Bella Vista Ranch

Bella Vista Ranch

For this Writing 101 assignment we were to write about one of four images (City at night, Map, Window, Mid-air jump) as the spark of our inspiration. I selected the Map since it was critical for a recent day trip so I thought I might do a travel post with some photos.

The Map

Without a Google Map to guide us into the Hill Country near Wimberley, Texas, we never would have found Bella Vista Ranch, where we wanted to taste their wines and olive oils.

Olives

There are over 1,200 olive trees in the orchard for First Texas Olive Oil Company, which were initially planted in 1998. The Texas Hill Country soil and weather is similar to the Mediterranean, and they have been successfully producing fresh olive oil using their own frantoio (olive pressing facility) every year since 2001.

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Their olive oils include:

  • Texas Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresco Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • Alfresco Garlic, Basic & Perman Dipping Olive Oil
  • Afresco Lime Blended Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Alfresco Roasted Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Alfresco White Truffle Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Meyer Lemon Blended Extra Virgin Olive Oil

They also have various cured huge Sevillano olives stuffed with garlic, jalapeño, pimento, blue cheese, or combinations. Also available are raspberry, blackberry, fig & vanilla, or traditional balsamic vinegars. Additional offerings are blackberry, raspberry, or fig jams, as well as blackberry wine jelly, and raspberry chipotle sauce. Finally, there are spice pear, fresh mint, or good earth Virgin Soaps, which are a pure Castile soap containing olive oil as a base. They can also customize gift baskets for special occasions.

Vineyard

Their winery Bella Vista Cellars produces a range of Italian varietals, as well as blackberry wine. Here are some of the vineyards where they grow Viognier and Cabernet Franc. Available wines also include several blends: Texas Sunset, Texas Sunrise (dry rose), Dos Cabs, as well as Syrah. They have partnered with VinoShipper.com to process online orders. It’s very pretty out here in the hill country where they are located.

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Tasting Room

They have a fairly small tasting room available where you can do tastings of both their olive oils and wines. They provide orchard tours and formal tastings on Saturday at 10am & 1pm, as well as Sunday at Noon ($15 fee). However these were not available on their Labor Day special opening.

After our tastings, we decided to purchase the Viognier wine and Blood Orange olive oil to take home to enjoy. Actually we enjoyed salmon drizzled with blood orange olive oil tonight for dinner. Of course, we’ll have to come back again for more.

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Wimberley

IMG_7542We also stopped at Wimberley Square in the downtown, where there are many shops and restaurants. This large colorful decorated boot was just outside the Cypress Creek Cafe, where we decided to have lunch. Unfortunately, since it was very busy because of the Labor Day holiday, we had a long wait for our food to be served; actually somehow they lost our order ticket, but at least our lunch was free because of our inconvenience.

Maybe we would have had better luck at Wimberley Cafe right nearby on the square. There is the Ino’z Brew & Chew restaurant across the street next to Cypress Creek, although we didn’t know it at the time. Another option is Marco’s Italian Restatement & Pizzeria.

This was a very pleasant little afternoon outing for the day. I had a fasting diabetes lab test in the morning, followed by breakfast tacos at Torchy’s Tacos. Then we thought it would be fun to take a little ride and visit one of the many nearby wineries. After considering several of the ones where haven’t been yet, we thought the it would be nice to try Bella Vista Ranch. That was a great choice, and we plan to visit again. If you’re in the area, check them out.


This was the Day 4 assignment “A story in a singe image” for the Blogging U. course Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration, which provides writing prompts to “cultivate a daily writing habit and find inspiration in unexpected places”.

I hope you enjoy my blog and follow these daily writing assignments and other posts. Thanks for visiting today.

One-word inspiration: Uncertainty

I wasn’t certain which word to select for this Writing 101 assignment, so it seemed appropriate that it be Uncertainty.

As I consider what uncertainty means to me, I’m trying to explore where there is uncertainty in my life and what I think about it. Several things initially come to mind that I will try to describe, such as the unknown, worry, finances, death, and the future.

Unknown

I thought it might be interesting to see what a dictionary said about uncertainty. That didn’t help too much because it had a circular definition for the noun: “the state of being uncertain”, and “something that is uncertain, or that causes one to feel uncertain”.

So that led me to see if the adjective “uncertain” would help me any more, and I found that described as “not able to be relied on; not known or definite: an uncertain future”, or  (of a person) not completely confident or sure of something: I was uncertain how to proceed”.

I didn’t want to explore the principle in physics which states “the momentum and position of a particle cannot both be precisely determined at the same time”.

So what made the most sense to me was to focus on “not known or definite”. Although I don’t know what I don’t know, I guess the unknown is the basis for uncertainty.

Worry

I also looked at the thesaurus for similar words where I found these for “uncertain”: unknown, vague, changeable, unsure, hesitant. And for the noun “uncertainty” there was: unpredictability, doubt, hesitancy.

When I think of uncertainty, it sometimes leads me to consider what might (or might not) happen, and it seems that it might be worth exploring the meaning of “worry” which is defined like this: (verb) give way to anxiety, concern, or unease; allow mind to dwell on difficulties or troubles; (noun) state of anxiety or uncertainty over actual or potential problems.

Since worry keeps mentioning anxiety, I thought I would look that up too, and found this: feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Again it refers to worry and uncertainty.

I suppose uncertainty about the unknown can cause a lot of worry. However, in the past when my future was more uncertain, I did experience a lot of worry, anxiety, and the resulting stress. At least the panic attacks I had in my early 30’s are now behind me, and I have eliminated most stress in my life since retirement. And I find there’s much less uncertainty now as I grow older, and not at much to worry about. It really just doesn’t do any good to waste your time worrying about things that are uncertain anyway.

Finances

Typically money is something that has a lot of uncertainty associated with it. You wonder if you can make enough to live the life that you want for you and your family. And if you manage to take care of basics, then you need more for all those things that you enjoy that might need money. Finally, you wonder if it will be enough to last enough through retirement before you die, which brings me to the next thought. Will there be enough time to spend the money that you have saved and enjoy the rest of your life, especially before health or accidents might intervene? Also will there be enough to share with your children and support them after you are gone?

Death

One aspect of life that is the most uncertain would probably be death. We all know that we will die so that’s certain, but we don’t know when, so that’s definitely uncertain. That makes me think about deaths in my life would definitely affect me. So I guess I need to consider the deaths of my Mom, wife, sons, and myself, even though normally I would tend to avoid thinking about that. I promise that I will not delve into it very much, but just enough to say a few things about “uncertainty” since I don’t want to make this article too long or depressing.

Mom

First, the most certain of these uncertainties is my Mom since she is 95 years old with Alzheimer’s disease that she’s had for over 10 years now. She has been doing fairly well in spite of her age, but I know that can’t last. It’s just a matter of time before she dies, and that time is approaching fairly quickly. Although the way she gets through colds, coughs, pneumonia, etc, it makes me wonder how much longer this continue.

Also, she’s almost out of money now so my siblings and I will have to cover the monthly deficit for her assisted living facility and that will not be easy for any of us, although at least she does have five children so that can help spread the impact. So from a financial standpoint, I hope it doesn’t go a long time. She’s lived a very long life, much longer than she ever imagined (if she remembered).

My father died over two years ago after a year in a nursing home after a serious fall which he never recovered from. However, she does not even know he’s been gone for over three years now, and we never told her because she would have been devastated and that would repeat like everything else, so her lack of memory is actually a blessing. Well, at this point, after caring for her for so long, I think her time will come soon, and I think I’m as ready to accept that reality as I could be. But we still can’t know when –  until it happens … and before that it remains an uncertainty.

Me

Then I guess the next death uncertainty would be my wife and myself. We’re both in good health, so the uncertainty is much higher than my Mom. Since I am only 70, I still assume that I will live another 20 years or so. But you never know. I do have Type 2 diabetes and that raises the probability that I might get complications that might complicate the uncertainty somewhat. However, I feel better than I have in a long time, and my wife is in great health too. Of course, bad things sometimes happen, so you can’t really assume anything. However, it’s important to “live like you were dying” (as Tim McGraw sings), and enjoy all the time you have and make the most of each day. Then when that time arrives, well it won’t be an uncertainty any more, and it will be very certain for the surviving partner (and children).

Summary

This turned out longer than I expected, and actually made me think quite a bit. Just trying to focus on the word was helpful to see what I think about it, and then the thoughts and words started to come and I started writing.

Uncertainty is the only thing that is certain about the future. You don’t know what will happen or when. If you knew everything about your future, you might miss spontaneity, excitement, surprise, delight, …

Today is certain, and what you do will affect what the future becomes. And if there is no future, then there’s nothing to worry about either. Make the most of every day and your future will certainly consist of good days to enjoy and remember.


This was the Day 3 assignment “One-word inspriration” for the Blogging U. course Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration, which provides writing prompts to “cultivate a daily writing habit and find inspiration in unexpected places”.

Today we were asked to write about one of the following words:  Treasure, Regret, Home, Love, Uncertainty, or Secret. I selected Uncertainty for my article since that sounded the most interesting to explore right now.

I hope you enjoy my blog and follow these daily writing assignments and other posts. Thanks for visiting today.

Things I Like

These are some of the things that I like. I focused primarily on thoughts about my primary interests that also provide a foundation for topics in my blog.

  1. Listening to music. Learning to play piano. Attending music festivals and concerts.
  2. Taking, organizing, and sharing photos, and learning more about photography.
  3. Traveling more. Taking day trips or short getaways. Discovering places nearby.
  4. Hiking and enjoying nature. Visiting beautiful or interesting places.
  5. Reading books, visiting web sites, and writing about memories, thoughts and feelings.
  6. Playing (and watching) golf and tennis, and attending Texas Stars ice hockey games.
  7. Keeping my diabetes under control, which I have finally done over the past few months.
  8. Helping others by sharing my knowledge, expertise, and discoveries.
  9. Learning new things. Trying to get more organized and productive.
  10. Reading and writing blog posts, getting positive feedback, and making new connections.

This was a helpful exercise. At first, I wasn’t sure what to include, but it gets easier once you get started. It’s beneficial to focus on what you like so you can actually think about it and write it down. Of course, there are many more things I like, but I had decided to limit this to 10 items. Maybe there will other opportunities to identify and list more. For example, these were fairly broad and general, and it might be fun to assemble a list of silly things or interesting observations.


This was the Day 2 assignment “Write a list” for the Blogging U. course Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration, which provides writing prompts to “cultivate a daily writing habit and find inspiration in unexpected places”.

Today we were asked to write our own list on one of these topics: Things I Like, Things I’ve Learned, or Things I Wish”. I thought I would give the first one a try.

I hope you enjoy my blog and follow these daily writing assignments and other posts. Thanks for visiting today.

I Write Because . . .

I write because . . .

  1. I want to share my life experiences and interests with others.
  2. I can examine and understand my ideas, memories, thoughts, and feelings.
  3. I love to listen to music and hope readers will also enjoy my playlists, albums, videos, and links.
  4. I have started to explore photography more and this enables me to think about what what I have seen that my photos capture.
  5. I can show and describe places from my travel where I go because it offers something that my followers might like too.
  6. I like reading books, blogs, and web sites, and writing provides an opportunity to convey and explain what I discover.
  7. I want to explore recipes and cooking as I focus on more healthy choices to help me control my diabetes.
  8. I am able to organize links for topics that will be useful for blog readers to find or learn more about an article.
  9. I enjoy the social interaction that comments and feedback provide from those reading and listening to my blog.
  10. I like the diverse ways blogging  has helped me to live better.

I hope you enjoy my blog and follow these daily writing assignments and other posts. Thanks for visiting today.


This was the Day 1 assignment “I Write Because . . .” for the Blogging U. course Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration, which provides writing prompts to “cultivate a daily writing habit and find inspiration in unexpected places”.

Writing 201: Poetry – Hero

Writing 201: Poetry – Hero

Assignment #6 has a word prompt of a Hero(ine) to be written in the form of a ballad using the device of anaphora/epistrophe.

Superman was extremely popular when I was growing up in the 1950’s. Here’s the introduction to the Adventures of Superman TV show which I watched all the time (58 sec).

 

This was the famous shield that he wore on his chest, along with the opening words to the TV show.

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Faster than a speeding bullet!
More powerful than a locomotive!
Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!

Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman!

Mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet is really the greatest superhero of them all who “fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!”

As a kid, I loved Superman on TV. He could do anything, which really impressed me. So I made a cape from a white towel and colored in a big red “S” on it to make it official. Then I tried to fly off the front steps of our house. But I just landed in the middle of the shrubs, and got yelled at by my mother. Oh well, so much for special powers!

Here is my poem:

Amazing, powerful, back then,
I loved the heroes, oh yes!
I was but just a kid back then,
I loved to watch, oh yes!

I made a cape and wondered why,
with dreams inside my head.
I made a jump, and tried to fly, 
but broke a bush instead.

This one was quite challenging. First, it was hard just composing a ballad, which usually has four lines with the second and fourth rhyming (“why” and “fly”, as well as “head” and “instead”). But then you had to use anaphora with word repetiton at front of lines (“I loved” and “I made”), as well as epistrophe for word repetition at ends of lines (“back then” and “oh yes!”) too. It was necessary to use two stanzas so I could get all that incorporated into the poem. But I think it finally came together fairly well.

It thought it would be interesting to learn more about poetry, so I am taking the Writing 201: Poetry course over the last two weeks of February. Let me know what you think, and comments are appreciated.

Photo credit: “Superman shield” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Superman_shield.svg#mediaviewer/File:Superman_shield.svg

 

Writing 201: Poetry – Fog

Assignment #5 has a word prompt of Fog to be written in the form of a Elegy using the device of metaphor. Here is my poem:

Watching the fog lift from the lake takes me back to when my dad died.
First, heavy and thick. Then it becomes clear again.
Brain got clogged after fall. Losing memory with strange behavior.
Love lasts… Long life… Gone. Great father. I will miss him.

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It thought it would be interesting to learn more about poetry, so I am taking the Writing 201: Poetry course over the last two weeks of February.

This was a tough one to do.  It was really hard to try to match the elegiac couplet rhythm, and also weave in a metaphor with an elegy. But I think I got pretty close. And it was nice to think about my father again after losing him at age 93 almost two years ago.

Let me know what you think, and comments are appreciated.

Love, Memory, and Music

I was thinking about love, memory, and music during Valentine’s Day weekend.

Love

First, this makes me think of my Mom who has had Alzheimer’s disease for probably about 10 years now and will be 95 in May. Every time I visit her, all she knows and says is how much she loves me, and we spend the time with hugs and kisses. When I leave, she doesn’t really know that I have been there. But when I suddenly show up again the next time, it’s a wonderful surprise for her that makes her day. This constantly amazes me how she still remembers me and knows that she loves me (and my wife), although sometimes she doesn’t know whether I’m her brother, husband, friend, or occasionally son.

She still has her same warm, pleasant, and loving personality much of the time. She’s always telling me how wonderful I am, thanking aides and saying that she loves them, and even EMS ambulance staff how they’re doing a “good job” when taking her to the emergency room when she recently was hospitalized for the flu. On good days, she still exhibits a wonderful sense of humor even laughing at her own inability to find words or complete a sentence. Another thing that strikes me is how she still comes out with typical phrases or sayings that I’ve heard her say over the years. She’s still the same Mom I’ve loved all my life.

Memory

Although this is very sad, it’s probably a blessing that she doesn’t remember that she hasn’t seen me for a few days or wondering when she will see me again. Everything is just “right now”.

She doesn’t even realize that the husband she married over 70 years ago has not been with her for almost 3 years now, and he died a year later in 2013. When he left after a fall in the bathroom for the hospital and nursing home and we realized he was never coming back, she was moved to another room with another woman about her age.

My Dad fell forward hitting his forehead on the vanity, and then backward onto a small table which fractured some ribs and vertebrae. He never recovered in spite of their rehab efforts, and his vascular dementia became significantly worse during his final year..

It’s really amazing that she doesn’t know he’s gone, and it was somewhat strange that we never told her about his death. However, we were advised that it might destabilize her and she would not remember anyway, but possibly know that something was wrong and be anxious about that, and maybe have to experience grief over and over. So it’s much better this way.

Music

Music is wonderful for people with Alzheimer’s disease. They always have music playing in the assisted living memory care facility where my Mom lives. It’s enjoyable, familiar, and comforting for listening while they spend their days. It’s amazing how often residents will start humming or singing along to old hymns or songs from their younger years.

Somehow the music connects with emotions, feelings, and experiences from their life which they would not be able to recall cognitively. It seems to help take them back then and feels good. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that gradually destroys your brain, but there’s some way that music and love remain (for now anyway). At some point she won’t even know who I am, that she loves me, or I love her!

I’m Not Gonna Miss You

This also reminds me of the country music legend Glen Campbell, who has been struggling with Alzheimer’s. See my music post about his final song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, his “I’ll Be Me”  film, and a CBS “Farewell Tour” video.

I can relate to that very honest song, when listening to the lyrics, which reflect his Alzheimer’s reality with a focus on his wife and family. My Mom won’t miss me either when she dies. Her world is limited to the current moment in time, and sometimes she is overwhelmed with emotion because she is so happy when she sees me. Although there is no past or future for her, she lights up, smiles, and sometimes cries when I visit. But when I leave, she doesn’t even realize that I was there a few minutes ago.

After writing this post, I also wrote a poem about her for a Writing 201: Poetry assignment on trust. Although she may not miss me, I definitely will miss her.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom & Dad. Thanks for your love and support all my life. I love you!