Tag Archives: Texas

We’re Back in Real Estate

Brochure from our days in real estate

TRAVEL HERE: HOW SPOT ON IMAGES CAME TO BE

So last week I told you about our days as residential real estate agents in California, but I still haven’t told you how that led to us start Spot On Images.  Here’s the rest of the story.

When the Bubble Burst

We enjoyed the good old days in real estate, but they ended when the bubble burst.  I’ll share a secret with you, I was sort of glad to be out of it.  We made a lot of money, but I really didn’t like most of the tasks that went along with selling homes – with one exception, I loved creating those brochures and writing the descriptions for the MLS.

Bill loved real estate and he never understood why I didn’t.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he did most of his work behind the scenes and I was the one out there showing houses and writing contracts.  Bill loves it so much that even though our licences expired, he’s kept his fingers in it.  We have rent houses and we’ve sold our own homes.  While most folks can’t wait to hire an agent or they begrudgingly put the FSBO sign out in the yard, Bill is totally energized by the whole process.  He’s taking pictures, creating a website for the home and guiding me through every step of the process with alacrity.  OK, so I’ll go ahead and confess, I really do enjoy creating the brochures and writing the web content.

Real Estate is Back

So back to our real estate photographer friend who was leaving town.  He was entirely too nice to take our money, when we offered to buy his business.  Instead, he showed Bill the ropes and encouraged him to start his own business.  For almost all of our marriage, even when we were selling real estate, Bill’s primary occupation has been investing, so I assumed his interest in real estate photography was just a bit of nostalgia.  Boy, was I ever wrong!

While he’d never completely abandon his investing, he’s automated it to the point that he has time for his other passions.  When the real estate photography bug bit him, he started buying camera equipment of all sorts.  He spent his days getting a feel for his new toys and getting up to speed on all the latest technology.  There was no question of his expertise.  He’d started taking photography lessons in his twenties and it’s been one of his passions ever since.  Most of the great travel photography on this blog comes from him.  As far as his photographic abilities are concerned, he could have hung out his shingle the day he decided to do this, but that’s not how he does things.  He dots his i’s and crosses his t’s.

As he exercised his photography muscle he also started working on me.  He praised my marketing expertise and reminded me of all those people who said they bought my listings because of the words I had written.  In the guise of sharing with me what he’d been learning in his research for his new business, he pointed out how important the internet and social media were to the success of real estate agents.  He was being nice about it, but here’s the bottom line, I was about to be back in real estate, too.

So what did I think about getting back into a business I’d been happy to get out of.  Come back next week and find out!

 

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Tim Love’s Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth

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Woodshed Smokehouse, a Riverside Restaurant in Fort Worth

TRAVEL HERE:  NOT EXACTLY A SUMMER TREAT, TRY IT IN AUTUMN

Since Joe T. Garcia’s is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world, I think any trip to Fort Worth should include a visit to their Fiesta Garden, but Bill doesn’t feel the same way.  For one thing, he has an aversion to lines and for another, he thinks variety (not chili) is the spice of life. So last week when we went to the Kimbell to see The Brothers Nain, we tried out the Woodshed Smokehouse.  You should too, but let me tell you why you should wait until late September, maybe October.

The laminated menu is rubberbanded to a board.

The laminated menu is rubberbanded to a board.

A Restaurant from Love, Tim Love

As much as I enjoy food, I am not a foodie.  I hear friends gush over celebrity chefs, but I can barely sit through an entire episode of any cooking show – with the possible exception of Cake Boss and I don’t watch it for the cakes.  I’m positively grossed out by now much the cakes are handled before they are served.  However, I dig marketing concepts and business development, so I like Restaurant Startup.

Tim Love isn’t just another celebrity chef, he’s a local legend, so while I’m not the sort to go out of my way for a particular chef, his stamp on a riverside restaurant could sway me in that direction.  Since Bill was the one who didn’t want to go to Joe T.’s , I tasked him with narrowing down the Cowtown choices.  From his suggestions, I suggested The Woodshed.

What It’s Similar To

My first thought on being seated in The Woodshed was The Katy Trail Ice House & Outpost.  My next thought was The Truckyard.  It’s not really exactly like either one of those, but there are hints of each.  To round out the vibe, I’d have to add Stampede 66.

The Woodshed has some structural similarities to the original Katy Trail Ice House, but the outdoor sections of the Woodshed are more compact like the Outpost.  However, the outdoor sections are also more formally arranged, which made me think of Stampede, but outdoors.  I only thought of The Truckyard because it was a casual outdoor sort of a place with the same clientele. The food is very seriously related to Stampede.

How It’s Unique

Location, location, location!  Sitting adjacent to Trinity Trails, The Woodshed has an idyllic view and vibe.  Walking from our parking spot we noticed the multitude of mini-woodsheds with various woods – (hence The Woodshed).  Your menu will let you know which wood is used to cook your entree.

The Woodshed claims it’s green, but I’d just call it hot.  They don’t have any air-conditioning and this is Texas.  We sat right under one of the big fans they brag about, but we were uncomfortably hot. .  There are a few trees out on the patio, but not the big shady kind.  The Katy Trail Icehouse, Katy Outpost and Truckyard all have The Woodshed beat, hands down, in the comfort department.  And it was loud.  Not the fan; the restaurant

The most unique thing we saw were HUGE cutting boards loaded up with meat and being delivered to tables.  We’re talking a vegetarian would faint at the sight of it.  Last week was Father’s Day and I think one of the reasons they were so busy were these carnivorous feasts.

20160619_173941How’s the Food?

The bottom line for any restaurant is the meal.  Bill ordered the chopped brisket sandwich and I opted for tamales.  We liked both, but weren’t carried away by either.  We agreed they got a little enthusiastic on the hot factor of both recipes, but I guess that’s the Tim Love Schitick.

The Woodshed has been around since 2012 and is still packing them in, so I suppose people like what they have.  It just wasn’t our favorite cup of tea – or perhaps I should say, glass of iced tea.  We liked the restaurant enough to give it another try, but you can bet your sarsaparilla we won’t be coming back until the weather cools down.

Speaking of beverages, you have your choice.  They have a wine list, but we stuck with beer.  They have a varied selection of beers, but not as expansive as other places I have mentioned in this review.  I noticed margaritas, too.

Bill thought they were a little stingy with the chips on his entree, not that he wanted more to eat, but it looked like the potato chip clique was giving the sandwich the cold shoulder.  There was way too much plate for what was served – especially with the meat orgies floating around over our heads.

20160619_172247To Sum Up

This is obviously a concept restaurant and I’m not that fond of forced concepts.  It seems to me they try too hard to be one thing, but are too cool to just go ahead and be that.  Like they have to maintain a certain amount of chic, so you won’t forget they are a trendy concept.

The food is OK, but if they want to be green, they really need to ship in a whole lot of big trees to combat the swelter.  Then perhaps the hot taste they insist upon might be more enjoyable.

Bill says we’ll go back some time when it’s cooler.  Maybe, but if it’s up to me, I’m sticking with Joe T.’s.

 

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Cousin-ly Immersion

Cave Cousins at a Recent Reunion

Cave Cousins at a Recent Reunion

TRAVEL BUG TALES: VISITING MY HOUSTONIAN CONNECTION

So, I was twelve and we’d recently moved back to Texas after living in Georgia for about six years.  My parents decided I should get to know my cousins and a goodly number of them lived in Houston.  I’m not sure that all the things I’m going to tell you about this trip actually happened on this trip, but that’s the way my memory has filed them away.

Uncle Al’s House

Of all my aunts and uncles, Uncle Al was the one most serious about procreation.  He had kids stair-stepping from diapers to tween-agers.  The tween-agers were Bubba and Judy.  Bubba would be lost in later years to a very unfortunate accident, but Judy was my buddy – still is.  I’d spent time with her at Ma’am’s house during summertime visits.  The rest of Al’s kids were a maze of faces, many surrounded with angelic blonde curls, but I had a heck of a time trying to keep them straight.

Uncle Al was a favorite with everyone.  Back in the sixties he ran/owned (I’m not sure which) a gas station, a very lucrative proposition.  Good thing with so many mouths to feed.  I remember being quite impressed with his home in Houston.  At one time, they lived in Melissa and I wondered how they fit everyone into the white clapboard house, but in Houston they were doing alright.

 Later in his life, music was Uncle Al’s passion.  I have no idea what his financial situation was, but he was a regular at the Garland Opry.  He lived in a house in McKinney with his new wife, but I never liked her as much as the fun-loving Vernice I had grown up knowing.  When Uncle Al passed away, he had a country/western funeral.  All his friends and fans from the Opry showed up.  Funerals come and go, but Uncle Al’s was unique.

On this particular trip, we were merely stopping by for a visit.  We’d be staying several nights with some of our other cousins, but for whatever reason, this was our only time with Uncle Al.  I got the impression they had a lot of fun there.  I remember a screen door in the kitchen that was perpetually slamming shut as one or the other of the kids ran in or out of the house.  Their backyard seemed huge compared to the tiny postage stamp behind most of the houses I’d lived in.  I’m sure they had a dog, a swingset and lots of green grass.  I thought they must be the luckiest kids in the world.

I’m sure there was a meal, but I have no recollection of it.  I just remember the big house and yard, lots of loving faces and more toys than toy store.

A Recent Re-Acquaintance

Back in April, we had a Cave Cousin Reunion.  It was organized by my buddy Judy.  Along with others of my cousins, I saw Judy’s brother and sisters, at least what there was left of them.  Bubba and Vicky have been gone for a long time now. I will never forget Vicky’s funeral.  It was a cold wet day and Vernice grieved at the thought of leaving her babies in the cold.  Uncle Al, has been gone for a long time too, but Vernice was at the reunion.  She and her kids are fighting a terrible, mean disease that steals memory and joy from its victims, but I’m proud of the way my cousins are loving her through it.  If you come back next week, we’ll visit some of my other cousins.

 

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Kissing Cousins

The Cave Clan Cousins - Christmas 1958

The Cave Clan Cousins – Christmas 1958

TRAVEL BUG TALES: RELATING TO RELATIVES

So last week I talked about the differences between visiting my two grandmothers.  That led me to thinking about the other people connected to my family – especially my cousins.  Let me introduce you to the crowd.

The Mobleys VS the Caves

My mom was the baby of eight siblings.  These eight aunts and uncles only produced nine offspring and most of those were significantly older than me, so at Mobley get-togethers, my sister and I were usually surrounded by adults .

Meanwhile, my dad was the eldest of six, but they were much more prolific in the reproduction department.  Everyone had at least two kids, while two of his brothers had significantly more.  I’d be hard-pressed to give you a definite number of cousins on that side.

The Geographic Divide

For my first five years I was an only child and I was the only girl cousin who would show up at most of the Mobley holiday events, in part because the other girls didn’t live nearby.  At the Cave shindigs I was just one in a sea of faces which seemed larger every year.

Then, at about the same time as my sister was born, we moved to Georgia.  Our appearance at any family shindig rarely coincided with a holiday and the opportunities to bond with my cousins were few and far between.  Then about six years later we moved back to Texas.  By then, my Mobley cousins were all grown up and had moved on to other venues. The Cave family continued to add faces, but Susan and I didn’t know any of them as well as they all seemed to know each other.  We weren’t sure of our place in the pecking order.

Patrick and I pretending we actually liked each other.

Patrick and I pretending we actually liked each other.

The Uncomfortable Exception to the Rule 

On the Mobley side there was one exception to my isolation and his name was Patrick.  He was just a year or two older than I was and he was the bane of my existence.  Here are some of the reasons:

  1. He talked me into jumping on the roof of my parents car.
  2. I ruined a pair of brand new shoes because he told me it was OK to drag them when I was riding on the back of his bike.
  3. He shoplifted a candy bar from a convenience store when I was with him.
  4. Our parents made him drive me to school my first year of senior high, but he still managed to skip classes and somehow that was my fault.

His greatest sin against me was that he always argued with me about cereal.  Whenever our families would stay with one another, our mothers thought it was smart to get those variety packs of cereal, so everyone would have a choice.  The problem was the only cereal Patrick wanted was whatever box he could get me to admit I wanted.  Giving him first choice did no good, because then he’d say I was making him go first so I could trick him.  Telling him which one I wanted and giving it to him didn’t work either, because he would accuse me of lying to him about which one I really liked.  Whatever I did we ended up in an argument and I would be the one who got in trouble, because my mother told me I was not, under any circumstances, to let him draw me into an argument.

Yep, I knew Patrick very well and it was not a blessing!  At least not in those days.  It’s been a decade or more since he’s been in touch with the family, so I guess he didn’t like us all that much either.

With so many more cousins to choose from on the Cave side, I also have a lot more happy stories to tell.  I’ll share some of those next week.

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Dueling Grandmas

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My Grandmothers on my parents’ wedding day. On the far left is my maternal grandmother Lula Mae Mobley. Next to her is Lucy Hammond Cave, Dad’s mom.

TRAVEL BUG TALES: Different Strokes for Different Families

In 1967 my family took a trip to West Texas and parts of New Mexico.  I have fond memories of that vacation, because it was a real vacation, not just a mad dash back to Texas from wherever my dad was stationed.  My scrapbook tells me that the next year we went to the Houston area to visit my Dad’s family that year.  The photos got me to thinking about family in general.

The Mobleys VS. The Caves

I’ll admit, when I talk about family, more often than not, I’m talking about the Mobleys, my mom’s family.  When we’d make that mad dash back to Texas, we were always headed to my mom’s family home in McKinney, where my Grandmother Mobley lived.  My Cave Grandmother, who we all called Ma’am, lived just a little further up the road, in Melissa, but we always stayed in McKinney.  Unfortunately, both of my grandfathers were gone before I was born.

My two grandmothers couldn’t have been any different.  Grandmother Mobley was an industrious bundle of energy.  She was up before cocks’s crow, sweeping sidewalks, working in the garden or finding some other project to keep herself busy.  She’d break for lunch and watch As the World Turns.  Then she was back to mending or canning or shelling peas.  It was always something.

Ma’am was a horse of a different color.  My memories of her are centered in her front room where she’d sit in her chair, smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes and watch her shows.  I could keep up with As the World Turns at Ma’am’s, but I also saw The Edge of Night, The Guiding Light and whatever else was on in those days.  She was a baker extraordinaire and created some of the best pies I have ever put in my mouth, but I didn’t often see her in the kitchen.  In fact, when I was still knee-high to a grasshopper, she’d send me downtown to the little store in Melissa to get white bread and some sandwich meat – oh, and a pack of Lucky’s.

I adored those daily visits to the store.  Melissa was a teeny tiny town and my grandmother could sit on the front porch and watch me make the trek back and forth to the store, but it felt so grown up.  At home I wasn’t even supposed to cross the street without telling my Mom.  In Melissa I could wander all over creation and transact business like an adult.  Well, make that an adult with a sweet tooth, because another thing I adored about the daily visits to the store was the candy I was allowed to buy for myself.

Visits to Ma’ams were leisurely idylls, punctuated by crawfish hunting, passing trains and burning trash.  Visits to Grandmother Mobley’s were the opposite.  We were cooking, cleaning or gardening all the time.  At Ma’am’s the TV was on constantly, allowing us to peek into the lives of folks on soap opera after soap opera.  At Grandmother’s we’d watch As the World Turns and Lawrence Welk, but the rest of the time we were busy.  In the evenings we’d sit out on the front porch and discuss the people passing by or the families in the houses that surrounded Grandmother’s house.  Their lives had all the drama which was piped into Ma’am’s house via the TV.

Grandmothers are a special breed.  Nobody else ever loves you the way they do.  What do you remember most about your grandmothers?

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Shopping in El Paso

Shopping, but in Juarez, not El Paso's Sears

Shopping, but in Juarez, not El Paso’s Sears

TRAVEL BUG TALES: DADDY MAKES EVERYTHING ALRIGHT

So, we’re in El Paso, but our hanging clothes are still in my closet in Dallas.  Mom insists the outfits in our luggage will not take us everywhere we need to go.  So it was time to go shopping.

Saved by the Sears

When it came to clothes shopping, my family was usually on the JC Penney’s team.  I’m not sure why we ended up at a Sears store in El Paso, but that’s what happened.  At the front door Dad disappeared to do something mysterious and Mom took us to the girl’s dress department.

I’m guessing Dad went to the credit department and explained our dilemma.  “Hi, I’m George Cave.  We’re here on vacation and need to pick up a few things, but I left my credit card at home.  Can you help?”  Knowing my father he told them a whole lot more and I bet before he left the office he knew everything about the people who he’d been talking to.  Dad was that guy.

Nowadays, all you have to do is give them your name and they can tell you anything and everything about yourself, re-fi your home and forecast your horoscope, but our shopping emergency happened in the days before computers ruled the world.  He probably had to give them his driver’s license and wait around the credit department while a phone call was made to some centralized billing location.  I’m imagining a huge room where someone had to go through a file cabinet or card file to find our account.

Meanwhile Mom was fluttering around with us among the dress racks.  Had I been on the store’s security detail, I would have been suspicious of my mother.  She was dancing around like a cat on a hot tin roof.  I guess she was nervous about whether Dad would succeed at his assignment.  My dad did everything my mom told him to do, but he didn’t always do it exactly the way Mom expected him to and that caused her a lot of anxiety.  Of course, we’re talking about Ruth and pretty much everything caused her a lot of anxiety.

A visit to the caverns

A visit to the caverns

The Red and Gold Culotte Dress

Over the the last week or so, as I worked on this series of posts, I’ve been going through all my photo albums trying to find a picture of me in the dress we bought that day.  I know there was at least one picture of me in it, but since it was a picture of a birthday party for my sister, she might have it somewhere.

I loved that dress.  It had a roll collar, short sleeves and a drop waist.  The color was tomato red with gold stripes – not metallic gold like it would be today, but the goldenrod color used for some copy paper.  The fact that it was culottes caused a dilemma for my parents.  School dress codes were strict in those days and culottes weren’t kosher.  Would I ever wear it again after the vacation?  Mother let me try it on, but warned me she had reservations about it.

Not sure who this guy is!

Not sure who this guy is!

I remember my dad showing up after his mysterious disappearance.  He was grinning ear to ear and mother’s relief was obvious.  “Daddy, daddy, look what I’ve found!  Isn’t it a great color?  And look it’s culottes!  I can’t wear them to school, but I can wear them to Duck Inn and choir and…”  I wanted to be the one to tell him about it, because I knew Mom would start with all the reasons it was impractical.   Duck Inn was our favorite place to get catfish and we went every couple of weeks, so I figured including it would give the idea that I’d be wearing it a lot.

There was some discussion of price and if I remember correctly, we’d found it on the clearance rack and my dad thought, for the price, if all I did was wear it on vacation I would get our money’s worth.  I wore the dickens out of that thing.  It was if I had to prove Dad was right to let me buy it.  I actually wore the dress to shredding, which was a weird thing.  I was growing fast and Mom was fastidious about the laundry, so most of my clothes looked brand new when I outgrew them.  This one started fraying where the skirt was connected to the bodice.

Susan at White Sands

Susan at White Sands

Vacation wise, I don’t remember what we saw in El Paso, but I do remember going over into Juarez.  We saw the bats erupt from Carlsbad Caverns and then went down inside the next day.  Somewhere along the way we visited White Sands National Park and the Palo Duro Canyons.  We went to Houston that year to, but for the life of me, I can’t remember whether it was on the same trip or on another one later in the year.

Come back next week and I’ll share a few tidbits from that trip to the Houston area.

 

 

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Cork Bar at The Hotel Contessa

Cork Bar, Hotel Contessa, San Antonio TX

From thehotelcontess.com

TRAVEL THERE: HOTEL CONTESSA’S CORK BAR

Where were you when American Pharaoh won the 2015 Triple Crown?  Deb and I were in Hotel Contessa’s Cork Bar.

Post-Siesta Margaritas

We’d taken a small siesta, gotten all gussied up and were ready for happy hour.  The Cork Bar, on the River level of Hotel Contessa, was a lively place.  Last minute guests were arriving for a wedding on the Las Ramblas patio and bridesmaids were being lined up for their entrance.  Televisions near the bar were tuned to a horse race.  Deb and I ordered up a pair of margaritas, then settled in to enjoy the activity.

Vicarious Wedding Guests Watch Acrobatic Nap Demo

The wedding was our first focus.  San Antonio is a big military town, so we weren’t surprised that most of the men in the wedding party wore uniforms – and impressive uniforms they were.  We didn’t know the groom, of course, but he had to be a tough guy just to carry around all those medals on his chest.  The bride was lovely, but being unable to hear through the glass wall of the bar, we soon brought our attention into our immediate surroundings.

We chatted about how much we loved the hotel, how great the service was – especially the doormen and commented on the decor.  About that time a woman came down and tried out a large upholstered bench close to us.  She was in town with her adult son and joked about the luxury of not having to take him to the potty as she had when he was young.  After several attempts at sitting on the bench in different positions she decided the appropriate one for enjoying that particular piece of furniture was to lay down, but she didn’t want her son to catch her.  So her little nap was only a couple of minutes long.

The Triple Crown

The wedding continued, but we recognized quite a buzz around the bar.  Someone had turned up the sound on the TV.  We were almost irritated until we figured out it was the Belmont Stakes and American Pharoah was poised to win The Triple Crown.  The last time anyone had done that was back in the 1970’s.

As the pre-race coverage gave us the background stories leading up to the Belmont Stakes, Deb and I reminisced about our own horse racing experiences.  Chief among mine were George and Ruth, my very Baptist parents who followed the Triple Crown religiously every year, “betting” on who would win.  Soon the newly married bride and groom, led their guests to a mezzanine nearby, but we noticed several guests lagged behind.  It was almost race time.

American Pharaoh was a clear favorite, but the commentators hedged their bets by pointing out potential spoilers.  American Pharaoh would have none of that.  When the gate opened she was out and away.  No one even got close.  It was a thrilling outcome.  When the race was over, the wedding guests made their way up to the mezzanine and the others in the crowd wandered away.  Dinner time was upon us.

Deb and I had not decided on a specific spot.  I had my eye on The Fig Tree, The Little Rhein Steakhouse or Boudro’s Texas Bistro, but I was open to other options.  Where did we end up?  Come back next week and find out!

 

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