Monday, April 23, 2018

Hometown Is Where the Heart Is

When we have guests stay with us, one thing we strive to provide is a feeling that they are at home while away. We can offer lots of little homely touches, and be as welcoming as possible, but one thing that really draws you in is where we are.  It occurred to me that I should share a bit of what our home is like for us. So much of why we love it here, as much as the beautiful surroundings, is in the community we are a part of.  I want to take a moment to five you a taste of what our town is like from the inside looking out.

People always talk about living in a small town with similar cliches.  You could rob the whole town blind during a football, basketball, or baseball game, and if someone goes to state, you may not even find the town.They say if you sneeze at the post office, someone will say gesundheit at the bank, and it is true.  In such a small community, everyone knows pretty much everything about everyone, but they also care about everyone, and everyone has an opinion on everything.  It's nice, though, whenever something great is going on in your life, everyone congratulates you, and when there is tragedy, everyone is there to make sure you are doing alright. 

So many times I have found myself in some small need and not even had to ask for a hand because someone was already there to help.  That's just the nature of people here in Muenster, they have big hearts and are always ready to give. 
We have a lot of groups like the Jaycees, school alumni associations, Knights of Columbus, etc... that are always throwing a fish fry or a crawfish boil to raise funds for a charity, and these people love to give.  Heck, even our fire department is volunteer!  It is not at all uncommon for an item like a jar of grandma's pickles to go for thousands of dollars at a charity silent auction at the community Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  Though in all fairness, homemade pickles are pretty dang good.

Guests often ask what we do, living in Muenster.  For such a small town, there are a lot of things going on around here, and most of it is to raise money.  People here are really athletic, so the fun runs are really popular as well as the bike race at Germanfest.  It seems like every other week has some sort of event from concerts to alumni/student games to festivals like Germanfest and Oktoberfest that all the nonprofits in the area throw, so life here is a little more exciting than you'd think!

People here won't give each other directions with road names or numbers, but more commonly things like "It's north of town, take the turnoff about 4 telephone poles past Mike's house".  This sounds crazy, but it works well here.  Everyone knows Mike, and where he lives.  When we lived in Houston, years ago, I didn't know my neighbors, let alone the whole town.

When we first moved here, my son had parked his truck at the bottom of a hill down by the creek. A rainstorm came through and he couldn't get it up the hill because of the mud.  Our new neighbor saw what was going on and came right over with his tractor and pulled him up to the road.  Nobody really thinks about it, that's just the way its always been.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Sound of Summer

As things are starting to even out to a warm temperature and soon escalating to a hot one, I can feel my soul longing for one of my favorite Summertime things, outdoor live music.  Having children who lived in Austin and San Antonio over the years, I have had the chance to enjoy shows all over the state, and been blown away, but what we have to offer locally can definitely hold it's own.  Of these, Gainesville has one of my favorite offerings with Gainesville Summer Sounds ( 
One of the more underrated towns in Texas has to be Gainesville.  Most just drive past on Hwy 82 or I-35 which both cut through the town, and along both lie most of the same things you see as you pull through most small Texas towns.  Some fast food, gas stations, grocery stores, etc... would belie what is just off the beaten path.  Downtown Gainesville is easily one of the more charming civic centers you can come across in this state full of hidden gems. 
With such a beautiful soul to showoff, Gainesville has a short 3 set series of monthly concerts in the Summer situated right on town square, next to the courthouse.  They pair well known and surprisingly popular acts with some of our amazing local talent for family friendly shows that are just perfect. 
These shows are no small affair, with the local people coming out early to set up camping chairs in the blocked off streets and blankets in the lawns of the square.  It feels electric even before the musicians start playing as the warm day winds down and starts to cool while the event just warms up.  Families are settling in and starting to have fun, and the whole place is so vibrant with joies de vivre!
Before the bands even kick off, the vendors are up and running so people can "pregame" and get food and drinks.  There are a lot of options with restaurants around and vendor tents set up to serve the crowd.  Even though we tend to go and grab snacks here an there, I always pack a basket with some treats.  It has become a bit of a tradition to pick up some brisket from our secret place,, on the way to town, and Big Red.  It should be noted that I cannot stand Big Red, but my son insists is Texas BBQ tradition, which he takes very seriously... I usually just take a sip of his to honor tradition.  Just like his single black eyed pea on new years day, to honor tradition.
With our bellies lined and a cold one in our hands just in time, we are ready for the music to kick off.  When it does, the place goes crazy.  Kids are running around like it's the 50's, chasing fireflies as the sun starts to set, and everyone is dancing or swaying to the songs. As the first evening breeze starts to blow, I think "This is what I love about Summer"!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

We're Nocona Take It!

Spring time in Texas is when the fun starts.  All the dance halls and outdoor stages shake the dust off and start cracking.  With the weather warming up and a perfectly timed day off between spring showers, I found myself on another fun excursion.  This time, my husband and I were off to Nocona, TX.

Nocona is known for many things varying from fame (Nocona Boots) to infamy (the Black Widow serial killing nurse), but we are only interested in the fun times today.  Nocona is following suit with so much of north Texas in a vibrant explosion of culture.  From revitalization of old buildings to new tastes popping up in fun places, they are on top of their game in this little slice of the lone star.

For the start of our day, we go to what was once the fabled Nocona Boot factory.  The headquarters of this old boot maker has long since moved to El Paso, but in it's stead, has popped up a classic car museum.  My husband being a lover of all things four wheeled, or two, and old insisted we start there.  I like shiny things, so I was happy to oblige.

The museum oozes with charm from the get go with old gas pumps outside next to benches that welcome passers by to take a break and peer into the past.  On the inside we peruse tons of classic cars and trucks that I thought were cute, but the hubby was drooling over.  When he caught my interest drawn to one particular car, he got excited and started spouting off facts and figures about it that made little difference to me.  I bet if he knew that the little red Camaro I was looking at caught my eye because it was the same kind driven by a high school crush of mine, he would have been a little less excited.

As the warm day pressed on, we were both pretty thirsty and ready for a change of gears (pun intended).  We made our way to a really cool newcomer to the north Texas scene, Nocona Brewery.  This place is amazing.  The architecture and design are not what you would expect from a small town Texas brewery.  Touches of glass and shiny metal accents in juxtaposition to vintage touches like refurbished fifties style rocket pedal car make for a perfect ambiance for cold beer consumption.  They have some really great options, and while the stout is very good, I was so thankful for the cold lager to quench my thirst!  They offer live music and often have BBQ on site for a full night without going anywhere else.  However, we had plans made already for that evening, so on we went.

From here, we went on to Daddy Sam's Saloon and Gertie's Dance Hall on the town square.  This is a really neat project come to fruition.  What was a grocery store once, was recreated by the original owner's grandson into something entirely new, a saloon and dance hall.  Daddy Sam's oozes old time feel in every direction from the ceiling covered in antique pressed tin tiles to the black an white photos and sassy bar signs in every direction.  The music here is great with touring acts that are hard to beat or even find in such an intimate setting. 

Nocona is such a special place, that I always find myself entertaining the idea of moving here for at least a moment whenever I come for a visit.  Fortunately, it's close enough

to make visits a common thing!