Have you ever had a young dream settle behind you like dust on a country road?  Often the dream never surfaces as reality takes precedence over making a living and paying the bills.  For one Texan a job transfer stirred up a dusty dream.

1934 – 2006

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Don Walser was born in Brownfield, Texas and grew up playing country western music and formed his own small band at age sixteen.  He even opened for Buddy Holly later.  While rock and roll was taking off, he choose to stay in the Texas Panhandle to raise a family instead of going to Nashville to pursue a career in music.   He worked as a mechanic and then as an auditor for the National Guard while he continued to play his music locally with a band he had formed.  A job transfer by the National Guard to Austin, Texas in 1984 brought his dreams closer

With Austin as a substitute for Nashville, Walser continued with his music in a city known for its progressive country style of music and for showcasing new talent.  Ten years later at the age of sixty he retired from the National Guard and devoted his time to his real passion.

 A recording contract soon came his way and he gained a wider audience.   Walser  played and sang mainly the old country and western songs and could yodel like the best of the old-timers.  Surprisingly, he recorded with the Kronos Quartet; his rendition of “Rose Marie” with them is incredible.  A reviewer in Playboy dubbed him “the Pavarotti of the Plains.”  Many awards came to him and his Pure Texas Band; his music was featured in several movies.  He played at the Grand Ole Opry and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.  His last video was “Hot Rod Mercury.”

In 2003 he retired from performing due to health issues.  He died in 2006 of complications from diabetes.

Check out his magnificent version of “Danny Boy.”  Is your dream dusty?


Point Cabrillo Light Station

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Perhaps because I live on the coast I enjoy visiting lighthouses.  On a trip to northern California last fall we visited Point Cabrillo Light Station near Fort Bragg.   Today it  is a state park.  The grounds contain a restored lighthouse keeper’s home and several guest houses set back a bit from the lighthouse itself.  Nature trails allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of the rugged Pacific coastline in safety.

The website describes its history this way:

“Although Point Cabrillo was surveyed by the U. S. Lighthouse Service in 1873, construction of the Light Station didn’t begin until after the 1906 earthquake. The demand for lumber to rebuild San Francisco meant that maritime commerce on the north coast was at an all time high and a Lighthouse was critical to the safety of the ships and their valuable cargo. Construction of the Light Station began in 1908, and the lens was illuminated for the first time on June 10,1909, under head keeper Wilhelm Baumgartner.”

Our visit was at late afternoon.  Near the lighthouse keeper’s home a large white tent was set up in preparation for a wedding.  The tent had a wooden floor and tables laden with white flowers.  In front a bar had been set up so that guests could take a drink with them as they strolled down to where the ceremony was to be held near the edge of the bluff . White chairs were lined up for the guests.  A cello and violin duo would provide the music.  The setting sun would make a dramatic background for the nuptials.  This was a wedding California-style.

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Full view

As we were walking away from our tour of the lighthouse, a couple from the wedding party approached us.  The man asked Husband if he would take a photo of them.  As Husband took the camera the couple moved closer together and tilted their wine glasses in classic style.  The late sun and old lighthouse made a unique backdrop for this striking couple. He was tall, trim and dark in his black pin-striped double-vested suit and cowboy boots.  Her long blonde hair fell just right as did her short draped skirt that was accented casually with a wide silver belt; cowboy boots completed the polished western look.  Think J. R. and Sue Ellen Ewing.  They might be from Texas, I thought.

Husband returned the camera and the man expressed his thanks.  In my best Texas tourist accent I said, “Where are you all from?”

“New York,” he replied with a smile as they walked away with the California sun highlighting their wine.

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Coastline behind the Point Cabrillo Light Station

Photographing the Photographer

Husband sometimes gets left out of family photos because he is always behind the camera – we can count on him to capture the memories.  For that group shot I insist on when all my chicks are together or I want one of the two of us for something special, he will set up the camera on a tripod, click the timer and run over to be included in the photograph.

On a recent trip to California he enjoyed photographing new sights and documenting our trip.  As we drove along scenic routes he would often pull over and click away.  Convincing myself that I would take photos to proudly display on my blog in response to a Weekly Photo Challenge from Word Press or to illustrate a thought or poem,  I had taken along a simple camera of my own.

In the spirit of things I did take a few snapshots, but it became more fun for me to stand back and enjoy the moment as Husband did all the work.  I did capture him a couple of times with his camera in hand.

Along Highway 1 late in the afternoon

Framing his shot

I enjoy the photos that other bloggers post in response to Weekly Photo Challenge, but I will not be participating.  Personal photo challenges are enough for me!

Sleeping in Angela’s Suite

On a recent trip to the west coast Husband and I left San Francisco, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and took scenic Highway 1 up the coast.  We spent the weekend in quiet Mendocino, a small town on the beautiful Northern California Coast.  Quaint Mendocino boasts thirteen bed and breakfasts, but we choose Blair House, Jessica Fletcher’s home in the television show Murder, She Wrote that ran on CBS from 1984 to 1996. Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher.

I was a bit disappointed when we arrived as the front entrance was obscured with scaffolding as the front of the house was in the process of being repainted and repaired.  Fortunately the workers were gone for the weekend.  The white picket fence was also in the process of being repaired and eventually re-painted.  We were told by Norm, the sole caretaker, to enter from the side gate and go in through the kitchen.  Somehow it seemed appropriate to enter through Jessica’s side door directly into her kitchen where her neighbors and friends had dropped by for dinner, advice or a cup of coffee.  A bicycle was parked near the back door.

We choose to stay in Angela’s Suite on the first floor that featured a cozy but spacious bedroom with fireplace, a generous parlor with a second fireplace and a private bath with a luxurious claw foot bathtub.  Norm provided us with a complimentary bottle of wine from a local winery, Hirsch Vineyards, when he gave us the key to Angela’s Suite.

 Photos by Husband.


Parlor fireplace

Husband and Crone in parlor

Breakfast is served from 8:30 until 9:30.  Norm provided a hearty and healthy breakfast served family style in the dining room and consisted of granola and cereals, English muffins, bagels, fresh fruit,  jams and cream cheese, milk, tea, orange juice, and plenty of good fresh coffee.  The first morning we shared breakfast with two young couples from London who were on their way to San Francisco for a week.

The last night we had an early dinner at Mendocino Cafe, Norm’s recommendation for us, and was an excellent choice.  It was casually intimate with indoor and outdoor seating.  We enjoyed quiet dinner music provided by a talented guitarist.  After dinner we walked along the streets and window-shopped at mostly closed stores as the sun was setting in the west.  Mendocino is a lovely place to visit and much different from my coast in Texas.

Photo by Husband

View of Mendocino

Angela Lansbury came to the United States from England when she was fourteen years old.  She has been a successful actress in movies, television and stage.  This year she was in the Tony-nominated revival of Gore Vidal’s timely political play, The Best Man, along with another octogenarian, James Earl Jones.  She turned 87 on October 16.  It was a pleasure to stay in Angela’s Suite!  For information and reservations go to the website for Blair House.  http://www.blairhouse.com/index.php

Related Information on Angela Lansbury




Tuscany in Texas

In June Husband and I went to the Texas hill country to buy peaches from our favorite grower, Gold Orchards, and to check out some wineries.  The Gold Orchards store is basically a small roadside stand in the tiny town of Stonewall on highway 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg.

There are about ten wineries located on this 36-mile stretch of highway called Wine Road , but the one that caught my attention was Grape Creek Vineyards with a sign that proclaimed, “Tuscany in Texas.”   Tuscany is on my list of places to visit, but each year there seems to be some reason why we can’t take that trip to visit our friends in Tuscany at their olive farm, Podere Boggioli.   This might be as close to Italy as I would get this year.  With a little wine perhaps it really would seem like Italy!

Entrance to Grape Creek Vineyards-Photo from their web site

The entrance with its bell tower sets the mood as the gravel road leads upward between Chenin Blanc vineyard toward the Tuscany-style villa that serves as the tasting room and gift shop.  It did not disappoint.

Thinking Tuscany…not Texas

The villa did indeed reflect old world architecture with its tiled roof and beams, stonework, landscape and obligatory fountain.  Even Italian music quietly playing added to the ambiance.  As we got out of the car a limo pulled up and out tumbled several excited and well-dressed ladies.  Now that is the way to tour wineries!

Inside we browsed the wine-related items and a generous selection of crackers, cheeses and nibbles.  We missed the Barrel Tasting Cellar Tour that included a tour of the winemaking  facilities and barrel cellar.  Instead we settled for tasting six wines and chose from white, red, sweet and semi-sweet and port.  We bought three bottles:  2011 Viognier, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Texas and a port.

OK, so maybe those working in the tasting room spoke with a Texas twang instead of  in Italian and I was really not in Tuscany.  Still this small yet elegant winery with a bed and breakfast is worth checking out if you are in the area.

The Crone in Faux Tuscany

Husband in Faux Tuscany

From Johnson City you see gently rolling hills, peach orchards and pass the entrance to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site that is worth the stop.  The self-guided tour is free and takes you by the graves of President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson.

At the end of the road is Fredericksburg which offers history, shopping and good food.  We had lunch at Fredericksburg Brewing Company and enjoyed sampling excellent ale.

Our last stop  Gold Orchards was to buy a half-bushel of peaches for peach cobblers.   I use a recipe from “Aunt Pearl’s Cookbook, A Man’s Cooking” by Joe Sears.  Maybe I’ll share it in another post!  Cheers!

Acknowledging Awards

When it rains it pours!  Last Monday we had rain, hail and a tornado all in one morning.  The rain was almost 12 inches resulting in some flooding; the hail was brief; the tornado was on the other side of town with some minor damage and no injuries.  We lost power in the early morning.  I was glad the coffee had been brewed before that!  Since we don’t have cell phones with access to the internet and all those apps, we were reduced to listening to the news on National Public Radio via a small radio that runs on batteries. 

After the long drought of last summer we were grateful for the beautiful rain.  The week before we had bought a 58 gallon rain barrel to capture water from a down spout for my herbs.  It was overflowing and worked perfectly!

By the afternoon power and internet were restored and the storm had moved on out into the gulf.  We were saved!  The coffee was gone and we were considering switching to wine! 

A pleasant award shower came that night when I checked my e-mail and found that I had been nominated for two awards.

My thanks to The Tin Man for offering me the Versatile Blogger Ward  and the Sunshine Award! 
Check him at his blog,  Tales and Travels of  The Tin Man. http://talesandtravelsofthetinman.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/the-versatile-blogger-award/
The Tin Man shares his knowledge and travel adventures with us.  Recently he even shared his medical adventures.  This Tin Man has a big heart!

The Sunshine Award came from Airports Made Simple.  Thanks so much!
Check out this blog.
The founder of this blog is about the practical side of getting to where you want to go if you have to fly.  There are all sorts of tips for the traveler, humor, nostalgia,  aviation history, and current stories about the adventures of travel today.  Even if you are not a frequent flyer you might enjoy checking it out.  The writer even makes me think that the glamor days of flying might be coming back…well maybe not!  That possibility was addressed  in my September 24 blog, “Flying in Black and White.”

In lieu of nominating others for these awards I am suggesting you check out these two blogs and their other nominations for these awards.  I haven’t checked them all out but there is something there for everyone.  It is always fun to explore recommended blogs.  Muchas gracias to both of you!

The weather was great last weekend for the local 39th Annual Windfest, but hurricane seasons starts June 1.  We’ll be ready to bring in the cat and roll down the shutters if one comes our way.


In November my husband and I spent several days in the French Quarter in New Orleans.  We had not been back since Hurricane Katrina, so it was good to see that the city and people had made a comeback despite a killer storm. 

One morning we took the St. Charles Avenue streetcar to the Garden District. You can ride one way for $1.25 or buy a one-day pass for $3.00 good also on the other streetcars,  Canal Streetcar and Riverfront Streetcar.  On the  ride we encounter locals utilizing the public transportation as well as other tourists.  There were a few unusual riders:  Santa, a nun in a purple habit and matching Mardi Gras beads, a man in red tights and cape.   The conductors are helpful and friendly to everyone! 

We departed the streetcar at Washington Avenue and walked left for one block on Prytania Street and stopped at the Garden District Book Store.  It is located inside The Rink which is just what it sounds like – an old skating rink (buildt in the 1880s) which now houses the book store, a coffee shop and other small retail shops.  The day we stopped in we just missed a book signing by Walter Isaacson,author of Steve Jobs.

Garden District Book Shop

From there we took a walking tour of many lovely homes.  It was like walking back in time as we strolled the tree-lined streets as we admired the old homes which were well-maintained and presented various architectural styles.  Most of them were built in the 1840s when cotton and sugar cane produced wealth for the landowners.  The area reflects mainly the American influence as opposed the  influence of the French and Spanish of the early settlers of the Vieux Carre’. It was once was a separate city.  Today individuals such as Anne Rice, Nicholas Cage and Sandra Bullock have at one time maintained homes there. My favorite was one with a huge corner solarium.

We ended up our walking tour at the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 near where we started from across from The Rink.   Established in 1833, this “city of the dead” is one of the oldest cemeteries in New Orleans.  The raised tombs are, of course, because it is below sea level.  The site has been featured in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.

There I found that a possible distant relative was buried.  He was Wheler Harvill.  He apparently came to New Orleans and married a widow.  He must have been accepted because they allowed him to be buried in the family tomb.  His father, Bon Harvill, came from North Carolina so he may indeed be a distant, distant relative.  There must be a story there so I will do more research! 

At the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

Our final stop was The Rink where we  had coffee at Still Perkin’ before we caught the St. Charles back to the French Quarter for another stop at Harrah’s!

A Diamond for the Queen

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne at  the young age of 25 on February 6, 1952 after the death of her father, King George  VI.  Her coronation took place June 2, 1953.   This year she will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee – 60 years as queen.  London will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee June 2-5 with activities all over the city.  CNN puts it this way: 

The Diamond Julibee will be marked with a special four-day holiday weekend in the UK…packed with enough pomp and spectacle to rival Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s royal wedding.”

One spectular event will be a parade of up to a 1,000 boats, ships and steamers lead by the Queen’s Royal Barge down a seven mile stretch of the Thames.  In past centuries the river was often used for royal celebrations but less so in modern times.  Surely Handel’s “Water Music” will be played! 

Many other events are planned including a concert at Buckingham Palace, lighting of beacons across the Commonwealths and a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

Her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, the longest reigning British monarch and longest reigning female monarch, was on the throne for sixty-three years and seven months.  Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Albert died twenty-one years into their marriage and left her with forty years of widowhood.  Queen Elizabeth, who will be 86 this April 21, has enjoyed good health and the continued companionship of her husband, Prince Phillip, 90.

I admire the Queen as she has aged gracefully through the years.  She continues to carry out her duties dressed appropriately as always in her coordinated coat dresses and hats whether entertaining a United States president, addressing Parliment or greeting her subjects.  Her royal status has not shielded her from the usual ups and downs of ordinary family life.  Whatever the royal family does – good or bad – is fair foddar for the British tabloids.

Queen Elizabeth deserves a magnificent Diamond Jubilee!  I wish I could be back in London June 2-5 to celebrate.  Long live the Queen!

Related articles and sites



The glamour days of flying are over.  It is more like preparing for a trip to hades.

First, you must present your papers.   Then all personal belongings are all taken away from you – purse, laptop, shoes, jacket,  billfold, cell phone, magazine, change, teddy bear, keys, cap – and placed in an institutional bin and conveyed to inspection via x-ray.  Depending on the airport, you will be directed to go through a metal detector or advanced imaging technology which means that someone will see an image of your body that reveals every bulge, sag and curve of your naked image.  It is all very anonymous, we are told.  If you set off the metal detector, you will have to undergo a pat down or you may be randomly chosen for a pat down.  You pray that you are spared the humiliation of setting off the metal detector and slowing down the line.  Once you are cleared, you and the other refugees scramble to collect your stuff, put your shoes and jacket back on and regain your dignity.  All of this is carefully choreographed by the Transportation Security Administration, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.



Maybe I’ve watched too many classic black and white movies from the 1940s, but it seems that flying was more civilized back then.  In the airport scenes the men wore a coat and tie; the women chose  to travel in tailored dresses or smartly cut suits and  hats and sexy high-heeled pumps.  (Think Joan Crawford style.)  Passengers walked openly from the terminal to the waiting plane with its propellers revving up in anticipation of the long flight.  Yes, it was Hollywood’s version of flying, but it is still a nice illusion in black and white.

Who can forget that final scene in Casablanca at the airport?  It’s dark.  Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is dressed for travel in a skirt, jacket, white blouse and hat that reflect the uncertainty and tension of the departure.  Her eyes are brimmed with tears.  Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is noble in his overcoat and fedora as he puts principle above love and makes sure she boards the plane with her husband, Victor (Paul Henreid).  When the plane is safely airborne, he and Captain Renault(Claude Rains ) walk away into the night.  Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris – in black and white, of course.I realize the TSA and the government only want to keep us safe, and I appreciate that.  For my next trip I think I WILL fly…well, maybe another time.