A Very Productive Day

Today, my friend Darrah and I tackled a big trash pile by the side of our house here in Texas as a result of a major porch repair a couple of years back.  Yes, the pile has been there for that long because every time we have been here and looked at it, either the trailer for hauling has been full or it has been snake season and we’ve been convinced there were definitely snakes in that large pile of lumber.  Well, today was the day, snakes or not, to finally fill our currently empty trailer with all that refuse and take it out to the landfill.

Two trips later and we were finally finished.

Meanwhile, Ray tidied around the house and our neighbor mowed our lawn.  We still have lots to do, but we made a serious dent in our to-do list today.  Yes!

And we only saw one little tiny snake.

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Camino Viejo: A Great Tex-Mex Restaurant in Downtown Sherman

This evening we went out to dinner with our friend Jared and tried a new (to us) restaurant in downtown Sherman.  Camino Viejo is right off the square at 110 East Houston Street.  Ray was reluctant to go since we don’t eat pork and often small Mexican restaurants say they don’t use lard but often do.  Tonight, before going, I called and asked.  The waitress asked the chef who clarified that all their chips are fried in vegetable oil and their black beans do not contain lard (their pintos and refried beans do).  With that in mind, we jumped in the car and drove the five minutes from our house to the restaurant.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the place to be charmingly decorated and quite welcoming. I told our waitress we were the people who had called about the lard and she said that she would clear every dish we ordered with the chef.  In fact, later in our meal, the chef and owner, came out and introduced himself to us. He assured us that very few of his dishes used lard and for those that did, he would be happy to offer a vegetable oil alternative.  In other words, he couldn’t have been more cordial.

The food turned out to be exceptional. The chips were light, the salsa tasty, the guacamole just right and my meal, tomatillo chicken, was truly excellent.  The chicken was moist, the lime-cilantro rice had just the right amount of tartness and the black beans were very good.  Ray and Jared both had other chicken dishes and were equally happy with their meals.

In short, I would highly recommend this restaurant.  The service was excellent and the people could not have been friendlier.  I can assure you that we will be returning often to Camino Viejo because the food was simply so good.

They are open from 7 am – 9 pm and serve breakfast. lunch and dinner. The prices were reasonable, particularly since the plates are large and filled with delicious food.  My tomatillo chicken plate with mixed vegetables, rice and beans was $10.50.  There was so much food, I could not eat it all.

I have included a few photos from their website just to give you a sense of the place.  Again, I would highly recommend this restaurant for authentic Tex-Mex.  They make their own tamales as well as handroll their enchiladas.  Try it, North Texas folks, you will love it!

Here is a link to their website: https://caminomexicanrestaurant.com/

camino viejo

guacamole

chicken ith spinach

shrimp fajitas

Two Lives

Coming to our home in Sherman, Texas is a bit of a Twilight Zone experience.  Not scary in any way, but almost as if we live in an alternate universe.  We forget when we’re in California just how many people we know here, how wonderful this house is and just how much work there is to be done.  We arrive and, after visiting with our friends, we settle into the day-to-day work life of everyone else.  We start figuring out how to deal with repairs on the house, when we’re headed to the landfill with a load of accumulated junk, and who is going to man the lawn mower to tackle the growing grass. We head down to our building (a former Savings and Loan that could have been in “The Jetsons” with its space-age look) and start working our way through the antiques and collectibles that are stored there, separating them into garage sale, eBay and antique mall piles. We cook dinner, visit with more friends and watch television.  In other words, we settle in as if we don’t have another complete life 1500 miles away on what many people here call the “Left Coast.”

After a few days, that coast starts pulling at my heart.  I get a little throb and start missing my kids and grandkids. Then it’s almost time for our bi-monthly homeless breakfast and we feel as if we absolutely have to get back for that.  Plus, our dogs start pulling us westward. So, we’ll hop back on a plane and return to another life with friends and a home and work.  Until it’s time to come back here.

Back and forth, Texas and California. A way of life for us now since 1994. Two very different places, each with unique benefits. We are very fortunate to have the chance to enjoy both.

But I will admit it never stops being just a tad surreal.

hello-goodbye

 

 

Dan and Marsha Phillips: People on a Mission

Tonight, Ray and I had the pleasure of meeting Dan and Marsha Phillips who are in Sherman, Texas for the Earth Day celebration tomorrow.  The Phillips own a construction business in Huntsville, Texas named Phoenix Commotion, which is “a local building initiative created to prove that constructing homes with recycled and salvaged materials has a viable place in the building industry. This process uses only apprentice labor and teaches marketable skills to anyone with a work ethic who is willing to swing a hammer. By keeping labor costs low and using donated or found materials, the homes created are truly affordable.” In other words, Dan and Marsha not only reduce building materials going into landfills, but also help underprivileged people built their own homes while teaching unskilled workers marketable building skills. Wow.  Now that’s impressive.

We sat at dinner with Dan and Marsha and felt as if we were talking to people with whom we were strangely connected on several levels.  First, they too are antique dealers; second, they love using salvaged materials in their building projects; third, they are on a mission to beautify the world, one building project at a time; and fourth, they embrace the small home concept, making each house unique.  And then, of course, we share the tendency to have a lot of stuff in our lives, which must be kept around because it will surely be perfect for that next project.

Both Dan and Marsha were cordial, kind and full of life. They spoke of their building projects with love in their voices. They were both modest about their efforts. It wasn’t until I returned home and started researching their organization that I learned that Dan has been featured in the New Yorker magazine, has his own TED talk and a Wikipedia page.  Dan will be the featured speaker at the Earth Day celebration here in Sherman tomorrow.  We are looking forward to hearing his talk.

Here is more information on the Phoenix Commotion: http://www.phoenixcommotion.com/

Here is the link to Dan’s Ted Talk:

Here is the link to his Wikipedia entry:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Phillips

It is often said that you don’t always remember exactly what another person does, but you do remember how he/she made you feel. Dan and Marsha made Ray and me feel connected to a bigger world where people share our same values.  What a lovely discovery here in Sherman, Texas.

 

Happy 27th Birthday to Rachael, My Baby Girl

I wrote the blog post below two years ago for Rachael’s birthday and, honestly, I don’t think I can improve upon it.  (Besides, I’d forgotten I’d even written it!) I will just add that in those two years, Rachael has grown even more beautiful, inside and out, and I am very proud to be her mama.

I love you, honey bunch, and feel very lucky to have you in my life.  You and Ariel have lots of fun tonight at that fancy restaurant. Somehow, I know you will.  I enjoyed our pizza lunch today with Luna, Nico and your dad.  As usual, it’s always fun to just hang out with you and those babies.

From 2016:

Dear Rachael,

Twenty-five years ago today I delivered all 7 pounds of you on a sleeping bag spread out on the floor of Daddy’s and my bedroom in our Victorian on Grand Avenue in Sherman, Texas. Daddy and Patricia – dressed in their matching green hospital sweats they’d managed to procure just for this occasion – were both running around shouting, “The book says we need shoelaces to tie the cord,” and “We need more towels.” The book was one I had gotten from the library just in case we had an emergency home birth since the midwife lived 60 miles away. I was lying on my side per her phone instructions, breathing hee hee hee who, hee hee hee who over and over. Jenny, a friend of ours, was there rubbing the small of my back while Daddy and Patricia scrambled to get those supplies. You apparently were a little more eager than any of us had anticipated; maybe you were ready to meet your two big sisters.

The shoelaces and the extra towels were right there, just in case, when the midwife breezed in, took one look at me and said, “So, are you ready to push?”

I don’t remember saying anything at all, but I’m guessing my facial expression communicated my thoughts.

“Let’s roll you over on your back and you can get started,” she said, nodding at Daddy and Patricia to help. Sister Sarah was right there too, plus Jenny. I believe I learned later that five-year-old Elizabeth and Jenny’s daughter Kate were in Liz’s bedroom mixing up some concoction that ended up spilling on the carpet. (I never could get that stain out of that rug!)

All I remember is being propped up on pillows on the floor and finally getting to push. I was expecting a long haul: I’d pushed for at least an hour with Sarah and 45 minutes with Liz. But after two strong pushes, Harriet, the midwife said, “One more big one and I believe you’re going to have your baby. I was shocked. Was that possible?

Just at that moment I heard our neighbor’s car start next door. Every day at exactly 7:35 am they took their kids to school. So, thanks to our neighbor’s obsessive promptness, I knew exactly time it was.

I gave that push all I had, felt a whoosh and then heard a little cry.

“It’s a girl,” Harriet announced and handed you to Daddy. He put you in my arms so we could give you a good look-see.

There you were: a bald little girl with great big eyes, a round tummy and skinny little legs and arms.

You gave me a look that read, “Ah, there you are.”

I stared right back: Yes, baby, here I am.

Who knew that skinny-legged little girl would grow up to be such a beautiful, smart and kind young woman?

Wait, I can answer that question: Daddy and I knew.

Happy birthday, sweet pea. You have the best part of your life opening before you now. Embrace it with gusto. I don’t have to tell you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you do that already. I’ll just sit back and enjoy watching you grow even more beautiful, inside and out, over these upcoming years.

I love you very much.

Mom

One of my Favorite Photos of Rachael and Me

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Auntie Rachael, Luna, Nico and Uncle Ariel

Rachael, Ariel, Nico and Luna

 

 

Happy Birthday, Ron!

Ron Betty, my son-in-law-to-be, turns 31 today.  He is Liz’s fiance, best friend and sweetheart.  That description is quite apt since Ron truly has a sweet heart.  He is generous, gentle, loving and kind and a very decent human being all around.  He is also a wonderful match for Elizabeth, who always has something she’s cooking up. Ron is open to Liz’s ideas and throws in quite a few of his own, which makes for an interesting life for the two of them.  They have already traveled across the U.S. together by car and have headed off to several foreign countries.  They are currently residing at the orange grove in Ojai where Ron just added 10,000 more bees to the land and has a beehive all set up for the incoming honey.  That is in his spare time since he also works as a lawyer and comes into LA several times a week for court.

Happy birthday, Ron.  You are a wonderful addition to our family and you and I are clearly on the same page on several things, not the least of which is our shared love of the Instant Pot.  That alone has already forged a bond that will be difficult to break. Add in your love for my middle daughter, your great sense of humor and your willingness to eat all my honey-sweetened desserts without cringing (Hello, Gregorio…), and I’d say we’re off to a great start.

Much love to you and have a wonderful birthday.

Ensenada, 2018

ron, liz, rachael, len

 

Please Share One Piece of Wisdom You’ve Learned

HI all,

I sat and stared at this computer screen for well over an hour tonight before heading upstairs to stare at the television instead. I simply couldn’t think of a thing to write about tonight. I have just now returned from a walk around the block with the dogs and it occurred to me while out walking that maybe what I need tonight is to hear from you instead of me.  I would greatly appreciate just one piece of wisdom you’ve learned over the years from facing adversity.  I am talking about life lessons you’ve learned through living. Nothing earth-shattering.  just plain ole down-to-earth wisdom.

Care to share?  I could use it!

Thanks in advance.

Len

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Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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