Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I love history. It ties back to my high school years with my favorite teacher of all times, Mr. Fred Horlacher. My junior year Nevada History class was the most amazing experience of my life. Mr. Horlacher lived and breathed history. He brought it life. We never had a book in his class. If his lecture was on the Civil War, he'd come in dressed as a soldier and tell us about the Civil War as if he lived it. One time he came in full Native American garb. A full feather headress and all. You took your notes from his lecture and that's what he tested on. He was the coolest teacher in the whole school.
He was also the advisor for the Ghost Towners Nevada History Club. You fought to get into his classes and to get into the club. It was only open to upperclassmen and was a blast to be in. We went on field trips all around Northern Nevada. Our initiation into the club was walking around the Virginia City cemetery on Halloween night at midnight. Come on, how cool was that? He had it boobytrapped with sounds and people to scare us. After we walked around (and screamed a lot) we sat around the headstones as he told us real life "ghost" stories about the residents of Virginia City. I can still close my eyes and see exactly what it looked like. It's a snapshot I've had in my brain all these years.
He took us along the same path the infamous Donner Party took that fateful winter. He had handed out beef jerky to us and we walked by moonlight. No flashlights. He told us the sad story about the Donner Party. Of course, once they got to the part of cannibalizing, the beef jerky just didn't taste good anymore. lol
He loved to play practical jokes on us. Sitting around a campfire, he would tell us stories about the Native Americans that lived around Lahontan resevoir. He would have us repeat a few Paiute phrases. Owa Ta Foo Iam. Over and over we'd say it. Suddenly people started giggling. More and more of us got it. What a crack up he was.
He sent newbie students on "snipe" hunting trips. Those who knew about snipes kept out laughter quiet until the newbs were out in the dark making noises and carrying a burlap bag.
I learned to appreciate and respect the history of Nevada because of Mr. Horlacher. And because his passion for history rubbed off on me, I am learning to love and respect the history of Texas. And Texas has a lot of history wrapped up within its borders. Each day trip we take we learn something else about this place we call home.
Mr. Horlacher would be proud.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I love the funky scenery I've come across since we've moved to Texas. When friends and family heard we were moving to Texas they were shocked. "Why do you want to move to a place that only has rattlesnakes and tumbleweeds?" Well, I had to educate them that Texas has a lot more going for it. Yes, west Texas does have those things, but where we are--south central Texas--we have a bit more beauty, in my opinion.
Personally, we are living at the edge of what is called "Hill Country." It's lush, peaceful and always beautiful. Even in the drought we are experiencing, it's lovely. Deer are abundant and you can see many birds and butterflies.
The first thing I noticed when we moved here was all the stone. Not only could you see the stone cut along the roadway, it is used as major focal points in housing and retail sites. The photo above was one I took in a retail shopping center. Instead of removing the tree, the planners left it and utilized it in a unique way. I find it so funky, it's almost Zen to me. lol
I can handle living where it is hot, as long as it's pretty. That's always been my mantra. And it's pretty here.
Here are some photos I snagged off the Internet to show you all how gorgeous it is here. :)
Monday, August 17, 2009
Back in January, Jerry and I decided to take a day trip. We drove 2 1/2 hours from San Antonio and visited a place called Brackettville. It's a small town in west Texas that is barely a bump on the road. It was a nice, almost desolate drive from San Antonio. Many places reminded us of our drives in California. The scenery is similar of the central coast. A touch of farm land mixed in with desolate desert and sagebrush. It's almost a mixture of land around Fresno and Mojave jumbled together. The day was beautiful. We left San Antonio when it was cloudy and in the low 60s to Brackettville where it cleared up to blue skies and high 60s.
We drove seven miles outside of Brackettville to a destination knowns as Alamo Village. What is Alamo Village and why were we visiting it? It's a huge, movie set that still is active today. It was originally constructed, basically in the middle of nowhere, for and by John Wayne. He had a movie he really wanted to make, "The Alamo," which also starred Richard Widmark. They started building it in 1957, and finished two years later, and in 1959 they started filming the movie.
This place is not just false-fronted buildings normally seen on movie sets, this is is a complete town. More than a million and a quarter adobe bricks were made and used. They used 12 miles of water pipes and 30,000 square feet of Spanish roofing tiles. Part of the site has a replica of the Alamo from 1830s. They also built a Mexican town from the 1830s that has a jail, saloon, general store, stables, church, cemetery, bank and blacksmith shop.
This was the first movie set built in Texas. It is stocked with stagecoaches, wagons, surreys, cannons, props and set dressings. This year they are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Apparently, they are going to have recreators wandering around in full costume, ranchers will bring cattle and horses, offering trail rides around the ranch and more.
Since it was January, only a handful of visitors were at the site. It was peaceful, quiet and scenic. If I were going to make my own western movie, I'd definately check this place out. Or, if I wanted to do Western themed photos of my family, this is the place. There's not much going on around it, it's quiet. No amusement rides, fudge shops or the rest.
They have filmed more than 100 movies, documentaries and music videos at Alamo Village. Some, I'm sure you've all seen.
1951 Arrowhead - Charlton Heston
1955 The Last Command - Ernest Borgnine
1958 Five Bold Women - Irish McCalla
1959 John Wayne's "The Alamo"
1960 The Spirit of the Alamo (TV) - NBC
1960 Roy Rogers Show (TV)
1960 John Ford's - Two Rode Together - Jimmy Stewart
1966 Top Hand (TV)
1967 Aye, That Pancho Villa (TV)
1967 Bandolero - Dean Martin
1968 Children's West (Lon Chaney, Jr.) (TV)
1973 A Death in Tombstone
1974 The Texas Ballad (KLRN-TV)
1978 Adventures of Jody Shanan
1978 Centennial, "The Longhorns" (TV) - Dennis Weaver
1979 Code of Josey Wales - Michael Parks
1980 Barbarosa - Gary Busey
1980 Seguin (American Playhouse) - Edward James Olmos
1981 "Kathleen" Kestrel Films
1982 Tennessee to Texas - A Musical Affair (TV) - Tanya Tucker
1984 Up Hill All The Way -Burt Reynolds
1986 Houston - Legend of Texas (TV) - Sam Elliott
1986 The Alamo - Thirteen Days To Glory (TV) - Alec Baldwin
1986 No Safe Haven - Wings Hauser
1987 Alamo: Price of Freedom - Caser Biggs
1988 Lonesome Dove (TV) - Robert Duvall
1989 Gunsmoke - The Last Apache (TV) - James Arness
1991 JCV Japanese Quiz Show (TV)
1991 American Movie Classics (TV - Bob Dorian
1992 Rio Diablo (TV) - Travis Tritt
1992 Travis Smith (direct to video)
1993 Bad Girls - Madeleine Stowe
1994 Gambler V (TV) - Kenny Rogers
1994 James A. Michener's, "Texas" (TV) - John Schneider
1994 Good Old Boys (TV) - Sam Shephard
1995 Streets of Laredo (TV) - James Garner
1995 A&E History Channel's "The Alamo" (TV)
1995 Discovery Channel's - "The Battes of the Alamo" (TV)
1995 PBS - Ken Burns "The West" (TV)
1995 A&E Biography - "Davy Crockett: American Frontier Legend" (TV)
1995 The Learning Channel's - "Famous Battles" - Alamo Segment (TV)
1995 Discovery Channel's - Buffalo Soldiers" (TV)
1996 Once upon A Time In China and America - Sammo Hung
1999 Alamo... The New Defenders (direct to video)
1999 The Bullfighter - Domineca Scorcese
1999 The History Channel's - "Haunted San Antonio" (TV)
2000 Jericho - Mark Valley - Leon Coffee - Buck Taylor
2001 The History Channel's "History vs Hollywood" (TV)
2002 "Westown" Sturghill Productions
2006 Blue Eyes - Walker Cable Productions
2006 Mexican Gold - Walker Cable Productions
2007 The Man Who Came Back - Walker Cable Productions - Eric Braden - Billy Zane
2007 - Friend of The Devil (TV Pilot)
1980 Willie Nelson - "Tougher Than Leather"
1995 Brooks & Dunn - "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone"
1996 Gary Hobbs - "Corazon de la Ardiente"
1996 La Tropa F - "The Sheriff"
1996 "Los Palominos"
1999 Shade of Red - "Revolution"
Here are some photos we took:
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I saw my first Rembrandt, in person mind you, when the Armand Hammer Art Collection was on display at California State University, Bakersfield. It was a momentous occasion for me. I had seen original art before, but never anything such as I saw that day. I walked into rooms filled with works by Dutch, Flemish, German, and Italian masters. My world changed in a split second. I finally "got" it when someone said, "Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us." (Roy Adzak)
What it did for and to me was wake me up. Up until that time I was culturally asleep. The richness of the colors, the amazing techniques to take blank canvases and create life out of them took my breath away.
The fact that I was standing in front of something that was created hundreds of years earlier gave me chills. The clarity of the strokes, the vibrancy of the colors, the beauty of Rembrandt's work was just as beautiful as it must have been the day he finished it.
I had to have a poster of his work. After I left the exhibit, I learned they had sold out of the poster I wanted. It was an early work of his entitled, "Portrait of a Man Holding a Black Hat." (c. 1637) I became a person with a mission. I had to have that poster. I tried finding the poster at all art places in town. No luck. I wound up writing to the Armand Hammer Collection administrators begging for a copy of the poster. I lucked out as they took pity on me. In the mail came a copy of the poster I lusted after.
If you want to understand why I love this man's work, check out this link:
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I've often wondered how I would have survived living the pioneer life. I have long felt a deep connection to old places and things. It feels comfortable. It feels right. It's a natural fit for me. I'm not sure why, but it is. When I look at historic recreations of an old cabin I feel happy. I'm not turned off by the bare wood, the small rooms or lack of new things.
It comforts my soul to picture myself bustling around, cooking dinner over an open flame in a large hearth. Seeing my man sitting at a table, drinking a cup of coffee and smiling at the children. It's like a slice of time opens up when I see places like this and I see the memories. I see what was--and I feel the struggles and the happiness that happened. It was hard, but it was worth it.
I feel a connection to my ancestors when I see places such as these. I honor their memories by respecting the past. Most of us nowadays have no clue what it was like to make you own food from scratch, to create your own soap, furniture, housing and really grow crops to survive.
We are so lucky today to be able to go to a supermarket/department store and buy all we need. Are we better off for it? I don't think so. On one hand we are richer than many during those times, but we are also poorer.
I'm blessed that I am where I am because of the sacrifices they made. If you truly think about what all your ancestors had to survive, you'd realize how damned lucky you are to even be here.
“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”-Thich Nhat Hanh quotes (Vietnamese Monk, Activist and Writer. b.1926)
Friday, August 7, 2009
It took me about two years to finally get my husband to agree to go check out a local site that is pretty darn cool. First off, let me say that I have a touch of claustrophia. I'm okay in elevators and closets, but not anything tight that involves the earth. Tunnels, caves and the such make me itchy and a tad lightheaded. But I had heard so much about Natural Bridge Caverns that I wanted to check it out. This place is the largest cavern in Texas.
The first time I brought it up to my husband he balked. We had been experiencing major rain storms and to him, the thought of going underground, especially after it had been raining for 52 days straight, was unacceptable. Finally, things dried out and a year or so later, he agreed. Less than 20 minutes from our house is an amazing natural beauty. It's quite unassuming as you drive up to the place. The grounds are typical Texas--oak trees and big skies. In fact, Jerry and I sat around after the tour on a bench and listened to jazz music on his IPhone and enjoyed the clear blue skies and butterflies.
It's when you step underground that things really start to amaze you.
The entrance is down a short way from the visitor's center and I have to admit I took a couple of deep breaths as we walked into the passageway. I figured if I got too freaked out I could leave. I wanted to see how far I could go. Well, I went all the way--180 feet deep underground. And I didn't freak out once. lol
Natural Bridge Caverns has areas of it that are larger than a football field. We saw it all--stalagmites, stalactites, and chandeliers. We also saw soda straws, which are hollow tubes from where the water leaches through the ground. Nature is so freaking cool. Wherever you looked were amazing formations. From the ground to the ceiling.
We had a great time visiting the place and will go back to do the Illuminations Tour they offer. They also let people do spelunking, but there's NO way I'm crawling into a small tunnel. I'd get stuck and lose my mind. lol
As we were walking down there, I realized that I could easily live underground in a place like Natural Bridge. No bugs, no critters (except they had bats down there at once point in history. The petrified guano gave it away)
If you didn't know where the opening was--it would be a pretty darn safe place to live. I believe they found evidence that Native Americans lived down there at one time.
Heck, Texas even does the underground bigger than anyone else. rofl
Thursday, August 6, 2009
“We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon”
Probably one of the first things my husband and I noticed when we moved to Texas was the sky. You might ask yourself, "What's the big deal about the Texas sky?" Well, it's flipping huge. It's not your normal sky. You might think you know what a big sky is---but unless you've been to Texas you have no idea.
For as far as the eye can see, you see a clear, blue window to heaven. I'm used to having mountains around me. When I lived in Reno, it was the Sierras. When we lived in California it was mountains not just north to south, but also east to west. Now, I love mountains, but I didn't realize how boxed in we were until we moved to San Antonio.
Our first year here Jerry and I used to just stop and stare. We'd be filling the Jeep up with gas and find ourselves just taking it all in. I'm sure many were looking at us, wondering what was capturing out attention. It is so clear, almost no pollution. Trust me, coming from California we would drive and see the layers of pollution in the air. So to be somewhere where there was practically none was amazing.
Sunsets here are so breathtaking, too. The colors are crisp, and yet soft. Strong and muted all at the same time. Oranges, yellows, purples and reds, as if a crayola box exploded in the sky. We hope to finish our back patio and I can't wait to sit out there and watch all the sunsets. It truly calms the soul.
We might share the same sky, but our horizons are so different.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I want to believe that goodness always wins out. I want to believe that whenever I reach into my candy jar, a piece of chocolate will always be there. I want to believe that Diane Mott Davidson will never stop writing her Goldie the Caterer mysteries.
I need to believe that I raised my sons the right way and that they have turned into the proper, honorable young men I hope them to be. I need to believe that I will lose the cough50cough pounds that I dream to lose. I need to believe that it's okay to cry over sappy tv commercials.
I have to believe that I can do anything I set my mind to--from climbing Mt. Whitney to driving the Weinermobile. I have to believe that I have made my parents proud with what I've accomplished in my life.
I believe that I married the most perfect man for me. I know what true happiness is and I'm grateful for every breath I take. I believe that my beautiful daughter in law is the best thing that has happened to my son. And that I know she makes perfect babies.
I also believe that if you put out positive, you will get positive in return. So I wish to one all, believe in yourself and you will be the happiest person no matter where you go.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
We are going to save every drop of water we can. Rainy days haven't been around here for awhile and it's so dry. Our first step, buying a rain barrel. This baby can holds 57 gallons of life giving water. Now, it's just needs to flipping rain. I have it positioned in the best spot to collect the wetness. Right in front, to the right of the front porch. All righty. We are being completely earth friendly. So rain already.
We need rain. We pray for rain.
O God, in Whom we live and move, and have our being, grant us rain, in due abundance, that, being sufficiently helped with temporal, we may the more confidently seek after eternal gifts. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Prayer Source: Novena in Honor of St. Isidore: Patron of Farmers by National Catholic Rural Life Conference, National Catholic Rural Life Conference )
We will even dance for rain with the help of some beautiful music.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I can honestly say I haven't seen a truly amazing lightning storm until I moved to Texas. The closest thing I can remember is a storm I once experienced in Reno, Nevada. It was a vivid storm full of sheet lightning. I thought it was the end of the world. Luckily, it wasn't; but I still remember that storm from more than 30 years ago.
Our first year of living here, it rained all the time. And with the rain, came lightning. I have thing about lightning--it's a love/hate relationship. I love the vividness and beauty of lightning and I hate and fear lightning itself. I'm terrified of being struck. If there is a storm nearby, I have a routine I go through--tv off, lights off, computers off, no listening to IPOD, no taking showers, and going to the bathroom really fast. Ask my hubby and kids, I ususally wind up sitting on my bed and waiting out the storm.
Our house is two stories and that first year of living here when the storms hit I felt like we were in the clouds, literally in the middle of the storm. Lightning was everywhere. Close, far away, bright, soft and completely unpredictable. The storms would last for at least an hour or two. I actually was looking out the window during one storm and saw a bolt hit a transformer at the end of a line of power poles. The line sits to the left side of our house and in the distance I saw a big zig zag of a bolt hit and a green explosion light the sky. The pole next to our house swung back and forth a good three feet. I was terrified that the pole was going to fall into our yard. Thank God, it didn't. But it reinforced what I've always known--lightning is flipping powerful.
It's like a big light show here. My husband always teases me because of the steps I go through when a storm comes into the area. He just didn't think it could or would hit a house. After a recent storm where two houses were hit and caught on fire--he's not so quick to pooh pooh me.
I think I'm always going to have a love/hate relationship with lightning storms. Heck, Texas does everything big here--including storms.