I had the opportunity today to try a restaurant for the first time, an experience I always enjoy. I joined Greg and his cousins, Pam and Linda, at Boneheads in Bentonville, AR, for an early dinner.
I was intrigued. This franchise, with 14 locations scattered primarily throughout the South, features grilled fish and something called piri piri chicken.
Piri piri is a small pepper that grows in Angola, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the tropical forests of South Sudan and the highlands of Ethiopia. It was brought to India by the Portuguese.
This spicy pepper is the foundational ingredient in piri piri sauce, which also contains lemon juice, vinegar, oil, citrus peel, onion and a variety of herbs and spices. Boneheads marinates chicken in the sauce, and uses it as a base for other sauces.
There was another piece of fish on this plate and more fries. I forgot to take a pic before I started eating.
I ordered the fish and chips, getting perfectly seasoned sweet potato fries rather than regular fries. We had several choices among the bottles of piri piri sauce on the table. I sampled the medium heat sauce. It was a delicious accompaniment to the tasty fish! Greg also had fish and chips, while Pam and Linda tried the shrimp and chicken.
We had a leisurely dinner with these pretty girls, catching up on news and families. Linda lives in Illinois, so it is great to connect when she’s in Arkansas for a visit. Although I see Pam more often, it’s always wonderful to see her too! They graciously allowed their picture to be taken, to capture the moment. It’s a good thing the restaurant wasn’t busy with their dinner crowd yet, as we got the giggles during the impromptu photo shoot.
I highly recommend Boneheads, with their bright and clean interior and festive atmosphere. I look forward to sampling their grilled mahi mahi or the piri piri chicken on another visit. And I look forward to another cheery meal with Pam and Linda. Let’s get together again soon.
While in Arkansas today, Greg and I went with the flow, opening to the possibilities that the journey offered. We took care of a couple of items that needed doing and then surrendered to the day.
One scheduled event was to meet Greg’s cousin for lunch in Bella Vista, in between her morning and afternoon work appointments. Pam suggested Chen’s Garden, a Chinese buffet style restaurant.
We had an enjoyable meal, dining and chatting and laughing. I tried items from the buffet that I’ve not sampled before, such as a dumpling, vegetable egg fu-yang, crisp green beans and peppered chicken. It was all delicious and fun to catch up with Pam.
After lunch and necessities were completed, Greg suggested a drive to the beautiful Crystal Bridges Musuem of American Art, located in Bentonville, AR. It has been almost two years since I last visited the museum complex, walking the trails through the woods for a first. The museum recently acquired a Frank Lloyd Wright house, that was meticulously disassembled in New Jersey and carefully relocated to Arkansas. I longed for a peek at this unique home.
We discovered upon arrival at the museum that there were no tickets available until late in the afternoon, to tour the inside of the house. The day was gorgeous, with sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s. This gift of a beautiful January day had brought an abundance of visitors to the museum. No worries though. We were told we could walk around the house.
Known as the Bachman-Wilson House, this structure, built in 1954 along the Millstone River in New Jersey, is one of Wright’s Usonian homes. Designed to be affordable for the average middle class family, the name for these houses is derived from “United States of North America”. There were approximately 120 Usonian houses built.
During his career, Frank Lloyd Wright sought to create a new style of architecture that expressed uniquely American character. Referred to as “organic architecture “, Wright’s structures were integrated with their environment. Each has strong horizontal elements, emphasizing the building’s connection to the ground, and large windows to allow for natural light and open views to the outdoors.
I loved walking through the museum, which is an experience in itself, and along the trail outdoors to the house. The home has been beautifully restored and it is now preserved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. I especially liked the liberal use of wood and the many windows. We sat for a time on a nearby park bench, savoring the spring-like day and the beauty around us.
Next time, I will plan ahead and secure a ticket, which is free, and wander through the interior of the Bachman-Wilson home. However, I was perfectly content with the way the afternoon unfolded today, and the leisurely stroll in the sunshine. It was, indeed, a gift.
After a pleasant and lengthy visit with Greg’s dad in Decatur, AR today, Greg and I hopped over to Rogers, AR to browse in a Barnes & Noble. We enjoy this bookstore and Joplin doesn’t have one. Today, however, we were passing time as we waited for two awesome people to join us for dinner at a nearby restaurant.
It has been fun having Greg’s cousin Pam and her husband Jay living in NW Arkansas. In the past year, especially, we’ve had opportunity to get together often, and it is always fun.
This evening we sat down to share a meal at another place that Joplin doesn’t have…yet…a Chili’s Grill & Bar. Featuring Tex-Mex food, this restaurant is a casual dining franchise based out of Texas. The food and service were excellent.
It was the company that was most excellent though. I enjoyed catching up with Pam and Jay. We chatted about work and our families, laughed as we shared stories, debated over dinner selections. Pam stayed with her traditional favorite…chicken strips. The rest of us dined on chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce, lime rice and black beans. Delicious and huge portions.
It was a great evening, eating together, before Greg and I headed back to Joplin. I really appreciate Pam. I’ve known her since I was a teenager, and she’s not only a friend…I consider her family too. She’s fun with a great sense of humor and shows kindness, concern and compassion toward others. I’ve only known Jay for a short time, but his quiet steadfastness complements Pam perfectly, and he too has a great heart, open and accepting toward others.
For Greg, whose only sibling, Ray, passed 13 years ago, Pam is like the sister he never had. With only his father remaining, in his original familial group, it has been important for Greg to reconnect with his cousins: Pam, her sister Linda and brothers Mark and Tim, and their children and grandchildren. Family is important. Family is vital. There’s not only a shared heritage but shared stories and a shared past as well.
It’s a bonus when you all like each other and enjoy spending time together! Here’s to many more lunches, dinners and opportunities to hang out.
Today I attended a wonderful event in Arkansas, for the first time, the Vintage Market Days of NW Arkansas. Accompanied by Greg, and daughters Elissa and Adriel, we ventured into the fairgrounds in Bentonville to try out this open air market. Actually, the vintage market was located in the livestock building at the fairgrounds, with additional booths set up in a large tent outside. Even more booths were clustered near the entrance to the building. We had the pleasure of meeting Greg’s cousin Pam there, along with her daughter Charity and grandson Braeden.
Pam and Braeden
In my family, we enjoy hunting for treasures at flea markets, junk stores and vintage shows. I wasn’t sure what to expect, this being our first visit to the Vintage Market. We loved it! The livestock building was transformed into a bustling market with many, many booths filled with all kinds of wonderful vintage items, painted furniture, metal pieces, fabric, artwork and jewelry. We spent a leisurely morning and early afternoon browsing and exclaiming over finds and deciding what to buy and what to leave behind.
…because my photos were full of people and looked like this:
Outside there were marvelous food vendors, selling everything from cinnamon roasted nuts to stir fry vegetables with rice or noodles and chicken to beans and cornbread to ribs. For kids there were corndogs and sandwiches as well. We took a much deserved break to rest for a bit and have lunch. Well, two of us ate healthy lunches. Two in our party ate giant shortbread cookies with icing on them! I won’t name any names. Pam, Charity and Braeden finished their meals before we got started, so I can’t vouch for the healthiness of what they consumed!
Beautiful and tasty cookies…or so I was told 🙂
I saw so many unique items, different from some of the shows I’ve attended in the Joplin area. That’s the benefit of attending different shows in different areas. I did run into Joplin friends at the market and recognized several businesses from here as well, set up in booths. We had a wonderful time. The girls each made purchases and I found a large metal tray or box. I’m not sure if I’ll use it indoors to hold collectibles or plant flowers in it out in the garden.
Adriel and Elissa
The girls found a baby pig…fortunately, she was NOT for sale.
Surprisingly, the booth we spent the most time in sold canvas prints and bookmarks with whimsical artwork on them and inspirational sayings. We spied a canvas that seemed ideal for a nursery or child’s room and then saw an amazing assortment of sayings and artwork. We started in the first bin and sorted through every piece. I bought a stretched canvas print and two loose canvas prints and a variety of oversized bookmarks.
I love the larger piece that says, “Blessed are the gypsies, the makers of music, the artists, writers, dreamers of dreams, wanderers and vagabonds, children and misfits: for they teach us to see the world through beautiful eyes.” That one will hang in my creative space, near my writing table. The booth was Bless This Earth, owned by Jason and Natalia Ramsey, out of Texas. Their booth was an oasis in the midst of vintage items and collectibles and we smiled, laughed and even teared up over many of the works of art.
We decided we will definitely attend the Vintage Market Days of NW Arkansas again next year….and bring a truck instead of a car. This is a three day event, and I can see the advantage of attending on multiple days. The booths restock overnight, with fresh items. There was so much to see, and so many people filling the building, that I am sure we did not see it all. Still, I enjoyed chatting and looking, spending time with Pam, Charity and Braeden, and tossing around creative ideas with Greg, Elissa and Adriel. Great show, Vintage Market of NW Arkansas. See you next year!
Today’s journey was all about celebrating a man with a beautiful soul, as Greg’s dad turned 94. I have known Bob Moore since I was 16 years old, and I have never met a more kind-hearted, compassionate man, nor one filled with more mirth and mischievousness. Born in 1921, he has lived a full life, serving as a young man in the United States Navy, marrying his sweetheart, raising two sons. He owned and operated a hamburger and barbeque drive-in in Noel, MO, that drew hungry patrons from three states, and later took to the air as a private pilot for Peterson Industries in Decatur, AR. He has been an amazing and loving Papa to my three children.
The first time I met Greg’s dad, I was a shy 16 year old, invited to Sunday dinner at their home. I was surprised to find Bob cooking our sumptuous meal alongside Greg’s mom, Leta. I was seated next to Bob at the dining room table, enjoying that meal, when I noticed this jovial man had a dab of mashed potatoes on his cheek. I was too embarrassed to mention this fact, and tried to look anywhere but his cheek when he spoke to me. At last, Greg’s mom noticed the glob of potatoes, and admonished him to wipe his face. Suddenly those bright blue eyes looked straight at me, as he grabbed his napkin, and he asked, “Did you sling potatoes onto my face?” I was mortified! I know I blushed and stammered a denial. Then his eyes crinkled up and he laughed. He was teasing me. I laughed too, relieved. And all my feelings of shyness melted away.
Bob while in the navy. His bride Leta and friends in the background.
Bob has been a second father to me. He taught me about being good-natured when faced with the inevitable, as when I begged him to let me buy a fishing license on the way to the lake. He didn’t think it was necessary, no one was ever checked….and paid my fine with a smile when the game warden headed straight to our fishing boat in the middle of Beaver Lake. I learned from him how to bait a hook and fillet the fish I caught. He taught me about not sweating the small stuff when I borrowed his car and put a scratch the length of his Pontiac down one side. I learned to trust, flying with him in a small plane, with my two babies aboard, through thunderstorms over Texas. He taught me about generosity and not keeping score, as he helped those in his community without any expectation of return. And playfulness as he crawled on the floor with his grandkids.
Most of all, he has taught me about love and sacrifice, tenderness and faithfulness as I watched him care for his wife of 50 plus years as Alzheimer’s slowly robbed him of the woman he had loved for so long. He kept her home with him, and was at her side, holding her hand, when she slipped away. Three years later, he brought his elder son home and cared for him as well as cancer snuffed out his life. Caring is not a big enough word for this man. He knows the value of investing deeply in the lives of others, checking on elderly friends, driving a former boss around for hours to ease his restlessness, responding to calls in the middle of the night when his 97 year old neighbor woke up confused, taking care of his remaining family. He never lost his joy, his sense of humor. Even now, as he walks in the twilight years of his life, he jokes and teases, and his blue eyes, which are dimmer now, still crinkle up when he smiles.
That was a lot of pie…
Today Greg and I, and Greg’s cousin Pam, met at Bob’s house and took him to lunch. We laughed together and chatted as we enjoyed catfish dinners. Although his short-term memory is a little faulty, he easily remembers stories from his youth, and shared some of those tales with us this afternoon. Back at home, we had birthday pie, a decadent chocolate cream from Big R’s in Joplin. Although he protested over the size of his slice of pie, he ate every bite. At 94, he is independent, some might even say stubborn, and reluctant to accept help. However, his generosity knows no bounds. I’m still learning from this man…to live each day, to not complain, to find the good in the situation and see the best in people. From watching him, I’m learning how to age well and when it is time, approach death with calm dignity and grace.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature. But beautiful old people are works of art.” Bob Moore is a work of art, a lifetime of joys and sorrows, triumphs and challenges overcome, woven together into a marvelous, beautiful tapestry of a life well lived, and shared, without holding back, without regret. I love you, Dad Moore. I am grateful for you, your wisdom, the love you have showered on me, and for journeying with me, from an insecure young woman who didn’t know who she was, to a mature woman with grandchildren of her own, who knows exactly who she is. Happy, happy birthday, dear man.
Cousin Linda is preparing to fly home to Illinois, and that was a good reason to meet up one more time in AR to say “Until next time…”. Greg and I met Pam and Linda at Pam’s pretty home in Bella Vista. Together we traveled to the historic downtown Rogers, AR, for a fun meal at The Rail – A Pizza Company, and a first for me.
The Rail, located at 218 S. First Street, is one of the hot spots in downtown Rogers. Housed in an older building with exposed brick walls inside, this is a cool place to gather for pizza, wings, cold drinks and dinner with friends. Or cousins, in my case. I love these historic buildings with their long narrow interiors. We slid into a booth and perused menus, conveniently located on the table.
Our waiter was friendly and attentive. He kept our drinks filled and answered any questions we had. We ordered a cheeseburger pizza and The Alfred, a pizza featuring chicken, onions, mushroom and Italian sausage with an alfredo sauce. Both choices were excellent. The cheeseburger pizza even had dill pickles and mustard on it. Our barbeque wings were a great start to the meal. The wings were pleasantly crispy with a tangy and sweet mild sauce.
We arrived early for dinner and we were fortunate to do so. The tables and booths very quickly filled up. There was a festive, chatty atmosphere as people sampled an assortment of cold beer and soda and chowed down on pizza. We had our own little party going on at our booth, as we shared pizza, chatted and laughed.
Pam introduced me to a new use for those left over crusts of pizza. Each table or booth had a bottle of honey present. She instructed us to save our crusts and dribble honey over them for a simple dessert. Another first! I had never seen this done before, at any of the pizza establishments I’ve been in. After letting my dinner settle for a few minutes, I tried a honeyed pizza crust. It was delicious and just the right finishing touch to our meal. This is a suggestion every pizza place could adopt!
We drove around downtown Rogers before heading back to Pam’s house. There were many cute and interesting shops to explore at another time. As the sun set, Pam directed us home via scenic back roads. NW Arkansas really is beautiful, well deserving of the nickname, The Natural State. I didn’t realize, until this evening that Bella Vista has several small but deep lakes in the area. We drove by two and I appreciated their peacefulness and beauty.
It’s been fun to spend time with Greg’s cousins the past few weeks. I enjoyed the holiday at the lake house near Lawrence KS and the excursions in NW Arkansas. And of course, it is the connections with people that makes these times memorable. I hope to see Linda, Tim and Mark, and their spouses and families, again soon. And Pam and her husband Jay, I’ve discovered, are a mere 40 minutes away down I-49. I intend to see them often. So it’s not goodbye. It really is see you later.
I had a change in plans today and headed to the Natural State, Arkansas. Greg’s dad lives in Decatur and Greg had not been able to reach him by phone. Being that his dad is 93 years old and only has a land line, that was cause for concern. Thankfully, the phone line was malfunctioning and a call to the phone company resulted in the eventual correction of that problem. Greg and I were able to spend time with his dad, who wasn’t feeling well. Or as he put it, “Sometimes I think I’m getting old, and sometimes I know I am. Today, I feel old!” After a long and full life, he is feeling weary, at a very deep level. I’m surrounding him with love and light and gentle energy.
After leaving Decatur, I went in search of a first for the day! Greg’s cousin, Pam, and her husband, Jay, now live in Bella Vista, AR. I had not seen Pam for at least 13 years! And I had not met her husband. So while cruising toward Bella Vista, waiting for Pam to become available to meet, I spied with my little eyes….a garden center in Bentonville!
Some people can’t pass up a shoe store or drive past a Starbucks without stopping. For me, especially this time of year, this is true for garden centers. Bogle’s Garden City, located at 2105 S Walton Blvd in Bentonville, AR, was so fun to explore! With its attached greenhouses, it is much larger than it looks from the outside. I was searching for ornamental grasses, but I enjoyed wandering up and down the aisles and strolling down the pathways, looking at everything. I was impressed with the selection of plants, trees, shrubs and flowers, and I found the varieties of grasses that I was looking for! I want to spend time in Joplin this week, checking out our local garden centers, however, it was great to discover Bogle’s Garden City and know it is only a short distance away.
Pam and Jay live in a lovely town right on the Arkansas/Missouri state line. It was great to see Pam again and meet Jay! We toured their beautiful home and stood on the back deck, as thunder rumbled overhead and the first fat raindrops began to fall, and discussed gardening and transforming backyards into sanctuaries. We left the house to visit the Mildred Cooper Memorial Chapel, but en route, the gentle rain became a torrential downpour, accompanied by lightning, thunder and briefly, small diameter hail. We scratched that first for today, and regrouped at Las Fajitas, a Mexican Grill, located at 42 Sugar Creek Center in Bella Vista. Another first, as this was a new restaurant for me.
We shared a great dinner and lively conversation as we caught up on each other’s lives and families and as I got to know Jay. I first met Pam and her sister and brothers years and years ago, when Greg and I were dating. Greg’s dad and Pam’s dad are brothers and the whole extended family used to gather for Christmas or a summer meal at Grandpa and Grandma Moore’s house on the creek in Noel, MO. We laughed over old stories and shared new ones. I always enjoyed being around Pam and her siblings and parents and I admired their obvious closeness as a family. It is amazing that we all have grown or nearly grown children and precious grandchildren now! Sitting there chatting over a cozy meal, it didn’t seem possible that so many years had passed. I don’t intend to let much time pass before getting together again. There are flea markets to explore in Bella Vista and the beautiful chapel to see.
I’m learning not to be concerned about finding firsts, but to relax into the experience, trusting that as my daily journey is unfolding, the first will be there, or as today proved, the firsts! Let the adventure continue….