Paris Part Deux: Glacees, Cafe Creme, Croissant, & Horses

I forgot to turn the ringer off of my phone before I finally fell to sleep Friday night. I was rudely awakened at some point in the middle of the night by some unknown Texas phone number. Probably one of those bogus scammers or something. I could not even tell you if I answered it or tried to hit snooze thinking it was my alarm, but luckily I figured out what was going on before I threw my phone across the room.

When my alarm actually did go off for real, I could only open one eye. I forced the one eye into focus as I scanned all the texts on my phone. Side note, international service does not appear to be worth it and the last thing I want to do is get on my phone with them to try and get them to sort it out.

I had some touristy ideas to fill the morning, but the idea of spending the time I had left leisurely sitting on the walk of a café with coffee and breakfast, watching and seeing the city seemed much more appealing. I was tired and it was going to be a late night, so there was that.

Internally agreeing to the idea, I took a little nap and then forced myself out of bed when the need for caffeine, carbs, and butter took over like I had never known before. Good thing I was in France. All of those things are in quick and easy supply.

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R was right. The coffee is better here, way better, so I ordered another cup. I will not lie and tell you I did not think about ordering another croissant, because I totally and actually did think about it. I almost went through with it, but I reminded myself that I have plenty of time to eat all the croissants and gain all the weights.

The time fast approached for my friend, D, to pick me up to explore Chateau de Chantilly, so I strolled back to the hotel to collect my things and check out.

While I explored Chantilly, D went to go pick up a couple of other friends of his before retrieving me so everyone could go and enjoy the Grand Prix back in Paris together.

I toured the stables and horse museum first because, hello, it is me. Horses. The stables are beautiful and there are actual horses there. Practically a jackpot for a gal like me. The minute I walked in, I felt at home. That all familiar smell and feel brought everything right back to the heart. I felt at peace, connected. Not like I was in a foreign land so far away from home. I did not even notice I felt that way until I walked in.

This buckskin Lusitano made me miss my dun duo.

There are signs on the stall doors that say do not touch the horses. Well. I touched this gray one. I could not help it and he was bored. He must have been new. All the other horses ignored me. In the short time I was there I saw two other girls break the same rule. They at least had the decency to look around sheepishly before they did it.

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Then I took a turn through the gardens with an ice cream, or glacee conveniently located in a cart, and then the chateau.

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After meeting the newcomers to the party when my ride arrived, we all made our way to the Eiffel Tower to watch the Grand Prix and do some shopping.

If you would like to see more and better photos, go check out the Facebook page for this event.

I tried yet again to find something to buy and I was again unsuccessful. I consoled myself with the promise that we would later find a tack store somewhere that had more things to choose from.

We left Paris after 9 PM and did not arrive at the farm until after midnight. The house was quiet when we walked in with most everyone already long asleep. Naturally, we all sat at the kitchen table, opened a bottle of wine, and had a couple of glasses. Then we ate chocolate mousse. When in France, right?

The need for clean feet and a bed finally over took me close to 2 AM and I excused myself to go upstairs.

Walk in love, dear readers!

And if you were wondering, this is what my Darcy Doolittle does when I am gone.

I do not know what I would do without my parents to send me updates on my animals.

Paris Part Un: In Which I Did Not Sleep

My plan was to sleep on the plane, but we all know how the best made plans can go…I got nada. The flight was pleasant enough though. I watched a couple of movies (one bad, one good), listened to some music, stared out the window, twittled my thumbs. Normal stuff.

After a quick flight change in London and a jump across the pond, I arrived in Paris at my hotel around 12:30 PM local time. Still with no sleep, but honestly, who has time to sleep. I was strangely not even tired. I kept thinking about what a friend told me once. “I can rest in the nursing home!”

I stayed at the Hotel Eber Mars and quite enjoyed my stay. You should look it up. Conveniently located, wonderful staff, quaint, and full of stories.

I took a quick shower after checking in and set off exploring. With only about 24 hours to take it all in, it was hard to determine what exactly I wanted to do. I fit in as much as I could before dinner.

My hotel was right by the Eiffel Tower. That was easy.

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I zig zagged my way through the streets from the Eiffel Tower to the river and walked all the way to the Lourve. I ate a croissant and watched all the people. It was very busy. Everywhere. And everyone had dirty shoes and feet.

I stopped at a café across the street from a packed bar of some sort where there were several people enjoying the afternoon and the World Cup game. There were no seats left on the sidewalk, so I settled for one right inside, close to all the action. I had a couple of glasses of bubbly and a cheese tray while I watched and listened. It was fun to hear all the shouts and cheers throughout the game.

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I considered going straight back to the hotel and crashing, but I could not let myself do it. Instead I walked through a quiet, pretty neighborhood enjoying the long shadows of the buildings until I found a decent enough spot for dinner.

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Interestingly enough, the Longines Global Champions Tour just so happened to be in Paris at the Eiffel Tower for the Paris Eiffel Jumping during my short stay. (If you happen to be coming to this region this weekend, the next stop on the tour is Chantilly, not very far!) After dinner I walked straight to the show grounds to have a look see. I could not help it. The plan was to go Saturday evening to watch the Grand Prix, but I just had to go sooner than that.

I sat and watched the warm up for a while. The warm up is my favorite thing to watch at competitions. Then I grabbed an ice cream from one of the vendors as I checked out all the things for sale. Trying with all of my might to find something I had to have. Something I could not live without. Try as I might, I could not. There was nothing for me and I was extremely disappointed. Perhaps I would have luck tomorrow.

I made the short walk back to my hotel, took yet another shower, and fell fast asleep around 10 PM.

Walk in love, dear readers!

When A Texan Goes On Vacation

She eats Mexican food no less than three times in the week before like there might be a chance it won’t be there when she gets back.

You may think I am kidding, but I am not. I hope the clothes I packed still fit!

Last weekend was great with my Aunt M and Cousin W out for a visit and the whole thing went by in a haze…an African Haze of African wind and dust.

But first, can we please admire Darcy’s paw hair blowing in the wind?!

I took care of some lingering chores Saturday and riding got put on the back burner. I did hop on Cheetah for a quick minute after sunset. Lito came over for a visit.

Sunday morning was greeted by two bright, dun faces and a unique, hazy sunrise. They wait for me at the gate most mornings.

I then had a great ride on Lito before I headed back to town for the crazy week ahead.

This week has gone by in a flash. Monday and Tuesday were non stop getting work situated for my absence. By Tuesday at 1 PM I started to get this old familiar feeling. A feeling I have not felt in years.

Can you guess?

It felt like the last day of school before summer. Just without the movie watching and parties. A permanent smile was forming on my face as the end of the day approached.

The plan after work was to get my nails done and then get packed and organized so that today, all I had to do was go to the farm. You knew I had to get out here to see the horses and get my fix before I leave.

I convinced R to go with me on the nails. Then that summer time feeling was still there and one of those much needed Mexican meals was calling my name. I had to comply, I had no choice. I gave a good pitch and convinced R and a couple other friends to come with. Never a hard chore when Mexican food is involved.

After a bucket of salsa, enchiladas, and margaritas, the last thing I wanted to do was organize, clean, and pack. So…I didn’t.

Procrastinating, I am good at it.

I woke up this morning and made myself pack. And clean. And organize. It was helpful that it was raining basically all day. Everything, unfortunately, also took most of the day. Those things always take too long, so I didn’t make it out to the farm until after 4.

The whole region received quite a bit of rain and it was still raining when I pulled up. I walked out in the drizzle to see the horses after a quick survey. They seemed to be glad for break in the heat and to have the rain cleanse their coats of salt.

So, now here I am, covered in wet horse dirt and hair, happily cuddled up on the farm couch, writing to you.

All in all, a pretty good 4th of July. I always seem to have a good day on the 4th of July. Just look at this pic of me and my Lito from a 4th of July past. A little younger and a little smaller. Still my Lito.

I am leaving for France tomorrow and could not be more excited.

I do hope you will stay tuned for news from my trip! I can not wait to share it with you!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Problems

Problems, I ain’t got none.

How do you like that English? I did that for effect, you know. Just for you. To give you a laugh.

Anybody?

Tap, tap, tap?

In all seriousness, continually I am reminded that the things we see as problems in this life, are not really problems in the bigger picture. They are just experiences and lessons. They are gifts.

Remember yesterday’s list of possible topics that got quickly brushed aside in favor of food and wine? Ya, that. We are going there. Here is why. Stick with me.

Wednesday was not a very good day at work. The details are not really important, but emotions are high right now as we are about to drill a well (not really the best time to be leaving the country for vacation, but this trip has been planned for a year…) and somehow I got caught in the middle. Like a side effect or an accessory. Honestly, if I could have done something about it, I would have, but it was out of my hands. (Even though I am still kinda beating myself up about it.) It put me in a foul mood and I was ready to book it before it was even lunch time.

At the end of the day, I left quicker than I ever did when the 3 PM dismissal bell rang at school, and I was the kid that counted the seconds till it was time to leave. I changed my clothes and grabbed my dog in record time to drive out to the farm. I had already planned to go out there for my usual midweek visit.

When I arrived, the horses were in the far corner of their pasture. Go figure. I took a deep breath, stepped out into the sun, and started walking. I didn’t even put a hat on. No time for that.

With each step, I felt a little tension leave. It began to feel blissfully hot as the sun beared down. The grass was green and sky was blue. The breeze was soft through my hair and the trees. I started to hear the birds chirping and Darcy romping around off to my right.

She caught Lito’s eye as he stood in the shade with a hind leg cocked, tail floating on the breeze, playing with the tips of the tall grass.

Then they all, one by one beginning with Lito, started to look at me as I approached. They knew. They always know. Looking at me with their big soft eyes. Nuzzling me with velvety muzzles.

We were just a short walk away from bliss by this point. The answer to everything. It doesn’t take much.

I grabbed Cheetah’s bridle off the bridle rack. I walked up to her side, stroked her golden neck, and began bridling her. She graciously accepted the bit as I slipped the headstall I won in 4H with my old mare Fresca all those years ago over her long ears. Just as I have done countless times. Fresca is the only other horse to have worn that bridle. It has a cross on the side buckles. I found Lito a similar headstall. It was and is important to me.

I will not mention the sweat and dirt all over her body as that would clearly ruin the picture. No, I won’t do that. But she is indeed, covered in dirt. No matter. Dirt brushes off and my hands did a good enough job of that to clear a spot just big enough for me to sit.

I threw myself up on her broad, dorsal striped back and off we went.

Nothing else is needed. Our shadow danced around us as we turned around the ring. On and on. Around we went without a care. Whatever happened earlier in the day a distant memory, not given another significant thought.

(How is this the only video of this song?)

I dismounted feeling lighter, almost wondering if the day had really indeed been all that bad. The answer was probably not, but it did not matter anymore. I thanked my big dun mare for letting me borrow her freedom and setting everything to rights before I made the hour long drive back home.

The drive was pleasant as I was serenaded by Texas music and the views of the coastal plain.

The following day was peaceful as I worked, fueled by the high from the ride, YouTube videos playing in the background. At some point, a string of videos about near death/death experiences came up. It began with the stories of a career hospice nurse. Interesting turn of events, I thought to myself, but I will listen on. I do not doubt that these are true stories. Indeed they are common enough. We hear about them all the time.

I looked up when I heard a familiar voice and story. Eben Alexander. I have heard an interview of his before. Have you heard of him? He wrote the best seller, Heaven Is For Real. Have you read it? I have not, but I will tell you I ordered the book at the end of yesterday. His story is worth a listen. Take the time. I would not share it with you if it was not. I will not spoil it, but the short end of it is he was basically a dead man. Believed to be a vegetable for a week and on his way to death. He awoke and had a lot to share about his experience. About God and Heaven and love.

It brought me to tears, but maybe not in the way you might be thinking. It was an overwhelming feeling. A feeling of knowing. Of love and truth. It is no wonder to me that music and nature and animals and relationships play such vital roles in our lives here on earth. It is all about love. God’s love. God is love.

No, no I do not have problems.

Focus on the bigger picture. The Lord’s journey for you. Spread his love and light. Forgive and forget. Life is short. Tomorrow is a new day. Do not let what you view as problems bring you down. You are here and alive!

Share with me your thoughts! I want to know!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Breakfast For Dinner

And other serious, important topics.

I got home from an after work chat and glass of wine at Grandparent’s house with zero plans for dinner.

Figuring I would, you know, figure that out later, I poured myself another glass of wine, opened my computer, and set to planing the last details of my vacation in France.

Feeling like it was already next week, dreamily across the pond in France, I looked up and there was no French dinner fairy and no French dinner. Sigh. What to do.

Too bad I can not have a late night croissant for dinner. Wine and croissant. I mean, when in France, right.

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Imagine that as a croissant. Honestly though, carbs…I like them, so a baguette would be nice to.

I put my computer aside and started the Texas version of breakfast for dinner. Well, half-of-the-best-Texas-breakfast-for-dinner-I-could-do-with-what-I-had anyway. Pancakes, bacon, and wine. That would have to do.

When in Texas and about to be in France, right?

I was going to write somewhat or something about such topics as serious as independence or heaven, but that was all just WAY too serious and required too much focus. Especially when dreaming about France. I have always loved breakfast for dinner anyway. Not just when dreaming about France. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

Just your average, random Thursday night.

Back to France. I will have a short 24 hours in Paris while I am there. If you have been, what are your top things to do there? Things you would not want to miss. I need opinions!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Special Day

Monday morning awoke with a bad case of the delayed, anxiety inducing Sunday blues. But, so goes some Mondays.

Even Darcy had a good groan and roll around before I made her get of bed strictly because I had to. She promptly went straight to her bed to go back to sleep after taking her outside. She did not even get up when I left. Oh to be a dog.

Anyway, back to the weekend because it was great and much better than anything going on this week. You know, working and laundry (SO MUCH LAUNDRY ALL THE TIME!) and cleaning and stressing about my upcoming adventure in France. Really, France can not come fast enough!

You missed that little tidbit, did you? Yes, AHAmoments is going to France next week! I dropped that news a bit ago and then never really said anything more about it. And I am not going to give any bit of it away now. You will just have to check back here to follow along on the adventure!

OK. Now, really back to the weekend. First, the weather was phenomenal. Not too hot and had a nice breeze. The traffic heading out there Friday after work was absolutely horrendous, but the second I stepped out of the car all was forgotten. I made a cocktail and walked out to the horse pasture, clinking ice and all, to sit and enjoy the sunset.

Stunner right? I just love to share these images with you. It never ceases to amaze me how each sunset can be different from the same place. It is a natural wonder. I hope they bring you as much joy as they bring me.

After bringing the horses into the paddock for the night, I went to get my dinner together and settle in for the night.

Saturday morning I took my time grooming and tacking Cheetah before we went of to ride. First we did a little arena work to make sure we actually did work. We both need it. Her because she is so grass fat and happy she is moving a little pokey. One would think that is a welcome change from her normal, but it is not actually. It is awkward, flat, and strung out. And for me, because well, sometimes we need to put ourselves into boot camp. Make myself ride better was the focus and has been the focus. My western saddle has become a crutch apparently and I do not like it. You just have off times every now and then. So, I have pretty much been only riding in an english saddle for the past couple of months and making myself do two point and riding without stirrups.

After the hard part was over, we went for a nice tour of the farm. An actual, four beat, walking tour. That was a nice and welcome change from her normal. She has actually been doing that lately and I love it. We looked at the grass and fences. Took a few bites of grass every now and then. Checked on the cows. Stopped in the shade of her favorite pecan tree. She voluntarily stops under the same tree every time we ride by and I love that too. She got a handful of treats and bath upon our return. I honestly think she enjoyed it as much as I did.

Leaving her tied in the shade, I brought Lito over for a long, indulgent grooming session. My favorite. I even braided his cute, short mane. I hoped they would stay, but I knew they would not. In the end, only three survived.

After lunch, I mowed. You know, I love to mow. Does anyone else like to mow? I find it terribly therapeutic and cathartic. And satisfying and rewarding. Some people think I am crazy, but honestly. Try it some time. Then, when you are finished and turn the mower off, the invading flood of silence is marvelous. Like you never knew how quiet it was before. You just have to hurry up and change your clothes because it is itchy work!

At some point in the day, I caught Darcy in a nap on the warm concrete.

Please notice the burrs. Wherever the Darcy goes, so go the burrs. It is our lot in life.

The long, hot afternoon hours around here are for the riding horses to practice tying in the shade. They get really good at it. All it takes is hours. They learn to settle in for a nap. Sometimes even I forget.

All three tails, caught in the breeze.

I rode Chance in the late evening, after the hottest part of the day. He has been ridden by kids a lot lately and thought he could pull the same tricks on me. He grunted and groaned in irritation as I made him work correctly. It was quite comical. A quick hose down for Chance after our ride and I settled in with a cocktail, listening to music and enjoying the sunset. The animals broke the spell after a while demanding their evening feed.

Sunday was an early start to a special day. Riding my Lito and a visit from my Grandmother.

After the horses had their morning feed, I caught up my Lito for a ride. He was acting a little squirrely as only a young horse in their terrible fives can be…

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…so we hand grazed and walked for a while after looking at all the things. Man, it sure is hard to get used to young horse actually acting like a young horse. Time and consistency, just like everything else. Do not forget it. He is aloud to be young and horses never lie. They tell you what they need if only we listen.

When his head seemed like it was back where it belonged, we groomed and tacked. Arena work first, farm tour second. Seemed to be the order of the weekend. He was not great, but was not bad. He tried and was happy at the end. That is what matters. Little bit by little bit, one thing at a time, slowly, is how you get where you are going. And we are going.

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Then my Grandmother came out for a BBQ lunch and to visit the horses.

This pic was from the last time she was able to come out. It was a few years ago. I remember my Grandfather, memory almost consumed by the Dementia, took one look at Chance and said, “That is a Quarter Horse,” with a big smile.

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It was a special visit for us all. It warms my heart to see her with the horses again. For her to see, feel, and smell them, not just view in a picture. Feel the breeze in her hair and on her skin under the large oak tree. She says she still has dreams of galloping across the fields and I only wish I could make that happen for her again.

I hope to get her out there again soon. It was a late afternoon getting home, but I made a quick run to the store for ingredients to have a homemade pizza dinner. Pretty dang good!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Daily Dose Of Cute

Everybody needs a little bit of cute every day. Especially on Wednesdays. You know, to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. Lighten the mood. So, here is something to make you smile.

This was my first day with Darcy. Boy oh boy, is she cute or what?! I mean, even with the blurry photos and removing all bias…SO CUTE!

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She still pays like that.

This next one is really what gets me. I did not put her there, she did that all on her own.

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I dare you not to smile.

My mother used to say that to me when I was incensed, as only a teenager could be. Shoot darn if it did not work every time.

Let us share this with the world and make things a little brighter, shall we?

Walk in love, dear readers!

Texas Sunset Silhouette


“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
-Wayne Dyer

Perspective and point of view.

You can get a photo like this just by getting a little closer, a little lower, and waiting.

I mean, it does help to have something like a Texas river bottom and some pretty ponies to look at, but there is beauty all around us if you open your eyes and look.

Something to think about in life too. There are some things we can and things can not change.

We can do our best to make plans and go about them, but we all know how the best made plans go despite our intentions. We are not in charge of the plan at the end of the day.

I say all the time how life is like working with horses, and this is especially true about young horses.

When things appear to go awry, you just have to take a step back and go back to what you know before you start to go forward again.

It is just a season is all. And hey, it is what it is and they are what they are. With horses, as in life, have faith and realistic expectations, set a routine, and give it time and consistency.

Change your point of view and shift your attitude.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Pops

Pops.

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Teaching me how to shoot.

That is what I call my Dad. That is now what my niece and nephew call him.

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With baby Nephew H.

When I wrote about my Mamma for Mother’s Day, I thought to myself, “words. These are just words. They do not do her justice.” Now I naturally have the same thoughts as I try to pen something in honor of my father.

 

 

 

As a Texas outdoors man with three daughters, he raised us the way he knew how. With a love and respect for the outdoors and God’s creation. We get our love of Texas and dogs from him. He taught us how to fish and hunt and how to be good stewards. To sit around the fire pit, watch the sunset, and contemplate life.

He worked his butt off for us. Honestly, I am where I am today because of everything he has done. One time when I was younger, on our way to south Texas, I asked him what exactly he does for a living. The resulting explanation and conversation lasted longer than the five hour plus drive.

His friends tell me, among many things, how he is a fine sportsman and not your average CPA. I certainly always knew the first one. That last one always makes me laugh to myself. He is a socks and Birkenstock kind of guy sometimes, even if Mamma tells him he should not wear that.

He allows us to be who we are and celebrates it. It is no wonder I march to the beat of my own drum and can seem by some respects as a walking, talking oxymoron.

I may be a walking, talking oxymoron, and people may not quite know what to think of me at first. I can sometimes be found wearing a silly, wide brimmed straw hat with a feather stuck in he brim, fishing shirt, tall western boots, polo belt, red lipstick, and dirty finger nails all while riding in a dressage saddle. Good horsemanship, is good horsemanship, no matter what you wear, the horse you ride, or what you ride in. Just like being a good person. Thanks to @exquisiteequineapparel for this great mantra shirt. A strong foundation in the basics is what takes you places. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. ~~~ ~#basics #foundation #horsemanship #mantra #oxymoron #walkthetalk #walkyourpath #goodperson #slow #smooth #fast #horsesofinstagram #appendixquarterhorse #quarterhorse #ranchhorse #dressage #equestrian #equestrianlifestyle #equestrianlife #equestrianapparel #horseperson #blogger #lifeblogger #ahamoment

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When I was little, he would tuck me in at night while we sang the Lord’s Prayer together. I can’t sing it any other way than the way we sang it. (Side story, Nephew H once told me I sang it wrong because it was not the way his mother sang it to him at bed time. I laughed and halfheartedly told him he sang it wrong.)

I learned how to be safe around horses from him. To love the country and agriculture. To drive and pull trailers.

More than once he took me out of school to head to the hunting lease with one of the dogs. Just the three of us. I thought that was the coolest thing.

He taught me how to fish with a top water and then proceeded to tell me that if I cast it that far out there, I would have a hard time setting the hook. I just smiled as I turned and said, “like this?!” as I hooked a big speckled trout. I can still hear him saying, “keep your rod tip up.” For years, his reward for teaching us to love fishing, we got to land every fish he caught while he untangled our crossed lines. Luckily for him, we can now catch our own fish without tangling our lines. To this day, fishing is my second most favorite thing to do next to riding horses.

On our way to church, we would drive a certain way to go over this train track on a hill because we thought it was fun. It was on top of a big hill in my memory, but it is not a very big hill at all in adult reality. Anyway, we got a kick out of it to drive really fast and bounce up and down in our seats over the tracks. We would laugh and yell. On the way home, we would stop at the filling station to get a Big Gulp. That’s a fountain Coke for all you people that do not know.

Often times, he would let me pick the route we drove home from the farm. Crisscrossing our way through the countryside on the back roads with the windows down. Just listening to music, enjoying the country, and delaying getting back to town. Then we would stop and get a chocolate cinnamon milkshake to share before we got home. We would throw the evidence away before Mom could find out. Although, I am sure she always knew.

One weekend he did laundry at least three times at the farm as my friend and I slid down the muddy slope of a hill into the pond over and over spreading wild flower seeds for him.

 

To celebrate him, we will do what we do. Have a family dinner. Listen to music. Thank the Lord while Pops says the prayer.

I know days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be hard for some who’s parents are no longer with us in this life. Indeed it makes it hard right now to even write these words. The thing is though, they are all still here with us in our hearts. In what they taught us. In their memories. Never far away. And you will see them again one day, in their finest form.

What is your favorite memory with the father from your life?

Walk in love, dear readers! Peace, love, and joy.

Daily Dose Of Cute

My weekend in pictures. Enjoy!

Before the much needed little rain storm on Saturday, everyone was taking naps.

When I sit in the grass with them, Lito often comes over and stands with his head over mine. My pretty girl was not feeling her normal self, but by Sunday she seemed right as the rain. You can’t see him, but Ike is laying down in the back, on the other side of the tree. I love how they feel comfortable enough to really sleep when I am sitting there. Just get comfy there, big boy. My wing pup, never too far away and always up to something. Saturday’s sunset after Justify snagged the Triple Crown and after the rains. Too pretty for words, don’t you think?Sunday morning. My two gal pals. Just us three, hanging out under a tree.

Walk in love, dear readers!