The long and short of it.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Some are long and short. And are four-legged.

Charli and Martha

Charli and Martha give me smiles every day. Smiles and laughter.

Prudence and the pups
Prudence and the pups

My love of weenie dogs started with a brief love affair as a child with a little black dachshund named Chigger. Chigger ended up going to live on a farm. (I choose to believe he truly did.)

That was a dark day in my life but imagining him on that farm helped me smile.

In 1999, a sweet little pup named Millennium of the Hills of Childress Creek blessed us with her sweet self for over ten years. Ten years of smiles. Milli was an angel.

Cameron and Milli (circa 2000)
Cameron and Milli (circa 2000)

Her side kick, Darby, came to be a part of our lives in 2001 and was a family member until 2014. Milli and Darby were the original weenteam. Many smiles, kisses and memories came from these two.

Milli and Darby
Milli and Darby
sweet Darby
sweet Darby

Our non-weenie dog, otherwise known as a lab, puts up with the doxies.  When she was a puppy, Jemma, (aka-Remi), thought she wanted to be a weenie dog.  She grew out of that.  Now, she tolerates them and gives them a place to lay.

jem-and-cha

Poor Jemma.

Milli and Darby both now live on a farm beyond the rainbow bridge.

Jemma and the original weenteam (circa 2010)
Jemma and the original weenteam (circa 2010)

If you have loved and lost a pet, you know the pain. It is truly a horrible time but like all things-life goes on. You are left with memories. And tear-stained smiles.

If you have loved and lost a pet, you know the pain. It is truly a horrible time but like all… Click To Tweet
Jemma and Darby (circa 2011)
Jemma and Darby (circa 2011)

When Darby died two years ago, I didn’t think I was ready, not yet anyway, for the next doxie. Cameron searched and found one and I said yes. When the breeder sent me her picture, I cried. I knew it was time and I knew I was in love without ever meeting her.

I was thankful that Cameron had pushed me. She knew I wanted another; needed another weenie dog in my life. And she was right.

Charli! Picture taken by Cameron Davis
Charli! Picture taken by Cameron Davis

Charli is an angel. She is stubborn and a grump and I love her. Because of her grumpiness, I smile. She is only sweet when she wants to be. She is cat-like. Has to be her idea.

Cha!
Cha!

Grumpy or not, she blesses me every day.

Then came Martha. And once again, we have a weenteam. I think weenie dogs are meant to be in two’s–like on the ark. They entertain each other. Play together. When they cuddle, I smile. When they play, I smile. (you get the idea)

pups

Martha is the sweetest weenie dog I have had yet. She is happiest when she is in your lap, smothering you in kisses and she lets me pet her belly any time I want. (Charli, not so much)

Martha!
Martha!

And weenie dog bellies are the sweetest. They make me smile.

Maw belly
Maw belly

So blessings, no matter how short-or long, brighten your world.

Faith also comes in all sizes. And sometimes our faith is stronger than other times. We go through periods of great faith and times of “so little faith”.

Faith also comes in all sizes. And sometimes our faith is stronger than other times. We go through… Click To Tweet
Maw and Jem
Maw and Jem

Sometimes when your world goes dark you have to search harder for the blessings. They are there, always there, you just have to look harder at times. (You are breathing, aren’t you?)

Sometimes when your world goes dark you have to search harder for the blessings. They are there,… Click To Tweet

“If you have faith… nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

I have had days where it’s impossible to find these so called blessings. But because I always have faith– I always find those blessings. And that smile.

Cha smiles
Cha smiles

“If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

lean on me...
lean on me…

Having faith and never faltering is not only the way God wants us to live, but it is the only way. It is the only way to find those smiles when you need them the most. Finding the smiles when it seems there are no smiles to be had–that is faith. Faith is always knowing you can smile and knowing that there will be a day when smiles will be plentiful once again. Faith.

Maw and Cha
Maw and Cha

So find your ‘weenie dog’ of life. Find that something that always makes you smile even on those dark days.

So find your ‘weenie dog’ of life. Find that something that always makes you smile even on those dark… Click To Tweet
weenteam
weenteam

God gave me weenie dogs. What did He give you?

God gave me weenie dogs. What did He give you? Click To Tweet

Love and blessings~dd

 

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Some are long and short. And are four-legged. Read my blog at… Click To Tweet

What is it about September?

What is it about September? Why does it feel like a fresh start? A do-over? A time to begin again? To restart that New Year’s resolution?

blog-sept

When my kids were little, we would play all summer–go, go, going- and there was always a little part of me that was ready for them to get back to school so that we could have a normal schedule again. Then they all graduated.

And yet, I still have that feeling, that yearning, for September and a schedule. And school supplies.

blog-school-supplies

We would make that trek to Target for school supplies when my kids were young. It was always so fun for them. And me. We would come home, go to our study, all four get into the floor, with a marker in-hand and start making the three piles. I remember these days well.

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms,” Joe Fox types to Kathleen Kelly, the Shopgirl, in an email in You’ve Got Mail.

Doesn’t everyone love school supplies in September?

There is something about the pens, the notebooks and the post-it notes. As an adult, they still get to me and I want to grab them all. I find myself strolling the “back-to-school” isle at Target every year. Even though I have no one to buy school supplies for any longer. These days, I love the planners, stickers and washi tape. And still the pens–definitely the pens.

Buy the EpicBlog planner below
Buy the EpicBlog planner below

I suppose when you grow-up, the school supply-lover becomes an office-supply lover?

A pretty desk makes this office supply-lover very happy.

blog-desk

And then there is that part of September that makes you want to be better—our second-January. I always use this time to try to eat better and start walking again (because in Texas it is really too hot to walk in the summer!). You can re-evaluate that NYR that quite possibly failed.

dogs3

A great way to refresh your mind, start something new, is to learn. Go back to those school days, but this time, as an adult, you can learn whatever you are interested in.

hand lettering 101 available for purchase below on Amazon!
hand lettering 101 available for purchase below on Amazon!

Learn to hand-letter beautifully. Learn to grow succulents.

instagram2

Learn to sew. Learn a new adventurous recipe. Learn to arrange flowers.

blog-flowers

Just learn.

blog-writer

The world wide web is a miraculous thing. You can Google and learn anything. I am in the process of learning to be a better writer. A better blogger. Even a better Instagram-er. I read something every day to help me learn to do what I love even better.

(And if you read the blog post before this-you know I have been learning about growing pumpkins!)

Prudence!
Prudence!

What are some ways that you re-start your year in September? What are some things you would like to learn to do?

Go sharpen some pencils, think it over, straighten your desk and enjoy your day. Oh, and learn!

love and blessings~dd

Dear Prudence

Did you know The Beatles have a song titled Dear Prudence? It is from 1968 and was written by John Lennon about Prudence Farrow, the sister to Mia. Not one I am too familiar with but it might now be a favorite.

Dear Prudence, won’t you come out and play? Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day. The sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you.

Harvest day
Harvest day

Such simple words.

Dear, Prudence, thank you for growing so big and strong. (not part of the song)

Prudence
Prudence

Of course, if you don’t know- I am talking about my first-ever pumpkin child. If you don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you might be wondering why I have flipped over a pumpkin? (you might be wondering either way?)

Prudence!
Prudence!

This infatuation has been years in the making. Cameron and I used to throw my fall pumpkins in the pasture to see if the horses would eat or play with them. (they never did) Year after year, the day after Thanksgiving when we were decorating for Christmas, we discarded them in the pasture. We would always have a vine or two emerge. And perhaps a bright, yellow flower. But nothing more.

curly-cues
curly-cues

Then I started putting them in an empty flower bed. Year after year, I would water and baby them. I would get a few vines and a few bright, yellow flowers. But nothing more.

vines in the front yard
vines in the front yard

Last December, we decided to move the cast-off pumpkins to the backyard, to a flowerbed. When the vines started sprouting, I again watered and babied them.

And then boom.

Can you see the rosebush?
Can you see the rosebush?

I had massive vines. Spanning the entire flowerbed, overtaking the rose bush, spilling out into the grass and eventually over the deck and spreading its vine all over the deck.

pumpkin july
spilling over the flowerbed in July

It was crazy. I started to get hopeful. I turned to Google. I learned all I could about pumpkin patches and growing and pollinating. And bees.

vines were everywhere-in every direction
vines were everywhere-in every direction

The first few flowers were male. I had to learn all about male and female flowers. Yes, there is a huge difference just like in all the other creatures God created. Nature is impressive.

pumpkin patch on the porch
pumpkin patch on the porch

Also, there are way more males than females. Males have long green stems. Females have a tiny green pumpkin under them.

female pumpkin flower
female pumpkin flower

I soon learned that the flower, both male and female, close after a few hours. I also soon learned that it seemed we didn’t have any bees.

I had to take nature in my own hands. (Google told me that! Google is the new “they say…”)

I had to put on my virtual overalls and go to farmin. (read that with a thick, country accent)

self-polination
self-polination

Per Google, you must cut a male flower with good pollen (it falls on your finger when touched). Cut all the petals off, deep into the flower so only the stamen is exposed. And the weird, disturbing, look-around-to-see-if-anyone-is-looking part—insert the male stamen into the female flower. Yep.

Bees, please!

Now do you see why I love Prudence so much? I made her. Me and the male and female flower were in this together. And God.

pumpkin

When I saw Prudence was beginning to grow, literally almost immediately, I had so much pride, joy, and love for that little green orb.

pump dee

Deedee’s Pumpkin Patch was now a thing.

Cameron gave me the sign for my birthday!
Cameron gave me the sign for my birthday!

Mark was right there in the involved and excitement part with the patch. He would take the pups out in the morning, search the patch and tell me to ‘get up and get to farming’! It was fun for both of us to search for female flowers and watch them grow after they were pollinated. My girls, Danni and Cameron, would also ask for pictures of Prudence.  It was a family thing. (except Alex-haha)

Charli and Martha helped, also.

when the vines were still growing; stretching out onto the yard
when the vines were still growing; stretching out onto the yard

One day, I cut a male flower off because I was about to get busy (you have to joke about it!) pollinating and you will understand my excitement and surprise when I saw a bee inside the male flower! Bees!

pumpk bee

We now have three large growing pumpkins and several infants growing. I would have thought with the large, vast patch-we would have more than that. (I suppose this isn’t a bumper-crop year?)

We named the other pumpkins after Olympians. Meet Ledecky.
We named the other pumpkins after Olympians. Meet Ledecky.

We harvested Prudence and it appears she may be a Musque de Provence or a Fairytale pumpkin. I love her even more.

Musque de Provence (Fairytale)
Musque de Provence (Fairytale)

I now have pumpkin fever. Not your White-Girl-I-love-everything-pumpkin-flavored fever, it is the love of a pumpkin patch. The love of growing something from the dirt. The love of nature and knowing God had his hand in all this or it would not have happened.

I’ve always had plants and flowers inside and out, but this is so different. So much better.

Look Cha! How do we get off the deck?
Look Cha! How do we get off the deck?

Dear Prudence, thank you for showing me I can grow something beautiful with my own hands.

Prudence and the pups
Prudence and the pups

Love and blessings~dd

 

It all started with Mr. Green

It all started with Mr. Green.

Of course no one knows what this means except our family. Inside jokes are like that. And families with inside jokes are my kind of families.

Surfside Beach, Texas
Surfside Beach, Texas

The five of us have traveled together many times in our lives. We have been blessed with travel. Blessed by God to see a lot of His big, beautiful world.

beach chair 2

Traveling is one of our favorite things to do. And traveling together has always been special. Mark, my husband, and I have traveled alone, with friends, with friends and their kids and with family. We like traveling in our big groups and we also like traveling alone.

Let’s face it-traveling anywhere with anyone you love is truly wonderful.

Fallets Island/Surfside Beach
Fallets Island/Surfside Beach

This year, we had to postpone our “family” summer trip due to Cameron, my youngest, finishing up her semester of grad school. After all, school comes first.

beach sail

We tossed around a lot of options and ended up choosing a beach house an hour south of Galveston. We have been to Galveston many times in our married life. In fact, it was the first beach Mark and I experienced together. We always vacationed in Port Aransas when the kids were younger and we have also been blessed to fly and cruise to beaches, as well.

beach waves

 

Pelicans!
Pelicans!

We have stayed in hotels and rented condos. We have never rented a beach house and I am so happy this was our final choice.

Bluewater Bungalow
Bluewater Bungalow

One word. Perfection.

The beach house was perfect. The view was perfect. The décor was perfect. The beach, while not Caribbean-it was a Texas beach-still perfect. Perfection.

beach house
beach house

All the things I listed above added to our enjoyment and made for a perfect beach vacation.

But truthfully, what was perfect, was all five of us, all together, under one roof, all alone, with nothing to do but be together and enjoy each other and our surroundings. Perfect.

beach house 3

At times it felt to me like we were back on Hali Brooke, raising our kids and loving each other. There was less sibling fighting though – so perfect.

my beachcombers
my beachcombers

Danni was Danni. Alex was Alex and Cameron, being the baby of our family, was totally Cameron. Perfect.

push me!
push me!

My world. My people. My family. My future. Perfect.

rainy day when we first arrived
rainy day when we first arrived

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe I am as old as I am. I can’t believe I have been married to the same man for 29 years. I can’t believe I have three children. Grown children. Grown children with their own lives. I think we like to hold on to our youth for as long as possible in spite of everything because we are supposed to still be twenty-something.

the REAL blue water bungalow
the REAL blue water bungalow

My three kids, my husband and our life together are my whole life. My everything. My perfection.

beach chair 3

No matter how imperfect it actually is.

We had rain. We had mosquitoes. I cooked too much. My pups weren’t there with us. It wasn’t clear water.

But still perfection. Imperfect perfection.

I know my twenty-somethings will have their own lives and spouses and children (one can hope, right?) one day but having them, together, under one roof, on that beach, in that house, was like heaven to me as a mom and that was perfect!

beachcombers

I hope we have more vacations like this but if we don’t, I am truly blessed by our Lord to have this memory.

sunset at the Bluewater Bungalow
sunset at the Bluewater Bungalow

Perfect memories.

Love and blessings~dd

 

everyone should love everyone

Our country, among other things, seems to be arguing about which lives matter. Every life matters. Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. LGBT lives matter. Women matter. Men matter. Police matter. Americans matter.

All lives matter. We are all the same; from the same mold.

The Black Lives Matters movement, as a peaceful movement to educate and spread light on the unjust treatment of blacks in America, is an extremely important movement- until it turns violent.

And it has.

On July 7, Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fired upon police officers, in Dallas, watching over a peaceful rally on Black Lives Matter, killing five officers and injuring nine others. Two civilians were also wounded.

When men decide that it is ok to gun down police officers, the very people who keep us safe, day in and day out– that is when the peaceful movement gets a bad rep and becomes associated with violence. And to some, the movement looks as if it isn’t working. It appears to not be helping the cause-or anyone.

Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, spokesman for the Waco Police Department, spoke enlightening words and admiration for the citizens of Waco for their support to the Waco Police Department and its officers after the Dallas Police shootings.

Swanton answered about negativity and hate in Waco, “There was only the one incident of “Die Pigs” being written on one of our police vehicles. That was it.”

He continued, “The citizens of Waco have rallied around our officers with nothing but kindness. We have had coffee bought for us, had lunches provided, pizza delivered, cookies and cakes. We have not gone hungry around here, that’s for sure.” He went on, “The outpouring of support has been amazing in person and on our Facebook page, through cards, letters and emails. It speaks volumes.”

“We’ve had a good rapport with the Waco community. We struggle to do the best we can. We hold our force to high standards-nothing but professionalism. When we mess up, we hold our officers accountable. When we make a mistake, we correct it. And I think the community feels that,” Swanton expressed.

Speaking of the Waco citizens, he finished with, “We need them as much as they need us.”

There are bad people in every walk of life. You could find bad doctors and nurses, bad teachers, even bad priests. People make mistakes daily and people make bad judgements. People are human. That doesn’t make it right to kill police officers. This is only drawing negative attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not helping.

An eye for an eye does not produce peace or forgiveness. We need to heal this country, every part of it, rather than divide it. Unite not divide.

How do we stop violence against groups in America?

Our nation needs to begin a conversation that will help heal our country, heal each other and stop the violence against each other and the very people who vow to keep us safe as a daily routine.

The national conversation has begun.

Whether you call them inherent rights, natural rights or God-given rights, we as a society, no matter your background, net-worth, society or culture, have them. Ever since the 1776 Declaration of Independence, these rights have been called unalienable rights.

It is our inherent right, or the means by which we determine justice, fair entitlement and peaceful conflict resolution, to live in a free society. Free society comes with rules and laws. We all have inherent rights, but we must obey the laws and respect those that govern them.

We can say all the positive words. Love, grace, compassion, forgiveness, understanding to all people, no matter who they are or what they have done to us.

And while these words are a start, we need a continuation or all the social-ills will only escalate.

After the Dallas police shootings, Hillary Clinton said, “[There is] too much violence and hate in our country.”

She spoke the truth. And yet, what are the answers? What even are the questions?

Mother Teresa spoke wise words when she said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across waters to create many ripples.”

All the little ripples could make a change. Imagine if we all thought this way and started throwing stones-the right way- the positive way. If everyone would try to make a positive change, cause a ripple, in a positive way, we could make a really large ripple of change in this world we all share.

Sometimes you just have to decide that you want to be the change. We, as Americans, need to decide to go through life being the encourager-not the persecutor.

One man in Dallas started a ripple and it has been reached around the world with a poster board and a Sharpie. Chris Bailey drove downtown, to the crime scene, after the shootings in Dallas, armed with his poster board that read, “EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY”. He describes on his website that he was nervous about getting out of his car with his sign; he was compelled to do it.

Chris Bailey with his now famous sign
Chris Bailey with his now famous sign

He walked around downtown for two and a half hours, receiving hugs, fist bumps, thumbs up, waves, and lots of head nods. With excitement he wrote about getting zero negative responses. People took pictures of him and pictures with him. The Associated Press picked up one of those pictures and Bailey and his sign went viral. The news sources at the crime scene interviewed him and his story and picture has been in the newspapers in Houston, DC, and Spain. He has been on local news in Louisiana and even in Norway.

Bailey 2 ele

This simple message is a positive ripple.

Bailey was on a street corner, with his famous sign, during the interview. He expressed, “A lot of people don’t get out and do something because they feel they won’t make a change. I am just one guy and I have affected over 57,000 people. Do something simple. Just do SOMETHING.”

Then he added, “Show somebody that you love them.”

buy a shirt!
buy a shirt!

Bailey started a Facebook page that now has over 57,000 members that is spreading love and erasing hate. Bailey’s website, http://www.everybodyloveeverybody.net/ is selling t-shirts, hoodies, stickers and other items with the original, scribbled out, positive message on it- “EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY”

Bailey said he lives by the Golden Rule. The money will go towards his annual feeding of the homeless and providing Christmas for the Butler Housing Project in Fort Worth. The money for this usually comes out of his own pocket. He is in the process of becoming a non-profit.

When Bailey, a foundation repair salesman, was asked what the biggest positive that he has experienced out of this signage, he responded with, “My change of attitude. I’ve become a nicer guy, towards my family and my job. I made a 180 degree turn-around in less than a week. It is me that has changed.”

Amplify this message. Pay it forward.

This is our wake-up call. Like Bailey, show someone you care; that you love them. Everybody deserves love from everybody. Be too busy to hate.

love and blessings~dd

*This was an article I wrote for a special edition of The Hometown News.  I felt the words were important and should be a part of my blog.

 

Second Sunday in June

Becoming a Davis, as I did 30 years ago next month, means that once a year, on the second Sunday in June, you travel to Johnsville, Texas, to a tiny little white church (in the vale), you worship God and Jesus. Afterwards, there is a family reunion and you eat among the dead in the cemetery. (explanation to come)

Second Sunday in June
Johnsville Church of Christ

Johnsville is on CR206, just west of FM 2481, four miles north of Duffau; (where??) about 15 miles southeast of Stephenville.

Johnsville is a one room church, although there have been add-ons since 1987 when I first worshipped there. Behind the church is a cemetery, where many Davis’ before have been laid to rest. Here is where you enjoy catching up at the family reunion.

Second Sunday in June
Bob Davis’ and Don Davis’ five kids and wives~circa 1990

My history with Johnsville starts with OFF and outhouses and no air-conditioning (Yes! You read that right!) We are talking rural and back-in-the-day stuff!! I will honestly say-I wasn’t too excited about the whole thing. Although, being there with the one you love makes it all better; makes you want to endure the chiggers and the heat because you are finally a Davis.

Second Sunday in June
circa 2016

My first adventure was about a month before I was officially a Davis. When Mark and I first started dating, the year before, I was just shy of missing out on the Johnsville chiggers! (Should be the name of their football team!!)

And no-we did not date very long before we knew this was it; he was the one.

You had to walk down the hill just a bit-to the outhouse. The outhouse. Before you started the trek, it was a must to spray OFF or else—the chiggers! The church was not equipped with the modern convenience of cooled air-and being in June—it was always very hot! And eating outside, in June, is not always comfortable-the heat, the flies and the mosquitoes.

Second Sunday in June
lil white church in the vale

Year after year, Johnsville grows on you. Family reunion. When you see Mark’s cousins and see how happy his parents are that you are there, you are glad you came. There is true history in the place. Davis history. But the real history started way before me, even way before my in-laws. It began in the 1800’s.

The community of Johnsville was settled sometime before 1860 and was named for John Z. Martin when he was appointed first postmaster in 1901. (Imagine a town being named after the man who delivered your mail?)

Johnsville consisted of general stores, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, fraternal lodges, a school, a church, and numerous homes.  It was once a thriving village on the main road from Stephenville to Glen Rose, according to www.texasescapes.com

Second Sunday in June
Johnsville Cemetery-Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2013

The oldest graves in Johnsville Cemetery are those of the two infant children of Curtis and Annie (Cox) Burks and of W. B. and Mary (Smith) Cox. The children are believed to have died in 1907 and 1910. In 1910, Edward and Martha (Shaw) Cox sold 1.5 acres of land adjoining the church for use as a cemetery. The church was then almost fifteen years old. (There is a weird inside-Davis joke about an unknown baby and the grave it calls home!)

Second Sunday in June

They say, (who is they? I have no idea??) that pioneers from all walks of life settled in the area; teachers, masons, blacksmiths, merchants, soldiers, preachers, farmers, mothers, fathers, children, and many others created the community known as Johnsville. Many of them and their descendants were buried in the Johnsville Cemetery.

As were many Davis’.

In 1998, the Johnsville Cemetery was rewarded with an historical marker and a celebration to commemorate the occasion. We were all there for the ceremony. More Davis history. More family reunions.

Second Sunday in June

Now this historical marker was appropriate because when Mark and I were dating, I lived in Arlington and he lived in China Spring. My parents lived in Granbury. We drove a lot. Together and separate– because we never missed one weekend together, not one-from July 18, 1986 to July 18, 1987, (yes, we got married one year to the date that we met-I told you it was quick-we just knew!)

(Warning–At this point, our children and our parents should stop reading this!) All that driving caused us to stop every once in a while to kiss. So we made-up a game. Every time we saw an historical marker-we stopped and kissed. Did you know there are a lot of historical markers in Texas? We got out of the car and kissed. Romantic. Ok, back to Johnsville…

Second Sunday in June
Johnsville Church of Christ Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2013

In 1948, the Johnsville School was consolidated with schools in Pony Creek and Chalk Mountain to form the Three Way School District. (Go Chiggers!! GO!!) By 1997, only the Church of Christ and the cemetery remained as a record of the area’s pioneer settlement. The Johnsville Cemetery continues to serve the area.

It is where we eat. Under the big oak trees, just outside the cemetery, we feast on a pot-luck-church-lady lunch.

In 1980, the estimated population was a mere twenty-five. That same number has been used through 2000. The post office is now closed (sadly, because every year Mark still looks for it as his marker to turn!)

Second Sunday in June

And that’s the history in the books. The history that is more important to the Bob Davis and Don Davis families…

Bob and Don are brothers and they grew up going to Johnsville with their parents. Each married and had children. Bob had Dan,Tim and Lauren and Don had Mark and Dave. The five Davis kids also grew up attending the reunion service every second Sunday in June and have carried on the tradition of attending with their wives and children. Our kids grew up knowing this church- as did Dave’s kids. One day, our grandchildren will attend the family reunion. (Bob already has great grandchildren who have carried on the tradition)

Second Sunday in June
The Davis gang, this year at Johnsville–most, but not all
photo courtesy-Jess Davis

The church has changed over the years, most importantly-air-conditioning and in-door plumbing! I believe the song books have been updated. We still sing the same songs every year, led by each Davis male. The difference is that the five Davis kids and their wives now need readers to see the music. There are many things that haven’t changed-we still sit in the same chairs I have been sitting in for 29 years (who knows how old they actually are). Bad news-there’s still chiggers!

Second Sunday in June

Johnsville is June. Johnsville is Davis. Johnsville is love and God and worship and family. Family reunion.

Johnsville is an important family tradition; it means the world to my father-in-law and because he means the world to us–every second Sunday in June, we go to the little white church in the vale.

love and blessings~dd

 

 


a long, communal table

 

A farm-to-table fresh menu, lights strung for atmosphere above a long, communal table, charmingly decorated, and a venue you would never consider dining at, Farm to Table Dinners are all about community, conversation, surprise, and good food and wine.

Farm to Dinner Party at Black Oak Art
Farm to Dinner Party at Black Oak Art

When you go to a restaurant or attend a dinner party, you generally know what to expect and who you will be dining with. These farm to table events are all about getting out of your comfort zone, being brave, trying new things and meeting new people. And garden-fresh meals from local farms and purveyors, prepared by a chef that is known as much for his biscuits as he is for his gourmet meals.

Valley Mills Vineyards dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo
Valley Mills Vineyards dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo

I have attended several of these in Waco since October and I fall in love with “the dreamy night” every single time.

farm table at World Hunger Farm
farm table at World Hunger Farm

Mark, on the other hand, is still not quite as in love with these events as I am. In fact, he would probably tell you he doesn’t enjoy them at all. But because he loves me, (and I secretly think he does enjoy them- at least the conversation-community-part-of-it), he continues to go with me. Love for me or love for the event, either way, I appreciate him letting me drag him to the dreamy evenings.

Mark and I enjoying the World Hunger Farm in October
Mark and I enjoying the World Hunger Farm in October

I read somewhere about farm to table dinners- “diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.”

farm tt

It is actually hard to get tickets to these events and perhaps that lends some mystery and suspense. When I see the event posted, I am freaking out, stumbling all over myself, trying to click the right buttons and get the tickets paid for. Several have been sold out before I could purchase.  When I do purchase the tickets- it’s like a score for me!  I become elated!

They are announced on Instagram on the accounts of the hosts and through an email. There are only so many tickets available because each event is intimate.

The actual venue and menu are often announced to the participants the night of the event, all a part of the suspense and magic of the evening. A secret society type of evening. All the secrecy lures you in and is a part of the intrigue.

view from our dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo
view from our dinner on the Suspension Bridge, catered by Milo

Described as a restaurant without walls, the Farm to Table Dinner Party, in Waco, are planned by Sara Martin, of Kindred Event Studios and coordinated food and wine are provided by Milo and Waco Wine Shoppe.

table decorated by Sara Martin of Kindred Event Studio
table decorated by Sara Martin of Kindred Event Studio

I would not call the food classic. The menu is definitely different, which is one aspect of the dinner that is so spectacular. It is not just a dinner party. Something magical really.

Sometimes you really don’t know what you are eating. (which is why Mark isn’t so in love!)

Corey McEntyre, chef and owner of Milo Biscuit Company, plans and implements every detail of the menu according to what is available at the farms he sources, locally in Waco.

Corey McEntyre, chef and owner of Milo, discussing the menu
Corey McEntyre, chef and owner of Milo, discussing the menu

Some of the venues that have been used in the past have been outside, among the stars, at the World Hunger Farm and also along the Brazos River. We have even dined on the historic Suspension Bridge. Although it was not a Farm to Table; it was catered by Milo.

Farm to Table Dinner at World Hunger Farm in October
Farm to Table Dinner at World Hunger Farm in October

The last venue we attended was hosted by Jonathon Martin at his studio, Black Oak Art.

 

appetizer and studio wall at Black Oak Art
appetizer and studio wall at Black Oak Art

The event was originally supposed to be at Gather, a new store opening in Waco, that is a combination of Black Oak Art’s pottery and Kindred Event Studio’s love of entertaining. Gather, The Art of Hospitality, will be mixing traditional southern hospitality with a modern aesthetic. The store was not ready for hosting with construction still in progress. Owners of Gather, Jonathon and Sara Martin, were disappointed to not host the Farm to Table Dinner at Gather. As was I, because I wrote a story about the new store and I am very excited to shop there. But Black Oak Art was just as dreamy.

mug hand-thrown by Black Oak Art
mug hand-thrown by Black Oak Art

Black Oak Art was transformed from a dusty, hand-thrown pottery studio into a perfectly quaint dining atmosphere with a lot of hard work within a very few hours.

The meal included a mixture of hors d’oeuvres, family style shared plates, and composed dishes. There was a wine pairing from David Mayfield Selections and also wine was sold by the glass or bottle.

farm tt2
menu at the Black Oak Art Farm to Table

The menu consisted of Shishito peppers, peaches and ricotta cheese served on rye toasted bread, Eggplant Tartines, Gulf Oyster, watermelon with lemon and thyme, and an heirloom tomato salad. And for the main course, Milo served Berkshire pork tenderloin, herbed baby Yukon potatoes, harissa with wilted red cabbage, red onion, feta, mint, dill, parsley. (I don’t know but it was so delicious!)

Milo served Berkshire pork tenderloin, herbed baby Yukon potatoes, harissa with wilted red cabbage, red onion, feta, mint, dill, parsley
the Berkshire pork tenderloin, herbed baby Yukon potatoes, harissa with wilted red cabbage, red onion, feta, mint, dill, parsley served by Milo

The final course, and most beautifully done, was a dessert that consisted of a cheesecake-like Fromage, in a mason jar, overturned with fresh blueberry, Cantaloupe ice and a crunchy topping.

dessert made by Milo!
dessert made by Milo!

Look how dreamy-and it tasted better than it looked. Apparently, Fromage frais is a creamy soft cheese made with whole or skimmed milk and cream. It is similar to some kinds of quark (WHAT???). It has the consistency of cream cheese, but less fat. (so yay!)

This meal was the best yet that Mark and I have had served to us from Milo. And when I say best yet- I mean that we are not used to trying different, gourmet meals-we are a Morton’s steak and potatoes kind of couple!

As I have said, McEntyre is famous for his homemade biscuits. The recipe has been in the family and comes from Georgia by way of his grandparent.

They serve cheeseburgers on biscuits. Fresh chicken, fried and placed on a biscuit. Sausage on biscuits. (duh?) There are other menu items as well– but the biscuits are a must.

You can try these biscuits I speak of at Milo’s food trucks at three locations in Waco, at the Magnolia Silos, on Webster, behind Heritage Creamery, located at 1125 S. 8th Street, across from Baylor, or on Saturday mornings at the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market, located at 400 S. University Parks Drive. The menu at the food trucks is just as fresh and sourced from local farmers but has more of a downhome feel. Described on the Milo website as “collaboration between southern comfort food and local farmers”, Milo knows how to serve a biscuit.

I asked Corey why he doesn’t serve his biscuits at these fancy dinners and he said he likes to keep it separate, and different. (Sure…but those biscuits!!)

If you have the opportunity to attend a Farm to Table Dinner, in Waco (or anywhere), I highly recommend it. Truly spectacular and a night to remember. Even if you can’t pronounce the menu. Be brave and try it!! (Mark!!)

love and blessings~dd

Never turn your back on a busy dog park!

Three months ago, I had knee surgery, to be precise-ACL replacement with a hamstring graft, as well as MCL, PCL and meniscus repair.

The story really begins almost twenty years ago on a beautiful mountain with a wicked turn that I stupidly took wrong and of course this was only a green. A difficult green, but a green. (If you know me, this is real!) Envision a cartoon with the person ‘snow-balling’ down a mountain!

I tore my ACL, wore an enormous brace for six-weeks and for the next 18 years referred to my left knee as “my bad knee”.

normal? what's normal?
normal? what’s normal?

Back to the here—In January, my daughter, Cameron and I took Charli, a nine-pound weenie dog and Tegan, a ninety-pound Great Dane to a dog park, in San Marcos. We had visited the dog park in Waco many times without a problem.

Charli and Tegan
Charli and Tegan

Here comes the lesson…never turn your back to a busy dog park!

dog park

I was looking at Charli and unbeknownst to me, four LARGE dogs (two Great Dane’s and two German Sheppard’s) were all chasing one tiny tennis ball that was thrown in my direction. Lucky me.

I was bowled over, literally. I went up…and what seemed like five minutes later, I came down. But before I hit the ground, I heard that all too familiar noise that I have heard so many times before …a loud POP!

walkin' dogs
walkin’ dogs

I told Cameron that I could not get up. I was laughing (because that’s what I do) and fighting back the tears and of course so very embarrassed, as you can imagine. A lady brought me my phone that had flown in the chaos. When I finally got up, I knew I had hurt my knee again. This has happened so many times over the years and I knew the pain. And that pop.

Ironically, I had just gone to the doctor four days prior because of arthritic pain in my hands and feet. Because they thought I might have RA, I had multiple x-rays taken, including on my knee. (I never go to the doctor so this was weird!)

Although I don’t go to the doctor for every little pain, I am no stranger to surgery, sadly. Three C-sections, a hysterectomy, several laparoscopies and a neck surgery losing two discs.

I knew this time was the last time; I never wanted to hear that pop again. Orthopedic Surgeon, followed by MRI led me to March 9 in the OR.

This was by far the worst. I have a whole new respect for these kids in high school that have this surgery and come back to school a couple of days later, on crutches or in a wheel-chair, and on major drugs because they don’t want to take finals. (run-on sentence!!)

the swelling was real
the swelling was real

The doctor left out a lot of valuable information…

Like what a major surgery this is. And that it will take a full year to recover. That you need to practice using the crutches BEFORE your leg is numb and you are looped-up on major drugs! And that you need a loving care-giver that will wait on you “hand and foot”.

knee March 29

I will take this moment to say I would not have made it without Mark. He was my rock. And my cook. And my gopher. And my saint. My driver. My protector. And my everything! I owe him BIG and I hope I never have to re-pay him. (seriously-I hope I never have to!!) I love him for how sweet he was, attending to my every need. My three children even took turns ‘driving Miss Daisy’ and then there was the love and companionship of Charli.

Charli and my peas always make me feel better
Charli and my peas always make me feel better

Week one through three were hell. No really, they were. The pain, the crutches, the swelling-everything. Week four, I saw the light. Week seven I was able to tell those crutches where they could go-and stay! And every week got better from there. I attended physio twice a week from day five; then once a week after the first month. I will not finish until August. My physio has become my people. I see her more than I see a lot of people in my life.

one month post-op
one month post-op

I took one week off from writing because I was too drugged and still in bed most of the time. I read a quote that I loved and I feel is extremely proper in the moment—

“Athletes play hurt. Warriors fight scared.” And then a writer added, “And writers write anyway.” (original quote by Steven Pressfield ~addition to quote added by Hope*Writers) My nephew, Zach, (knowing I am no athlete), jokingly said, “career-ending injury!” Well, thankfully my career is writing.  I feel for those that are stopped by this surgery.

So three months of my life are over and my knee is stronger. I am working on my hamstring. I have good and bad days but by far they are good. I have numbness down my calve that may never come back- but that’s doable. I am getting stronger. I am having to re-learn many things from almost 20 years of bad habits due to “my bad knee”. It will take time and thankfully time is free.

six weeks post-op and bandages gone
six weeks post-op and bandages gone

If you asked me around week two or three if I was happy with my decision to have the surgery, I would have said no.  Now, I am happy to say I am glad.  My knee is healing and I believe will be much stronger than it has been in the last 18 years.

In the darkest days, full of pain and full of hate for my crutches, I would find myself wallowing in “poor me”. I would quickly pull myself up ‘by my crutches’ and remember that I don’t have cancer, I didn’t step on a bomb, I wasn’t in a horrible car crash— I didn’t have anything tragic happen to me other than enjoying life, in a dog park.

Charli, Jemma and Tegan
Charli, Jemma and Tegan

But remember, when in a dog park, don’t turn your back to those big dogs!!

~love and blessings

 

today, with Charli and Martha
today, with Charli and Martha

 

 

 

 

My Waco!

 

When Mark asked me to marry him 29 years ago, before I said yes, I first asked him, lovingly-but-jokingly-but seriously, “do we have to live in Waco?”

About the time Danni was in the third grade and Alex was in kindergarten, in Mesquite, my thoughts began to change and one day I asked Mark, “Do you want to move to China Spring?”

Confession time. Back then, I was a bit embarrassed to be associated with Waco. Sounds horrible, I know. When we traveled and people would ask us where we were from, I would always answer with “China Spring, a little town near Crawford, where the president lives!” That worked throughout the Bush years.

I don’t know why I was ashamed of Waco. Ashamed probably isn’t the right word, more like I wasn’t excited to let people know that I lived near Waco. Yes, there were things that shamed Waco in the past. Those things happen everywhere and shouldn’t define a city but sadly they kinda did.

Honestly, I never gave Waco a chance. I didn’t see Waco. I had my eyes closed to what Waco could offer. Shame on me.

Two years ago, I slowly started to open those eyes of mine. Mark, my husband, moved his office downtown. Alex and Danni moved downtown. I found myself seeing Waco for what it was-a small, lovely urban area with many opportunities to discover, eyes-wide open! And with time and new discoveries, I began to fall in love with Waco–downtown Waco especially.

We started eating, shopping, enjoying wine, and spending a lot of time downtown- two or three times a week. Being adventurous! Of course the Fixer-Upper, the HGTV show, was in full swing and others around the nation were also opening their eyes to see what Waco was about.

In early March, I was honored to be a baton-photographer for an Instagram account called @ilovetexasphoto. Check them out. The concept is really cool. Every three days, they have a different photographer, professional or someone like me that just loves to take pictures, from a different city across the state. I was able to venture through Waco and show the Instagram followers of that account, how I saw Waco.

So here is my Waco…

My first picture I posted on the I Love Texas Photo account was Austin Avenue. I love this tree-lined street, no matter what season. It has nostalgia and is loaded with history. And of course it is home to some of my very favorites in Waco- the Waco Hippodrome, Muddle, Dichotomy, Classy Glass, Jakes and Nick’s. Try these establishments out; think local and support!

Waco Hippodrome on Austin Avenue with The Alico peeking through
Waco Hippodrome on Austin Avenue with The Alico peeking through
Alico 3
Austin Avenue and The Alico, in full fall beauty

Austin Avenue also is home to the green door. This “p” shaped door, next to the Hippodrome, has been the background to many people taking selfies, engagement and graduation pictures. Guilty. Through this one-of-a-kind and peculiar entry way, leads you to some downtown living I dream about, 714 Loft Studios. I received 1,027 likes on this picture!

green door
714 Loft Studios, a loft condominium complex on Austin Avenue
AustinAve2
Another view of Austin Avenue

(Unfortunately, I caught a nasty high fever-virus thing the night of the first day of my baton and I was unable to thoroughly enjoy the next two days-but I pushed through and muddled on but I wasn’t able to do as much as I would have liked.)

My next picture was of the Washington Avenue Bridge, otherwise known as the Waco Steel Bridge. I travel across this bridge to my husband’s office, located on 6th Street, and it makes me smile every time I cross. It was built in 1901 and crosses the Brazos River. It has a massive 450-foot Pennsylvania truss main span and is among the most historic bridges in Texas.

Washington Bridge

The sun was perfect that March afternoon and I was pleased with the outcome. (You can even see The Alico peeking through!)

Waco has many historical and gorgeous bridges. The Waco Suspension Bridge is shown here. It opened in 1869.

From there, I included my most favorite Waco icon-The Alico Building. The Alico, as I call it, is another opportunity for me to smile. If you look at my Instagram history, I have taken many a picture of this tall soldier that seems to be guarding downtown. Look at the blooms that graced the Alico in early March! This was taken across the street at the building where you stand in line and get your sticker for your car. (I think you can do this online now because Mark hasn’t made me do this in years!)

The Alico and her March blooms

The Alico, a 22-story structure with much character, was constructed in 1910 and completion was exactly 12 months later in 1911.

My next adventure lead me down Austin Avenue, through the Castle Heights residential area. This is another dream of mine-if I can’t live downtown, this will be my neighborhood. Someday.

The Cooper House is one of those historical houses located on Austin Avenue. I  have always admired this beauty but never knew what it was until my research opened my eyes once again. It was built in 1907 (see a pattern here-busy time in those early 1900’s in Waco!). The Cooper House is part of The Cooper Foundation and started with a vision to “make Waco a better or more desirable city in which to live.” The historical house is on the National Register of Historic Places. People that follow the account really liked this picture-1,068 times!

Cooper
The Cooper House home to The Cooper Foundation

The Brazos River is another smile opportunity for me. Especially on days when the sun sits upon her and dances around like little diamonds. It fills my soul because I see God’s beauty there. Perfection.

Cameron Park East, along the beautiful Brazos River

A place I like to visit is Cameron Park. One of the areas in the park I love to take Charli and Jemma (and Tegan, if Cameron is in town) is Brazos Park East. This park is located at MLK and Herring Avenue and features boat ramps, a pavilion, horse shoe pits, Frisbee-golf and of course many scenic and peaceful views for walking, running or just sitting. The view across the river is one to see. (so thankful I opened these eyes of mine!)

Cameron Park East
Cameron Park East

Waco is full of nature. You can escape the concrete and find peace, however you need.

Cameron Park, an enormous urban park located in Waco is one of those places to escape to nature. I enjoy taking the long, slow way home, driving through Cameron Park. Again more smiles. The park spans 416-acres and was dedicated on May 27, 1910. It was named in memory of Waco philanthropist and lumber baron, (ironic?) William Cameron. The park has playgrounds, bike trails, hiking and a beautiful zoo- all of this- alongside the Brazos River.

Cameron Park
The long, slow way home through Cameron Park

I always admire the courthouse downtown, and on this particular day the blue sky was in the background and spring blooms in the foreground. Picture perfect.

The McLennan County Courthouse was built in 1901 and is located on Washington Avenue. It is known for its neoclassical exterior and the courthouse pilasters and columns are Corinthian. Many notable legal cases have taken place in this courthouse, including Clyde Barrow, of the in-famous Bonnie and Clyde fame, in 1930.

McLennan County Courthouse

One of the cool, artsy places to go in Waco, especially on First Friday, is Anthem Studios, located in the Praetorian Building, built in 1915. Along with the famous owners of Pokey-O’s, Waco’s favorite cookie masters, the building is now home to more downtown residential-living, the Praetorian Lofts. On the back of the Praetorian, there is a restored three-story mural of Jesus Christ, extending his arms, the work of a Russian artist. My daughter, Danni lives across from this gem and her view is the front side of the building.

praetorian
Praetorian building on 6th and Franklin Avenue

Just down the street from the Praetorian is my husband’s office building. It has a beautiful arch in the entry-way and on a nice day, as I open the door to go inside, I can see The Alico in the reflection. Smiles.

100 6th Street

My last picture I posted on the I love Texas photo Instagram account was actually not from March but from one of my favorite Waco days ever. Cameron and I were able to attend the media event for Magnolia Market, in October. I was writing a story for The Hometown News about the silobration and the grand opening of the market downtown. We toured the entire silo-fortress, met Joanna Gaines and interviewed her. The day was glorious and I am so happy I was able to share it with Cameron, my official newspaper photographer. Smiles.

Waco's tiny skyline, as seen from atop the Magnolia Market rooftop
Waco’s tiny skyline, as seen from atop the Magnolia Market rooftop

This picture was taken from the top level of the Market building. The skyline is pretty against the blue sky. Waco is little. She is full of charm, history, and things apparently built in the early 1900’s. And she opened my eyes and for that I am grateful.

 

Silos!

*I am in the process of writing an article for an online magazine called Culture Trip Texas.  It is an onlne travel magazine that has stories about travel destinations all over the world, the US and our big state and the many things to do while you are visiting there (here).  I am writing about Waco and what there is to do other than Magnolia Market.  People are traveling to Waco, from all over, to go stand in line and shop at Magnolia.  And then what?  I want to give them some ideas of other interesting, adventures so that they can see Waco as a fascinating place to come visit again!  I will let you know when my story is published but until then-Check the webpage out, at http://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/texas/

 

Love and blessings~dd

 

the art of typewriters

Nostalgia. A wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to some past period or irrecoverable condition, defined according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Typewriters are nostalgic to me.

When I was a little girl, my cousin, Marti, and I would spend the night at our grandparents house and we would play like all little girls do. The only difference is we played office (and bar-but that’s a different story for another time). We would have so much fun pretending that we worked in a hotel, as bartenders and waitresses and office workers. Typical little girl stuff.

My grandparents, lovingly called Me-Me and Papa, had an office full of wondrous things like stamps with ink, paper and pens, sales pads with carbon paper, gigantic staplers, and machines like typewriters, huge adding-machines (not calculators) and things that little girls loved to imagine with. We thought they were our toys and our sweet grandparents let us play away, imagining (and wasting paper) and well…just being little girls.

Underwood Five typewriter
Underwood Five typewriter

We would spend hours upon hours in that office, working, and loving every minute of it. I believe they were always watching Hee-Haw.

Childhood nostalgia.

My Aunt Nancy recently moved and while cleaning out things, came across the typewriter that we always played on. Knowing I love to write, (and Marti doesn’t love old things!), she offered it to me. I was very excited about this. I knew I wanted it. I just had no clue what I would do with it? Nancy told me it would need to be repaired because it was very old but I knew I would actually never use it; I simply wanted it for the nostalgia.

It is, from my research, an Underwood Touch-Master Five Manual Typewriter – No. 5. Made sometime in the 1950’s or possibly before. Whether you type on the machine or put it on display, the Underwood typewriter is truly legendary. My plan, of course was to put it on display.

Before I cleaned it a bit.
Before I cleaned it a bit.

The original Underwood typewriter was invented by German-American Franz Xaver Wagner, who showed it to entrepreneur John Thomas Underwood.

The Underwood No. 5 launched in 1900 and is described as “the first truly modern typewriter“. They sold two million by the early 1920s. When the company, in Hartford, Connecticut, was in its heyday as the world’s largest typewriter manufacturer, the factory was turning out typewriters at the rate of one each minute, according to typewritermuseum.org.

This “toy” was once used in my grandfather’s business he owned in downtown Fort Worth and then later, in his house, and is now in my office. Nostalgia.

Not long after I received the Underwood, I read a blog post (from someone you should follow) called “nesting with grace”. Her husband had found a vintage typewriter, spray painted it gold, and he surprised her for her birthday with this beautiful, golden newly-old (old-ly-new?) typewriter. (*Mark–take note on this husbandry thoughtfulness!!)

tw3

Soo…I knew I had to do this with my newly attained-attained vintage typewriter! And so I did.

It took me less than an hour, cleaning and spray-painting. I put gloves on, card-board underneath to protect the grass. (it is February and it is already beginning to green up!?) I only applied two coats on the Underwood; although one probably would have been fine.

I used Valspar metallic in Brilliant Gold (#66009).
I used Valspar metallic in Brilliant Gold (#66009).

I don’t consider myself to be “artsy-craftsy” or a “DIY-er” at all.  Every once in a while I will get the bug–and the Underwood definitely had me itching to try this!

I even had a bit of help from Charli and Jemma! (Charli may or may not have a little touch of gold now?)

Look Cha! A vintage typewriter!

I am simply in love with it. I think it turned out perfect. Looks great in my office and gives me inspiration. I certainly never knew as a child that writing would bring me such joy. Now when writing, I know my grandparents are looking down on me and happy that I am doing what I love. (I just hope they aren’t upset with me for painting the Underwood gold!)

gold keys
I left the front scale the original silver.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”1Earnest Hemingway

Today is a good day for a good day!!
Today is a good day for a good day!!

What do you think about it?  Do you love it or hate it? Would you be brave enough to try this? If so, I know Ebay has several for sale.

tw4

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” – Stephen King

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” - Stephen King Click To Tweet

Nostalgia.

love and blessings~dd