This past year has been a pretty amazing year. One that has gone almost completely without documentation in my blog. With the next few posts, I’m going to try to alter that by taking a look back at the best parts of 2013.


Long distance friends. Having moved 20+ hours away from people that we’ve known and loved for the past ten years, I wondered if I would be able to maintain the friendships that I formed in West Chester, PA.

As ridiculous as it seems writing this, I do give a lot of credit to Facebook for making me feel connected with many of those people. Witnessing the big moments – and many of the not so big moments – of their lives. Since Facebook wasn’t around when we moved away from Dallas, there is a marked difference I my ability to keep up with work friends from QVC as compared to JCPenney.  Once I truly appreciated this, I went back and connected with many more Dallas friends as well.

Good friends

But Facebook isn’t a substitute for seeing friends face to face, and I am so grateful for getting to see our dear friends, Pam and Jed twice this past year. They were the first friends to make the trek to visit us here in NW Arkansas. And we were lucky enough to spend some time with them at the beach this fall.

A glimmering ocean

Morning sun on the grasses

Sun rising over the pond

Here’s to good friends. May we never take them for granted.

Canoeing on Salt Pond

It’s so hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since my last blog post. Well, my last post to my blog, that is.

Despite my efforts to discipline myself with a serial kind of post to share good things that are happening around us, I got caught up instead in helping others get their own blogs up and going.

Upstream Matters Blog

The blog I’ve been most involved with is called “Upstream Matters”. It is a blog for connecting the residents of the Illinois River Watershed, and sharing ways to cherish our rivers, lakes and streams and to protect and restore them for future generations.

One of the most amazing projects that they are undertaking is to create a preserve-like area on thirty plus acres. With its 6 acre lake, fresh springs, and natural woodlands, they can build a microcosm of sorts to help educate people about watershed management.

I had the opportunity to write a post for them this fall about this very special place… I’d like to share it here, so it can be a part of my history as well.


A New Chapter for the Lake at a Cave Springs

Tucked away in the urban headwaters of the Illinois River Watershed in the middle of Cave Springs, Arkansas is a six-acre lake, nestled in 24 acres of woods and fed by a fresh spring. Today, most people know the Lake at Cave Springs only from the glimpse through a chain link fence that they drive past on their morning commute, or in their rush to the airport.

Morning sun on the lake at Cave Springs

But there is much more to the lake than the partial view from Highway 112 can reveal. The Lake at Cave Springs has both a rich history and an inspired future.

Water wheel and water flow

The Lake at Cave Springs held an important place in the history of this community and region. In years past, it housed a fish hatchery and the springs were the source of drinking water for the area. The cool springs provided a retreat from the summer heat.

It was place where families spent the day together as families. Teaching their kids to fish and swim, spreading out a picnic supper, taking a stroll, and catching up with the neighbors.

Fish Runs

The Illinois River Watershed Partnership and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have a master plan to restore the lake to be a place where families and nature lovers can gather once again. To learn about with the wildlife, land and waters of our watershed. To fish and to canoe. To explore and to relax.

The Lake at Cave Springs

The transformation of the lake will begin over the coming months. Trails and nature walks will educate explorers about the natural wildlife and vegetation. Award winning architects will be constructing outdoor learning facilities, trails, a fishing boardwalk and pier.

Removal of the trout raceways to rehabilitate and restore that portion of the lake and the stream feeding the lake to a more natural state will utilize Low Impact Development (LID) methods and serve as a regional watershed education and demonstration project.

Experiential activities will engage participants in techniques to preserve, protect and restore this beautiful watershed in which we live.

Sun on the Lake

In a few weeks, the restoration process will begin with the draining of the lake. And in upcoming months, you’ll see the lake of the future unfolding. While we begin to see the vision for the lake take shape, we will also take a look at its rich history, though a series of “Throwback Thursdays” posts.

View of the Lake from Hwy 112

But just for now — in these few images — we can enjoy the lake as we know it today and appreciate the hidden beauty amongst us.


Click here to view the post in its original setting, and to browse the many interesting posts that the IRWP has produced!

Good Friday…

Give Yourself a Pep Talk

Today, choose the road less traveled… the road that leads to Awesome.  Just the kind of pep talk that most of us need.  From an upbeat ‘Kid President’ who will inspire you more that you want to admit.

An article on Today News provides a little insight into this kid who thinks “boring” is our downfall.   (more…)

How is it that I am in my 50’s and just learning how to clean a house? I admit it, I have been spoiled. I put in lots of hours at work, and was fortunate to have a spouse that was happy to stay home and take care of me… and of the house. (more…)

Good Friday…

If you’re like me, Groupon is one of many eager emails that begs for your attention in your inbox each morning.  I’ve participated in one or two good deals, but more typically take a quick look and then hit “delete”.

Thanks to TechCrunch’s The Weekly Good, I learned that Groupon has a program called “Grassroots“.  Their mission is to make it easy for people to do good in their communities.   You can read TechCrunch’s interview with Groupon’s Head of Social Innovation, Patty Huber Morrissey and see it explained in a video here.

Nice to see Groupon using their reach in a positive way, increasing awareness for good causes.  The campaigns they support vary widely.  Anyone can submit one, and if enough people support it (the “tipping point”), the cause receives 100% of the money collected.  Groupon even pays the credit card transaction fees.   Most of the campaigns are asking for $15-20 donations.  If the project doesn’t reach the tipping point, the supporters credit cards are not charged.

Pretty cool.  They state that over 1200 campaigns have raised $4,4 Million from almost 200,000 supporters nationwide.

Here’s an example of one of a recent campaign that raised money to provide a home for Bison in the Grasslands of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

Groupon Grassroots

So, next time you skim through that Groupon email, take an extra moment to check out the grassroots projects as well.  Or download their free App.  They are often supporting projects right in your own community!