Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Asheville Finale

Fermin, Ricky and Lucy and I were in Asheville the whole month of June.
The Great Craggy Mountains in North Carolina
It was dreamy.  We thought we would soon be moving there.  I've been too sad and disappointed to finish up my series of blog posts about it lately because, well... Fermin got laid off from his job. So we're starting over at square one as far as moving there.  It can still happen, but as of now, we have no idea what's next.

And that sucks.

But I wanted to wrap this up and document these fond memories.  So here goes.

During two of the weekends we were there we had friends come to visit us.  Pretty amazing, really.  Our friends Kelly and Craig, and their daughter Abby came to visit one weekend, in the middle of the month.  They had airline issues and got in about a day late, and without luggage, but nothing could stop us from having a great time together!
Surrounded by our favorite people ❤️

In that short time together, we still had enough to eat some great meals, visit the Biltmore, dance and sing, laugh a ton, and even cry a little.
The majestic Biltmore Estate in Ashevile, NC
Kelly is one of my favorite people of all time, and she's always enthusiastically cheering us on about anything and everything.  She knew how exciting this possibility of moving to Asheville was, and she (along with Abby and Craig) came into town so we could all enjoy a great beginning together.
I LOVE this picture.  It captures the mood of the weekend perfectly.
Craig and I discovered our mutual love for Belinda Carlisle and did some impromptu karaoke in her honor.

Peace, Love, and Happiness
What a birthday!
Towards the very end of our time in Asheville, my friend Valerie drove down from the DC area with her sister, Debbie.  Valerie is another one of my all time favorite people.  Although we live far apart, I'm in better touch with her than most people in my life.  We text most days.  So we know the daily goings-on in each other's lives.  I was so excited when we started talking about me and Fermin going to Asheville.  Valerie said she and her sister had been wanting to make a road trip down to Asheville.  We decided this was the perfect time!  And it just worked out that they were coming right around my birthday.  The best gift I could have imagined!!

except THIS hat! THIS is the best bday gift I could imagine. and valerie MADE IT!!!












Valerie has a friend who lives in Asheville and we had already connected through her.  By the time Valerie came to town, Rebecca and I had already become fast friends.  So we all went out to dinner the night Valerie and Debbie got into town.  Valerie had made the reservations and told them we were celebrating a birthday.  It was so awesome to be surrounded by friends on my birthday.  I'll never forget that they were there for me, and that Valerie introduced me to all of them.  What a fun night! 
my happy birthday menu- from Posana in Asheville

Valerie, Me, Debbie, Rebecca, Bruce...and the squatter, Fermin

Valerie and Me ❤️
The next day Valerie, Debbie, Fermin and I went on a funny bus tour of the city.  We learned a little (like James Taylor was in a mental hospital there for a period, Zelda Fitzgerald died in a mental hospital there, and F. Scott lived there for a while... among  other interesting facts), and laughed a little. 
La Zoom bus tours are a great way to see the city of Asheville


We met up for drinks at the beautiful Grove Park Inn later that night with Bruce and Rebecca. What a beautiful spot- Maybe the most beautiful view of Asheville!
Debbie, Valerie, Me and Rebecca

We had it all in Asheville during our month there- daily hikes with our dogs, cool temperatures, beauty all around us, family and friends- old and new!  We've now hit a little bump in the road to getting there permanently, but although it may have slowed us down just a little, we'll get there eventually.  Seeing these pictures and remembering all that fun is great motivation to make it happen.

Thanks, Friends.  You certainly made it special for us. ❤️


Monday, August 7, 2017

Bitches. Also Known as Progressive Lenses.

A couple of years ago, I got my first prescription lenses in a pair of sunglasses.  Actually, I first got prescriptions in a pair I used just for driving at night. I have a slight astigmatism, and I guess because of that, I'm a little nearsighted.  I loved the way my prescription lenses cleared up all things blurry, and decided I wanted them in my sunglasses too.

I loved them right from the start.  But the sunglasses have gotten very scratched up over the years and I've become more and more careless with them. I knew I needed a fresh pair.

So, a few weeks ago, I went to the eye doctor to get an updated prescription.  Things hadn't changed much, but I decided this time, to get progressive lenses.  That way, I could wear my sunglasses and read a book when I'm sitting outside.  And, I thought, I wouldn't have to be putting them up on my head when I needed to look at my phone.  It seemed like a great idea.  Oh, and although I barely need reading glasses (I seriously do not need them!) they put a little bit of a correction in for reading too.  It seemed like I was going to love having knew glasses and having perfect vision!

I picked up my sunglasses yesterday, and so far:
I HATE THEM.

the cause of my headache both yesterday and today
The sales lady at LensCrafters warned me that they might take some getting used to.  She told me she actually cried when she first got her progressives and was experiencing headaches and a lot of frustration trying to get used to them.  I thought, "Wow, this girl is awfully dramatic."  I figured for me, since neither my distance or my reading prescription is strong, it would be easy.

But I feel like I'm under water, or drunk, or hungover whenever I wear them.  My peripheral vision is all tainted, and honestly, nothings looks right. It's not like last time when I first got my prescription and I felt like I was seeing everything in high definition.  No!!!  These are nothing like that.

At least I'm not crying yet.  But I might get to that.  I'm giving these a chance though.  I've read that your brain and your eyes figure it out after a while.  I'm not totally sure I believe that, but I'll give it time.  Just time stamping it here that on day 2 with these progressive lenses, I think they are awful.

My Name Is Lucy Barton, and I Joined a BookClub

Several months ago, I saw a post on my Neighbor Next Door thing- actually I think I got an email- about a new book club forming by a lady in a neighboring neighborhood.  I said "YES!" I wanted to join, but was traveling and unable to attend the first several meetings.

But fortunately, I stayed on the email list.

This month, the book they read was My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stout. I got it from the library a few weeks ago thinking that yes, I would probably read it and if I did, then I would probably go to the book club.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stout
Just a couple of days ago, I got an email reminder about the book club.  So I read ...Lucy... over the last day and a half.  I just finished it up this afternoon.  And although it was okay, and I wasn't dying to talk about it, I was planning to go ahead to the book club.

Until about an hour beforehand.  I got a little nervous and nearly talked myself out of going.  I didn't know any of the women in this group.  And although I had read the book, maybe I didn't read it deeply enough to contribute to a discussion.

But I took a breath.  And I thought:  This is a book club.  I'm a book reader.  And I always wish I had people to talk books with. So I decided that I was going.

And I am SO glad I went. The book club consisted of about ten women.  I think I was the youngest one there.  (At least, I like to think I was.  I often think I'm the youngest tho, even when I'm not.  But one lady actually told me she was 70, so I know I was at least quite a bit younger than her!)  A couple of the ladies there were English/Reading teachers, so they were great about keeping the conversation about the book.  Although few of us gave the book a thumbs up, we all had things to say about it and it made for a great discussion.  It actually made me like the book even better because we discussed it.  Honestly, I hadn't even quite processed the question of "Did I like that book?" since I had only just finished reading it today.

my Lucy- who better to pose with My Name Is Lucy Barton
The basic premise of the story is that while Lucy Barton is in the hospital for some illness (we never know quite what it is), her estranged mother visits her.  It's narrated by Lucy, in a very stream-of-concious form.  She had a sad upbringing- from a poor family with parents that didn't express much love, and even bordered on abusive.  It's one of those stories that isn't told sequentially.  In fact, it's not even so much a story-  But I did like the way it was written, and it was thought provoking. It was short, and I read it in three sittings.  I think that is the best way to read this one- fast.  There are quite a few unanswered questions in the book, but I sorta liked that style.  Like I said- thought provoking.

And also, as I previously said, I liked it even better because I discussed it with these ladies in the book club.  Usually, I would read a book like this and just move on to the next. And I would probably soon forgot all about it. But this discussion forced me to think a little more critically about what I had just read.  Discussing the the book, and us having different opinions about the story and the characters, made me think about things I might have glossed over otherwise.  I think I understand what I read better, because for about 45 minutes, we talked all about it.

GOD.  I LOVE THAT.

I feel so lucky that I stumbled upon this book club.  As I told Fermin as I walked in the door after coming home from the meeting, "That was a goldmine."  I can just tell, I'm going to love going to these meetings.

I am mediating, or whatever you call it, the next book club meeting.  I didn't volunteer for the job, but they asked me to do it.  I didn't really want to, because I don't feel confident I'll do a great job with it.  I warned them of my ADD ways and told them I was a little apprehensive, but the ladies who had wanted that role had already done it at previous meetings and they just wanted someone else to do it.  So, I got the job.  But I'm excited to step up to the challenge and keep the discussion going next month.

The book that was selected for August is Rising Strong by Brene Brown.  Coincidentally, I had downloaded that on Audible months ago based on a friend's recommendation, but have never gotten around to listening to it.  I also went ahead and placed a hold for a hard copy at the library as well, just in case I have trouble listening to the audio version- sometimes, I have trouble focusing when it's just audio.  So I'm all set.

I'm finally in a book club! Yay.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The End of an Era

The very first gig I ever played was at a restaurant called El Arroyo.  It was a little Mexican food joint, with a side patio.  They were infamous for their margaritas and for the raccoons that would come up from the creek, onto the patio, and act cute for chips and salsa.

It was located across the street from a hospital, and they had a happy hour that started around 3pm.  Somehow I had it on my radar that that might be a great place to approach to play music on a Friday evenings.  I made them a cheesy little cassette tape of me singing a few songs, and shockingly, I was offered the job.

It was so exciting, that first gig.  And so scary.  I almost drove away before I ever got in the door with my little amp and guitar that first night.  I wasn't all that well prepared, but with happy hour starting at 3pm, by the time I showed up around 6:00, everyone was ready for music and everyone was so nice.

The place was on it's last leg when I got that gig, and I think it went out of business after just a few months of me starting the "Live Music" on Friday nights.  But gosh, was it fun while it lasted.  And it was definitely a great place to work out the kinks of being new to performing in front of an audience.

It then went on to be an Italian restaurant- actually maybe even two different ones.

Today, I happened to have a doctor's appointment just across the street from that old place.  I noticed it was closed, along with all the other adjoining shops.  It looks as though the entire building will soon be plowed down, and replaced with something brand new.
This old building has seen it's day...
Clearly, it's time!

I got out to look at that patio one last time, before it's gone.  It's where it all started for me.  And I'm so grateful to that place.  The friendly people, the raccoons, and the margarita's... it was a very welcoming place for a nervous little musician just getting her feet wet.
the patio of my first gig, way back when
So many changes are happening in my life right now- the end of some things, and hopefully soon- the beginning of others.  It seems so poetic to have driven by this spot today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Family In NC

I had never even heard of Asheville, NC until my Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill moved to nearby Flat Rock 22 years ago.  I'm not exactly sure when I first visited them, but it was within a few years after they had moved there once my uncle retired. I went once with Fermin, and we went another time with my mom and dad.

And things beyond my aunt and uncle continued to bring me back to the Asheville area.  While I was there for retreats and songwriting camps, I would drop in and see them a day or two while I was in their neck of the woods. They're great hosts, and they would always show me the most beautiful places and we'd have such a great time together.  It's really because of them that I know about Asheville, and that I love it so much.

So it's odd that when we went to Asheville this time around, I didn't give them any advance notice.  We were late in planning our exact dates we would be there, and I didn't want them to feel obligated to "entertain" us, because I know how they are!  It's sounds stupid and even a little shitty to me now that I went about it this way.

But when I did reach out to my uncle to tell them we were in town, he was so welcoming!  We immediately made plans to get together.  He told me that a few of my cousins would be in town during the month, and even some of their kids!  He also told me my cousin Becky and her husband Jim live there full time now.  (I knew they had a lake house nearby, but last I had heard it was just a vacation home for them.)  My Uncle Bill went out of his way to include us on their family fun.

We met them for dinner one night soon after my uncle and I first spoke. We all met up at this great place called BarTaco.  We sat out on the patio and had drinks and tacos.  How nice that they all came out for us, and they all offered to help us in any way they could, and answer any questions we had.
My family in NC!
We drove out to Flat Rock, where my aunt and uncle live, another afternoon soon after that.  I LOVE
where they live.  It's a golf course neighborhood called Kenmure, and it's probably the prettiest neighborhood I've even seen.  I love it so much.  My Aunt Pat has a green thumb and her yard has always been shockingly gorgeous, sort of like her own little Dallas Arboretum.  I wish I had taken a picture of it.  The only one I got of us that night was when we out for tapas in downtown Hendersonville.  It was so much fun.  My uncle always has great stories to share, and he's the best  storyteller.  So there's never a dull moment.
the downtown Hendersonville scene
We got to visit my cousin's farm, and a few weeks later, their lake house!  Yep, they have both!!  Somehow, I didn't get pictures of the farm- I think sometimes when I'm having so much fun, taking a picture slips my mind.  I did, however, get a picture when we went out to eat at a nearby restaurant called The Blind Squirrel.  As with pretty much every meal we ate, we ate outside.  That's something we could never endure in Dallas during the afternoon in June.  We got to take Lucy and Ricky since it was outdoor seating and everyone is so welcoming of dogs around there.
at The Blind Squirrel
Another day, we went to their lakehouse on Lake James. I didn't have a bathing suit for this trip, but I will most definitely have it with me next time. Here's a view from the dock. 
Lake James, NC
And here were are right before a storm came in.  I had my first hard cider- it was so delicious!
Look at all this family I got to be around! My aunt and uncle, my cousin, and another cousin's kids- that are all grown up now.  SO FUN.

We also got to see my cousin Jim one afternoon,who Fermin and I just adore!  We got to meet his girlfriend and hear all about the heart transplant he received last year.  It was incredible story they told us about all they went through before getting that strong heart he now has beating inside of him.  I'm so grateful that heart went to Jim- He's so deserving and appreciative of life.

North Carolina was full of gifts for us.  Having family there turned out to be an unexpected one that was at the top of the list. 


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Goat Yoga at Four Bullets Brewery

Goat Yoga @ Four Bullets
This past weekend, I went to Goat Yoga. I think it normally costs about $35, but I actually won my ticket to class.  It was held at Four Bullets Brewery- but no, I wasn't drinking beer and doing yoga and playing with goats.  It was only 10am!  It may sound sort of rowdy and crazy, but actually, it wasn't.

If you haven't heard about Goat Yoga before, it's basically what you're thinking.  You do yoga with goats.  Although you don't really do yoga poses together or anything like that. And you don't get your own goat partner, as I had hoped.

The class I took had about 35-40 people in it, and about 15 baby goats milling around the whole time. 
Goats, Goats, and more Goats!
I had read up a little on this whole Goat Yoga movement prior to going to the class and I wondered, "Why goats?" and didn't really get it.  Why not Chicken Yoga?  Or Kitty Yoga?  But now, I sorta feel like I get it.   
Goats Love Yoga
Goats are gentle, they don't make noise, they aren't fearful of humans, and there's a calm feeling they give off when you're around them.  However, there is also a lot of pooping and peeing.  But there were a couple of people on site that walked around cleaning up after them constantly.

Goats can definitely be lured by food, so there was food there to encouragement them to walk around so everyone in the class had interactions with the them.  My friend Theresa had a little cup of trail mix so she was quite popular.  We learned that they don't really care for pretzels.

"Gimme the Chex, please."
No one cares about pretzels.
I guess goats like jumping up on things, and some of us were lucky enough to have our backs jumped on.  They're lightweight and gentle so it's not painful at all to have a goat jump on your back.  Much better than a monkey. 
ommmmm. I've got a goat on my back!
I will admit, this moment made me slightly nervous, but mostly happy.
I've never been in a yoga class where time flew so fast!  The goats were so cute that every now and then I'd forget that, "hey! there's a yoga teacher here giving us instruction."  We were all pretty busy petting goats and getting cute pics with our cameras. 
We're all a little distracted.  But I was TRYING. ;)
As one girl said after class it was actually, "Playing with Baby Goats with a Side of Yoga". I wouldn't really say I got that much of yoga work out. But seriously, who cares?  Sometimes it's more about the the goats than the yoga!
❤️
My friend Theresa, with her new favorite yoga partner.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Walking Dogs

I'm still trying to recap our super fun month in Asheville, but it's taking some time.  Mainly because there's so much to say that I keep losing my focus.  But I'm working on it- because I want to preserve those precious memories for myself, here.

But today, I wanted to give a quick updated report on how Lucy and Ricky are doing now that they're back in boot camp.  I had written a post here about that monkey-like behaviors they expressed while on our trip, and how that was going to change.  We were going back to basics with dog training and we were going to fix this problem we had fallen into.

We've been doing fun, positive focus games- one puppy step at a time.  They're certainly not puppies anymore (although they still seem like it to me!).  They're actually so much easier to work with while we're "training" now that they're more mature.  This probably wouldn't be the case though if they hadn't had a lot of training as young dogs- so my hard work from back then paid off, even if we've lately gotten a little off track. But they focus easily, and they seem very eager to please.

Today, the four of us (Lucy, Ricky, Fermin and me) went for a walk.  First, Fermin and I took just Ricky.  Ricky is the most hyper when we take him out together somewhere.  I figured he needed the practice the most.  It was very low key.  So low key that after we walked about a mile and a half, Fermin asked if I wanted to swing back by the house and get Lucy.  So we did. This would be our first walk with the two of them together since our trip.

Fermin and Ricky continued walking past the house while I ran up and got Lucy.  They walked one direction and Lucy and I walked the other, and then we met up on the next block.  There was no crying, no howling, no pulling.  Just treats, treats and more treats dispensed by the dog walkers!  Our dogs are very food motivated, so they stayed very focused on that.  And once we all got together, everybody was calm.
hypnotized into good behavior by FOOD
After we all walked together for about a mile, Fermin and Ricky went home, and Lucy and I walked another mile or so.  And there was no drama.

I'm not saying they're perfect.  We still haven't had the distraction of seeing other dogs when all four of us are together.  But this is huge progress that the four of us could all walk together this morning, and even go opposite ways and walk on opposite sides of the street, without major drama.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Beauty of Asheville

It's really beautiful everywhere you look when you're in Asheville.  And there are many small towns just outside of Asheville and they're ALL gorgeous.

It's one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors, for sure!  Although I know there are lots of hiking trails, I only found a handful this time around.   So we took some hikes, plus we walked around the lake near our house often, and I walked in a nearby town called Montreat a lot.  Montreat had nice paved sidewalks with lots of shady trees to keep things cool.

Here are just a few of the beautiful scenes from the outdoors in Asheville and it's surrounding towns.
Fermin and Lucy at the little lake by our house- Lake Tomahawk
Trees that go on forever
An overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway
The golf course in our neighborhood. There are lots of gorgeous golf courses all around Asheville.
Lake James- from my cousin's dock.  So peaceful out there!
Fermin and his best hiking buddy, Lucy, on a hike in Montreat.
This was the view from the deck of a brewery we stopped in- the town of Chimney Rock.
I could go on and on.  But I think you get the idea.  Green trees and mountains in view from just about anywhere.  I think the best view in all of Asheville was probably from the Grove Park Inn. Or maybe the Biltmore.  Both were majestic!
Looking out from the Biltmore Estate
Fermin and me, from the Grove Park Inn, looking out onto Asheville
It was comfortably warm in the day- in the upper 70s/lower 80s, and then cooled off in the evenings.  Perfect!  And this was June!!! I got so spoiled by the weather, and by those views.  Coming back to Dallas in July has been a sad adjustment.  But I keep telling myself we'll be back there soon...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Back Tracking to Asheville ❤️

First of all, there MUST be a better way to move pictures from my iPhone to my laptop, in iPhoto.  The way I did it seemed slow and stupid.  But I finally transferred all those photos (and videos!) I took while in North Carolina to my computer.  Ugh.  But now: Yay.

I guess I'll tell of my travels in sequential order.  At least mostly. So, I'll start at the very beginning, and that was the packing!  Packing for a month might sound slightly challenging, but I had few things working to my advantage.  One, we knew we would have a washer and drying at the house we would be renting. Two, we did this last summer- packed pretty minimally for a month, and loved not having many choices on clothing once there.  And three, North Carolina is not at all a third world country. If I forgot something, or I decided I needed something that I didn't have, all I had to do was go to a store and buy it.

So this is all I packed.
Just as many books as shoes.  As long as I have a few comfy pair for walking, I'm good to go!

This is a pretty small suitcase, but I had plenty of room for a months worth of clothes.
Because the weather app told me the weather was in the 50s at night, and 70s in the day, and I get chilly easily, I only packed two short sleeved shirts and no shorts.  It ended up being a little warmer than I had expected as the month wore on, but with the washing machine, it all worked out fine.  There was one day, or maybe two, I wished I had a swimming suit, but if it had been that important to me to have one, I would have bought a cheap one at Target.  It wasn't essential.  But next time, I'm bringing one for sure.  It takes up no space-- What was I thinking!? I would have loved to have floated around at least one day in the French Broad River!

Traveling from Dallas to Asheville is about a 14 1/2 hour drive, so we broke it into two days.  Ricky loves car trips- He sees it as a time to take long naps in a mobile bed.  Lucy, on the other hand, is not a big fan.  She's gotten better over time, and at least, on this trip, she laid down most of the time.  Never slept or even closed her eyes, but she did lay down the majority of the time.  And that, my friends, is progess!

Bathroom stops, for us or for them, as well as meal stops, are complete chaos.  They get all whiney and pant-y and think having to wear a leash near highway traffic is lame.  It sucks completely.  So we don't stop as much as we should.  By the time we make it to our final destination of the day, it's a circus.  But once they settle in the hotel room, they're happy.
Traveling is exhausting!
The hotel we stayed at when we passed through Memphis was our nicest pet hotel yet.  It was a La Quinta, as usual, but this one was new so it didn't smell doggy and it looked and felt very clean.  (That is, probably until we left!)

The next day, we drove the rest of the way and made it to our house in Black Mountain, which is about 20 minutes outside of Asheville.
Oh My Gee! We're finally here!
Again, monkey business ensued when we first got out of the car, but once we got inside, things calmed down quickly and we all felt right at home. Especially these two...
See? Sometimes we act normal. 
The house we rented was on a quiet street.  And just beautiful!
Our street, for the month of June.
Well, quiet in the city-sense of the word at least.  There wasn't traffic or street noise. But there were lots of chickens and roosters, and outside dogs that barked all through the night!  Believe it or not, the house we stayed in didn't have A/C, so we slept with the windows opened.  The first few nights, the dogs (not ours, OF COURSE, but the barkers outside) drove me crazy.  But somehow, we got used to it.  I loved the sound of the chickens and roosters cock-a-doodle-doing, and now that I'm back in Dallas, I sure am missing that little choir we heard on a daily and nightly basis.
The Choir of Black Mountain~ Gladys Night and the Chicks
That's the "getting there" portion of the North Carolina recap.  I'll get into what we did and saw in my next post.