Peace, Quiet, Beauty. Japanese Gardens.

 japanese-gardens-tree-bridgeFort Worth’s Japanese Gardens

Calm winds and enchanting beauty permeate every aspect of The Japanese Gardens located in Fort Worth, Texas. The gardens are very quiet and you almost feel like you should tiptoe through the pathways…that you should take your shoes off at the entrance…that you should keep your talking to the minimum…that your should keep your eyes open wide for the lovely sights to behold.



A stepping stone path through the water.

An aesthetic masterpiece, Fort Worth’s Japanese Gardens are a hidden treasure for the city. Conveniently located within Fort Worth’s Botanic Gardens, The Japanese Gardens cover a 7-acre parcel of land.



The beautiful trees are not to be missed!

According to their website…

“The Japanese Gardens entice you to surrender your senses and discover a new treasure at every turn. Feed thousands of exotic Imperial Koi that beseech your attention. Stone, Earth, Leaf and Water become one in this land of wonder.”



Ornate structure within the gardens.

When our children were very young, we started visiting The Japanese Gardens. As soon as we walked through the entry gates, our son and daughter would become very quiet and observant. They were transformed by the serene and lovely ambience of the gardens. There were many days when I considered the effect of The Japanese Gardens on our children to be quite magical!




These gardens were first opened in 1973. The designers were very traditional in their approach to the garden plan. You will see cherry trees, Japanese maples, magnolias, bamboo, bridges and ponds. Besides springtime, visitors will not see many blooming flowers. It is said The Japanese Gardens practices “Mono no Aware”. These words mean transient and bittersweet beauty. The idea is that if the garden was always blooming, it would never be special!



Architectural beauty!

Personally, I find the Japanese Gardens to be beautiful during every season. Fortunately, there is something different to see during each visit! Yes…magical!

Fort Worth’s best kept secret…a place of pure enchantment…The Japanese Gardens!

Living on Tulsa Time!


Freezing cold weather took over Tulsa, Oklahoma last weekend…freezing rain…and reports that a major ice storm might occur. Oh great! We had been planning to go to Tulsa this particular weekend for months. Just our luck!

On the contrary…lucky us…the major ice storm stayed a bit north of Tulsa. We arrived last Friday knowing that we might be iced in for a few days. What a terrific place to be iced in! There was cold, cold rain Friday afternoon and night and the wind was howling, but just a few spots of serious ice.




We planned the trip to hear television personality and political journalist, Bill O’Reilly speak Friday night at the BOK Center… a sought after venue in downtown Tulsa. Seating around 20,000 people, the center was totally packed. His talk show is on every week night in the United States and he frequently (if not, always!) grasps with firmness many controversial political issues such as discussions about the just completed presidential race, education, the economy.


However…that is not the very best part about visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma!


O’Reilly is a Harvard educated author with over 20 books on the market. He is a smart, sarcastic, detailed,  funny, dramatic and a right on the edge speaker. Although I personally don’t always agree with his viewpoints, I do admire his fearlessness in expressing his many opinions. Known as a serious conservative, I found him to lean sometimes a slight bit to the left…at least, he was clearly far more open minded than I expected. I respect people who are open minded and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the event. However, I still am not on board with agreeing with all of his multitudes of viewpoints!


However…that is not the very best part of visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma!


Dennis Miller and Jesse Watters are regulars on O’Reilly’s show, THE O’REILLY FACTOR. They were also in Tulsa for the event and (thank goodness) they added a LARGE AMOUNT of levity to the program. The BOK Center was very full and we quickly realized that people from many miles away came to hear Bill O’Reilly. The couple sitting next to us came to Tulsa for the weekend from California. The trip was planned totally around seeing Bill O’Reilly.

However…the following is the very best part of visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma…

 The very best part of our trip to Tulsa was visiting our longtime close friends, their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren!  Listening to a well known political commentator holds nothing to the importance of being with friends…talking, laughing, going out for lunch, playing card games and domino games. What a wonderful invitation!



Playing a card game with our Tulsa friends…I lost every, single time!

When I look back on the weekend, I certainly do not remember everything that Bill O’Reilly said…however, I remember everything that we talked about and everything that we laughed about with our friends.


Having fun with friends is the very best part about living on “Tulsa Time”!





Oldham-Lancashire-England. Family.


My great-great grandparent’s blue house in Nashville, TN


Built in 1899, my maternal great-great grandparent’s house is still standing proudly on Park Avenue in Nashville. They were most likely the first or second owners and were living in the Victorian style house at the time of the 1910 census and also the 1920 census. It seems that the 1900 census does not include an address…as far as I can tell. I knew that this house existed. I did not think that it still existed. I have a framed picture of my family members standing on the porch, on the steps, and in the yard…the picture was taken in the early 1900s.

I remember seeing the picture when I was growing up, but my mother never hung it on the wall. When my husband and I were cleaning out my parent’s house in 1985, I was very excited to find the picture in a closet. I love to look at the clothes that the women and girls are wearing. To me… the picture is a treasured keepsake of yesteryear and I like to think about the stories that the house could tell!

I believe that I have figured out why my mother never hung the picture in my childhood home. She lived in the house with her parents, her brother and her sister plus her great-grandparents for several years beginning when she was about 10 years old or so. Her mother became very ill and I assume that they moved in with relatives so that others could help take care of my grandmother and also take care of the children.

My grandmother died on my mother’s 11th birthday. It was always a very sad memory for my mother and I truly imagine that she did not want a reminder of the house hanging on our wall. My grandfather remarried a few years later and my mother was close to her stepmother… my grandmother…my much loved Katie from Ireland! I never knew that my mother actually lived for a few years in the house. I did know that she loved the house and thought it was so very pretty. She particularly liked the staircase and she liked the porches! That is all that she ever told me.



The entry hall staircase in the blue house in Nashville, TN.

I found out most of the information about the house a few years ago when I began continuously working on our family tree through I have honestly become totally enthralled with trying to figure out the ins and outs of our family history. I am working on my maternal and paternal families as well as my husband’s family. I could not just make it simple and work on one tree at a time. Oh no…I made it just as difficult a project as possible! Very typical of me! I need a gigantic mess to work with…I suppose that is why I liked the newspaper business and teaching elementary school so much!

Another bit of information that I always knew was that my great-great grandfather immigrated in 1852 from Oldham, Lancashire, England. He was 20 years old or so and his older brother also came with him. I believe that they left from Liverpool, but I am not sure what port they came to in the United States. I do know that they came directly to Nashville upon arrival. I wonder why they came all the way to Nashville! Did they know someone already living there?I am working on figuring all of that out! We have already visited the particularly wonderful Tennessee Historical Archives in Nashville and are planning to go back in the early summer. I know now most of the information that I think I really need to put the puzzle together about my mother’s family background!

I have completed more research on my mother’s side of the because of the unusual last name of her family. Their last name was Wolfenden and I thought…EASY! Just how many people could possibly have that name! WRONG! I have since found out that the name Wolfenden might be quite a popular last name in that part of England. Tell me it is not true!!! However, I imagine that I am somehow related to all of those Wolfenden people!!


I hope in the near future…to travel to Oldham, Lancashire, England. I have researched enough to know several addresses where they lived…both of my great-great-great grandparent’s first names…the church where the children were baptized…even my great-great-great grandfather’s occupation. Fascinating!

What spurred me on was when I happened to find out the address of the pictured blue house where my great-great grandparents lived. I believe that I actually first found the address on the 1910 census report. I immediately googled the address. I was totally shocked to see the picture pop up on a real estate website. I recognized the house from the old picture that I have. I have no idea if it was painted blue when it was first built. I like to think that it was blue.

Anyway…the house had been divided (sometime in the last few decades) into four very neat apartments and two were for lease. I scrolled down through the pictures of the inside of the house. There was a picture of the pretty staircase that my mother liked! There was a picture of the downstairs porch and the upstairs porch. Best of all…the realty company somehow included a copy of the very picture that I have framed…of my family in the early 1900s!  I have no idea where they got the picture…maybe it was handed down from owner to owner.



My ancestors photographed in the early 1900s at the blue house in Nashville, TN. 

Because I am totally curious, I have kept up with the house for the last couple of years…as if I am the realtor…just silly, I know! The entire house (keeping it as a four apartment house) was put up for sale this past Spring, 2016. I would have loved to own the house, but the asking price was right at $500,000! No way! The house is near to Centennial Park and not too far away from Vanderbilt University. Evidently, some other older houses are being restored in a nearby area.

My great-great grandparent’s blue house on Park Avenue has a new owner. I imagine that there have been many owners for the last 118 years. I hope that there are many stories to tell, that there were many children laughing and playing and many family dinners to enjoy.



Most of all I like to think about a 20 year old immigrant from England who put his whole heart into working diligently to provide a home for his family. I like to think about the blue house with the white picket fence on Park Avenue in Nashville, TN …still proudly standing…my heritage!




The Stairs. The Children. The Teacher.


 Several years ago, I transferred from a two story school to a three story school. The school building was nearly 100 years old. Wow! I love historic buildings! I had been a literacy coach and I DEFINITELY wanted to go back to a teacher position. I missed the classroom so much and I was very tired of what appeared to be administrative bickering.

One of my close friends had been working at the three story school for several years and absolutely loved it. They had a third grade opening and I jumped at the chance. I had never even walked into the school until the first teacher workday before the start of school. And then I found out how older buildings were built…

I had not been introduced to the stairs! My friend did not dare tell me about the very uneven stair problem! They had ALWAYS been uneven.



Nice school…but what is the deal about the stairs?


On that first day, I walked in pulling my rolling, kind of cute, but typical teacher bag with one hand and a big box of books in the other hand. I was just trying to cut down on the trips that I would have to make from my car. I had 10 more boxes to bring into the building…maybe 15. Only one door on the front of the building was unlocked. And then I saw the first of many staircases. Straight up. Steep. Sort of dark like…well…way dark. My classroom was on the second floor which really was the main floor where the office was located. The door that I entered was the first floor. I would call it a basement. Not one person called it a basement as far as I know.

I placed my box on the floor. I just could not handle dark stairs, a heavy book box and a rolling, kind of cute teacher bag. If I had carried that box up those stairs, I could have ended up in the emergency room. One step would be very narrow and short. The next step would be deeply wide and the next step would be nearly impossible to handle. Let’s just call it a deeply and critically big step. When I got to the third step…even though I was walking upstairs…I lost control and let go of my rolling bag. It banged loudly left and right back down…breaking a few special teacher’s desk “decor” on the way. Actually, the description using the word “decor” is questionable. I suppose that I did not need that stuff anyway.

If I had not let go of the rolling bag, it would definitely have been me falling left and right back down the stairs. My head and back hurt just thinking about it.

I found the elevator. Great for me, but what would I do when I had 22 children with me? Forget the elevator.

I decided that I would just go with the flow and try to memorize where all of the uneven steps were located. I soon found out that virtually every staircase in the school building was uneven! Even the steps leading up to the front door were difficult…at least I thought so.

After memorizing the “not good” steps, I was almost fine with the stairs. I decided that I must be the only person who found them unusual and just downright dangerous.

And then it happened. A teacher on my team started yelling loudly at the top of a third floor staircase just outside of my classroom door. And then, he proceeded to fall all the way down.

 I thought that he surely had broken both legs and maybe both arms, but he jumped up like a gymnast. He raised his arms just like Olympic athletes do when they have been successful on the balance beam. Since my door was open, my class saw the entire incident or shall we say…brave performance. All 22 children stood up and gave him a standing ovation!  Those uneven stairs caught him when his mind was wandering elsewhere. Scared me to pieces.

I stayed for two years and never, ever fell down. I walked up and down each staircase in slow motion…like I was in an old silent movie that was broken. So…I transferred to a nearby school…where I also had friends.




It was a much newer building with no stairs at all! Lucky me! On the first day of school, I promptly fell down on the front sidewalk with my rolling, kind of cute teacher bag. I blamed it on an uneven sidewalk or perhaps my new and too tall wedge sandals were…shall we say…totally uneven!





Sunshine at a Hospital.


Patients and visitors at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem heard the sounds of sunshine when a student group surprised them with a uplifting and joyful song. Thirty-five students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance played a concert throughout the hospital. As part of the academy’s Community & Youth Project, over 300 students from disadvantaged areas receive the opportunity to study serious music and dance.

One of the highlights of the concert happened to be one of my favorite Beatles songs…“Here Comes the Sun”. The concert began in the lobby and moved around to other areas…violins and other instruments included. Flash Mob concerts have been featured on YouTube and also on Facebook…somehow I missed this one.

I always think about how much confidence it would take to suddenly begin to sing or begin to play an instrument in an unsuspecting setting.

And I always think about the happiness it brings to the participants and the audience. 

In the video you can see the faces of the doctors, nurses, patients and visitors as they begin to sing along with the music. Perhaps the load of a difficult day was made light by the lilting lyrics and melody. For a short while on a busy day…the sun did truly shine…all because of the joy of the mutual language of the world…the sound of music.


The Year 1976 Speaks Specifically.


 My husband and I…Christmas 2016

The year 1976 was a maze of changes for me. Changes that I wanted. Changes that I anticipated. Challenges that I looked forward to facing. Challenges that I never thought existed. Hopes that were boundless. Hopes that I wasn’t sure how to specify. I just knew that I had a multitude of high hopes. I simply did not know where to find them.

In 1976, my husband and I married…a beautiful wedding with all of our friends and relatives. We were so happy and we are still so happy.

We have weathered storms like we had never previously faced…that we were certainly not prepared to face.

We lost our son when he was only 26 as I have mentioned in several posts. I know that my readers might be a bit weary of hearing about this specific event.

An earlier storm occurred when our daughter was diagnosed with spinal meningitis when she was 18 months old. She became ill very suddenly and the pediatrician (our regular doctor was out of town) first misdiagnosed the illness. He told us that she simply had an ear infection and we went home with medicine. Within four hours, she was totally lethargic and we were rushing to the children’s hospital. She was very close to being in a coma and we did not know if she would make it through the night. With the care of outstanding physicians, she was home from the hospital after two weeks. A miracle!

We have weathered storms like we had never previously faced…that we were certainly not prepared to face.

As the years progressed, we both lost our parents. My husband’s father left us before our daughter was born and we lost my parents six weeks apart when she was only two. My husband’s mother lived until both of our children were almost grown. Still, my mother-in-law was ill for the better part of two years. We lost most of our aunts and uncles as well as other relatives. Life changed as life is supposed to do. And we specifically did our best to accept the changes.

We have weathered storms like we had never previously faced…that we were certainly not prepared to face.

As I was recently going through a box filled with papers that I wanted to save, I was thinking about the hoped for joys and inevitable hardships in life. Ironically, I found the following few paragraphs that I wrote shortly after we married and I moved with my husband to a much bigger city. I suppose that writing always made me understand and accept my feelings. Writing has always been such a catharsis for me.

The paragraphs relate to my feelings about leaving my family and friends…about making new friends…about waiting for acceptance into a community. I did make friends…I did have a good job…I was reluctant to reach out. I learned, but have faced similar feelings since I quit teaching school this year.

Reading my words from 1976 made me realize the very magnitude of facing all that life places upon us. It made me realize the inner strength that we were given early in our lives. My words may seem naive. I was 26, almost 27 and facing change for the first time.

We have weathered storms like we had not previously faced…that we were certainly not prepared to face.



My words from 1976…

Small town people…arise and join me in saluting a vanishing species. Let us stop and remember what we were…who we were…why we were…before the big city lights caught us in their pseudo-magical spell.

Let us recall the days without traffic jams…when Central Expressway and the West Freeway at 7:45 a.m. were merely images of a faraway never-never-land. Let us recall when we lived close enough to home to drop by for a leisurely lunch…that was before we realized that tacos were gourmet fare. Let us recall clear fresh air filled with clear fresh voices of friendliness. Back then, most everyone was on a first name basis…even strangers on a downtown sidewalk would tip their hat in greeting. It’s a bet that they weren’t trying to pick your pocket or grab your purse.

Let us recall a closeness and kinship to people that somehow is a little vacant from the lives of most Big City People. To be sure, the majority of folks have their own little “groups”. But how can you possibly reach out to the multitudes when the multitudes are so scattered and so mobile?

Oh, don’t get me wrong…I love the city…I love the skyline view…I love the diversity of people living here…I love the variety of activities to join in…I love the fine restaurants…I love the educational opportunities…I even love fighting the mobs at half-price sales.

I’ve made friends here. I’ve found a suitable job with a growing company. I’ve joined a wonderful church with an admirable outreach program. I’ve even taken a tour of the Chamber of Commerce, gone to the rodeo, shopped at NorthPark, found the airport without getting lost and subscribed to a newspaper. I’m planting some new roots…I hope they grow…I honestly pray that they grow.

But, my heart remains with the classic simplicity of life in the small town. I’ll admit that I’m a bit unsophisticated. That doesn’t mean that I’m less than intelligent or that I can’t understand the pressures of a competitive market. That doesn’t mean that I don’t read Texas Monthly or that I’m not interested in the stock market. That doesn’t mean that I’m less than qualified to fill a position of need in the community.

I may be a little too down-to-earth…I may be a little too honest…I may laugh at different jokes…I may relish the quiet side of life a bit more than most of you.

But come on, you Big City you, I sort of expect you to be friends with me.


Fort Worth

As it turned out, the city was friends with me. As we faced the challenges of our new life, we did keep the high hopes and we figured out how to find new high hopes…how to make the most of high hopes. We learned how to accept change and we are still learning how to accept change. I know now that being uncomfortable with change is really normal. I know that our faith carried us through the trials of life and the wondrous joy of life. 

We have weathered storms like we had not previously faced…that we were certainly not prepared to face.

I know now that we were far more prepared than we knew…for we believed in something that we could not see. 

We believed in the power of prayer.

Hot Fudge Oreo Cupcakes!!!


Calling all chocolate lovers…no explanation needed for the title of this post…except you need to try this recipe! These “cupcakes” are delicious and I realize that they are totally off of your New Year’s diet! Just one “cupcake” will surely not knock you off of the right track…



This yummy treat would be ideal for a children’s birthday party or any type party for that matter! These “cupcakes” are not too messy for the interior of your house! They are frozen! The “cupcake” recipe includes frozen vanilla ice cream, crushed Oreo cookies, frozen whipped topping, Eagle Brand condensed milk as well as chocolate chips, etc. I keep putting quotation marks around the word “cupcakes” because these are not cakes at all…the ingredients are merely placed in paper “cupcake” liners. Just a bit deceiving!!

I first saw a variation of this recipe in the 50th Anniversary Cookbook for Weir’s Country Store in Dallas, Texas. This “cupcake” recipe is one that you just might save for your next fun party!






15 ounce package Oreo cookies with the cream left inside

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

1 medium container Cool Whip

1/3 cup crushed pecans (optional)

Put the Oreos in a ziploc bag and crush until the cookies are crumbs. Add crumbs to 1/4 cup melted butter. Stir. Line your muffin pan with paper “cupcake” liners. Press crumbs firmly into the bottom of each liner. You should use about 2 tablespoons per cup. Reserve at least 1 cup of the crumbs for later. Then put a scoop of ice cream into each liner cup. Use a spoon and flatten each ball of ice cream. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of reserved crumbs over the ice cream. Reserve some Oreo crumbs for the top of the “cupcake” before it is served.  Add a layer of Cool Whip and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of crushed pecans to each liner cup (over the layer of Cool Whip). Lightly cover the muffin pan with a sheet of waxed paper. Put “cupcake” muffin pan into freezer. Leave until completely frozen.


1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix the “Hot Fudge Sauce” ingredients over low heat in a saucepan until melted. Stir constantly until all of the ingredients are combined. Once the hot fudge is all melted together, pour it into a gallon size ziploc bag. Let it cool in the freezer for about 10 minutes. After the hot fudge is cooled, take the cupcake pan out of the freezer. Drizzle the hot fudge over the top of the frozen ice cream. Try to not let it spill over the sides of the paper liner cups. Place the pan uncovered in the freezer for several hours. when you are ready to serve, let thaw for a few minutes, until slightly soft. Sprinkle reserved Oreo crumbs over each “cupcake”. If you have any of the Hot Fudge left, drizzle a little over each “cupcake” before serving (before or after placing on serving tray). Remove the Hot Fudge Oreo Cupcakes and their paper liners and place on a serving tray! Serve immediately!!