Thankful, 2016

The kids and I explored the trails at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano earlier this month when the weather cooled down for fall.

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It’s one of the nicest parks we’ve seen so far, but we caught it in the evening rush, so it was bustling with people out walking their dogs and unwinding after work. We even had to park in a shopping center up the street because the regular parking lot was full.

Arbor Hills has miles of woodsy trails and a pretty overlook with a nice view of the surrounding area.

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I am thankful to live in a place with so many beautiful spaces to explore.

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Luke’s robotic’s team took a respectable third place in a field of nine teams at a competition in Dallas.

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It was a fun experience. I am thankful that Luke and Elizabeth have so many opportunities here to develop their creativity and talents.

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Bass Hall hosted a free screening of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” to promote their stage production. Elizabeth had to work that day, but Luke and I went and had a great time. The Hall was decorated for the holidays and offered Christmas-themed gifts for sale. I was ridiculously excited to find an ornament-sized replica of the angels from the Grand Facade.

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After the show, Luke and I walked around a bit.

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I am thankful to live so close to two beautiful cities that enrich our lives in so many large and small ways.

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An unexpected car repair put my plan to buy a treeless saddle on hold and added a scary level of uncertainty to my holiday budget. Elizabeth responded to this by, quietly and with no fuss, doubling the amount of money she contributes to the household each week from her paychecks. She did this on her own initiative, without being asked – in fact, I assured her that she should not feel at all obligated to cover my debts –  for four weeks, until we knew that I would be able to pay the repair bill and still get the saddle. I am so thankful to have such a kind and gracious daughter. I am thankful for both of my children, they are the joy of my life.

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The first time I rode Mahogany in her new treeless saddle, I could feel the relief in her whole body. For that first test drive we stayed in the arena, just walking and trotting in big, easy loops while Mahogany gradually relaxed and her movements got freer and more confident. The saddle is supremely comfortable for both of us. We are still getting used to the new dynamic, and I may end up buying a different saddle pad to solve a few minor issues, but overall we both love this saddle and I wish I had bought one years ago. Yesterday we had a nice cruise out on the backroads, and Mahogany was so happy and responsive.

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I am thankful that this seems to be the answer to so many of the problems that we have been struggling with.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, Artwork, environment, Family, Horses, kids, Life, Love, trail rides, trees, Weather | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Fort Worth Phantom

The kids and I have not had the chance to indulge our love of stage theater since we moved to DFW three years ago. Rebooting your whole life is expensive, yo.

But Texas has been pretty good to us. Last July when I saw that the Phantom of the Opera tour was coming to Fort Worth in October, I just about sprained my finger hitting the “Buy Tickets” button.

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I chose an afternoon weekday showing, because I don’t really like driving in the city at night or dealing with big crowds. The weather turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, and there was very little traffic on the drive in. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and then walked across the street for the show.

So let me wax rhapsodic for a moment about Bass Performance Hall, because it is beautiful.

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I love the two 48-foot-tall angel statues on the Grand Facade. When I got home there was something like 65 photographs on my camera just of the angels.

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The mezzanine balcony offers a charming view of the Sundance Square area.

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The Hall’s acoustics are straight up magnificent. Every note from the orchestra, every word from the performers comes through with perfect clarity and resonance. The show itself is gorgeous. The Hall is smaller than I had expected, so our front-center-mezzanine seats put us right in front of the action. We had brought opera glasses, but the only times we used them were to look closely at small details like the monkey music box or the Phantom’s unmasked face. The sets are brilliant, the scene changes are clever and seamless.

I do have one minor complaint. So let me preface it by saying that the Phantom pretty much owned every scene he sang in. His voice is strong and thrilling and just the right amount of intimidating. But…I sensed no real chemistry between him and Christine. This was an angry, frustrated Phantom who seemed almost reluctant to touch the object of his obsession. Maybe the actor played it that way on purpose, I don’t know. But since the whole premise of the story revolves around the Phantom’s ability to mesmerize Christine with the seductive force of his passion, it definitely requires a bit of chemistry to work properly. For the first time ever, Raoul looked to me like the only sensible choice for Christine, with no emotional sacrifice necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the show. But I went in expecting a sensual dance between Christine and the Phantom, and instead their interactions seemed tense and at times almost perfunctory.

Still a fantastic show. Afterward we walked back to the parking garage and decided to climb the stairs all the way up for a rooftop view.

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By the way, I don’t recommend doing this. As we were leaving, a cop let us know that everything above the third level of the parking garage is for city use only and not to be accessed by the public. Oops. To be fair, there was nothing posted in the stairwell about it.

All in all though, a lovely day in a lovely city. Bass Performance Hall is an absolute delight. We will be back!

 

 

Categories: Family, Fiction, kids, Life, Weather | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Chandor Gardens

I’m still shopping for an English saddle that will fit Mahogany’s very broad, very short back. I’ve noticed lately that even her Western saddle, which is plenty wide, has begun to bridge on her withers and loins. It’s a self-perpetuating problem, since the too-long saddle creates pressure points that cause her to raise her head and hollow her back, which over time changes her back muscles and makes the bridging worse.

So I drove to Weatherford to look at a promising-looking used English saddle. Since Luke and Elizabeth both had the day free, we decided to check out Chandor Gardens while we were in the neighborhood.

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The gardens were a labor of love by the English artist Douglas Chandor, who came to the U.S. in 1926 and moved to Weatherford in 1934.

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I love all the fun details, like this brick-and-gravel “labyrinth…”

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…the moon gate…

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…and this, whatever it is.

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The estate is smallish, but charming.

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We loved Chandor Gardens, but sadly, the saddle didn’t work out. I’ve decided to get an english-style treeless saddle, since at this point I’m out of other ideas within my price range. I like the idea of a treeless saddle anyway, even though most of them are kind of hideous. They do allow much closer contact between horse and rider. Got my fingers crossed that this is the solution I’ve been looking for.

 

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, environment, Family, Gardening, Horses, kids, Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Wordless Wednesday: Beneath the Shade Tree

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Categories: Animals, environment, Horses, Life, trees, Weather, Wordless Wednesday | 1 Comment

Summer’s End

I got a whiff of fall in the air on this morning’s ride. Little signs are everywhere: ripe berries along the roadside, leaves starting to turn. Mahogany is darkening as her winter coat begins to replace the sunburned summer coat.

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I’m ready!

 

Categories: Animals, environment, Horses, Life, trail rides, trees, Weather | Leave a comment

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