This really IS the view from my front porch. Sweet, huh?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch

Every girl dreams about the perfect wedding.  Ideas are often tucked away in dresser drawers and scrap books for the special day when she will walk down the aisle and stare into the eyes of her prince charming.  And Mothers everywhere eagerly anticipate helping their daughters turn their dreams into realities while Daddies reluctantly open their wallets. This is just one of many reasons that I wanted to attend the Open Barn event held last Saturday.

My recent search for “Vintage Arkansas” found the pot of gold as I strolled through the grass field, turned parking lot with my sweetheart hubby, Ricky and daughter #2, Leslie. 

 We were able to experience first-hand how Lesleigh Smith and her team can create a unique setting that is all out vintage yet elegant and fresh. 

 The whole experience proved to be “Fun and flirty yet, hopelessly romantic!” - Lesleigh Smith.

The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch is the River Valley’s newest venue established primarily for weddings and receptions. 

Located just outside of Dardanelle, Arkansas a bit of something old is combined with something new.

A recently constructed barn made from old materials houses room enough for your wedding guests to grab their partners and doe-see-doe with room to spare. 

The design team will help you plan your special day coordinating everything from invitations to the cake, decorations, catering and music.

They will create a sensational setting for you to live out your dreams without being stressed out.  

For more information about The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch visit their website

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Music Night

The first date Ricky and I ever had ended up at the “happeningest” place in Minnow Creek – the Davis Home.  This was a safe haven for teenagers and parents never worried about what their kids were doing if that is where they were.  There was always something going on, an invitation was not needed and all who visited were made to feel important.  I’ve heard Don tell that come midnight he would announce “I’m going to bed.  Ya’ll turn out the lights when you leave.”  Just one of the many ways that they made us feel like family.

Thirty years later Don and Lou Nell are still opening their doors to others with a smile and a hug.  But some things have changed with time.  Instead of circling to watch a marathon of table tennis in the basement we are now sitting in a double ringed circle of sorts in the living room having a marathon music sing-off. 

 Who needs a karaoke machine.  Over the years we’ve been accompanied by the best playing tunes on their guitars, ukulele, tambourine, flute and fiddle.
(Jon Conley - band member for Kenny Chesney)
 It’s a form of Name That Tune in reverse – if we know the name we just Google the lyrics. 
 And if the guys strumming don’t know the song you’re singing just give them a line or two and they will soon be faking it. 
(On the guitar - Cole Bruce, Danny Davis & Jake Davis)
 Sometimes our rendition veers off the path from how the original artist recorded it but it’s beautiful, just the same.
(The girls singing "Taylor the Latte Boy".  Robert eating ice cream.)
Many of the participants in our sing-offs have had their moments on stage, singing and performing with big names in the music industry.  And the next generation has proved to be just as talented. 
(Emmy Davis and Savannah Conley sharing songs.)
But it’s easy to see that one of their favorite places to perform is in front of the rock hearth in a log home near the banks of Minnow Creek.

This year’s “Music Night” was a little different.  Don gave us a talkin' to about how we should all love each other.

And then he  and Lou Nell taught us the night's theme song:
"Just a little lovin' will go a long way
And you'll make me happy the rest of my days
Put your arms around me then I'll be your slave
'Cause just a little lovin' will go a long way.”

Since that first date night 30 years ago, I’ve spent many hours wrapped in the love that flows so freely from this family.   Ricky and I don’t have our parents with us anymore and this dear couple has filled the void so beautifully.  They’ve also passed this trait of hospitality on to their children.  Their girls have opened their homes to our oldest who is living in the Nashville area, helping to shorten the distance between the Music City and Minnow Creek (the place we now call home too), proving just how far a little bit of lovin’ actually can go.

Through this family we have seen examples of Godly living while living life to its fullest.  

We’ve also seen how music spans the generation gap
 allowing the young and the … not so young to share a passion that comes from the soul and joins together in sweet harmony.  And a little bit of that can go a long way.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

If Walls Could Talk

I DO NOT LIKE GROWING OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But I like growing old better than the consequences.  I’ve seen others who are older than I am that seem to have aged gracefully and the more aging I do, the more I respect and even envy their ability to do that.  It just seems to me that the process of keeping it all together takes much more effort than it used to.  The old saying “This barn needs a fresh coat of paint” is implying that covering up the old, the weather-worn and the deteriorating will make it better but there are some things that paint just can’t hide. 

Hagarville Store - Hagarville, AR
I recently visited with the owner of an old building that I was photographing about the struggles he faces in deciding what to do with the place. While he understands the attachment everyone has to it and the memories just driving by it gives us, I sensed that he struggles with the matter of preserving history verses the cost of maintaining such a place and the safety of others if he lets it just sit there and grow older day by day.

If you’ve lived in this area most of your life you understand how passing through Hagarville causes thoughts of years gone by to flood your mind.  But closer inspection will prove as a reminder that time is not always our friend and has a way of changing everything. 
Once a light, now a bird's nest.

 The original Coke-A-Cola signs from the outside have been removed and now the inside only houses discarded items that at one point seemed too good to throw away. 
Inside the Hagarville Store
The boards are rotting, much of the original glass is broken and I questioned the safety of stepping inside.  But there was a pull from somewhere deep inside me that insisted I open the door and look around.   I felt as if I was walking on some sacred ground so I quietly took my pictures and left.  I had hoped to see some sort of nostalgic memorabilia but was told that looters were stripping the place piece by piece so anything of worth had to be removed.  This made me sad.
Ted Lee Store - Horsehead Lake, Clarksville, AR
One of my earliest memories as a child is traveling with my parents on our annual trip to Kansas City, Kansas for Thanksgiving with the Schmatjens (a.k.a. Harpers and Pages).  Those were the days when I was small enough to curl up and sleep in the floor fitting on one side of the hump.   This was also before the days of four lane highways.  Our journey through the mountain roads of Arkansas and Missouri afforded us a stop or two at the small town gas stations for a “fill-up and an empty-out”. 
D & J's (Redlick Store) - Hwy 21, Clarksville, AR
 Most times the price of gas off the beaten path was much cheaper than that found on the well traveled roads.  I can remember the old signs posting a price of gas for $.29 a gallon.  In those days we didn’t think much about what our average miles per gallon were or that gas might be one cent cheaper three blocks down the road.
F.F. King Store - Hwy 103, Clarksville, AR

This week’s photo challenge for me was Vintage Gas Stations so this also became the object of desire for my weekly “Adventures with Ricky”.  I knew of one, maybe two, old stations I wanted to visit but was not sure of their condition.  Our route went from home to “Hunt Town” and back by way of a few stops.  I was amazed at how many gas stations we came across, most no longer in business.  A total of 16 store/stations in all not counting the modern-day stations still in operation.
Argus Jacob's Store - Hunt (Hunt Town), AR
While they were not all photo worthy, I did manage to capture a few shots that, in my opinion, deserve to make it out of my camera and into a frame on my one wall, art gallery at the CHA.

The knowledge I have about these places is very limited.  So I ask that you take a look and if you know any history about these relics PLEASE add it, either as a comment or in a note, so that I may share the stories that would be told if these walls could talk. 

Enjoy the stroll down memory lane… that is, if you are “mature” enough to relate and still have your memory. And about that "growing old" subject, I will try to do it with dignity and grace.  Please remind me of this if I seem to have lost my focus somewhere along the way on this journey call life.

LIFE LESSON:To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

 -A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 -A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
- A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
- A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
- A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
- A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
- A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.  
       Ecclesiastes 3 1-8 KJV