09/03/07 - Fountains of Youth – Mostly Nathan as far as the youth goes.  It all started when I purchased a fountain “that works” at a garage sale for only $8.  I was so excited to get such a bargain on an item I had been wanting.  Turns out, the fountain did work per se, but needed some additional help to do that.  Well, we got the thing to run, although its base/container didn’t exactly compliment the way it looked. Then, my boss, Nancy, gave me a gift of a cool (brand new!) fountain (in my favorite color, cobalt blue).  Because I wanted to display its beauty, I thought that the front of my new landscape project would be a perfect place.  In addition, we purchased (at half-price for winter clearance) a two-tiered “rock” fountain that I’ve had my eye on for a couple years (because Nathan’s mom has the same one in her landscape).  The problem with having these fountains in the new landscape is that the new landscape is along the back fence. Luckily for me, my parents recently installed a landscape along their back fence (which is actually why I did mine; because I liked theirs so much), and it has a fountain in it (yes, I have landscape envy).  When we asked my dad how their fountain is powered, he said he made a trench across the yard and ran electricity out to it, and it was controlled by a light switch inside the house next to the back door.  “Ooooooohhh!!! Neat!!! I want that!!!” I say.  Nathan says, “I can do that”.  So, a new project emerged. 


You have to keep in mind that Nathan is an accountant.  There’s no half-way to it.  He dug up a trench from the back porch to the back landscape.  He ran electric cable through several long poles of PVC conduit through the trench and applied PVC glue for water-tight seals.  He set up a post (and spray painted it dark green for camouflage) with multiple electric outlets (with silicone sealant added to any openings not 100% waterproof).  He ran the porch portion of the electric cable through more PVC (and bracketed it to the wall) to where it is controlled by a light switch inside the house (he even used curved pieces where needed throughout the project).  THEN he ran lighting cable across the landscape so I can place lights wherever I choose.  This was all in 2 hot Texas days.  That man was up and at ‘em at 7:30 am to get started.  After all was said and done, he even vacuumed the carpet where it was dirty from going in and out of the house.  Hence, the YOUTH part of the title. All I did was create the landscape, help Nathan where needed, and insert the plants (of course, digging pure clay and rock “soil” and grass out takes a bit of work, so I guess I get a little bit of youth credit, too). 


The end result is the start of a nice new landscape with some beautiful, peaceful fountains. THANK YOU, NATHAN!!!!!

- Susan

09/08/07 - Fall Gallery Night – DeAnna and Sebastian joined us this time for Gallery Night on Camp Bowie.  We haven't had a chance to catch up with them in quite some time (at least since their last trip to Sonoma where they visited several of the same wineries we did).  We had a really good time visiting several of the art galleries.  We marveled at some of the better pieces, mocked much of the overpriced "art", and even found a few goodies (mostly gift-type stuff for friends) to take home.  Most of the galleries had wine available (I assume to help alleviate your anxiety about possibly purchasing some of the art?!?) and many had appetizers (mostly cheese and crackers but one stop had an entire platter of sushi!). 

Before the end of the evening we made a pit-stop at Put a Cork In It to sample the artsy bottles of wine and we eventually made our way towards Bluebonnet circle for dinner at the Mellow Mushroom (pizza joint).  As usual the Fort Worth Gallery Night was lots of fun even if you don't buy any art - it is definitely something to try if you haven't had the opportunity (and they provide two chances each year).

- Nathan

09/14/07 - Symphonie Fantastique  – Susan and I purchased season tickets this year to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.  They are in the upper section (the cheap seats) since I was unsure how much we would enjoy having season tickets - if we have a good time this season I may shoot for some better seats next year.  The first piece, Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor (Op. 102) by Brahms, was quite good and was performed by Alban Gerhardt (Cello) and Augustin Hadelich (Violin).  This was followed by Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.  If you are not sure you have heard this symphony before then try these links for snippets - they may sound familiar:


5th Movement: Clip 1 5th Movement: Clip 2 5th Movement: Clip 3

- Nathan

09/15/07 - Grapefest – September is the month of Grapefest in Grapevine, TX.  It is a cross between an art festival with lots of craft booths and a wine tasting; however, the wine tasting was downplayed this year.  The last time we went to Grapefest there were several Texas booths and an entire international area where you could taste wines from all over the world.  This year there were no such booths - instead there was simply one Texas area where the line was backed up so long that we had no desire to wait in it.  Fortunately the shuttle tour was in operation this year.  We used the shuttle to visit La Buena Vida (also hosting La Bodega & Springtown) and Cross Timbers.  Normally La Bodega is restricted to Terminal A at DWF airport (which makes it extremely difficult to visit since you must be on a flight with extra time on hand).  As such, it was a nice treat to finally be able to sample their wine (which was really pretty good).  Springtown was also available at La Buena Vida, but wasn't anything special (much like La Buena Vida and Cross Timbers - which we have tasted before).  Of course, while at the festival itself, we made a pit stop at Su Vino - our favorite Grapevine winery.  Their wine is still top notch and definitely a worthwhile stop when in the area.  We tried to pick up some wine stemware at a nearby shop but we had really bad timing.  I wanted a specific pair of Schott Zwiesel glasses and the lady standing in line in front of me purchased the last 3 dozen glasses available - bummer :P.   Oh well, the good news is we didn't have to carry around the glasses for the rest of the trip.

All in all we had a good time, but Grapefest was a little bit of a disappointment this year.  I had really been looking forward to it since we missed out last year - I think we may hold off on future visits unless I can find out ahead of time that the wine is going to have a larger role in the festival (this year the big role was music and wine-related crafts).

- Nathan

09/16/07 - Landscape Update – The new landscape in the backyard has been mulched and is looking very serene and colorful.  I snapped some various pictures of the yard this afternoon for your viewing pleasure (and I updated later with some evening shots):


Back Porch Plants - Very Tropical Hibiscus on the Left The Corner Arch with Wisteria
Easterly View of the South Garden Westerly View of the South Garden
Susan's "Bug and Herb" Garden Red Maple - Our First Backyard Tree
Front Walkway Garden - Purple Passion Our Perennial Hibiscus
Fountains at Night Garden Shadows

- Nathan

09/22/07 - Star Party - Jupiter – The Fort Worth Astronomical Society organizes a stargazing party about once a month.  They set up telescopes in the parking lot of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and Nature and point them up towards the night sky in hopes of catching a glimmer of something celestial.  It is surprising how much you can see in the middle of Fort Worth just mere blocks away from the light pollution of downtown.  We viewed a couple of double and triple star clusters, gigantic craters on the moon, Neptune (it was just a small dot), and the ring nebula (barely visible); however, the highlight of the night was Jupiter.

The above picture is an estimate of what we were able to see through a telescope last night.  The image is slightly bigger, but we were able to see the definite disc shape of Jupiter and a few stripes.  The four moons listed above were also visible but looked more light very bright "point of light" stars than "disc of light" moons.  It was an amazing experience for me - I had never before seen Jupiter this close through a telescope.  I'll have to start marking more of these events on my calendar, as there are a lot of other items I have yet to see properly through a telescope.

- Nathan