Flying high above and feeling blessed-questions I ponder while flying

Headed to paradise, flying high above and through the clouds, I ask myself, “Why do I feel so spiritual up here?” Why do I feel more? Why do I feel the need to pray so much and actually feel more-feel more blessed, feel more close to God, feel more little?

If you know me at all, you know I love a blue sky. Beautiful, bright, blue skies, clustered with fluffy, thick, white clouds. I am always looking up on days like this and I am always taking pictures of the blue sky and the white clouds.

Flying high above and feeling blessed-questions I ponder while flying

Continue reading Flying high above and feeling blessed-questions I ponder while flying

I think I have been taking pictures all my life.

Taking pictures and making memories.

Two years ago, tomorrow, Danni and I left on an adventure across the globe, all by ourselves, to go see Cameron.  It is still one of my favorite trips and I think of the fun time the three of us experienced together often.

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London calling!

Cameron was attending Texas Tech University and was doing a study abroad.  She left in early September, all by herself without knowing a soul, flew to London, where she joined other college students to study.

taking pictures
On the London Eye

She attended Kingston University, southwest London, about a thirty minute train ride outside of London. The university was founded in 1899.  She stayed in a dorm with three other dormmates–boys and girls.  A few of them did not speak English. She luckily had a bedroom and bathroom all her own.

Continue reading I think I have been taking pictures all my life.

Be a bridge

Bridges are interesting, aren’t they? Some are merely functional, a way to get over a waterway or a road. Concrete passages to the place you are headed.

Still others are architectural masterpieces. A piece of art in the sky, spanning high above a river or bay, and more, much more than a method to get from one place to another.

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge, at Crissy Beach

These are the bridges I admire. The beauty, the history, the ‘how in the world do they build that?’ bridge.

How do they build them? Especially over large bodies of water? I don’t understand it and my mind can’t comprehend it. I simply like to stare at them. And take pictures of those steel beauties.

Continue reading Be a bridge

I now see Waco

Who am I? Good question.

One should constantly be growing and learning and I believe I am. I have grown into a person who loves life. I love so many things around me. Waco is one of those things.

Sometimes I feel like I not only have found my words but also my eyes.

Or do I now see Waco for the beauty it is because I now write and I am always looking for stories?

I see beauty all around me in the simplest things. I write about all those things on my blog and also, occasionally I get to write about those Waco things for the paper I write for, The Hometown News and for The Groove Entertainment Magazine.

Waco
On the Suspension Bridge, in Waco, looking at the Washington Bridge

Continue reading I now see Waco

A walk in the clouds

When we were in San Francisco, last week, not everything was roses. Wednesday, we had a day. I suppose you could say it was one to remember. And while it was not perfect, it was still fun and after all, we were in San Francisco.

We started the day off with coffee and macaroons, so how bad could that be?

San Francisco
Fisherman’s Grotto at the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

We headed to Fisherman’s Wharf and up past The Cannery. From there we walked up the hill to Ghirardelli Square. We were trying to find a place to eat lunch, outside of course. (my favorite!)

San Francisco
The Cannery at fisherman’s Wharf

We settled on a great sidewalk café-type-seafood place, Lew’s Fish Shack, on Jefferson Street.

We watched people, rested our feet, talked about our morning and enjoyed probably the best lump crab meat crab sandwich ever. When we were finished, we ubered to Crissy Field.

Golden Gate Bridge
Crissy Field

We were told this was the best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Crissy Field, or Crissy Beach, is an old air strip that is now a public beach and wildlife preserve, and just so happens to be butted up to the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco
geese at Crissy Beach Wildlife Preserve

In every big city I travel, I have a fascination with a piece of architecture-generally one building or structure. The Eiffel Tower, The Empire State Building, Big Ben, and The London Eye. (London gets two favorites because it’s that amazing!) Even Waco—I love the Alico Building.

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Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Beach

I found my newest building-love. I have a new fondness for this magical bridge. It seems magical to me because it’s always hiding in the low clouds or the fog. Mystical. Mysterious. Eerie.

San Francisco
the walk to Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field

I was always looking for it no matter what part of San Francisco we were in. If I could see the bay, I would be asking, “Can you see the bridge?”

And when I got a glimpse of her red beams, I would get so excited. I was hoping the weather would clear up so I could see her in all her glory.

Golden Gate Bridge
Crissy Beach

We were told that clouds roll in over the hills. Like they get stuck. The clouds form there right over her, hiding her beauty.

This makes the bridge even more appealing to me.

San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge

Back to the story…we get out of the Uber and because I am so excited to get out and start taking pictures, I stupidly left my phone in the car. I did not realize this until he had driven away and we had begun our walk closer to the Golden Gate Bridge. I had already started taking pictures with my camera before I noticed.

I was a bit freaked out. My phone is an extension of my hand. Truly.

Mark nicely stayed back, near the road, in case the driver came back. Danni and I started the long walk to the bridge, all the while I am freaking out.

So this was not as enjoyable as I had anticipated and dreamed of. I couldn’t wait to take selfies with the bridge behind us. I was so mad at myself.

Golden Gate Bridge
Danni and I in front of Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field

Danni was brilliant and got on the app, logged in under my account and magically got ahold of the Uber driver. (maybe the bridge has magic after all?) HE HAD MY PHONE!!! The day was saved, although I did not get my phone back until we returned to the hotel after 11:00 p.m., that evening.

San Francisco
Alcatraz as seen from Crissy Beach

Going all day without my phone. I did it. I survived. We should probably all go one day without our phones every once in a while, just to prove we can. Of course, I had no choice.

Crissy Beach
Danni walks fast

The end of the story…we had to walk forever to get to an area where we could get another Uber. And I complained the entire time. It was approximately a two-mile walk. And I had knee surgery in March. And I had already been walking all morning. And I didn’t have my phone.(excuses!)

That day, our Fitbit’s showed we had I walked approximately 20,000 steps.

Back to the beauty of the bridge…don’t hide your beauty behind your clouds. Let your beautiful self-show.

Don’t hide your beauty behind your clouds. Let your beautiful self-show. Click To Tweet
San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge

And try to go without your phone every once in a while!

(Oh and one more bit of advice, don’t talk politics after a bottle of wine.  Or two. But that’s another story…)

Love and blessings~dd

 

 

All the feels of fall

 

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view from the grapevines at the Meritage Resort in Napa

One of the best things from our trip to San Francisco and Napa was the weather and the natural fall colors, even in the big city.

It’s no secret that I love fall and all the feels of fall. The temperatures, the colors, the smells. It’s also no secret that I live in Texas and we have very few of these feels.

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the trees out our window in San Francisco

“Life is either an adventure…. or nothing at all,” said Helen Keller.

Helen Keller didn’t have the ability to see or hear but she still knew what adventure was. She was a smart girl.

Our adventure started in San Francisco and it was full of all the glory of fall. The trees were beautiful and even though it was a large urban city, it was full of streets and neighborhoods that were tree lined and full of color.

Our view out our hotel was stunning because we saw the bay, the wharf and all that entails. And these trees.

Pier 39
View from our hotel room in San Francisco, Pier 39

Our window opened wide and when we were in the room, it was open. I would have slept with it open, if it were up to me. You could hear all the street music (this reminded me of Paris and New Orleans). You could even hear the sea lions barking and that was lovely. You could feel the cool air. You could smell the sea.

The neighborhoods were full of touches of fall, both manmade and natural.

Halloween
storefront in North beach area of San Francisco

The storefronts had pumpkins and Halloween décor.

We walked up (most everything was up!) the hill to Ghirardelli Square where the stores were lovely and the smell of chocolate was even more lovely.

San Francisco
Ghirardelli Square

There was a fountain in the center of the square that had been emptied and the water had been replaced with pumpkins–of every size and color. It was a sight for these fall-loving eyes.

San Francisco
pumpkins in the fountain at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

In the streets and on the sidewalks, there were beautiful fall colored leaves. That had fallen. (duh!)

San Francisco
leaves on the streets of san Francisco

I would love a bouquet of fresh fall leaves. They really can be almost as pretty and vibrant as flowers.  They probably wouldn’t have the same lovely fragrance though, would they?

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”- Albert Camus

Napa
Inglenook Winery
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”- Albert Camus Click To Tweet
Napa
grapevines in Napa

Napa was also full of these colors, and the cooler fall temps. In the perfect rows of grapevines, in the rolling hills that seems to be like a fall patchwork quilt. And of course in the trees. All the sights mixed with drizzling rain and cool temperatures, I knew I was no longer in Texas.

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Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Winery

Our view out our patio in Napa was another lovely sight. Grapevines, that were changing colors, and a statue of a grape stomper.

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view out our patio at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa

One day, Danni and I were sitting on the patio and I saw something moving. I wish we had binoculars but we did have my camera with a zoom.

A sweet little jack rabbit. His big ears were swishing when I first saw him. In our family, we love bunnies and see them as a sign of peace.

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jack rabbit we saw in Napa

This was a very peaceful place.

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In Napa, even walls have pretty fall leaves. (Inglenook Winery)

The wineries that we visited were all full of natural vegetation that was feeling the autumn temperatures. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of all the fall beauty.

It was everywhere.  Even growing up the ancient walls of the wineries.

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”- John Burroughs

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fallen leaves in Napa

Yes, the weather definitely played a part of our experience in California. It was almost another character to the story. When we stepped off the plane in Dallas, it all came back, hitting us in the face-like a bad pie. It was like walking back in time into August all over again.

Leaves
Napa moments with Lisa

Thanks for welcoming us home, Texas. I love you, but I am not sure why I live here in you.

Love and blessings~dd

This is not the first time I have written about fall leaves. To read more of my love for these beautiful shapely gifts from God, read here.

 

A day to remember

Saturday was one to remember. As the popular saying goes, “Best day ever!’

Napa Valley
Saint Helena-Zinfandel

Our group of 17 boarded our private bus and headed to our first winery. The drive there was simply incredible. I’m really loving the weather here, the fall colors and even the drizzling rain can’t be complained about. It seems to make it that much more dreamy. That much more not-Texas-like.  It feels like fall.  It looks like fall.  It smells like fall and I am in love with every aspect of this place.

Bus to vineyards
Fun on the bus

I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.” Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield

We drove through Napa Valley and into Rutherford and I couldn’t help but take a million pictures of the grapevines, the fall trees, and the hills lined with both. The fiery reds and brilliant oranges.  The golden yellows. (Can you tell I was happy with the colors of fall in this place?)

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Napa Valley

Our driver told us the week before was in the 90’s so I felt blessed to have this weather.  If it looked and felt like Texas, I don’t think it would have seemed as dreamy. We were all in awe of the beauty.

Our first stop was at Mumm Napa.

Mumm Napa
Mumm Napa

It was a quaint little vineyard with shiplap and succulents so I was happy. Extremely light and airy-and I’m not speaking of the wine.  The grounds were beautiful and the view of a hill, lined with rows of grapevines, was breathtaking.  (I’m sorry for all the adjectives!!)

Mumm Napa
beautiful table at Mumm Napa

They had a gorgeous long table set up for the seventeen of us with three champagne glasses each. The rustic barn wood table completely finished the loveliness of the whole experience.

Lisa, Danni and I at Mumm Napa
Lisa, Danni and I at Mumm Napa

We tried three sparkling wines and I loved them all. (Duh!) A dry, a rose and a sweeter version.

sparkling wine at Mumm Napa
Mumm Napa

The whole experience, I thought at the time, couldn’t be topped, but I was wrong.

Danni and I at Mumm Napa
Danni and I at Mumm Napa

Louis Pasteur said it best. “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”

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After shopping and shipping wine home, we jumped back on the bus and headed to what soon would top Mumm Napa.

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The next stop was my favorite of the day.  Not neccesarily better–just different in a lovely way.

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More lush grounds, rolling hills, lined with rows of grapevines and a beautiful house built in the 1800’s. The grounds surrounding the house were perfectly manicured and the entire thing looked like something you would see in the countryside of London.

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And another beautiful, long table filled with empty wine glasses.

Napa Valley
Long, communal table at Flora Springs

This was Flora Springs, named after a lady named Flora that lived to see her 100th birthday. (Perhaps all the wine??)

Flora Springs
Flora Springs

We sat outside under a red barn-like structure that was open and in the fall air. And it began a misting rain, although we were completely sheltered from the mist. We started with a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc and then moved to the reds.

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We had lunch served to us that just might have been the best sandwich I’ve ever had–fresh French bread, ham, turkey, and all that goes with plus pasta salad and grape leaves filled with something delicious and fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. For desert, a simple chocolate covered strawberry. Perfection.

Was it the meal or perhaps the experience of the surrounds?

We were able to tour the cave-like area where they store the wines in barrels. Lots of information, lots of pictures and lots of wine. And lots of laughs.

Flora Springs at Napa
Mark and I at Flora Springs

The experience at Flora was my favorite but there was one more winery to visit that was equally dreamy.

Flora Springs in Napa
Flora Springs

Off to another and it seemed every time the 17 of us got back on the bus we were a bit louder than the time before!

Francis Ford Coppola. Heard of him? He is not only known for some pretty awesome movies but also some pretty awesome wine.

Inglenook Winery
walking on the grounds at Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Winery

Coppola owns Inglenook Winery. A very dark, ancient, European-looking winery that was fairytale-like, and once again, the grounds were an unbelievable perfection of all the fall colors and the drizzly rain made it seem even more so like something in London.

Inglenook Winery
Staircase inside Inglenook Winery

We toured and drank (I mean tasted) and drank and toured (I mean tasted). More barrels, information and gunite-lined caves full of wine barrels.

Inglenook
Inglenook wine barrels

And again, the most beautiful long table, this time with charcuterie boards full of yumminess-everything needed to accompany delicious wine.

Inglenook
table at Inglenook Winery
Inglenook Winery
Inglenook’s barrels

All three wineries, equally beautiful, romantic, dreamy–with impressive wine, but yet all three different and offered a completely different experience.

Good wine, good food, good fun with good people. Perfect day. Best day ever. A day to remember.

Marti turns 50!
Marti turns 50!

love and blessings~dd

 

 

Feeling happy and exhausted

Feeling happy and exhausted this morning as I sit outside on our balcony, looking at grapevines that are the prettiest colors of fall, I write.  Finally.

Pier 39
View from our hotel room in San Francisco, Pier 39

Confucius say, “Whereever you go, go with your heart.”

We had trouble with our wifi in San Francisco and I am sad I have failed my thirty-wonderful days of writing challenge by missing Wednesday through Friday. I will make this up( to myself) by writing through November a few days.

San Francisco Pier 39
Boats on Pier 39

As I predicted, I fell in love with the city of San Francisco. Mainly the wharf area and North Beach.

Alcatraz
Alcatraz
As I predicted, I feel in love with the city of SAN Francisco. Mainly the wharf area and North Beach.… Click To Tweet

North Beach was this neighborhood area, primarily Italian, with the nicest people, the best Italian restaurants and gelato.

North Beach, San Francisco
North Beach house

I could live in that area.

Danni, Mark and I had a wonderful time exploring the city. We covered a lot of it (of course not all) and most every area we saw was clean and beautiful.

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love,” said Ernest Hemingway

Golden Gate Bridge
Danni and I in front of Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field
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The architechture was amazing.

Painted Ladies
The Painted Ladies in Alamo Square

I love how cities have their known architechture. London and Paris have distinct buildings and San Fran has it’s, also.

Bay windows everywhere.

Tomorrow, I will tell the story of losing my phone and luckily getting it back. Thank you to Raymond.

Today, we are exploring Napa by going to three vineyards with 17 people. There is fun to be had!

Napa Valley
Napa Valley at Shipyard Acres

We are all here celebrating 50 years of my sister-in-law/cousin, Marti. (That story is a blog post all on its own! It’s legal-I promise!!)

Marti and I
Marti and I

love and blessings~dd

oh darling, let’s be adventurers.

Today is the day.  I have been looking forward to and dreaming of this day for about a year and it is finally here.  Planning trips and dreaming of them are part of the fun.

As Dr. Seuss said in “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!

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We took the pups to be boarded, picked up Danni and off we were…to the airport.

Sadly, Cameron and Alex were not able to join us on this trip.  As sad as I am and as much as I will miss them, they have their own lives they lead.

Alex is in his college roommate’s wedding. Him and Ben were also both Delt’s and I really am upset we are missing the wedding because we love Ben and I would love to go to Fredericksburg. (Napa, though!!)

Cameron is in grad school, graduating in December, and has decided to be all-grown-up and responsible-acting (I am actually very proud of her!).  She has class, homework, volunteering and her internship. The therapeutic horse ranch where she interns is having a huge fundraising event Saturday and Cameron had to be there.img_9858

So it is Mark, Danni and I. We are being joined by 15 others on Thursday and heading to Napa.

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Oh darling, lets be adventurers.

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Oh darling, lets be adventurers. #write31days #travel #sanfrancisco Click To Tweet
Oakland Bridge
Bridge to Oakland

So the fun began.

Sea lions at Pier 39
Sea lions at Pier 39

 

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” -T.S. Eliot

Pier 39
San Francisco Pier 39

love and blessings~dd

 

 

Take out and explore

Have you ever vacationed somewhere and fell in love with the city? As if the place now has a part of you and you of it?

Have you ever vacationed somewhere and fell in love with the city? As if the place now has a part of… Click To Tweet

This happens to me quite regularly and I believe that is why I love to travel so very much.

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walking around Sundance Square, in Ft. Worth

Yes, getting away is nice. Seeing new things and having new adventures and eating new food. That is all wonderful and a wonderful part of traveling.

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Mark and I in Ruidoso, NM

But I truly fall in love with places.

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Palais du Trocadero or across from the Eiffel Tower

I read a quote by a writer that seems to artfully describe what happens when I travel. Patrick Wiltse sums it up beautifully.

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French Quarter, New Orleans

As you immerse yourself in an area over the course of a walk, you form a relationship with that area and your world expands, adding a new piece to the ever growing mosaic of the earth that has passed beneath your feet.”

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So true.

Paris, France
walking in Paris

When we visit a city, we like to walk the city. Take out and explore. Find places to eat and places to sit and watch people. I am known as the outdoorsy-type. And by that I mean– I like to sit outside and have drinks, relax, talk and watch people.

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sitting along the Champs-elysees, in Paris

I believe when you actually connect your feet to the city streets you become a part of the city, you learn more about it and the people.  You blend in with the city. (unless you are really looking like a tourist!) Become one. You merge with it.

A piece of my heart stays there in the new city I explore. I yearn to go back.

Big Ben, London
London calling!

This has happened with New York, Paris, Rome and many places in the U.S., but none more than London. I have been blessed to travel to London two times and I will go back. God willing.

London, England
Flying into London

This produces a syndrome called vacation depression.

Do not laugh.  This is real.

As we travel to a new city this week, a city we have never discovered, I fear this place will take another piece of me. I have always wanted to go to San Francisco but have never been.

I am excited about all the sights and sounds and tastes of this place.

The legendary Chronicle columnist Herb Caen said, “A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.”

Caen also said, “One day if I go to heaven… I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.'” (Now I haven’t traveled there yet, but I am pretty sure I won’t agree with that quote.)

Oscar Wilde seems to feel the same way. “It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”

But the most famous San Franciscan quote has to be by Mark Twain. “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

The most famous San Franciscan quote has to be by Mark Twain, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a… Click To Tweet
London
St. James Park, London

I am looking forward to the weather. Any weather that is not Texas weather is good weather. I’ve packed my sweaters. I am ready to go.

love and blessings~dd