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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday 07.29.2015


It's just a little hot these July days, so I've been keeping the tea bags handy!  I don't care if it is sweet or unsweet, although on hot days I can't do the sugar.  It can be flavored, but plain tea is just fine with me.  Lemon and limes are good additives if you have some on hand.  I added a little lemonade to the glass in the picture which is another option. Decaf tea is my preferred choice.

Way back in 2012 I wrote a post on my memories of making tea with my grandmother (click here to read Iced Tea).  Iced tea has always been a part of my life and I can't imagine a summer day without at least one glass!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Simple Sunday Morning

After several weeks of being on the road with dog shows I just wasn't ready to resume my usual Sunday morning routine.  So I decided it was time to have church-in-the park.  Bentley and I headed out to one of the most peaceful places in San Antonio - San Pedro Springs Park.

I love this place because of its rich history and for it's beauty. When I'm here I can almost feel the "history vibes" of all the significant events that have taken place within this area.  In 1709 the first Europeans camped around the springs while on their way to visit the early Catholic Missions in East Texas and would return to establish the Mission San Antonio de Valero somewhere close to the springs (this would be the first location of the mission).  King Phillip V of Spain declared the area around the springs an ejido (public park) in 1729. To read more of the park's history CLICK HERE

Even when the fence is around the pool and it is set up for summer swimming I find it enchanting.  It is the perfect place for a Sunday walk and to sit quietly for a while and reflect.  Sometimes I bring my Bible to read and sometimes I just sit and thank God for all my blessings.  It isn't an organized church service, but to me it is worship.
I was surprised this morning to see water gushing from the top of the grotto.  I've never seen the water flowing here although I've read about it doing so in the past when there was still a flowing spring under it.  I was surprised and then I remembered that with the abundant spring rains that the water restrictions were lifted.  The fountains can flow again!

I'm not sure if it was the rains or the return of the drought, but the Esperanzas (Tecoma sans) are profuse this year.  I had never noticed how many bushes are in the park, but with their bright yellow blossoms I didn't miss them this time! This hardy plant is also known as Yellow Bells, but most people around here know them as Esperanzas.  I love the way that word flows off my tongue and, best of all, in Spanish it means "hope".

The other amazing thing I saw was water standing in the openings of the springs at the head of the pool.  I've never seen water flow from these springs and didn't expect to ever see it do so.  But this morning there was water standing in them.  Now I'm curious as to why this happened and if it was a result of the spring rains.  I love a mystery!
April 2014
July 2015

Bentley enjoyed the morning walk and the squirrels in the park!  I was tempted to let him off leash, but thought better of it.  Sorry little guy!  He was content to smell around with his hound dog nose and then to sit on the little rock wall with me.  What a good little companion he is!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday 07.22.2015

Since the temperatures have soared this week to their usual July highs I was thinking of cool things this afternoon and remembered the snow that fell overnight in February 2011.  Sawyer and Blossom weren't quite a year old and they loved it.  I had to bring them in after a few minutes to let them warm up and then they wanted out in it again!  The cold didn't bother them one bit!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Little lessons

I learn something every day, as most people do whether they realize it or not.  It seems that even with many years of experience with planning, packing, and travelling that with each road trip and each dog show that I learn more about travelling conveniently, practically, and economically. 

What I learned on this trip is mundane, but important to remember for future trips.  Here are my 3 little lessons:

1.  Protect your feet at the cost of being fashionable.  It's been years since I donned tennis shoes with dress clothes, but it is a practice to revive.  My feet are tender and were already trashed from wearing flat sandals.  Then I walked around on concrete floors all day Friday in dress flats. Saturday morning it was time to put those comfy, supporting tennis shoes on until ring time.  I love my sandals, but comfort is now a must.  Leave the sandals home when you have a lot of walking to do.

2.  Balance what you do so you don't exhaust yourself - or your dog.  I opted out of going to some dog friendly places in Houston, like the Houston Arboretum, because of the heat.  But we were still go, go, go all the time.  As we pulled out of the gas station and sat at the last light before getting on the freeway to come home I snapped this picture of Bentley.  He was exhausted today and slept most of the ride home.  Truthfully, I'm tired, too.  Whether your activities are planned or spontaneous, think ahead as to how they will effect you and the dog later. You will enjoy your trip much more if you aren't worn out from all your activities.

3.  If you opt to take along food to sustain you, then you must remember that in order to consume the food that you have to have it with you.  If you leave the bag of sliced cucumber in the hotel fridge, then when you have a late afternoon hunger attack you will probably cave to the pizza craving.  Likewise while driving if you pass up the rest stop where you could sit and munch on a sandwich and some fruit then you will most likely end up pulling through the Whataburger drive through and consuming a large burger and large sugary Coca-Cola that will sit like a rock in your stomach in the afternoon heat.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Don't leave home without this!

Bentley and I are on the road again.  We rolled into Houston yesterday afternoon for the "Houston World Series of Dog Shows" held in the building adjacent to NRG Center, home of the Houston Texans and host to many events.  The poor little Astro Dome sits forlornly next door, but it is not the subject of this post. And neither is the dog show since I've posted enough lately about our adventures in the ring. But it is the subject of something that I almost always take along with me, even on day trips and that ice chest.  I have several in different sizes so I can take along anything from a few bottles of water or tea to enough food for a full weekend of meals for a trip to the coast.

As I packed the ice chest for this trip I had flashbacks to growing up and road trips in the family car.  Being military we were either travelling to a new assignment or on the road from somewhere to visit relatives.  One thing that Daddy always included on these trips was an ice chest that was packed into the trunk last thing where it was easily retrieved when needed.  He filled it with ice from the motel ice machine, he did not buy ice ever.  As far as I can remember it was just a Styrofoam ice chest, but fairly large in size.  I know we always had milk to drink for breakfast or to pour into a cup with cereal.  And, I think we had sandwich fixings although I don't remember exactly what.  Probably baloney or home made pimento cheese as those were popular items in our home. I just know that the ice chest was always a part of our journey.

I'm sure Daddy did this as a money saving measure with three kids and two adults to feed.  But as I thought about it I realized that when I was fairly young that Ronald and Jack weren't yet on every corner.   Fast food had not taken hold of our eating habits; if you wanted a meal you had to stop and sit down in a restaurant.  That took up time and time on the road was precious to my father. He would pull over along the side of the road, retrieve the ice chest from the trunk, put it in the front seat with my mother, and we would continue on down the road.  When we finished the meal he pulled over again and put the ice chest back into the trunk. No time was wasted with this process. Plus, we were often travelling in the middle of nowhere and there were no places to stop to eat anyway. 

My reasons for squeezing an ice chest into a fully loaded car for this trip are pretty much the same as the ones from my childhood.  Compare these:

1) when travelling with a dog you either eat fast food from a drive through or find a dog friendly restaurant, much like travelling in the middle of nowhere with no eating places.
2) I need to save money as these shows and trips are getting expensive, Daddy's philosophy of frugality!
3) after a long day at the dog show I don't want to fight traffic to get to any eating place, I just want to get to the hotel and chill out (so does Bentley!).  Time is precious.
4) as much as I love to eat out I know it is not really healthy. If I can eat a few healthy meals, that offsets some of the processed food's unhealthy effects! The Candlewood Suites where we are staying offers me a full size fridge, 2-burner cook top, dishwasher and microwave - all the comforts of home.

This last reason is the only one that really is different from Daddy's philosophy!  I have to think that the ice chest habit is a good one that carried over from those growing up days.  So, don't leave home without one!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday 07.15.2015

Renner School
Dallas Heritage Village
This two-story school was built in 1888 to serve the community of Renner, Texas, located north of Dallas. Schools were established early in the formation of most communities, but farm chores took precedence over education. School terms were scheduled between the fall harvest and spring plantings.  Teachers usually had to board with student families and often were overworked and underpaid. In addition to teaching they were responsible for the building's upkeep.

In the 1880's Texas appropriated funds to construct schools and improve education; the school in Renner School is typical of schools built during this time. The interior and exterior details and the number of windows and their arrangement indicate that the building may have been built from one of many architectural patterns available at that time. A wood burning stove warmed the building in the winter and cross-ventilation from the windows cooled it in the warmer months.  First through fifth grades assembled in the classroom downstairs and sixth and seventh met upstairs in the "high school" room. 

The building was moved to the Dallas Heritage Village in 1977 and restored.  The original black boards (boards painted black) are visible and walls and trim remain their original color of grey.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Fives 07.10.2015

Tonight I give thanks

1.  For the little Divine nudge that gave me the energy to get out and mow and trim my yard.  I was exhausted when I got home and didn't think I could do it.  But I did!

2.  For the satisfaction that comes when a task is completed and checked off my list.

3.  For the first sip of coffee in the morning. I've easily cut back to only one cup a day, and honestly that's all I really want.  But that first sip is always the best.

4.  For the smell of the rosemary and basil tonight as I trimmed along the pathway by them.  They are my favorite herbs and shared their fragrance with me as I brushed by them.

5.  For the realization that attitude is everything.  Shake off those blues, quit complaining, shift your thoughts to something pleasant, and remember to be thankful for all great and simple things.  A thankful heart yields a joyful attitude.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wednesday 07.08.2015

I have always been intrigued by a building that is in the process of being moved.  In fact, my earliest memory of being fascinated with an old building was when I was about 7 or 8 years old and an old house in my Dad's home town was being cut in half and moved.  We were military and Daddy always subscribed to their home town papers so we could stay in touch. There was a picture of the cut in half house on the front page of the paper; I couldn't stop staring at it.  It was a large white house and as I remember it had columns. The questions poured forth from my young mouth until finally one of my parents told me to quit worrying about it that it was just an old house that was being moved.  

On our next visit to my grandparents' house when the adults began planning a little drive around the county I begged to go see the house that had been cut in half.  My grandmother was puzzled until Daddy called the house by name.  It was a little out of the way for that trip, but on another trip they relented and took me by the house.  At that time you could still see the line down the middle of the pediment and the front of the house.  The questions started again. I wanted to go back every visit!

So, when I saw this building raised up off the ground I had to park and walk back to make pictures even though I had no camera, only a cell phone.  Until a few months ago this building was well known because it leaned considerably.  And, yes, it was in use as a business!  The lean was a distinguishing feature. 

I'm not sure what is going on here now.  The building was straightened and was going to be moved into the nearby historic Pearl Brewery, but that had been blocked.  Then it was to be renovated, so I assume that this work is part of the renovation process.

So what was this leaning landmark?  It was built as a house in 1890 by a former brew master at the Pearl, Fritz Boehler.  Over the years it has served as a boarding house, general store, and a saloon.  The Liberty Bar, Boehler's Bar & Grill, and Minnie's Tavern and Rye House have called it home. I think that "Liberty Bar" is synonymous with this building; everyone always associated that name with the leaning building on Josephine Street!

I'm not sure what it's next phase of life will bring, but I'm watching.  In fact if I lived in that area I would probably be down there asking a million questions. To see a picture of the building before this renovation CLICK HERE

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!