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”.

Unlock Your Mind

This is the Day 1 post for Writing 101 – Unlock Your Mind. The objective is to just write for 20 minutes without thinking about it – just stream of consciousness. So here goes.

We’re taking a little getaway trip for 3 nights at a bed & breakfast at a farm in the country in southeast Texas. We are going to meet friends who were neighbors for many years when we used to live in the Dallas area before moving to Austin. It’s a quaint 2-bedroom log cabin with front porch with swing. Of course, we get breakfast each morning, but we also signed up for dinner the first night after we arrive.

It’s located near the Big Thicket National Preserve which we plan to visit, do some hiking, rent some kayaks or canoes, etc. Also we will probably golf at a nearby course one day. It will be interesting to just explore a new area, and spend some time with our friends.

On the way, we will get a chance to see all the wild flowers that appear in Texas in the spring, such as Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Mexican Hat, etc. we will passing through Brenham where Blue Bell ice cream is made so maybe we can stop there. We’ve taken the tour before, but maybe just stopping for a cone might be good.

Well that’s about the end of my 20 minutes. I will get some nice photos for my blog. It will be fun!