My Home Town

If I were being completely truthful, by definition, my home town is Las Vegas. Not exactly the warm and cozy, stroll down the street, sit on your front porch kind of town. But that is where I was born. So where did I grow up? A little of here and a little of there. We moved about every five years or so as my parents searched for a place to better our station in life. Thus, the move and it will be better message was received loud and clear. All that moving around left me craving the hometown experience. A sense of belonging and being part of something bigger than myself.

Dreaming of Greener Grass

We all know the “grass is greener” myth. In my mind I know this, but my heart says, “It might not be perfect but it could be so exciting and fun.” I live in a constant state of tug of war between my heart and mind. In fact I have spent about the past twenty years bouncing around all sorts of ideas about where would be the ideal town to live in and what kind of house I would want to what kind of business we could have in order to live in this fantasy town. And yet, here we are. Still living in the same subdivision dreaming the same dreams. Mr. Means and I are not getting any younger, so we must take a stance. Make a decision. Stay or go. If we go, it can’t be too far as I can’t imagine living so far away from my girls that I couldn’t see them whenever I wanted or they needed. That limits our choices dramatically.

Isn’t It Ironic?

Now what I didn’t explain is that our master planned subdivision is just east of the Brazos River from one of the most historic small towns in Texas. Because Richmond is such an old town, the folks who live “in town” don’t consider those of us across the river as being residents of Richmond. That is just our mailing address. So, yes, I realize that I technically have a small town address, I do not have the small town experience.

I have lived in Richmond for thirty years; about eight times longer than I have lived anywhere else. For many reasons, such as work and all those east of the river things I mentioned, I have never really felt a part of the town of Richmond. I want that to change.

Change Of Attitude

What do I have the power to change? Perspective.

I fell in love with Laurel, Mississippi. But it is not my home town. I want that kind of home town. Erin and Ben Napier make lots of folks want that to be their home town, but the fact of the matter is that it isn’t and it never really could be.

At the beginning of their show every week, they talk about how there is beauty in every town just waiting to be discovered. The residents get used to things being the “way they have always been” and there is very little motivation to change. Often that change comes from the outside. I know Richmond has uniqueness and beauty just waiting to be polished up and put on display for the world to see.

Erin also says, “Just get up and make it happen.” There is a young and vibrant group of young families moving back into the area and are desperate to make this the hometown they have always dreamed of for themselves and their children. New businesses have started and things are happening. Slowly. But they are happening. I’m way past the young adult phase of life, so I begin asking myself, “Well, what do I have to offer? I’m not sure I would even fit in. All the other people my age have lived here for many years. I’ve just been lurking.” Sometimes I just want to slap myself silly.

Answer To Prayer

After returning from Laurel last week, desperate to live in a cottage or bungalow in a small town, I began praying. I asked God to make His plan for us our plan. I know that I go off on tangents that make my husband’s head spin. Most would have ended in disaster if I was allowed to twirl unchecked. I don’t want to move to another state only to find out it was a mistake. This is something we need to get right the first time.

On Sunday, after a week of these prayers we attended an event for a local business I have followed since before they were open. It was their two year anniversary. In fact, that is where I am right now, writing on their deck on a gorgeous spring day. The business owner and her family just moved from one of those cookie cutter master planned communities into an adorable cottage just a block from her coffee shop. She is living the dream. I want to live that part of the dream as well. I want to be able to walk for coffee, wave at neighbors on their front porch, have a community of people to whom I belong. I miss belonging.

After the birthday party at the coffee shop, Mr. Means chose to drive around the very small historic neighborhood behind the coffee shop. Maybe, just maybe his mind might be moving in this same direction as well.

The Next Step

I wrote one time about trusting God. Just follow His flashlight one step at a time. I asked Him “What is the next step?” Later that same day I “stumbled” across a podcast that held the answer. If you want to belong, find a group and join it. What a stunning thought! Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, yeah…I remember now.

I am a socially anxious introvert (not always noticeable when meeting me) that always assumes other people think I am weird, stupid, or otherwise unacceptable company. I can tell you, that when I share this deep dark inner secret, folks just think I am crazy as I don’t appear to be any of those things. But that doesn’t change the internal messages.

So the next step is to refute those negative voices, with the voice of truth and go find a group, an activity, a place to belong. I’ve got some ideas and I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time, I plan on coming across the river every Tuesday to experience and share a little more of my home town.

Until then, keep looking up, embrace today and go find some fun!

The Big Easy

Mr. Means is “just an old peddler.” He has spent most of his working life as an outside salesman. He can make his own schedule, travel, and spend time talking to lots of interesting folks. He has been with his current company for twenty three years and his customers are friends. On his most recent trip to Louisiana, I went along for the ride.

On The Road

I had lots of work I needed to get done and this was the perfect way to do it. Limited distractions and lots of time. To be honest, I was a tad anxious about just sitting in a car waiting for him to go in and visit with his dealers. I know how long these things can take. I had nothing to be worried about. Visits were short and I got to see parts of New Orleans I had never seen before. It really was a good trip.

Eighteen Years Later

I can’t remember exactly, but I think it has been that long since I have been in New Orleans. The last time was to attend a Mardi Gras ball for our friend’s krewe. A krewe is the name of the a social organization that put on in the parades of Mardi Gras. We had a blast, so why haven’t we been back? Well, to put it simply, life is the reason we haven’t been back. Running a business, raising kids and grandkids and just the rut of everyday life took its toll. Then there was Katrina. And, to be honest, it never really dawned on me to travel with him for business. It was business. This will not be my last trip. There is much I want to explore and see. I also enjoyed the time with Mr. Means.

This traffic circle is called Lee Circle. Unfortunately the statue of the person for whom it was named is no longer atop of this concrete column. It looks pitiful. I HATE the removal of historic statues. Teach history. Put up a plaque that explains the modern perspective. Do anything but destroy these symbols. Ignorance will only lead to repeating the mistakes of the past. I am now stepping down from this soapbox.

As we drove through different parts of the city, this is what I saw.

A giant metal rooster.

Mardi Gras beads hanging from trees and power lines.

Land space is at a premium in New Orleans.

This is a classic New Orleans landmark. It reminds me I need to reread A Confederacy of Dunces.

The French Quarter on a rainy evening.

Art on the esplande.

Drinking alcohol while walking on the street is legal here…just don’t do it in a glass container! The old guard is gone, but there will always be a dedication to jazz and Preservation Hall.

New Orleans Means Food

One cannot go to New Orleans without eating really good food. I, however, did not want to just go to the famous places. I wanted to find places where the locals eat; the Diners, Drive Ins and Dives type places Guy Fieri frequents. The problem was…too many places, not enough time. So, I will just need to go back.

Here is Mr. Means waiting for dinner at New Orleans Food & Spirits. We had a lovely dinner with a couple that began as customers and have evolved into friends. I have never eaten so many fried shrimp in my life. They were fabulous. The restaurant was filled with lots of happy people enjoying one of the things that makes New Orleans famous. It is such a happy town.

The next night we ventured into the famous French Quarter. haven’t been there in about eighteen years and much has changed…mostly for the good. We didn’t make reservations. It was spring break. So, it was either a very long or head back to the suburbs. We opted for something in the middle.

It had begun to rain, so we decided to wait for first come seating in the bar area of Brennan’s Bourbon House. At first I thought this named because it is on Bourbon St., and while that is likely the main reason, but the Brennan family took advantage of this and have a huge collection of bourbon on display.

There were so many bourbons on the menu I literally closed my eyes and put my finger down on one. If we had not been walking back to the car in the rain, I would have ordered a flight. Next time!

I love looking at the interesting architectural and decor items in the places we go. The lights and fans were all on a pulley system. I don’t know if they really did anything other than look cool.

This was our view during dinner.

At first glance there isn’t much going on in this photo. Across the street is a line of people, nearly a block long, waiting in the drizzling rain for their chance to get into Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster House. There is nothing I want to eat so badly that I would stand in line in the rain.

Next, notice the trash can. There’s a handle, so guess how one would go about throwing something away? We were highly entertained with people who tried to figure it out to make it work. I’m sure alcohol had an affect on this mind boggling dilemma.

Tomorrow…we travel to Laurel, Mississippi.

Until then,

~Sheryl

Tuesday Travels: Birthday Weekend

Anytime we have the chance to get out of town for a change of scenery, we go. Generally speaking our favorite destinations have always been in the hill country of Texas. It is only about a three hour drive, depending on where we are headed, and it is a world away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

Texas is so big and so diverse that it doesn’t take long to move from one kind of topography to another. Coastal plains give way to a gentle rise and fall with lush greenery and then comes the rocky terrain and hills west of San Antonio before it flattens out into the vast deserts of true west Texas. And all of that doesn’t even include the piney woods of east Texas or the other areas north or far south. It is an amazing place to live.

I realized this weekend that my love for old things, the abandoned and long forgotten buildings, items that are weathered and slowly deteriorating back into the earth also extends to trees. I find a great deal of beauty in the toppled or dying trees. They are sculpture in my eyes. The hill country is littered with such trees.

Tropical storms from the Pacific came raging across Mexico and plowed down everything in their path. Fortunately, the city of Kerrville is primarily build up high so the majority of the damage was to low lying river beds and other areas left to nature. Giant cypress trees were uprooted and toppled. Just lying there. Too heavy to move without the use of huge equipment. Some clearing has occurred but there is still much left to do.

Sometimes when the waters recede, things long buried resurface.

This cypress branch dangles from a larger limb. The beauty of the wood, stripped of its bark, is now on full view for anyone to slows down to notice.

Fresh greener grows side by side with the dying and decaying trees. This area endured a torrential flood back in October.

All these pictures were taken as we walked just a small portion of a nature trail that winds its way through town. The city of Kerrville has done an amazing job of protecting and yet making available its natural resources.

My Morning View

The cabins we stayed in sit along the banks of the Guadalupe River. I sat on the balcony and listened to the birds and the water flowing briskly across the rocks and debris. When we were here last October the other side of the bank was covered in brush. Now the most of that has been swept downstream.

I sketched.

I made some yarn.

Willow City Loop

There is a famous (in Texas) drive that loops around a huge section of ranch land. Cattle graze and roam freely so one does need to be careful. It is one of our must do drives whenever we visit. I will leave you with several more images of our weekend and our beloved wild Texas.

This view never gets old.

Look carefully and you will see a deer grazing.
This was such a delightful surprise. Not many folks live here. I adore the split rail fence.
I always take pictures of the lichen growing on rocks. I can’t get enough of it.

This is Texas to us. We love it so much and I am happy to share a bit with you. I hope this inspires you to find the beauty wherever you live. Go out and enjoy God’s creation, it is time well spent.

Until tomorrow, keep looking up, embrace today and go have some fun!