uncongested and has less trucks than the interstate.  It was a pleasant drive; however, I made the mistake of following TxDot's instructions instead of exiting where I knew I should from checking the map. 

Thanks to TXDot I ended up on I-10 on the other side of Seguin.  I plan to write them a little note and explain that they need to look at a map and realize that Seguin is a 45 minute drive from the outskirts of San Antonio and that this route takes San Antonio bound travelers to the eastern side of San Antonio.  And I am going to suggest that after reviewing the map they should update the Transguide instructions to inform travelers if they want to reach San Antonio from the toll road they need to exit at Buda.  If they want to travel on to I-10 to Seguin they should stay on the toll road.  Granted, I had looked at the map and should have taken the Buda exit.  But I trusted TXDot......

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Big D - Disapointing Day 3

Yes, today was a big disappointment.  A real bummer of a Fourth of July.  But now that the pouting is over there is hope for tomorrow (as Scarlett O'Hara would say), and I do have a sweet story to share.  So, all is not lost.

It was up very early this morning for the first doggie walk and then ring time was 8:00 a.m.  I felt Bentley looked fairly good and we were ready to maybe have a win.  There were three dogs in his class, all creams.  In fact, there were 6 creams showing today which I've never seen before, but what fun to see them all together! 

But as soon as we walked into the ring everything just seemed wrong.  He didn't want to walk right, which happens a lot.  The first thing that frazzled me was that as I put him on the table to stack I realized that somehow he had picked up a piece of what looked like masking tape on his under carriage.  Oh no, my thoughts were that he had walked around the ring in front of the judge with that stuck on him!  I was so shook up that the judge asked me if I was nervous!  Well, yes I am now that I've realized I've got this dog that had a piece of masking tape stuck on him up here and now he doesn't want to stand here like he is supposed to.  Am I nervous?  Oh, just a little was my polite reply.  She gave us third place out of three dogs.  I wanted to cry.

So I pouted all day, felt sorry for myself, frustrated that I don't know what I'm doing, pout, pout, pout.  But we stayed at the show pretty much all day.  I shopped a little at the many vendors and consoled myself with purchasing a new top that is a bright pink color.  I bought Bentley a bag of chicken strip treats made by Pro Plan to console him (ha ha), but in truth they smelled good and had good ingredients in them.  He liked the sample, so we quickly opened our bag so he could have another piece.

Now that the disappointment has ebbed I've remembered some of the adages I've always heard and used at times like this. 
That's the way the cookie crumbles.
When life gives you scraps make quilts or if it's lemons then make lemonade.
This is a hard pill to swallow.

But while watching some of the group competition this afternoon I remembered Winston Churchill's famous advice to never, ever give up.  I've determined to use this as a turning point.  We may not do any better tomorrow, but that doesn't mean we will quit and go home.  There's something here in this "dog show thing" that calls to me and I'm determined to stay with it.  And, I am a woman who puts her mind to doing what she determines to do!

Now, here's the sweet story.  During the early afternoon Bentley and I were relaxing in our decorated grooming space.  I was knitting and he was in the crate, supposed to be resting, when a young couple and a boy about 11 or 12 years old walked by.  The woman was carrying a small crate and all three were just beaming.  Ah, I thought they have come to pick up a puppy!  Now, I do have to note that the show expressly prohibits selling puppies at the show and exhibitors at these shows follow all rules scrupulously. So, I suspect that this family had already selected and paid for the puppy and were picking it up now that it was ready for its forever home.   I saw them reach a lady at the end of the row and there was hand shaking and smiles on both sides.  Then a little later I noticed the seller cuddling what looked like a Maltese puppy, probably just about 3 months old.  I wondered why they would choose a Maltese and if they had had another one that was dearly loved and had passed on recently. Some time later they walked back by, still beaming but now their expressions had changed from anticipation to celebration.  The man was carrying the carrier with the little white fur ball inside.  The lady had a bag of puppy food and the boy had a little blanket and a goody bag.  I had to smile as they walked by with their new family member!  How hard for that little baby to leave the only human he/she had known and his secure little world, but I could tell that he/she would quickly be enveloped in a loving human family. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Big D - Day 2

Day 2 started early with grooming and then into the ring.  The show is sponsoring a July 4th decorating prize with cash prizes, so why not get in the red, white, and blue spirit?
My first stop of the sightseeing was the Dallas Heritage Village.  I chose to stay off the freeway due to major, confusing construction.  I'm so glad I did because I saw so much as we travelled the streets of Dallas, so many old buildings to go back and discover.  I also was pleased to pass by the Farmers Market and know that it is so easy to access.  Early in the journey I saw the dreaded "detour ahead" signs, but they didn't pan out.

The Village is a collection of buildings located on the oldest city park in Dallas.  The park had fallen into decline and was revived by the re-location of these buildings into the park to create a village depicting life from the past.  Read the full story here. I enjoyed walking the grounds and will do a post on this delightful place to visit.

It was getting hot and I couldn't go inside any of the buildings because I had Bentley with me, so we navigated back to the area around the Dallas Museum of Art.  I hate to drive around looking for parking, so when I saw that the DMA had parking I pulled in, even though it is one of those creepy underground garages (told myself not to think about it!).  Bentley was a little freaked out, but we got parked and were quickly on the street.

We immediately headed to Klyde Warren Deck Park.  This greenspace is built over I-30!  Yes, it is amazing.  There were food trucks, but we would later come back to eat at Savor, a dog-friendly restaurant.  They have many activities including games, free reading materials, and water play places. 

When I saw the M-line trolley parked along Olive Street we quickly made our way over and hopped on.  It is free and dog friendly!  We rode almost the entire route. I forgot to make a picture of the car we rode, but it was quite old.  This one appeared to be a newer reproduction.

Interior detail of the car we rode
Bentley wasn't too sure about this but was a good sport.  He was admired and petted, so he was happy.  He rode for a while on my lap, but moved into the floor.  I wasn't too happy as it ended up I was facing backward, so I had to twist around to keep my motion sensitivity calm! It was a little bumpy getting him off the trolley; the steps were steep and he freaked out when I picked him up to get off.  I made it down without falling - everyone just stood there and no one offered to help, oh well!  We may go back tomorrow and re-ride facing forward and with a map in my hand so I won't miss the things I wanted to see.

Yes, there are many things I want to see in this vibrant city. Day 2 has brought discovery of a new place to come back to again and again!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Big D - Day 1

This morning Mr. Bentley and I dropped off the other dogs at their "resort" and headed up I-35 to Dallas, Big D!  We are here for a dog show and a little dog-friendly sight seeing.  Plus, it is the Fourth of July and we are in Big D! 
We stopped at a rest stop in Bell County and I knew I was in central Texas when I saw this sign!
I've been in and out of Dallas numerous times through my life.  Sometimes on family trips, sometimes on business, and sometimes just driving or flying through (I was well acquainted with Love Field as a child!).  But I've never been completely on my own here, so I've looked forward to this little adventure of new roads/freeways to navigate and new places to explore. I am fascinated with their light rail system and entertained myself on a doggie-potty walk earlier this evening with watching the trains fly by - they move right along the track!

Bentley's a great little traveler, a nice road companion.  The only draw back to a road trip with a dog is that you have to arrange your meals a little differently since they can't accompany you into most restaurants.  Some people can leave their dog alone in a hotel room long enough to enjoy a meal or brief outing, but not this one.  He is good in the hotel and minds his manners fairly well, but does not like to be left alone for very long periods so I've never left him for longer than a few minutes. 

We've had a full day travelling, setting up our space at the show, a little grooming and then settling into our hotel.  This little dog is one tired pup! And yes, he is on the bed.  We don't do this at home!

Tomorrow we have an early morning show time and then we are headed out to see the sites if I can navigate through the construction zones!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday 07.01.2015

I had no idea that stargazer lilies were so easy to grow until I saw them growing en mass at the Botanical Garden.  From the price of a cut lily in the store I had always assumed they are exotic plants that require much cultivation.  They are actually a fairly new hybrid lily.  Sources I read said they prefer full sun, but these were growing in a lightly shaded area.  And, yes, they are fragrant!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Saturday Plant Discoveries

I've shared before that I love to go to the Farmers' Market at the historic Pearl Brewery. I picked up 2 things yesterday that are worth sharing here; one is a new discovery and the other something from the past. 

Several weeks ago I had stopped at one of the vendors that has herbs and leafy things.  I knew it was late in the season for spinach, but I asked anyway if they had some.  The young girl replied that they didn't have spinach, but they had amaranth and pointed it out.  She quickly handed me a leaf and said to try it.  It was very flavorful, so I brought home a bunch.

It was good in sandwiches and salads, but I didn't really care for it sautéed like spinach.  I felt it had a different consistency and flavor than spinach raw or cooked, but I liked it.  So, yesterday when I passed their booth I got some more.  This bunch had a few bug holes, but still is very flavorful. I'm glad I discovered it and will be watching for it again.

Here are a few quick facts that I've found so far:
  • Amaranth is a widely varied plant and is cultivated as a leafy vegetable and as a grain although it is not a true grain. Latin name Amaranthaceae.
  • It is high in calcium, magnesium, and iron. 
  • It was known to be cultivated by the Aztecs, but forbidden by the Spaniards.
  • It is a relative of beets, spinach, Swiss Chard, and quinoa.
I had already passed by the vendor selling honey when I realized that part of their selection was a very light honey.  I turned around quickly because I knew right away that was huajilla honey (pronounced wa-hee-ya).  I had had an experience with this in my earlier life and I knew some was going home with me! It is delicious!

Huajilla is also referred to as guajilla, guajillo, and huajillo and from my brief research I determined that there are several species of plants.  I believe the one common to South Texas is A.berlandieri which is a member of the Acacia family.  The flowers are very fragrant and, if I recall correctly, the plants have wicked thorns! 

There is a picture of huajilla flowers as known in South Texas on the Gretchen Bee Ranch web site.  They also sell all their honey products on their site!  I brought this bottle home and, of course enjoyed biscuits and honey for my Sunday breakfast!
And, yes those biscuits came out of a can.  I can't make a decent biscuit!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Happiness is...

Are you happy? Really deep, down happy? What is happiness?  Have you ever asked those questions? 

I hadn't until I recently read a selection from Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  She suggests that happiness is a living emotion and a state of mind.  I sat for a while thinking about happiness, asking myself if I'm really happy deep down inside.  I tried to define happiness without a dictionary.  Is it peace, joy, serenity, a calmness of the soul, contentment?  What is it?

My next thought was to try to list some things that make me genuinely happy. Truthfully, the page was blank for a while.  There are many things I enjoy, like writing, walking with a dog, eating a good meal with friends or family.  There are many things that give me a burst of joy, like finding one of those dear little WPA markers. Those are outer things that are a part of my life, but I was looking for things that truly bring me a satisfied happiness - there is a difference.  Finally, things began to come to me.  Here's what I have so far:
  • Rain.  It is such a precious commodity, but even with the over abundance we've had this year I still find watching rain fall to the earth giving me such a deep feeling of contentment beyond just a surface joy.  Rain, watering the earth and giving life to plants and animals.
  • Sunflowers.  I realized this one morning while driving to work and saw clumps along the road.  They are not my favorite flower, but as I watched clump after clump go by I felt that compelling happiness.  Maybe that's why a sun flower has been my favicon all these years.
  • On my recent to Comfort I choose to take a winding two-lane road I had never travelled before. There were very few vehicles on the road with me, so I was alone with the countryside. Looking across the rolling Hill Country and crossing the flowing creeks gave me a feeling of deep contentment.  Same thing happened driving home from Blanco when I went to the Lavender Festival a few Saturdays ago.  I felt a true peace within my inner self, knowing I was in the right place at the right time.  I know that was happiness.
I'm sure my list will continue to grow as I look for things that truly make me happy.  Sarah Ban Breathnach summed it up well with her statement,

"genuine happiness can only be realized once we commit to making it a personal priority in our lives"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday 06.24.2015

On my recent overnight stay in Comfort I spent some quiet time sitting in the hanging swing by the little creek.  It was a little chilly and damp, but still it was a peaceful place to sit and knit.  There was a deer feeder across the creek; it didn't disturb me in this case because it was strictly for the purpose of feeding the deer.

I had noticed several trails that led from the upper bank right down into the water and wondered what had made them.  At first I thought of boat trailers being backed down to the water, but the creek wasn't deep enough for any kind of boat.  And, I wondered if maybe it was from people walking down into the creek.  But the deer answered my questions.

After a group had fed for a few minutes around the feeder they began to wander toward the creek.  In groups of 2 or 3 they then came down the creek bank following the little trails and into the water.  Some walked across and a few almost appeared to swim across.  All came up out of the water, shook themselves off and proceeded to move on to a field across the way to complete their evening meal.  None of them noticed me sitting on the swing.  I was amazed and felt like I was almost a part of their world.  Almost, but not quite.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Past Lives On

Summer 1967
I had planned another post for today when this picture popped into my mind and I knew I had to share it since today is Father's Day.  This Ford tractor belonged to my father and it was his favorite "toy".  He kept it in my maternal grandparents' barn and spent hours tinkering with it while we visited them.  I'm not really sure that it was ever really used to do work. I remember Daddy spending hours pulling a bush hog around the pasture, but I'm not sure if he was driving his tractor or my grandfather's.  Nonetheless, it gave him great joy.

This picture was always a family favorite although looking at our expressions I have to wonder if it was truly a happy moment!  I'm the unhappy 11 year old (it had been a long summer and my mother had tried my endurance).  My little brother is thinking "I could take this thing apart so quickly and put it back together, too".  My sister, well, she's just being sweet like she always was and still is.  I think Daddy was not too patiently coaching my mother on how to use his camera!

But beyond our expressions, I know that this was a happy time for my father. What this picture represents is priceless. He was on leave; we were between assignments in Alaska and California and spending time visiting family.  He was in his beloved Mississippi.  Daddy loved my mother's home town as much as he loved his and he was happy to be there visiting.  He dreamed of someday being a farmer and owning a radio station; sadly, he never realized either dream.  He loved trains, planes and engines.  He happily flew big transport planes for the US Air Force for five years, so he did achieve that dream.

He had his faults.  He was impatient, quick tempered, and quick to speak exactly what he thought.  We towed the line, always.  But he made sure we went to church on Sunday and he faithfully placed a check in the offering plate every time it passed. He never hesitated to help someone out if he felt they genuinely needed help.   He loved Gospel music and Big Band, too.  He was a shrewd money manager and made good investment choices while managing the one-income family budget.  We never lacked for anything we needed. If he bought a tractor or some farm land to plant a crop it was because he thought it a good investment.  And, he cooked one good steak or hamburger on the grill. 

So, fathers remember that today you are creating memories and your legacy with your children.  Someday years from now they will look at a faded, overexposed picture and remember you.  You have your faults, but there are your strengths that they will remember and take with them through their lives.  And, it is okay to live your dream!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The pointy stick thing concludes

It is time to finish up my story about how I learned to use the pointy sticks.  If you've been reading along then you know my grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 5.  I can crochet almost with my eyes closed, without thinking.  I don't need much light and I can skim through a pattern and pretty much have it in my mind. I can pull out rows and rows of crochet and know right where to start.  But learning to use the 2 pointy sticks presented itself as a challenge.

As I posted in the first post nobody in my family knitted.  But sometime after I took up crocheting in earnest I found a little green book in my mother's stash of sewing books and magazines.  I quickly commandeered it for my own.  It featured crochet, knitting, embroidery and tatting and all were excellently described and detailed in very accurate drawings.  I continued my crochet learning with this dear little book.

I think I was in the 4th grade when I discovered a pair of very slim knitting needles and a ball of soft off-white yarn in my mother's sewing stash.  She did not knit and to this day I have not idea why she had this as well as a set of double pointed needles.  But I decided that it was all mine and proceeded to teach myself how to knit.  Let's just say that I managed to cast on and knit a few rows, but that was as far as I got.  I went back to crocheting while wishing that it wasn't so hard to knit because I really wanted to knit.

Although I made a few cotton dish clothes in my young adult years I was not a proficient knitter.  I would always look at knitting patterns and wish I was better and could produce those adorable little things.  At the 2010 Quilt Festival I fell in love with a little bolero type knitted shrug at one of the booths that featured yarn.  The dear lady working there assured me that if I could knit and purl that I could make this sweater.  So $75 later I walked away with 3 skeins of Baby Alpaca yarn and the pattern.  I fussed at myself for spending so much money on something I would not make.  Yes, yes I will I told myself.  So I got the yarn out and started casting on. 

To make this story short, Blossom was still a small puppy at the time and ate three sets of circular needles and I had to start over even more times.  But I knitted while waiting to pick up Jaydon at VBS, I knitted while the twins were born, and I took the knitting bag along on a New England trip. I realized that I needed two more skeins and tracked some down through a shop in Connecticut.  Just before Thanksgiving I finished and it was cool enough at Thanksgiving that I was able to proudly wear the shrug.

These colors are not accurate, it is more of a brown than a blue.

I am still not a proficient knitter, but I can knit and purl.  That's all I need to "do the pointy-stick-thing".  I've found that knitting is very relaxing and I can knit even when I'm tired.  I cannot, however, rip out knitting and then start back into the pattern. 
W C Mercantile in Navasota, Texas

The Tinsmith's Wife in Comfort, Texas
In the last few years I've discovered yarn shops that entice me to come in, browse, and buy.  I wonder if it is the colors or the different textures that call to me.  Maybe it is those old buildings that many shops are located in. Like quilts, yarn just seems to belong in an old building.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday 06.17.2015

detail from "Cowboys Receiving the Mail"
"Cowboys Receiving the Mail"
circa 1939
Otis Dozier, artist
Used with permission of the United States Postal Service©. All rights reserved.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs gave us many treasures to enjoy today.  This mural in the Giddings, Texas post office was painted circa 1939 as part of the Treasury Section of Fine Arts program of the New Deal. 

I love this mural even though it is not an accurate depiction of cowboys - cowboy work is dirty and these fellas are just a little too clean!  Plus the landscape depicts a dessert scene totally unlike the area around Giddings.  But don't you just love the detail of the cowboy with his new fancy boots?  Bet he was ready to go out dancing that night.  But what about the poor guy on the horse?  I can tell by his face that the letter he was hoping for did not come!

Click Here and scroll down a little to read an interesting account of how the mural's subject was chosen!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Perfect Saturday

I'm taking only a short break from the pointy sticks story and it will conclude shortly.  However, today was such a nice day that I felt I should share it here.  Actually, the last two Saturdays have been perfect and worthy of sharing.

Last weekend my sister and nephew were here for the weekend.  The intended plans went awry, but the alternative turned out to be well received.  My sister grew up here, but her son is a native Houstonian.  We shared with him a bit of San Antonio that he had never experienced.
Chapel, Mission San Jose
Mission Espada
Tower of the Americas
The River Walk

Of course, the day ended with a meal shared with other family members at our favorite Mexican restaurant! 

Today it was just me and really, this was a me day.  It started with a trip to the Farmers Market at the historic Pearl Brewery.  I love fresh (really fresh) vegetables and this is the best place to get them.  All the vendors are from the surrounding area, so it is a win-win.  I get fresh veggies and other products and they get income from their farm's produce.

I took Sawyer along with me, big mistake.  He is not a shopper, he is an adventure dog.  He was vertical more than he was horizontal, jumping up and down up and down.  He got his feet wet and then jumped on me getting me wet and dirty!  He wanted to GO, GO, GO! 

The only time he was still was while he waited for me to give him another bite of egg & chorizo from my breakfast taco! It was only about 10:30 and the temperature was in the mid 80's, but the humidity was bad and I was hot, so much to his delight we headed for home.

This afternoon I headed north to Blanco to the Lavender Festival.  Blanco County was hard hit by the recent flooding and many of the vendors had signs up that they were donating a portion of their profits to flood victims' relief programs.

There are many vendors offering a wide variety of products. There is just about any kind of art and craft products imaginable.  Plants and other products, including lavender everything, are offered.  Prices are reasonable and everyone is friendly.

I enjoyed browsing and made a few purchases.  I went inside the Old Blanco County Courthouse for the first time and then into a local shop for some shopping.  To cool off I tried a big glass of lavender tea.  It was wonderful; the lady that poured it for me suggested making it half sweet and half unsweet when I mentioned that it was just too hot for sugary tea. 

Tonight was member appreciation night at the Botanical Garden.  The Garden was open for members and pets and picnic suppers were welcome, too.  I took Bentley and Baylee along and the three of us enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the garden.  The evening light was soft and there was a nice breeze that cooled us. Perfect ending to a perfect "me" Saturday!
Do you know how hard it is to get two distracted dogs to both look at you at the same time?