This is my Dad! A few months ago ( Oct, 14th 2016 ) he turned 80 years old. I wanted to do this post for his Birthday but lots of life kept getting in the way……So here it is now because it is just too important to me not to get this out there……



Wasn’t he the cutest baby?


What’s in the name “Dad”. There are many different ways for daughters (and sons) to name their fathers. I don’t ever remember calling him “Daddy” although I’m sure I did as a child. “Daddy” is fairly common in the south no matter what a your age. “Father? no, I don’t use that name much, not even when talking with others about him. He is simply Dad: Short and sweet, to the point, strong, firm, loving, always there.


July 4th, 2016 Dad has hosted a BBQ for sometimes close to 100 guest for 30 years, currently he has trained my nephew to take over that roll but but is there at the ready when needed

As I reflex  on my life; where I am, the man I married, the way my life looks now, I can see so many things I learned from my dad. I don’t recall long talks or “words of wisdom”. My child hood years didn’t have much time for that, Dad worked more that a few jobs to feed and cloth the 5 little’s in our family. Then in my teens it was me who was busy. Hum, too busy to listen, wondering what I missed? What I didn’t miss and still see today is him “showing up”. He shows his love and taught us life by showing up and doing. He is a “doer” a little slower at 80 but still showing up and caring for others by doing. He is also a man who puts family first.

He learned young to work and do, mowing the yard, helping my Granddad build their house at a ripe old age of 11 or 12. He learned to build, to fix things ,to take care of himself and others. I remember thinking as a child if something is broken “Dad can fix it, right?” All through my life I’ve thought my dad could fix  anything.


Dad is about 10 here, with my Grandmother holding his little brother Charlie. I think the young girl on the ground is a cousin. Side note: My grandmother was quite a looker!


Here Dad is on their horse with My Papaw (his step-dad) and Aunt Carolyn, his sister. See that mower it the back ground? He still claims it was his! He loves to mow!

The one thing I know best of all is my Dad showed up especially when it counted and sometimes when I didn’t even know it.  In his 30’s he learned swim when it became obvious is children loved the water and he had to be sure he was doing his best to protect us. When I was in 5th grade it was his hand I held as a doctor put 53 stitches in my face after a dog tried to bite off my chin. I still remember him teaching me to drive that little truck with a stick shift in the church parking lot. Oh my! (I still prefer a standard and think everyone should learn to drive a stick shift!  And a person can’t text or talk on their phone while driving a standard, just saying!) When I went away to college, my parents would try and come see me preform at the football games.  I never knew they slept in the parking lot of my dorm because it was too late and they were too tired to drive the 4 hours back to Dallas but couldn’t spend the money on a hotel room. There was the time I called home late one night with a completely broken heart. He and Mother were at my door step at first light, (again driving that 4 hours) to move everything I owned into the suburban, help me find an place to live and move me in before driving back home. Oh I could go on…..


As a grandfather (and great grandfather)  continues to show up. Showing up for babies being born, birthday parties, driving across the country for horse shows, basketball games, graduations, cooking BBQ for wedding parties, the list goes on. In a resent difficult time where there was not much we could do but wait, he was there waiting with us.


2011 Dancing at with my dad at my son’s wedding in California, Image by Dane Sanders


I grew up watching my dad give, not just for us but for others. He served his country in the Air National Guard, he served his community through the Scottish Rite Masonic lodge. He spent countless hours raising money and building a play ground at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. I recall hearing someone ask him why he loved and worked so hard for the hospital, is answer “Because I’ve been blessed to not have had a child here and it’s the least I can do” Today he service his God by caring for  a small group of gatherers at a place they call the Mission house.


With my Grandfather at the swearing in of my Uncle Charlie, The Guard was a family affair!

In this time in our lives my talks with him are so precious. When I visit home we often share an early cup of coffee, sharing old stories, talking of dreams , filling him in on what the kids are up to.  I’m particularly fond of the random phone calls I get, just because and with not really any reason at all but just to say hi.


Here at Dad’s Birthday, the Original 7


Then we became this! (sadly missing 3 grandchildren that day)


He has recently started a new project, restoring an little old farm house near one of my sisters. He was sharing with me his dream for that house. A place to provide for he and Mom in the future, a place for family. As you can see above, we are a big group! I see a place to do work he believes is purposeful, because that is who he is, a man that does things.




The Young Bordens

Earlier this year we had this amazing young couple come live in the little upstairs room of The Hatton House for a few months. As you will read farther down they are college friends of Pecos and Katie. Our first though when asked what about them coming through and staying a while on their way to Africa was of course, it would be so good for Pec and Katie to be with their friends who they miss dearly. The truth is, Bobby and I love young people, often being so inspired by there presence.  There might have been a bit of selfishness in wanting them to be here!
I thought I would share a little guest post from Karly and Trevor, you will understand why we were blessed to have them here!
Just before leaving for the Africa

The Honeymooners!

Honeymooning at The Hatton House

My husband and I are compelled to write a review of our time here, but how? Its like signing your friend’s yearbook at the end of the year, and you can’t think of a way to condense all your good times, so you just end up writing “H.A.G.S.” We’ll try, anyway:
My husband and I had a 3-month honeymoon at the Hatton House.
We married in January, and moved into the upper guest room from Santa Barbara, California in February. The option to move to Dripping Springs completely unfolded before us (Texas is fabulous, don’t get me wrong, we just never pictured our transient hearts settling so nicely into hill country). Our values for our first season of marriage included slowness, quietness, comfort, creativity, and in hindsight, I can’t picture a place to better honor these values than the Hatton House.
Most mornings, we woke up, opened the door that faced DorRae’s lavender patch, and climbed back into bed with cups of black tea. On the first morning at the Hatton House, I remember being amazed by the quietness– I could hear birds in the distance flap their wings. And I had the time and space to sit and listen to them move. I couldn’t believe it.
We often started the day with a bike ride or a run on Creek Road’s quiet loop, then found a shady place to read or write by the vegetable garden or at “Rolling in Thyme and Dough”, Dripping Springs’ coffee shop (another initial stunning moment: realizing that coffee shops can successfully operate on “Honor Systems”…)  Sometimes we’d drive into Austin, which is only about half an hour away. We’d bike, visit quirky shops, eat great pizza/fancy burgers/fresh ice cream, listen to live music, and each time we couldn’t wait to be back at our quiet, little house.
Still, in reviewing the Hatton House, I mostly want to rave about DorRae. We’ve been good friends with her son and daughter-in-law for years, so we expected to be treated well, but within the first four days of arriving, DorRae and her family included us in three birthday celebrations, a wedding anniversary, a high school basketball game, and gifted us with tickets to enjoy and play at the Hatton House Concert Series. I would often see DorRae–being the committed gardener that she is– working in her lavender patch with a glass of red wine. This scene lives perfectly in my mind: DorRae is teeming with peace, relaxation, and all-around loveliness. She is host, friend, gardener, photographer, and she simultaneously plays those roles so gracefully. The Hatton House’s atmosphere is a direct reflection of her warm, wise demeanor.
More things that awed us:
The most ideal, quiet roads to bike and run on
The amount of people in Dripping Springs who know and love the Stevens’ (you can’t go anywhere with them without meeting one of their fans.)
The wild flowers
The creek
The horses, chickens, lavender, and the food– oh my, the food. Drool over the pictures and find a way to have a bite of DorRae’s fresh beet salad, or Ribollita, or or basil lasagna or apple crisp one day.
The Hatton House is dreamy and comfortable and kindly asks you to be join its relaxing pace. I’m so grateful that we’– its been monumental for us as individuals and as newlyweds. Thank you again and again and again for your kindness, your warmth, your wisdom, and your friendship.
The Young Bordens


-2 -3 -4

Photo credit: Karly and Trevor Borden
Can you see why we are the ones who were blessed?
You can keep up with Karly and Trevor as they do this life differently by following Karly’s blog and import business   Burnish Imports
Also find Trevor here
Pecos, Katie, Trevor and Karly. Until they meet in Tanzania!

a walk remembered

I first posted this in 2004, with a heavy heart and a loss for words a re-peat seemed a good thing.

We lost our Loving Grandfather, Husband, Dad, Great-Grand father, father-in-law, friend to Alzheimer’s. But Team Cactus will remain ever strong!

This morning I got up early and headed into Austin, by early I mean I watched the sun come up, and it was glorious! I went in to meet some family for the Memory Walk for the Alzheimer’s Association. It was a beautiful morning and beautiful time. I have more than a few family and friends facing this disease in some form. so it was worth the early hour and drive in.

Every since I started the business side of photography and began “working” at it, I found I don’t seem to photograph my life as I once did. Or don’t just go out and photograph for no reason. Lately I’ve been making an effort to change that, so, even though I only had one cup of coffee before leaving the house I managed to grab my camera.

Here are a few from this morning!  Enjoy and remember to make Memories    (and record them!)

Team Cactus
Team Cactus

Love, marriage, friends in North Carolina

Most of my wedding stories start with the bride, this one is a bit different!

I start this one with the groom Jared!

This is Pecos, one of the best men!

I’ve known Jared since he was in 7th or 8th grade, perhaps longer, but it  was around then he and my son became friends. Through their school years in Dripping Spring, they were close to inseparable and attending college on opposite coast lines never weakened their bond.

I can’t even begin to tell you of their countless adventures, church camps, mission trips, tennis tournaments, Young Life, camping, surfing, rock climbing, road trips, camp councilors, Costa Rica., double dates, and heart breaks…… It goes on and on, all the while growing, supporting and challenging each other in matters of the heart, their walk with Jesus and becoming amazing young men.  Iron sharpening iron. (But is another story)

The rest of the Drippin Crew!

Last month Jared joined with a new partner on the adventure of a life time when he married Lizzy.

So Beautiful

I was more than honored to be asked to photograph their wedding. I was blessed to say the least.

Yep,this is me

Here are just a few  favorites

Perfect day at Shady Wagon

Proof Jared giggled!

I don’t normally include images of my self , but had to laugh at this one!

I didn’t know it would be so hard to get a 4 year old to jump!

As you can see, I didn’t.

It was an amazing day full of grace and love. Click here to view a little video of rest of the day

Best Day Ever 2010 Colin’s Hope


I found out about Colin’s Hope when Ana , our daughter, was working for Ian Crocker (Olympic Swimmer). You can read for yourself the story of why and how this non-profit was formed but here is the short story: A very loving family lost their 4-year-old son Colin in a drowning accident. Their journey through grief and pain, trying to understand with faith, led them where are they are today. They soon found out many children die from drowning and knew they had been called to do what they could to change that. Please check out the site.

Each year they host The Colin’s Hope Kids Triathlon. What a great event. Kids swimming, biking, running. Parents cheering them on.

I think they have opened registration for this years event so again, for participation and volunteers  check out their site. What a great way for you and your kids to have a “Best Day” and give back at the same time.

Click below to view the  video I put together from last years event.

Best Day Ever 2010.

time to catch up…..

It’s getting into late October, where is the time going? The past several months have been so full. Full of family, work, stress, fun, work, gardening, work……and obviously not bogging. I have a lot of catching up to do, so here it goes.

I’ll start with what I call  “my empty nest” project although the dream started long before my to 2 chicks flew the coop! I’ve been a gardener for many years and loved eating out of yard. (Some years more productive than others) As I continued to read and learn about living a somewhat sustainable life, started asking for a chicken coop so I could have chickens and therefore fresh eggs!

Bobby being the wonderful husband that he is and gives me almost every thing I ask for. (I have to be careful what I ask for but another story for another time) Gave me these for Christmas a few years back!

I love them! They look great in my garden and the raccoons have yet to eat them!

Jump to this past spring. Both Ana and Pecos out of college, starting real jobs and packing up to move out on their own. Humm…a very real and very “Empty Nest” But before Pecos moved back to California to work  build houses he promised he would build my coop. A good starter project! That he did with the help of a few friends.

Migrant workers!

The Chicken condo!

A few weeks later we moved our first group of chickens in. We opted for adopting slightly older chicks instead of new borns.

Neighborhood welcome committee

"is this our new home?"

" Look girls, we have a mirror in our room! Arn't we pretty?"

We may need another water fountain, please!

So now I have chicks and a not so empty nest! Just as so many have told me, they are so fun and each has a little personality all it’s own. I hope you will stay tuned for adventures in the garden! I’ll let you know when we have eggs!