Party Offers an Answer for Terrorism


Louise Mandrell 001

A picture of Louise Mandrell today with tickets from her show in 1999.


The corner of Plano Parkway and Custer Road is quite symbolic in my mind.  On one corner sits IILM, an Islamic learning center.  Across the street is The Hope Center, an edifice devoted to Christian ministries.  I’d thought for a long time how ironic it was that the buildings stared one another down on a daily basis.  To go to The Hope Center the day after the Paris massacre was quite poignant.  

Louise Mandrell

Let’s start with Louise.  There was a time when Barbara Mandrell was the biggest thing in music – not just country music, music.  Her little sister, Louise is a powerhouse talent on her own and if there had not been the Barbara phenomena, who knows how well-known the little sister would have been in her own right.  Unfortunately, the Mandrell name suffered a scandal (an undeserved scandal, I might add) and after the facts of the matter came out, the public had already moved on.

Being the apple of the public’s eye is not always everything it’s supposed to be.  Louise has continued to be a successful performer and has a very loyal following.  I saw her back in 1999 in her own theater in Branson.  Today, she devotes most of her time to charities and causes she cares about.  She is a loyal patriot and a strong Christian.  When Global Hearts Ministry invited her to come perform for a fundraising event, she was thrilled to come.

Global Hearts Ministry 

Last week on my Faith Talk blog, I talked about Global Heart Ministries and the circuitous route I traveled to find out about them.  Long story short, Global Hearts Ministry creates Christian TV programming in native languages for Central Asian countries – nations dominated by radical Islam, the very brand of terrorism that just attacked Paris.  Because we support the ministry, we were invited to their event and as circumstances would have it, the event ended up being on the evening right after the Paris massacres.

I go into it in greater detail over on Faith Talk, but Global Hearts offers the only real antidote to radical Islam – Jesus Christ.  They are taking the antidote right to the crux of the problem – Central Asia.  If you really want to make a difference in the War on Terrorism, I suggest you check them out.

The program was wonderful and I learned a lot about the ministry, which you can read about over on Faith Talk.  Louise Mandrell was not the only celebrity in the room.  I actually got to meet June Hunt, who sat at my table – or perhaps I should say I was privileged to sit at hers.  Also on hand were the stars of the shows produced by Global Hearts Ministries.  If I named them here, you wouldn’t recognize their names or their faces, but if you lived in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Iran or Afghanistan, their names and faces are as ubiquitous as Ellen and their shows are just as popular.

Back to Louise

At the end of the program we were treated to a mini-concert by Ms. Mandrell and she packed a whale of a show into her short performance.  She sang some great songs, regaled us with both inspiring and humorous stories of the Mandrell family and finished off with a little fiddling.  In our swag bag, we found the autographed picture above, along with some other treats.  It was a great night for a great cause.

Here’s some shots Bill got during her performance.  I hope you enjoy them and I hope you’ll be back soon to see what other exciting things I’ve been up to.

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Filed under ART, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Music, TRAVEL

Grapefest in Grapevine TX

Grapefest 2015, Grapevine TX

Three crazy girls at Grapefest


OK, I admit it.  I’m older than I used to be.  I don’t find noisy, crowded places as charming as I once did.  However, the crowds were the least of my problems when I went to Grapefest.

Plans Change

When my friend Iliana suggested going to Grapefest, there was nothing on my calendar, so it seemed like a great idea.  Bill and I even discussed the possibility of booking a hotel over on that side of town to make a real occasion of it.  Good thing we didn’t.

The week just before Grapefest I got news a dear friend’s health was fading fast.  Within days she was gone.  The memorial service was scheduled in the middle of the day we planned to attend to Grapefest.  Compounding the conflict, one of our tenants had some repair issues needing Bill’s attention.  Then another “must do” activity came up for Sunday.

It was tempting to blow off the festival altogether.  Grapevine is way over on the other side of Dallas from our home in Heath.  If this had been an event Bill and I had planned for ourselves, we would have come back home that evening and drank wine on our own patio rather than make a trek across Dallas.  However, Iliana, Loree and their fellows were looking forward to us being with them, so we worked it out.

Crazy Day

I started my day very early in my office, of course.  The vegetable bin was empty, so I had to go to the Farmer’s Market.  Then I had some chores around the house that needed immediate attention.  At the appointed hour I got ready for the memorial service and put together another outfit to change into for Grapefest.  I allowed twice as much time as I thought I’d need to get to the service, because I was sure there would be people there that I wanted to see.

Bill had taken my car to the meeting with the tenant and left his Mercedes for me to drive.  Great, right?  Not exactly.  The Mercedes is entirely too sporty for this old lady.  The steering is tight and so is the suspension.  Besides that I’m not familiar with the all the gadgets and the dashboard might as well be a Ouija Board, because I can’t operate either one.  The list goes on, but just understand I prefer my own car.

As I pulled out of the garage (missing the back-up camera on my car) I noticed the sky looked pretty ominous.  I decided to take the more direct route to the highway, rather than the route winding through the neighborhood, for the sake of time.  Well the more direct route was a parking lot.  I watched the minutes tick by, grumbling because his clock is in a completely different place than my clock.

The bridge across Lake Ray Hubbard was crowded and when I got to the Bush Tollway the sky started to sprinkle.  Bill’s car also complained to me that the tires’ air pressure needed correcting.  As I tried to decide whether this was a critical issue or not, the rain began to pour.

When I got to Central I was glad I’d left early, because it appeared I’d still make it to the church with some time to spare.  At least it seemed that way until I realized traffic wasn’t flowing at the usual speed.  In fact, it wasn’t flowing at all.  Between the traffic and the unfamiliar car, my stress level was through the sunroof.  And the rain wasn’t letting up.  That’s when I remembered my emergency umbrella was in the trunk of the car in my usual purse, rather than the clutch I had inside the car with me.

I finally came to my exit, but the major thoroughfare was yet another parking lot.  I finally slid into my seat at the service as the family marched into the memorial service.  Just then my purse vibrated with a text.  Bill wanted to know where we should meet after the funeral for the trip to Grapevine.  I needed some high blood pressure medicine.

My friend was a wonderful woman, beloved by many.  I was so glad I had come to honor her, but the day hadn’t gone as I planned.  I was sitting there among strangers instead of the friends I knew must be somewhere in the sanctuary.  I sat through the proceedings, absorbing the things which were being said, but I was so stressed out I couldn’t connect with them.  The moment the service was over, a text let me know Bill was waiting for me out front.  No comforting hugs would be shared with my fellow mourners.

I climbed in the car and pointed out where I’d parked his car.  He parked behind the Mercedes and I scurried around unloading everything I needed into my Nissan.  When I got in, Bill suggested that we move the Mercedes closer to LBJ.  I went back to the Mercedes and followed Bill to someplace near LBJ, but the day had been too much.  I was crying like a baby.

Bill was completely oblivious to my drama and had his own issues.  He’d started the day working in our yard and had moved on to doing repairs at the rental house.  He’d dealt with his own stresses in connecting with me.  He was hoping that I’d do the driving, but quickly figured out that he would have to transport the emotional mess I’d turned into since I walked out of the church.  I’d seemed fine, then.

The Break That Wasn’t

I tried to explain to Bill why I was so distraught, but it turned into one of those “Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus” moments when Bill tried to explain to me why everything was now going to be OK, based on the absence of rain.  So I focused on getting to the girls who would completely get what I was feeling, but Bill needed some Starbucks.  He has a penchant for asking me to find a Starbucks on my phone immediately after we’ve gone past the last one in close proximity.  He doesn’t do it on purpose.  So I found a Starbucks and directed him back to it – just at the moment the rest of Irving arrived.  We couldn’t park anywhere nearby and the drive-thru line was remarkably long.  But we did park.  Maybe coffee would change things.  Not that I drink coffee, but if poppa is happy, then it’s more likely that I will have the opportunity to be happy.

I closeted myself in the bathroom to change my clothes.  Just about the time I was down to my knickers someone banged on the door of the one-toilet restroom.  I was familiar with their desperation, so I turned up the speed, grabbed all my stuff and went back into the restaurant to sort through things, hoping I hadn’t left anything valuable or embarrassing behind.

While Bill tried to enjoy his coffee in the madhouse, I tried to enrich my life with a semblance of order, hanging my suit and moving my critical items from the fashionable clutch I’d carried to the funeral to a small cross-body bag better suited to a festival.  I also texted my girls that I was on the way and in need of much sympathy.

Bill and I planned to take advantage of the free parking and free shuttle, but one of my friends assured me there was parking across from the main gate.  She failed to mention the $10 price tag.  I drove to the festival, then turned around to go back to the free parking.  A $10 parking fee was not the best way to begin Bill’s visit to the festival, especially with all the emotional baggage we’d be carrying in with us.  There was plenty of available spaces in the free parking lot, but the line for the shuttle was reminiscent of the line we’d seen at the Starbuck’s drive thru.

I was texting the girls of my imminent arrival, but I didn’t get their location until we were steps away from the gate.  The bright sun made reading the text something of a challenge.  I compared the text to the Grapefest map we’d been given and guessed where my friends would be.  I guessed wrong.

Finally Grapefest  

The sun was beating down as only the Texas sun can do.  The festival was wall-to-wall people and the music from a band was deafening.  After making all the wrong turns, we backtracked and found our friends happily enjoying wine inside a winery tasting room.  I was starving, but the food choice was a to-go pack with cheese and crackers.  I needed a glass of wine, but all they were serving were over-priced mini-pours in plastic cups.  At least I had my girls.

As the sun headed towards the horizon, we wandered outside to take in the festival.  We visited a few booths and found a place to stand, by one of the loud bands.  We hung out there for awhile and then decided to try to get a real meal.  Bill was starving, but that didn’t shorten the wait one iota.  We were all about to escape the festival when they let us know our table was ready.  We should have left.

Bill spent entirely too many years in food service to tolerate the incredibly poor service we received.  Yes, there was a festival going on outside the restaurant, but it does seem like they could deliver the silverware before they brought the food to our table.  They also delivered the entree at the same time they delivered the soups and salads.  Bill asked to speak to a manager, but was ignored.  I’d tell you where we were, but eventually Bill did find someone to complain to and they gave us a gift certificate to come back and give them another chance.  It wouldn’t be nice to diss them after promising to give them another chance.  More to come.

I Had Expected a Different Experience

So, I used to live on the Central Coast of California.  One lovely day Bill and I went to a Wine Festival in Astascadero.  The event was held in a lovely tree-shaded lake-side park.  We parked for free nearby and if I remember correctly there was no entry fee.  We strolled around the festival and the lake.  Bill thought the price of tastings was prohibitive and there was the driving back to Pismo Beach to consider, so we just enjoyed the sights.  It was a thoroughly delightful day.  I imagined the same sort of thing for Grapefest, but planned on tasting in spite of the price.

Instead, the festival is on the city’s Main Street and the center of the street is filled with vendors.  Like I said: hot, loud, crowded.  However, folks were having a grand old time of it and I am sure next year will only be louder and more crowded.  The weather I can’t speak to.

I’m thinking if we ever went back to Grapefest, we’d opt for going any day except Saturday, but that’s us.  Should you go to Grapefest?  I think you should.  Just choose your experience more carefully than we did.  If the loud, crowded hullabaloo entices you, have at it.  Otherwise, opt for a quieter experience.

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Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City OK

Conservatory, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City OK

The Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens


Warning! Downtown OKC is under construction.  Your GPS won’t like it.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.  It just means you need to be ready for it.  We found parking close to the art museum and walked the few short blocks to Myriad Botanical Gardens.  

An entire city block, being prepared for implosion.

An entire city block, being prepared for implosion.

There’s a Conversion Happening

Five or six years ago Bill and I took a few days in OKC in the days before blogging.  Much of what I planned for this stopover with Deb came from my memories of the trip with Bill.  I remembered OKC having a decidedly turn-of-the-century Western charm, but it was the turn from the 19th century to the 20th.  OKC is moving into the 21st century whether I approve of it or not.

A sign of the the times

A sign of the the times

The two buildings above may deserve the makeover, but there were others we were sorry to see included in the “improvement”.  They sported signs of architectural interest that will be lost when antiquity is replaced with skyscrapers.

The inscrpition says we are what we do. What has someone done?

The inscription says, “We are what we do.” I wondered “What has someone done?”

At least the city is trying to incorporate natural beauty in between it’s glass boxes, but Deb didn’t think much of it.  This small architectural feature was carved with a platitude and accented with a large stone.  In Deb’s opinion, it looked as if someone had failed to clean up after their pet dinosaur.  When Bill saw this picture, he felt the same way.

The Myriad Botanical Gardens had also changed.  I remembered them as having more green grass and less hardscape.  Not that they haven’t created a beautiful place.  It’s just not as botanical as I remembered.

The Conservatory

The gardens outside were different and I was still trying to decide how I felt about that when we arrived at the entrance to The Conservatory.  The last time I’d visited there had been a festival going on and the entry area was congested with small costumed entertainers.  This time everything was serene.

We made our way to the garden area and entered a wonderland.  It was amazing.  I won’t bother you with my ecstatic ramblings.  Instead I’ll just share my pictures.

Come back next week and I’ll share another downtown treat with you.  The Oklahoma City Museum of Art.





Filed under ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Blind Spots at the DMA

Jackson Pollack 001

Detail from DMA invitation to Exhibition Preview


Judging from the turnout for the Blind Spots Exhibition Preview on Friday night, Jackson Pollack is going to enjoy a popular visit to Dallas.  The last time I remember such a crowd was for Jean Paul Gautier.  Here’s my confession: The line was so long Bill and I didn’t even visit the exhibition gallery.  However, I’ll tell you about the party.

Attire: Black is the New Black

I am happy whenever I open up my mailbox and find an invitation from the DMA.  Admittedly, I enjoy some exhibitions better than others, but I always like a reason to party at my museum.

All dressed up with somewhere to go

All dressed up with somewhere to go

The invitation usually includes a hint about what to wear and the hint is often quite tongue-in-cheek. For Jackson Pollack the mandate was “Black is the new black” and here’s why.  Pollack, sometimes called “Jack the Dripper,” is most well-known for his huge paintings comprised of colorful drops of paint spread across the canvas.  However, he also has less-known works in black and white and these paintings are the focus of the DMA’s Blind Spots.

So, the party was a perfect reason to drag out my leathers and animal prints.  I wasn’t alone in my choices.  Black really was the new black and pretty much everyone wore some version of it.

Cool Vibes

Upon entering the museum we were drawn to the crowded atrium where chic patrons swarmed the bars and swayed to the sounds of a band offering retro hits from the Rat Pack and other hep cats.  We’d been listening to the Barbra Streisand on Pandora as we drove the museum, so we were already in the vibe.

We joined the crush around the hors d’oeuvres and filled our small plastic plates with an interesting variety of offerings – cheese, crackers, hummus and less recognizable bits with tiny desserts.  It was OK – not the DMA’s best night, but who am I to complain about free food; especially when chocolate was involved.

Not So Cool Vibes

Then we looked around for somewhere to alight.  I saw some chairs, but those seats were reserved for Texas Instruments.  I’d seen the logos on the chairs, but had wrongly assumed the chairs were provided by, rather than exclusively for, TI.  The help shooed us away.  Across the room I saw some more seats and they were without logos.  Those chairs were reserved for Bank of America and we were once again turned out.

Please understand, I am very grateful to companies which support the arts, but I thought the set up was a little tacky.  Perhaps there were signs which were intended to inform us of the exclusivity of the seating.  If so, in the crush of people, the signs were invisible.  We had to endure being banished.  Also, the TI and BofA folks had not exactly shown up in droves.  Someone should have checked to see if anyone was actually coming before they saved the best quarter of the room for absent patrons.

Overpopulated Pollock 

After standing and juggling our plates with the rest of the peons, we headed towards the exhibit, only to discover at least half of Dallas waiting in line to enter the gallery.  So, we stood in a shorter line to take advantage of the photo booth.  I’ve posted the result below.

Thinking the line might become more manageable if we waited a bit, we decided to wander through the main concourse.  That’s when we ran into the other select group we weren’t a part of – The DMA Circle.  Just as I’m grateful to corporate sponsors, I’m also very glad other people can afford to donate more money to the museum than I do, but whoever came up with the idea of plopping them smack-dab in the middle of the concourse wasn’t doing anyone any favors.  Here the crowd was thin enough for us to to see signs warning we were about to cross a no-peon zone, but since people were entering and exiting from doors all along the concourse, why did the Circle’s area straddle the concourse?

We strolled through the Circle area, up and down the full concourse and then back through the Circle area to discover the exhibit line was no shorter.  So, we visited the retail opportunities.  Near some elevators, we found seating not already sequestered for other patrons and did a little people watching while we watched the line not move.  What would we do next?

Pollack Party 001

Our Executive Decision

As my regular readers know, I’m not a fan of modern art.  I’m interested enough to drive down to the museum to take a look, but when things become increasingly inconvenient, I discover I’m not actually all that interested in hanging around.

Someone once asked a previous director of the DMA why we didn’t have more of the Old Masters at the museum.  The director pointed out that pretty much all of the Old Masters already belonged to someone else when the DMA started its collecting.  He also waxed eloquent on the opportunity Dallas had to be at the forefront of collecting modern art.  More and more the DMA embraces this philosophy and extends their modern outlook to their choice of exhibitions.

I am very grateful to the museum for the wonderful special exhibitions that have come through their galleries:  Impressionists, Oriental masterpieces, Parisian posters, floral masterworks, treasures from Egyptian tombs, Pompeiian wonders… The list of amazing exhibitions I’ve seen there as a member is almost 50 years long, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s going to get much longer.

While Dallas exhibits International Pop and Blind Spots, over in Fort Worth, the Kimbell offers Caillebotte and Castiglione.  Next year the DMA will host a single Vermeer exhibited with six painting by his contemporaries, but the Kimbell will offer 60 Monets.  In the Sadek economy, it might make more sense to belong to the Kimbell instead of the DMA.

I hate to think of abandoning an institution which has been such an important part of my life.  Seriously, that’s where Bill and I met.  But in many ways I feel the institution is abandoning me.  On Friday night we made a decision to put off our viewing of an exhibition.  Our next decision will be a serious consideration of how we are spending our cultural dollars.

Whatever we decide to do about our museum membership, I hope you’ll decide to keep coming back for more Travel Talk.


Filed under ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL

The Truckyard on Lower Greenville in Dallas

The Truck Yard in Lower Greenville

The Truck Yard in Lower Greenville


Loree Posard, my friend and Hair Guru Extraordinaire, asked me if I’d been to the Truck Yard and suggested we take a trip to Lower Greenville Avenue to check it out.  I thought that was a great idea, but then before we set up a date for the event, Bill and I found ourselves in the area and couldn’t resist the opportunity to go.  I’ve apologized to Loree for going without her and now I’m telling everyone to go.

The Usual Lower Greenville Parking Hassle

Sunday afternoon, Lower Greenville, same parking challenge.  For the uniformed, Lower Greenville is this charming little residential neighborhood with a wild and crazy entertainment area smack dab in the middle of it.  What’s amazing is that it’s still thriving.

Lower Greenville Avenue has been a popular hangout since I was in high school and that was a long time ago.  Chances are that it was a cool place to hangout even before I was in high school, but I didn’t know about cool before then.  If someone were to use it as a model for other successful entertainment hubs, a shortage of parking would be considered a necessity.  You haven’t been able to park on Lower Greenville Avenue since sometime in the Sixties, as far as I know, because ever since the Seventies it’s been wall-to-wall daily.

20151004_162428The Truckyard is just off Sears Street

The Truck Yard is not on Greenville Avenue.  It’s on a side street.  Just head down Greenville Avenue and watch for the Trader Joe’s.  Turn right after the trendy grocery store and you’ll be on Sears Street.

If you are among the uninformed then you might wonder why there was a Sears Street crossing Greenville Avenue.  Well, it’s there,  because once a pretty important Sears and Roebuck Store sat right in the middle of all this.  However, the store and Roebuck have both moved on to other pastures.

Once you turn onto Sears Street you will immediately notice bright red parking signs informing you where you can and can’t park as the patron of various retail and dining establishments.  I’d pulled my car into a parking spot right across from the Truck Yard because I saw the name of the venue on one of the bright red signs.  However, the bright red sign told me I could park there for the Truck Yard AFTER 9 pm, otherwise I should be visiting Trader Joe’s or a handful of other establishments  I didn’t recognize.

Bill had the bright idea of stopping into the Trader Joe’s and picking up a few items he needed, which we did.  He thought we’d be covered to park in the lot under those circumstances.  The uniformed policemen on hand were not amused by his idea, so we had to move.  Across the street, right next to the Truck Yard is valet parking.  Bill doesn’t do valet parking, so we kept on going and at the end of the block we found some free parking.  Valet parking is fine with me, but how come the valet guy can’t make the trip from the end of block for the valeted cars?  Why did we have to make the pilgrimage from the end of the block. Usually I don’t mind walking, but I’d just spent hours walking around an art festival (and Trader Joe’s and the Trader Joe’s parking lot) so I was ready to park my rear in a seat and drink some beer.

20151004_155612Welcome to Heaven

If you’ve ever been to the Katy Trail Ice House then you know exactly what to expect at the Truck Yard, except that instead of BBQ and Burgers, you eat whatever the food trucks are offering that day.  Yep, it was pretty cool.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

In my imagination, I had anticipated a huge collection of food trucks like we’d seen in downtown Portland, but there were only three – pizza, sliders and healthy stuff.  We opted for sliders and they were good.  A little research since my visit revealed the Truck Yard has some of its own offerings, including a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich which is supposed to be out of this world.

I complained about the food truck selection and Loree thought they had more choices on the weekend, but I checked their website and it looks like they pretty regularly have three trucks there.  Maybe they have others they don’t post on weekends.  You’ll have to let me know.

So, the bottom line is GO!  Here’s some more shots of the place you might enjoy.  Observe the baby bottle standing among the beer bottles on one of the tables. I got a kick out of that.

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Filed under DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Country Inn & Suites in Oklahoma City

No prickly problems at the Carlson, then on to the botanical garden

No prickly problems at the Carlson, then on to the botanical garden


The primary reason we stopped in Oklahoma City was their art museum.  We also wanted to visit Bricktown and the botanical gardens.  All of these sites were downtown, but for a quick overnight stay I thought the downtown hotels were a little pricey.  So we opted for the Country Inn & Suites on NW Expressway.  Downtown was mere minutes away and the reviews sounded pretty good.

Can You Say Mustard?

Nancy the Navigator told us the Country Inn was nearby, so we started scanning the area for a sign of our hotel.  There are several in the general area.  To help Deb locate it I said, “It looked yellow in the picture.”  Suddenly a mustard yellow tower with brown mustard trim came into sight.  We’d found our accommodations.  If you have an aversion to shades of mustard, stay away at all costs.  You will see more variations of mustard yellow at this hotel than you ever imagined were possible.

However, if you just need a place to spend the night in OKC, then this is a great place to stay.  We got the room with two queen beds for under $100 on Expedia.  With the exception of the pervasive mustard yellow and some renovations, everything about the stay was fine.

Compact But Adequate 

When we first arrived all we did was throw our luggage into the room and head back out to Bricktown.  Registration had taken only seconds and they had plenty of luggage carts.  Our room was right across from the elevator.  We noticed the bathroom had been specially equipped for handicap access, which meant a roll-in shower with no bathtub.  I can’t tell you whether it’s that way in all rooms or just the bargain room we got, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.  It meant I wouldn’t be having my usual bubble bath, but I’m a big girl, so I could live without it.

The other thing we noticed was that the room was tight.  The sitting area is completely separate from the sleeping area, which was nice, but there’s not much space.  Not a problem for overnight, but I’d want more space if I were going to be there for several days with a companion.

When we got back from Bricktown we were exhausted and hit the sack pretty quickly.  I woke up about five and decided to go ahead and write the article that had given me such a fit before we left.  I dreaded fighting the log-in on the hotel’s wi-fi, which is usually a hassle, but I wanted to unburden myself from my perceived obligation.  If you want to read about the exhibition I previewed, you can do that here. Being able to close the door and leave Deb sleeping peacefully while I puttered around made things easier and that wi-fi log-in? Piece of cake.

About the time I finished my article, Deb was up and about.  We got ready and headed down for breakfast.  Breakfast was great.  The area set aside for the breakfast bar was actually quite nice.  The buffet offered everything from make-it-yourself waffles to bacon and eggs to fruit and yogurt.  I confess, I had the waffles.  Deb opted for the protein.  There was a baby who was making a lot of noise, but he was absolutely darling and it was happy noises, so we actually enjoyed him.

By nine we’d loaded up the car and headed downtown.  Let the fun begin.


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Filed under TRAVEL, Road Trips, DESTINATIONS, Accommodations, WRITING, United States

Christmas Gazebos Shine at Dallas Arboretum

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree


Christmas has arrived in the Metroplex.  I saw it first back in July in Town East’s At Home store.  Soon Costco was stocking its aisles with gift baskets.  Saturday I OD’ed on red and green at Plano’s ‘Neath the Wreath Holiday Gift Market.  However, it was the lighting of the Dallas Arboretum Christmas Tree on Sunday night which alerted me the season was officially off and running.

Second Year of 12 Days

Though this is the second year these glittering gazebos have graced the lawns of the Arboretum, I had not seem them yet.  Last December was lost in the haze of home-building.  Almost daily I reminded Bill I wanted to visit the Holiday at the Arboretum, but we didn’t make it.  When DABS invited me to a preview of this year’s gazebos, there was no way I was going to miss it.

Given the choice of a daytime or evening visit, I remembered my conversation with Caelie Dunn, MEd, Children’s Garden Public Program Manager,during a recent visit to her garden.  She remarked on the magical experience of seeing the gazebos shining in the darkness.  Her remark was based on last year’s gazebos and this year they added a half a million more lights!  I decided that’s the way I wanted to experience them for the first time and I was going to take my husband with me.

Initially, the media preview was set for a private viewing on Thursday night, but the weather intervened.  So bloggers and journalists were rolled into the very popular tree-lighting event.  What a crazy madcap evening!  Cars poured into the parking lot and throngs of people gravitated towards the entrance.  The line moved fast, but still, we were glad to make our way to the media table and bypass the crowd.  We stopped in the Education Pavilion so Bill could take advantage of the refreshments in the press room, then joined the crush of people headed toward Day One – A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

How Do You Choose a Favorite?

Seven Swans a-Swimming

Seven Swans a-Swimming

When we stepped up to the golden wonder of the Partridge in a Pear Tree Gazebo, I wondered why they’d chosen to start with the best.  As you can see from the photo, it was amazing.  However, I only thought it was the best gazebo, because I hadn’t seen the rest of them, yet.  Two turtledoves also glittered.  Three french hens – oooo la la! Four calling birds charmed.  Five golden rings enchanted.  And then there were the swans!

Along the way we took a gazebo break to watch the tree-lighting ceremony, but I’ve got to tell you, the tree in the Nine Ladies Dancing Gazebo out-wows the tree they officially lit.  After leaping with the lords, piping with the pipers and catching the drummers, we wandered back to visit the dancing ladies and the swans.  On the way out we admired the partridge again.  How do you choose a favorite?

Come to Our Christmas Garden

Yes, the Dallas Arboretum is all decked out for Christmas and will be through January 3rd, but the gazebos are just the beginning of the fun.  Through November 25th, the colorful Pumpkin Village of Autumn at the Arboretum will still be on exhibit.  The 300 creches of the Artistry of the Nativity in the Degolyer House will be on display during 12 Days.  The Gift Shop is full of unique items guaranteed to make you a popular Santa.  You can also enjoy Holiday Tea (a personal favorite), holiday themed classes and from time to time, Santa will even be there to greet you!  I’m sure I’ll be at the Arboretum several times over the next few weeks to see it all – during the day and at the special evening events.

But enough words!  You’re here to see the gazebos, right?  Well here you go!  Kudos to Mr. Bill for his photographic assist.  I’m fine with my phone and do well enough with my DSLR during the day, but I knew he’d get the best shots of this nighttime wonder.







Filed under ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL