DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Real Estate Photography, Restaurants & Bars, Scrapbooking

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – FIRST WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER

Breadlosers at NorthPark

You know how it is when you’re visiting a restaurant you’ve enjoyed before and it ain’t what it used to be? That was my experience on Saturday morning at Breadloserswinners in NorthPark.

NorthPark itself is one of my very favorite places in the world. I go there to feel like a Dallasite. I parked in the Nordstrom’s parking lot and used their sleek Ladies Lounge. As I looked at the merchandise facing the aisles along my route, I felt like it was deja vu all over again! Didn’t I wear these very same fashions a few decades ago – eggplant colored mix and match ready-to-wear, cream colored crepe blouses with a high ruffled neck and prairie dresses. I guess shoulder pads and pleated trousers are next.

On my way to the restaurant I strolled along browsing the windows of a few stores. I always love the unusual clothing for sale at Free People and think I’ll stop in. Then I see the outfits they put together for display and am amazed they find ways to take these beautiful pieces and put them together in awful outfits I would never wear. Obviously, I am not their target audience. The next stop was Nā Hōkū, the Hawaiian jewelry store, and I always want everything in their windows.

Next I began to enjoy the aromas of NorthPark, like Lush with it’s hand made fragrances and pretzel’s in the oven at Auntie Anne’s. Being in my favorite mall excites all of my senses.

Entering the Main Court always feels like a special moment and I am flooded with memories of events, occasions and everyday visits to NorthPark. Riding down the elevator, I see Zara and am reminded of the very first time I saw one of their stores, in Vienna’s Stephenplatz. While I love NorthPark for being so Dallas, I also love that it also a touchstone for the rest of the world. Peeking in Zara, I saw emerald low-heeled pumps with a rhinestone buckle. Yes, the past is getting closer all the time.

I arrived at Breadwinners and the hostess is going through the is-your-entire-party-here routine with someone in front of me. I guess they have to do that, but I hate it. I’m not sure my friend, Lisa, has arrived, but I ask for a table for two without being quizzed about the rest of my party. Soon I’m being seated and almost immediately Lisa arrives with two kiddos in tow, but they are way too cool to be seated with us and wait for another table.

By the time I have been given a menu, I have been warned numerous times their fryer is broken and I can’t have any fried food. It wasn’t what I was there for, but other disappointments were awaiting me – like my drink order. Since being at NorthPark is always an occasion, I ordered a poinsettia, my own answer to mimosa, because I don’t like orange juice. I can’t decide if the poinsettia they delivered was made with flat champagne or white wine, but it was not what I had been anticipating.

For brunch I ordered their Basic Breakfast with grits and sausage. I LOVE grits and have had theirs before. Whatever they were offering up that day was not what I had in the past. There was either too much of something or something which wasn’t supposed to be there, but they were inedible. On to the biscuit! Well, they hadn’t kept that in the oven long enough to brown it and while it wasn’t necessarily undercooked, it also fell apart, so getting butter on it was a challenge. The consolation prizes were a couple of overcooked sausages and thank goodness a pair of properly prepared well-done fried eggs. If the rest of it had been any good, I probably wouldn’t have even eaten the eggs, because they are one of my least favorite foods, but with little else to feed me, I needed the protein.

I only see Lisa a few times a year, so it really doesn’t matter what we’re eating, I’m just glad to be soaking up her world. She’s a mommy in Highland Park and that’s so different than how I live, that I find it fascinating. Her daughter, who I’ve known since infancy, is now a pre-teen and talk about a different world!! She and her friend were dressed alike in neon colored shorts and gray tee’s. I know these are all the rage, but when I was her age you couldn’t have paid me enough money to go out dressed like that, much less to be twinsies with my friend.

As Lisa shared the recent dramas in her daughter’s lives I was struck with the similarities between the stories she was telling and a TV show I’d seen recently – Big Little Lies with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep. I want you to know, the stories are real. Yes, it’s a fictional series, but the situations they portray are happening right now in Highland Park!! I’m not recommending Big Little Lies. It’s my husband who is watching it and I have only viewed a few episodes – enough to find it disturbing. However, as wacky as it is, it is apparently an accurate picture of life in affluent schools and neighborhoods in America.

The Rest of It

Friday, we visited the new Heritage Plaza Building in downtown Mesquite. We used the facility as a backdrop for a photo shoot photos, but I was impressed with the architecture and what Downtown Mesquite is up to.

Saturday night we went to a birthday party for my bestie at another friend’s house. It was great to celebrate Deb’s birthday and renew my acquaintances with some of her other friends. They put on a good spread and it was an enjoyable time.

There was church on Sunday morning and that afternoon I did one of my favorite things. I delivered a completed custom scrapbook to a client. It’s hard to believe you can actually get paid for doing what you love to do best and there’s always the pay off of pure joy when they see the album for the first time.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Scrapbooking

That’s Too Expensive!

MEMORY KEEPING 101 – THE VALUE OF MEMORY KEEPING VS THE COST OF YOUR MESS

What Are Your Memories Worth?

Let’s talk worst case scenarios. Your house has burned down. Your family and your pets are safe, but everything you had is smoke and ash. You are grateful beyond measure to be able to hug your kids, but in the days to come, it’s not the new sofa or your smart TV you’ll regret losing most. It will be that box of photos under the bed.

While there are many families who face this scenario and other tragedies every day, I’ll agree with you, you’re odds are good. You probably won’t be a victim of a worst case scenario. You’ll probably go on living with your mess for decades to come. Along the way you may toss out those slides and home movies, because you don’t even have the equipment to access them anymore. You promise yourself someday you’re going to go through the photos in the box under the bed or in your phone, someday.

The real deal is most people don’t. They kick the can down the road until they retire, until they have more time, until they have more money, until the kids move out, until they hand the mess over to their kids or until they are dead and the mess is someone else’s problem. I have a challenge for you. If these photos and memorabilia aren’t important to you and you’re never going to do anything with them anyway, why not just throw them away or delete them now. Oh, you’re still with me, huh?

I know you have the best of intentions, but the tyranny of the urgent has a way of keeping us from addressing what is important to us. And then, too often, it’s too late. Your kids are looking for a decent picture of you on their phones, because the funeral is in a couple of days and they need a photo to put in the program.

Now, let’s talk best case scenarios. There was no fire, you have no mess and your memories are totally curated, tagged, captioned and safe for generations to come. Can you actually put a dollar amount on what that would be worth to you and to your family? The price of a vacation, of a boat, of your Starbuck’s habit, of a bigger TV, newer phone? You’re probably thinking nothing is more valuable than your memories, but you might still be reluctant to do anything about your mess.

Turning your mess into safe, shareable memories isn’t something that can happen overnight, but it can happen and it can happen more quickly than you might realize. However, it’s probably going to cost more than you want it to, in both time and money. Heck, these days everything costs more than you want it to and it usually takes longer than you want. When it comes to your mess the longer you wait, the longer it will take and the more it will cost.

What’s It Going to Be – Time or Money?

If you’d like to defeat the tyranny of the urgent and start doing something about what’s important, let’s do something about your mess. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. There’s a sliding scale between time and money. The faster you want it, the more money it will cost. The more of your time you’re willing to invest, the less money it will take.

If spending money is the least painful solution, I’ll curate your mess it for $15 an hour and put it in the format of your choice for as little as $500 an album (an album is 24 two-sided pages). If you’re going digital, then you’ll need to also purchase storage, but I have a permanent solution you’ll love.

If you’d rather do it yourself, just because you want to, or to save some money, then get ready to start sorting. That’s where it all starts, whether I do it or you do. Starting is free. I’ll be happy to give you lots of free advice, too. Like don’t buy fancy sorting equipment. Nothing works better than Ziplocks and shopping bags – and if you don’t have any, you can borrow some of mine.

You can spend a fortune on memory keeping tools and supplies, whether you’re going digital or you prefer more traditional solutions, but it is worth every penny. Believe me, I know. Ask my husband how much money I’ve spent creating these scrapbooks to hold all our memories. If you really want to get him going, ask him how much profit I’m making in this campaign to preserve your memories. But be warned, you might make him cry. He’s figured out I do this for love, not money. It’s my passion. In the end, all we have left are our memories or a mess. I don’t want you or your family to be stuck with a mess.

Next week, I’m going to explain help you decide whether you want your memory keeping to be a hobby, a craft or a service you buy from someone else.

Accommodations, Architecture, Attractions, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

The Aria & Lemongrass

Travel There – The Cool Kids

Given the opportunity to do this whole trip again, instead of suggesting we stay at Paris, I would have suggested one of the newer, cooler places, like Aria. Like Paris, it’s right in the middle of The Strip, but unlike Paris it has a hip, edgy feel. Had Paris had the romantic Montmartre vibe it had when visited before, I would have been happier, instead it had become a sort of warehouse for slot machines with little to no atmosphere whatsoever in the lobby or our room for that matter.

Aria, Vdara and other newer hotels were where the cool kids were staying, but I’ve got to tell you, even there, where Rolex watches and flashy diamonds were the moda, everybody was still so casual I wanted to scream. I get it if you don’t want to be required to wear haute couture gowns every time you walk out of the room, but I’d like it if you’d look like you were out of your room on purpose, instead of being caught out in your pajamas, lingerie or jeans you were about to give to Goodwill.

Even though Las Vegas ain’t what it used to be, I refused to succumb to the general atmosphere of uber-dressing-down. It was as if the worse you looked the more points you got. Keep your points. While I wore jeans during the day, at night I dressed up and I had more fun that way. I’ll be so glad when sloppy becomes so yesterday.

Going Through the M Life Motions

All we really had to do to get to Aria is cross the street. The signs took us through the Crystals Shopping Opportunity, which was OK with us, because we wanted to see everything. This was our first real encounter with a plethora of exclusive high end designer shops, but by the end of the trip, they didn’t feel quite so exclusive, because they are virtually everywhere you look in Vegas. However, the high end prices remained the same.

Once inside Aria we were as awestruck as the next guy. They have got some amazing architectural touches throughout the public areas. We walked around with our mouths opened as we searched around for the M Life desk. The Aria M-Life personnel were ever so much more accommodating than the surly bunch down at The Mirage. I was allowed to feel more like the smart traveler I thought I was, instead of being the cheapskate the other guys’ behavior suggested.

Lemongrass – The Hidden Restaurant

There used to be a comedy routine about “the booth in the back in the corner in the dark.” That might be a good way to describe Lemongrass, except it wasn’t dark. You had to wander around a bit to find it, but once you did, it was a very attractive space, perhaps a bit crowded, but otherwise quite nice. The waitresses were dressed in Asian-flavored uniforms, which matched their ethnicity. While the menu was big, it was somewhat limited in this American’s opinion.

Along with being required to make a reservation, you were instructed to inform them you were using an M-Life award. Then when you arrived, you were required to remind the hostess about your M-Life status. I really think they should just stamp something across your forehead. That might be less humiliating than some of the hurdles they throw up. Just think, some guy sits in an office somewhere and it’s his job to make using the My Vegas Slots award so inconvenient and humiliating that people won’t use them. Perhaps his title is Discourager in Chief.

I never know what to order in a Thai restaurant. People rave about Thai food and how spicy it is, but every time I go to one I end up with something resembling milk-toast. I did a little better this time, but in truth, it was more like Kung Pao chicken than the spicy dish I hoped for. I think Bill felt much the same way, but at least the bogo meals didn’t break the bank.

And Now for the Really Big Shew

For all my efforts to see and do everything, sometimes the best things are serendipitous. After our meal we wandered around the hotels in the area for a while longer and then headed back to our hotel. Suddenly, people were running across our path and weaving in between cars. The Bellagio Fountain show was just beginning and we got to enjoy every bit of it. We hadn’t planned it that way. It was just the way things worked out.

Except for our thwarted coffee break and the run in with the kiosk, we’d booked a pretty good first day in Vegas. We arranged for reduced fare transportation throughout our stay, gotten our M-Life cards and enjoyed My Vegas Slots awards for lunch, a drink and dinner. So far, so good.

Day two was not quite as successful. Come back next week and find out why.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – FOURTH WEEKEND OF OCTOBER

Rodeo Goat at The Harbor

The plan was to meet my bestie for lunch after her dance lesson. When she called after the lesson, she was hungry for a burger and a beer. I named a couple of my favorite burgers in Rockwall and Rodeo Goat won the toss, because my favorite Rockwall burger joint, Well’s Cattle Co. doesn’t serve beer. They have amazing chocolate and coconut pies, which beat out a beer any day in my book, but it also doesn’t have the view Rodeo Goat does, so I couldn’t complain.

Before hubby left for a photo shoot that morning, he wondered where we were going for lunch, but we hadn’t planned that far in advance. So he called to let me know when he finished and tell me he was still interested in lunch with his two favorite girls. I told him his timing was perfect and to head to The Harbor.

Deborah got there before anyone and snagged a picnic table on the patio, overlooking Lake Ray Hubbard. I was next and suggested we start off with Cheese Fries. I told the guy there would be three of us and asked which size we should get. Apparently, there is just one size and it is gi-normous! We had enough for everyone on the patio – be warned.

Hubby showed up not long after the cheese fries arrived and even with all three of us working on them, we left a whole lot of them behind – in part, because we still wanted those burgers we came for. I shared a Bodacious Burger with Bill and Deb had the Blue Goat. The Bodacious Burger is sort of a delicious BBQ joint mess. Bill and I polished off it’s goodies, but left most of the bun behind. It was very good. Deb said the Blue Goat, with the Bleu Cheese was her favorite and would remain so. Bill and Deb washed their burgers down with beer, but Rodeo Goat has great margaritas, so I went that way.

Shopping Therapy

I am in the middle of creating a series of custom scrapbooks for a client who was a pageant girl and I needed some pageant-related stickers to jazz up my pages. Creative Memories, which is my go-to supplier, doesn’t have anything which is remotely pageant-related, so Deb and I hit the craft stores.

We first went to Jo-Ann’s, almost out of habit, because in the past we have bought truckloads of stickers and paper there. I am sad to say they are virtually out of the scrapbooking business. I lusted after the Cricut equipment a bit, but I am too cheap to buy it, so we headed to the next stop.

Hobby Lobby is definitely in the scrapbooking business, so it was next. They didn’t have pages of pageant-related stickers, either, but they had crown stickers and some teeny-bopper stuff that would do for Cinderella Girl and Junior Miss pageants. Of course, I didn’t stop there. Nobody can buy just one or two sticker packs!!

Then we went to Tuesday Morning, primarily because Deb just likes to go there, but they also have scrapbooking supplies, from time to time. I found a really cheap book of papers I decided I couldn’t live without. It had nothing to do with pageants, but some people do drugs – I do scrapbooking supplies.

A Quiet Sunday

I confess, I skipped church on Sunday. I needed to be at a family function at noon, so I would have only had time for Sunday School anyway. I decided to go easy on myself and play hooky for once, something I rarely do. The church did not fall down in my absence.

We went to a birthday lunch for our nephew. We have an odd sort of relationship with his in-laws – more like we are the parents, instead of the aunt and uncle. They are delightful people and we enjoy everyone on that side of the family, so while it may be weird to hang out at your nephew’s in-laws, it is a pleasure for us and we’ll be having Thanksgiving with them.

That evening Bill and I watched the new HBO movie, Moonfall. There is a star-studded cast which didn’t shine very brightly, except for John Bradley, playing a megastructurist (someone who believes aliens created and launched megastructures which are now planets, moons, etc.). He was the underdog no one believed, who ended up saving the world and he shone like the sun in the role. Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson did not. There was so much scientifically ridiculous about the movie that you just can’t take it seriously. The whole infrastructure of earth is being wiped away by mega-disasters caused by a moon out of orbit, but somehow their cellphones work – oh, and the moon’s gravitational pull which causing all that on earth somehow allows them to navigate into an opening on the surface of the moon. Un-huh, yeah.

And that, my friends, is that. Stay tuned. I’m continuing my Travel There series on Wednesdays and Memory-Keeping 101 on Thursdays!

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Scrapbooking

Digital or Traditional or Both

MEMORY KEEPING 101 – WHO ARE YOU DOING IT FOR?

Finding Your Who

What you have and what you want are important considerations for anyone tackling the job of preserving memories. Your time and money budget is a huge factor, too. However, the most important thing to think about as you plan your memory keeping activities is your target audience.

None of us are alike when it comes to the motivation for our memory keeping. Some just want to capture their child’s life to share when they are older. Others are heritage hunters who are tracing their family lines to other places or other times. People who are grieving often want to capture the memories of someone they have lost. There are also those who are looking into the far future, past anyone who is alive today, to someone they will never know, who might wonder about the past. These are just a few examples. Think about what motivates you and then let’s talk about what format would be best suited to your project.

Some of the most faithful Memory Keepers are like me. We preserve our memories for ourselves. There are no kids, grandkids or great grandkids we are doing this for. We are not famous or even infamous. We just enjoy our lives and treasure those we love, the places we’ve been to and the things we’ve done. We only have to suit ourselves.

Explore the Options

Memory keeping should never be a chore, so while your eventual audience is a factor, it’s not the only thing to consider. Whatever format you choose, you should enjoy doing it or you should find someone to do it for you. The one thing you should not do is leave your mess under the bed or floating around unorganized on your phone. My job is to help you get from your mess, to wherever you want to go.

There’s a very simple reason I prefer traditional scrapbooking. My husband and I run a real estate photography business. He’s the photographer and I do everything else. A whole lot of the everything else part is shuffling photos around my computer and the internet. I’ve tried digital scrapbooking, but it’s far too much like my day job. If digital scrapbooking were my only option, I too would just have a mess rather than shelves of completed albums I dearly treasure.

Example of scrapbooking

I am of the mindset that getting it done is more important than the way you do it and I know, whichever method you use, there are conversion options. I want to see people enjoying their memories and sharing them with others. If, like me, you’d enjoy crafting traditional scrapbooks, then that’s your answer. Create beautiful albums you’ll look at frequently and share them with others. If, at the same time, you think your target audience would prefer digital, don’t feel guilty about working in a format you enjoy. Do the scrapbooks traditionally and then digitize them. I can show you how.

If all the stuff that comes with traditional scrapbooking gives you the heebie geebies and makes you want to hug a tree, then you are a digital memory keeper. There are a variety of ways to embrace paperless memory keeping. If you think digital is your way to go, then you still have a lot of decisions to make. From streamlined online-only albums without any decoration, to elaborately decorated digital pages, there are great tools out there for being a digital memory keeper. Once you’ve done your digital job, then you can easily share it all with anyone having internet access. If any of those people would prefer something they can hold in their hand, then they have options they can pursue using the work you’ve completed for them.

And remember, if you know there’s no way you’re going to have the time, energy or desire to get this job done, regardless of the format, then you still don’t have to live with the mess or the guilt. One of my favorite things to do is take your mess and turn it into whatever memory keeping format you’d like to have. I love the excitement of finishing up one of my own albums and then paging through my completed project, but that’s nothing compared to the day I deliver a completed album. It’s the greatest feeling in the world for me and I’d love to do your album.

A Final Thought About Digital

In some ways, my passion for traditional scrapbooking is out of touch with the times. It’s a craft I don’t think will ever disappear completely, but I confess the results can be burdensome. I have an entire wall of traditional scrapbooks. My husband complains about them all the time and my nieces and nephews, who will have to deal with what remains of my life when its over, will most likely throw my beloved albums away.

So, I have worked out a digital solution for the future. It will transcend any changes in technology, it will not cost a penny for future generations to maintain, it is guaranteed for generations to come and it is also guaranteed safe from those who should not have access to your information and images. It’s not any of those familiar names like Apple, Google, Amazon, Snapfish, Dropbox etc. and we should talk if that’s where your memories are stored.

In the future, I will talk more about my digital solution, but in case my post inspires you to do something online with your mess, I wanted to warn you away from uploading to these well-known sites without being aware of their lesser known consequences. Come back next week and we’ll talk about your investment in memory keeping vs. the price of your mess.

Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Lunch & Drinks at The Mirage

Travel There – My Vegas Slots Starts to Pay Out

In the days rolling up to our Vegas vacation, I was so devoted to earning awards on the My Vegas Slots app that I was skating on thin ice. I figured out the rhythm of the whole thing – how long you needed to wait for free chips, how long you could play a game until it got cold, how all the bonus games worked, even how long you could put it on auto-play without losing all your chips. Bill said he didn’t care how much I was winning. He just wanted to see his wife without her being distracted by her phone.

However, as we started to use my awards, my devotion to the games started to make more sense. After tackling the Bonneville Transit Station kiosk, we got on a bus headed back down the Strip and Bill began to freak out just a little bit. He was hungry and wanted to eat, but he was still in shock over his coffee experience.

I said, “I have a bogo deal at the Mirage. We buy a sandwich and get a free beer. I think we could share that and it would hold us over until dinner.”

“Well, what are we doing for dinner?” he asked.

We can make reservations at Lemongrass over at the Aria. I have a bogo deal there, too.”

“What kind of food do they have?”

“Thai.”

“What’s Thai food?”

“Remember the place we went to for Stone’s birthday. It was Thai and you liked that.”

About that time The Deuce pulled up to the Mirage and we hopped out. As we got off the bus, Bill allowed that he had liked the food at that Thai restaurant, so my plan was a good one.

Using My Vegas Slots Awards

Here’s the thing about the My Vegas Slots Awards. You can’t just walk up to the place you have the award for and show them your phone or a coupon. First, you have to go to an M Life Desk, located in the various lobbies where the coupons are good and get an M Life Card.

And here’s the reason the MGM is perfectly happy to give you these awards. It’s at this point that most people think it’s too much of a hassle and never redeem their awards.

Not me. Bill and I marched into The Mirage, found the M Life desk and endured the obvious irritation of the clerk who apparently had more important things to do than issue M Life cards. But that’s just the first thing you have to do.

Once you have your M Life card, you have to redeem your reward. I had visions of redeeming all the rewards at once and using them as I had a need for them. Au Contrare! That’s not how this works. You can only redeem one award at a time and you have a limited period in which to use it. If we thought the lady was irritated about issuing the cards, that was nothing to her near dismay at being forced to give us a bogo coupon for their snack bar.

Scoring Goodies at The Mirage

The clever name of the snack bar at The Mirage is SNACKS. The burger we split was delicious and while it wasn’t free, there was more than enough to share. Washing it down with free beer certainly didn’t hurt. Bill’s liking my awards better all the time.

“What do we do now,” he wondered after we’d had our burger and enjoyed the huge Aquarium behind the registration desk – the Mirage’s free attraction. I pulled out a free drink award for The Still, a whiskey bar that had just opened for the day. I would give you a review of the Aquarium, but while we were in Vegas, they announced the Mirage was going to be torn down, so you couldn’t go see it anyway.

We went back to the M-Life desk, renewed our award for a coupon and headed over to The Still. Going through that rigmarole for every redemption was truly a hassle, but if they wanted to waste their personnel’s time on it, we could play that game with them.

We went to The Still, turned in our coupon for another beer, since our other option was whiskey and began to enjoy our vacation.

Back to Paris

After our free drink, we found the Deuce bus stop and caught the next one that came by. In minutes we were back at our hotel. I made the necessary reservations for Lemongrass. That’s another of the award tricks you have to watch. Some of the awards have very specific instructions about making reservations, including how far in advance you have to make the reservations. Those specifics kept us from ever using the awards for the Wolfgang Bar & Grill over at the MGM, but otherwise we were able to juggle the instructions and our patience with the hassle.

Come back next week and we’ll have some Thai food.

TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – THIRD WEEKEND OF OCTOBER

Cemetery Tales

Since this is the month of Halloween, I thought I’d chat with you about cemeteries. Not all of them, just the ones I visit.

Decorating the cemetery is a job handed down to me by my mother. I guess it actually started with my grandmother, but mom’s the one who delegated it to me. My grandfather, Thomas Byron Mobley, was buried at Pecan Grove and I grew up going there with my mom, Ruth, and my grandmother, Lula Mae. They’d load up the car with hoes and rakes and pruning shears and we’d head off to do our duty.

I’ve never been one for yardwork, but the plot at Pecan Grove with one headstone, a pecan tree and a peony bush was a manageable job and besides, I wasn’t doing it by myself. I was with two of my favorite people in the world. We’d unload our tools at the corner of Pecos and Rhea in the historic old cemetery and go to work on making it look good. I got assignments like picking up limbs from the pecan trees or gathering up the trimmings from their pruning, while Ruth and Lula Mae would share stories from their memories. All in all, it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

As you can see from the picture, our plot has changed from those companionable days. The first change was the headstones. Aunt Tommie decided we needed to upgrade our look. New residents were going to be joining my grandfather and the government-provided headstone, for a veteran of the Spanish American War, wasn’t going to fit with her idea of what our plot should look like. So, she talked her sisters into donating to the cause and the ladies went to a stone mason to choose matching double headstones for Grandfather, Grandmother, Tommie and her husband.

I had no idea, at the time, why Mom did not join into this upgrade by getting a stone for she and my dad. I’d find out later, but the years after the upgrade were busy and my grandfather did get new neighbors. The peony bush was replaced by silk arrangements in the fancy marble urns, but the rest of the job stayed the same.

As our plot gained new residents, Mom’s cemetery job also grew, but Grandmother was no longer around and I was an adult, too busy for cemetery time. In Pecan Grove, Mom took on the responsibility of checking on Aunt Hiley’s grave, which was on the block catty-corner to my family. Then my Great Aunt Bird, Grandmother’s sister, started getting attention. In addition, we began to have family members buried at Ridgeview, which was just a few miles from Pecan Grove.

Then my mom, always a timid driver, started asking me to help her at the cemeteries, because she didn’t want to drive up to McKinney on her own. I somehow got attuned to the rhythm of job – keeping the headstones clean and changing the flowers with the season. Like the cemetery days with Grandmother, we’d share memories and usually we’d also share lunch.

About this time, my very favorite relative, Aunt Edie, was beginning to think about where she’d be buried. There was a bit of competition for that honor. She had two husbands buried in Temple, TX, but in truth, she was fairly happy being rid of both of them. Mom and I lobbied for her to be buried in Pecan Grove, with the family, but in the end, she decided to be buried next to her last husband. It was one of the three worst decisions she ever made, in my opinion. You might guess what the other two were.

A little more than a year after we buried Aunt Edie, my dad passed away and my mom was forced to make some decisions she hadn’t been willing to face before. The reason she hadn’t gotten a stone when they did the upgrade, was because she’d always held out hope that Edith would be with us. She had an idea of where she wanted Edith to rest and Mom wanted to be right next to her. Now, the remaining 10 spots in our plot had to be parceled out, without the option of Mom being buried next to Aunt Edie.

Grandfather had been first and of course, Grandmother rested next to him. My Aunt Tommie had scored the spot next to Grandmother (which Mom hated) and Tommie’s husband finished off that end. That left three on the front row and seven in the back, except that one of those on the front was taken up with a tree. That’s when I learned about the Battle of the Pecan Tree, which had never been mentioned to me in all of my life, in spite of the many times I’d picked up the “mess” the tree deposited on the plot.

When Grandfather died, Great Aunt Bird decided “Tom” needed a tree on his grave and dug up a small pecan tree to plant next to him. Lula Mae, thought a tree was OK, but she didn’t want a pecan, because they were too messy. The sisters argued ferociously about it and Lula Mae told Birdie she’d never talk to her again, if she planted that pecan tree on Tom’s grave. Well, Aunt Bird did plant that tree and, as far as I know, Grandmother never quit talking to her, but she also refused to let anybody dig up the tree, which I thought was the funniest part of the story.

Lula Mae and Aunt Bird were no longer around to put in their two cents worth, but we had to decide whether the tree would stay or go. Perversely, Ruth wouldn’t tell me where she wanted to be, nor would she tell me whether she wanted the tree to stay or not. So, I consulted the stone mason who would make the headstone and the manager of the cemetery. They both voted for the tree to go, so it went. With the tree gone, Mom decided she’d rest between her father and her husband, under a double headstone that matched the other two. That left a single grave next to my dad. Who knows who will be buried there!

In less than a year, Mom was laid down between the two men she had adored more than all others on earth. In all the years I’d been her cemetery chauffer, one message was repeated each time we visited the cemetery (as well as any other time she could work it into the conversation), when she was gone, I’d be in charge of the cemeteries and she knew I wouldn’t let her down.

I wouldn’t let her down for the world, but I’m not as faithful as she was. She provided new arrangements for all birthdays, for Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Decoration Day – in fact, it seemed as if we were up there once a month for some reason or another. I put out poinsettias (which she loved) for the holiday season, change the poinsettias for her birthday in January (usually tulips, peonies or roses – which she also loved), change them again for spring around my Dad’s birthday, then perhaps a couple of other times as the seasons, change and my life allows. Usually, I also get to Ridgeview, but I can’t put out flowers for my aunts and uncles there, because all of their fancy gravestones with the urn you can put up or down, now have their urns stuck in the down position. Yes, I need to do something about that.

However, I do one more thing Ruth never did. I also go up to Melissa and decorate my father’s family plot, in the cemetery there. Mom never did and she reluctantly stopped short of telling me not to.

During her last year, she was in the hospital or a physical rehab facility more than she was home. She let me know my cemetery duties had officially begun, but when I told after one trip up there, I’d also taken care of the Caves, her response was, “Oh, you don’t have to do that.” From Ruth this kindly-sounding phrase was in truth more of a demand like “DON’T DO THAT!” Her strength made me strong and I ignored her. I continue to ignore her and hit all three cemeteries as frequently as I can.

I have no idea why Mom was so strongly opposed to keeping the Cave family plot in good order and I am happy to leave that problem in the grave with her. I am the product of two families, not one.

The Rest of the Weekend

Not much else. I met my bestie for a late lunch, after I was through at the cemeteries. We ate at Brio’s, which is one of my favorite and most-often visited restaurants in the Metroplex. Had I not taken up all my words talking about cemeteries, I might compare it favorably to the Cheesecake Factory next to it and wonder why the Cheesecake Factory stays so much busier than Brio’s, but I’m already over my word count. After lunch we did a little shopping therapy at the Allen Outlet Mall, something else I could use up a whole bunch of words about – whining about the stores which are no longer there and the dismal things they call bargains today. Sunday I went to church and then the rain kept hubby and I in the house.

I hope you’ll have a great weekend and see me back here next week for another Weekend Report.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography

I Don’t Know Where to Start!

MEMORY KEEPING 101 – START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE!

What Do You Have?

Where is your mess? Everyone has one.

For some, it is shoeboxes of photos under the bed. For others it’s stacks of home movies, video and slides. Still others have their mess on their phones or computers. Some people have all of those messes, plus photos tucked away in drawers, cabinets and closets. The bottom line is their memories are more of a problem than a treasure. Folks are overwhelmed with what they have and they feel guilty about it.

The first step in starting is to start. Call me up and let’s talk about it. It doesn’t cost anything and you’ll feel better about yourself and your mess when we’re done! Let me warn you, this is absolutely the hardest part, so do not wait. Don’t wait until you see me next time. Don’t wait for a better time. Don’t wait until you are more organized. Rip off the bandage, tell me you have a mess and get that behind you.

How the conversation goes will depend on you. Some people cry throughout our first meeting. Others are strictly business and want a bottom line expense amount. Before we can go anywhere I have to understand your particular mess.

The first question I will ask is, “What do you have?” and the next is “What do you want?” While everyone has a mess, these questions determine the path each of us takes to resolve the mess. Once we establish these two important items, then (and only then) can we begin to talk about what is next.

Your Mess Might Not Be as Bad as You Think!

Another important question I will ask is this, “Do you want to do it yourself or do you want me to do it for you.” Recently I got a call from a woman who had lost her mom, but gained a mess. The mess sat on her dining room table for two years and she’d spent most of the time feeling guilty about it. She’d attempted to sort through some of it, but mostly it just sat there making her feel bad.

Whether you want to do it yourself or you want me to do it, budget is always a consideration. When I quoted my pricing to this particular customer, she couldn’t hire me fast enough. As a professional who was paid by the hour, my fees sounded like a real bargain to her. She couldn’t wait for me to come pick up her stuff, but from a couple of jokes she made, I could tell she was a little concerned about my hourly rate for curating. Not that it was an unreasonable fee, but that her job could take months on end. Remember, the photos had been sitting on her dining room table for two years.

The first day of the project I emailed her to let her know my progress and to let her know I would be giving her updates along the way. That seemed to relieve her and she asked specifically to be kept abreast of the number of hours I was accumulating on her project. A few days later, I sent an update and told her I had about another three hours of curating to go. She was both astounded and pleased. She had no idea I would be able to complete the job in such a short time.

I went from three boxes of unsorted photos and memorabilia to being ready to start in about six hours, over a matter of days, not weeks. I had a few photos I needed her to identify and a few questions my curating had raised before I could actually start, but I had accomplished in 6 hours what she hadn’t been able to do in two years. The point is this, your mess might not be as awful as you think it is, so give me a call and let’s talk about it.

More to Come

I’m congratulating myself on getting this post ready for publication. Scrapbooking is my passion, but it’s also my side gig, not my livelihood – at least not yet. Projects have trickled in over the last year, almost of their own volition, but I’ve wished for time to reach out with an occasional post, to encourage people to think about their own scrapbooking projects and how I could be helping them.

As with scrapbooking, starting is the hardest part and now I have. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging about other aspects of my passion – from general information about memorykeeping, like this post, to the coolest news toys and innovations available from the companies I represent.

So, if you have a mess, a passion for scrapbooking or another form of memorykeeping, keep an eye out for my posts or subscribe to my blog and the posts will show up in your email.

DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Shades of Amsterdam

Travel There – Jane Faces the Kiosk and Loses

With the RTC discount card firmly in hand, our next hurdle was buying the three day pass we’d need to get around Vegas. The human who issued our senior discount card could not sell us tickets for the buses. We had to go outside and face the human-less kiosk. I am intimidated by kiosks. With humans, you can say oops, but kiosks don’t care.

Sometimes I do fine with the kiosks, like getting food coupons at the State Fair of Texas or when we bought subway tickets in Vienna. I was a total champ, but there will always be Amsterdam. That’s when Bill and I were nearly defeated by a phone with more slots than your average casino. To this day, I am convinced the hand of God reached down and saved us, because after trying our luck with various phones and various slots we were suddenly connected and I’m not sure why.

There have been other kiosks which won the battle – like the day we headed to Portland and ended up in Denver. It was the weather, not the kiosk, but the argument we had in the terminal was all about the kiosk.

And how about the first time I tried to tackle the Southwest kiosk. We ended up with boarding passes, but no luggage tags. An exasperated Southwest employee treated us like a couple of senior citizens who didn’t know the difference in dial-up and broadband. I like Medicare and senior discounts, but I’m not senile, yet. You can call me “ma’am” or even “honey” (which seems to be Millennial for old person) but don’t treat me as if I take my brains out and play with them.

As we trudged out to the RTC kiosk with our senior discount ID’s, I felt as if we were headed to a firing squad playing a game Russian Roulette for bus tickets. Would we get our tickets or be sent back to Dallas?

Pushing the Buttons for Tickets

I still can’t explain what happened, but suddenly, I was holding not one, not two, but three bus passes and each pass was for three days. Drat that kiosk!

I looked at Bill and he was as clueless as I was. He’d stood there coaching me through the transaction and he didn’t know how we’d ended up with three tickets either. We shrugged our shoulders and headed back into the Transit Station.

I reminded the attendant I hadn’t wanted to face down the kiosk in the first place and she was sympathetic, probably because she had those senior citizen prejudices, but there was nothing she could do for us, except give us a telephone number. Isn’t that always the case these days? You’re standing in the bank, looking at one of their employees, who hands you a phone number to call to deal with your issue.

Apparently, I’m the only idiot who’s ever had this problem, because the first few people we talked to didn’t know what to do about us. Eventually, we were transferred to a lady who could help, but even then, we had to read some number off the extra ticket and that was more difficult than you might imagine. The senior citizen thing kicked in, because Bill couldn’t see the number with any of the glasses we had with us.

Now, the extra ticket only cost us $10, but the whole reason we’d gone through this exercise in the first place was to save a little money and that $10 would have rendered our efforts useless, so we stood around in the Transit Station working out our refund.

The Most Fun We Had in Vegas

I told you at the beginning of this trip that Vegas wasn’t my kind of town, but let me illustrate for you just how much it wasn’t my cup of tea. Looking back, this adventure to the Bonneville Transit Center was my favorite part of the trip. There was an element of discovery. Bill and I laughed together about several of our other travel challenges, from evil kiosks to running out of gas coming back from Temple. We were having good old fashioned fun and for the most part, the rest of the trip was tinged with disappointments and Covid-related challenges, not fun.

Come back next week and we’ll start using the coupons I’d earned playing the My Vegas Slots app.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – THE SECOND WEEKEND IN OCTOBER

A Dancing Lesson

Saturday was a day in Fort Worth with my bestie, but we had a stop to make before we got there. Deb, who dances ballroom competitively, had a lesson with her new partner at Dancesport Training Center in Addison. She’s been dancing for many years, so I have gotten to know her teacher and many of her fellow dancers. I knew I’d be hearing a lot about the new partner, as they prepared for competitions in the spring, so I wanted to observe.

I have to tell you, I love to go to the competitions and as I see Deb float on the arms of a tuxedoed partner, I think, ‘that would be fun.’ Going to observe a lesson reminds me why I have no interest in ballroom dancing. It’s a lot of work. Over and over and over I watched them practice the same series of steps, not even an entire dance. Granted, they’re new partners, so there are basic logistical adjustments to figure out, but seriously, it’s like watching paint dry.

Not for Deb! She left exhilarated. She thought it was a great lesson and was full of enthusiasm about social dances at a new studio, taking lessons from her partner’s teacher and maybe doing rhythm at the silver level. Which reminds me of the other reason I’ll never be a competing ballroom dancer. It’s unbelievably expensive. You pay weekly for lessons, often multiple lessons, and then you pay to compete and then you pay to have your pro there when you compete and if the competition is not in your area, then you pay for your pro’s travel. And those beautiful dresses Deb floats by in during the competitions? Thousands of dollars each. Yep, I’m staying in the audience.

Lunch Café Modern

Did you know there is a Wolfgang Puck-ish restaurant in Fort Worth’s Museum of Modern Art? Not to worry. Most people don’t and until this visit to Café Modern, we didn’t realize the Wolfgang Puck trained-chef part. We’ve been before and loved it, but as most of you know, when I get to Fort Worth, I usually go to Joe T. Garcia’s. This time, we’d been to Joe T’s recently and decided to do something a little different.

You need to put this on your list. It was 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon and only a smattering of people were enjoying the wonderful atmosphere and great food, which was surprising to me, since special events were happening all around the museum area. Almost everyone was on the patio taking advantage of the great weather and we joined them, but the interior is quite nice. We ate there last time during a winter visit.

Deb got the Cubano Sandwich, which she loved, while I ate Chinois Chicken Salad. It was good too, but think more salad than chicken. It’s mostly green stuff with strips of cooked chicken thrown in, not chunks of chicken, fruit and nuts I love best. The service is good, but not fast, so we each had a couple of glasses of wine. Prosecco for Deb and Sauvignon Blanc for me. We split the bill paid about $50 each including tip. Not a bargain, but a great meal in a wonderful space.

Murillo at the Kimball

The Kimbell’s own Murillo from the Exhibition App

A few weeks ago we went to the Dallas Museum of Art and happened upon the last day of the Cartier and Islam exhibit. I was both happy I got to see the exhibit before it left and mad that the DMA, for which I pay a membership, didn’t manage to communicate it to me in a way that made me aware of the exhibit. You can interpret this to mean they probably sent me emails along with the 50 thousand others I get in a day and I missed it. If you really want me to know something an email blast probably isn’t you best bet – especially with the summer I had.

So, this weekend, we went to the Kimball, where Deb is a member, only to discover they were having a 50th anniversary celebration with all kinds of stuff happening. Their lawn between buildings was full of tents, chairs and a stage. They were having a concert that evening of some sort. We went directly to special exhibition area to see the Murillo exhibition.

I was very surprised, because it was free and there was absolutely no line. The Kimbell permanent collection is always free, but you have to pay for the traveling shows. For this special weekend, the Murillo exhibition was free. It’s an amazing collection of paintings and you should see it, but few were taking the Kimball up on their offer of free.

If you’ve been to the Kimbell before, then the image above is familiar. The woman with the glasses haunts me and I enjoy speculating about her and the other three images in painting. This exhibition expanded my knowledge of the artist. His portfolio is wide, from landscapes with religious subjects to the dark portraits I identify with Spanish portraiture to whimsical paintings of everyday people.

Please go over to Fort Worth and see this beautiful collection of paintings and learn more about Murillo. He was a humanitarian and one of his goals was to sneak meaningful messages about charity and morality into his gorgeous paintings, hoping as they adorned the walls of his patron’s homes, the message would sink in. You’ll like him and you’ll enjoy his work.

Not much more to share. Sunday morning was given over to church and since it was my weekend to stand in the breezeway and greet people, I had a marvelous opportunity to enjoy the weather. Once home, Bill and I took more time outside, sitting on our swing next to the pond and having a coffee break in the sunroom. Then it was time to go pick up a new scrapbooking project from a client. I’m so excited to start working on it.

Come back Wednesday for some more travel stories from Las Vegas and perhaps another Weekend report later in the week.