Design. Build. Adventure. 

I’ve heard there are three ways you can create new brain cells. One is to learn something new. I forgot the other two…

Anyway.

For years I had seen a friend from middle school’s post on his company, Design Build Adventure, and I had always been intrigued.

Here is an example…


I mean… aren’t you intrigued?

I signed up and packed my bags for the high desert of West Texas.

I can’t weld, but I was so excited to learn, and Captain Jack and his crew, Will and Parker, were excellent teachers.

The workshop consisted of consulting with two local artist, Nick and Maryam, who generously have donated part of their land to a playground. It’s called Eastside Playground and you must check it out when traveling through Marfa.

Nick and Maryam wanted a sign for the entrance and a table with benches for kids and parents to sit, play, and gather on.

We had two days to design, build, and make it happen.

The collaboration of the group was magical. Mystical. An experience I’ll never forget.

This is what we made.

Photo credit above to the amazing Nick Terry.

We also made this welcoming sign.


I left with a great sense of satisfaction, although I’m not exactly sure how I contributed other than a willingness to learn and an abundance of enthusiasm for the project.

Thank you Jack and your team, your amazing wife and kiddos, Terry and Maryam, and all who signed up for the class for making this an experience I’ll never forget!

Check out more about Design Build Adventure at http://www.designbuildadventure.com

Kindness of Strangers

During my trip to San Diego and subsequent surprise detour to LA, in March, I had to rely heavily on the kindness of strangers. 

Losing purses and ID’s and having to figure out how to get money wired to get a car took more time and effort than our schedule allowed, and by the time we had made it back safely from LA to San Diego, I had missed my flight back to Dallas. 

I was having anxiety attacks so my friend’s boyfriend took over, called the airline, and rebooked my flight for the next day. 

He also took my phone and plugged in where I needed to go to return the rental car in my Maps, and set an alarm so I would wake up in time. 

I thanked him and said I was turning in for the evening. At 7 pm. 

I was exhausted from what was suppose to be our one day excursion to LA that turned into five days, a trip to Skid Row, lost purses, phones, ID’s, cash, credit cards, sunglasses, which the LAPD now possess, also a different story… 

I was still groggy and tired when the alarm went off, but I drug myself off the couch and got ready. 

I check the time. I needed to get going. 

I gathered my things and instead of making two trips, which would have made sense, I hobbled with all my bags to the rental car. 

I hit “Go” on my Maps and started driving. 

Traffic. 

When I got to the spot to drop off the rental car there were huge “WE’VE MOVED!” signs, but no address as to where they moved too. 

I google. The google address is where I am parked in the rental car. 

I start panicking.

 Shit. 

I could not miss my flight. Again. 

I started driving. And crying. Isn’t that a band? 

Anyway, I pulled into the valet lot, about to give up on making my flight, when I see a woman walking towards my car. 

I rolled down the window and ask for directions. 

She kindly rattled off about 10 minutes worth of information and could tell I was panicking. 

“When is your flight?” She ask. 

“Oh… in about 52 minutes.” 

She looked at me, looked at the car, came around to the drivers side and opened my door. 

“Here, let me drive you, but we gotta hurry, come on,” she gently pushed.

I jumped out and ran to the passenger door thanking her over and over. 

As we drove she assured me to stop saying thank you, that she was proud to see me traveling alone. Then she shared her story with me. 

She was sixty. An adoptive mother of five, and when she was forty, my age, she was going through a divorce and was in Thailand. 

She said her now ex cut off all her cards, her bank accounts, everything, while she was overseas. 

She told me how she had to rely on the kindness of strangers to eat, to bathe, for everything. 

I told her I was divorced and had just come from Skid Row… 

She got me to the rental car place. She came inside with me, got my luggage on my flight. Got me through security, and walked me to my gate. 

I thanked her again. 

“I knew there was a reason I was 20 minutes late to work this morning,” she replied and gave me a hug. 

Thank you San Diego Airport Meredith. You, are an angel. 

Family Reunion

Oh my goodness! It was so good to take the boys and go see their extended cousins and family, they had so much fun, and so did I.


I just wish that one, I had more time with my amazing family, and two, that I had put sunscreen on.

The boys had a blast playing with cousins, swimming in the lake, jumping off the rope swing, sliding down the slip-n-slide, and just hanging out.

I enjoyed recanting old stories and reminding everyone that I was not always the black sheep of the family.

“Remember when all the boys put Granny in the bull pen when she was nine months pregnant to see if she could escape before a bull got her?”

Cause I remembered that story. No one except my parents and uncle remembered that, probably because their lives were most at stake.

One of my cousins worked for the CIA and one worked for the FBI.

I did not achieve such success. But am happy to attend family reunions at their lake houses.

Years ago, when my cousin was ask what he did for the FBI, his sister quipped, “Oh please, he probably just takes the trash out.”

These are other memories of family reunions past…

Getting on the ski boat and whoever was skiing immediately getting drug over to the side of the lake with tons of tree stumps. This was to “show us what you’re made of.”

I started driving the boat at age 8 and still cannot water ski to this day, for fear of dying. I can, however, hang on to a intertube better than most.

We also use to play spoons, sort of the adult version of musical chairs with cards. I remember lamps getting knocked over and elbows thrown in jaws as my elders would dive for spoons, or pretend they had four of a kind. I can only imagine what would have happened had money been at stake.

I remember telling the story of my grandfather learning to drive at age five, and the eldest generation laughing and recanting the stories of their parents also learning to drive at such a young age.

“I remember Buck steering and Bud pushing the peddle down and them driving to the general store!” One cousin remarked as we laughed and recalled other things they would have been thrown in jail for these days.

Thank the lord iPhones were only recently invented. God bless Texas, and God bless family.

Seeing Laura Bush

During the 2004 Republican convention I was lucky enough to score an internship with The Detroit News. Anything my boss, didn’t want to cover, or couldn’t cover because she had something bigger to do, she sent me too.

Everything came in the form of invitations, and she would dump everything out and ask me to pick and choose what I wanted to attend. I scored huge that internship. I got to go to ‘Wednesday Night Live’ hosted by the cast of Saturday Night Live, I got to meet all the greats in news, like the late Tim Russert, who called me ‘Lil Red’ on the convention floor, Anderson Cooper, Larry King… but back to Laura Bush.

Alison (my boss) calls me in a panic saying she can’t attend the Laura Bush luncheon, so I need to drop whatever I am doing, run grab the invite, purchase a tape recorder, and get to The Marriott Times Square in 30 minutes.

In a panic, I grabbed a suit, threw it in my purse, ran down the hall to her room, grabbed the invite, got to the street, hailed a cab and said, “Um, take me to get a tape recorder please.”

He looked at me and ask if I wanted to go to Best Buy or something, and I said, no, I need to be in Times Square in less than 20 minutes.

He said we’d have to stop at one of the highly overpriced shops right by Times Square and I assured him at this point, that was fine.

Remember the days before iphones? This would never happen in 2017.

He pulled over, I ran in, grabbed some highly overpriced horrible tape recorder and hopped back in the cab with 5 minutes to change I wriggled into my suit like I use to change clothes in the third grade and we pulled up to the hotel.

I thanked and paid the cab, and grabbed my media badge out of my purse, and jumped out of the car and started running.

Some guys on the street made some crack about where was I headed so fast, should they alert the media, and I turned around, flashed my badge, and shouted, “I am the media!”

It’s the one and only time I’ve ever been able to do that.

Oh, and then I went and saw Laura Bush speak. She was poised, nice, intelligent, and gave a great speech on education.

I wish I had more information about the speech, but the tape recording was horrible, and nothing could be used. But I can report the lunch was fabulous.

You can read more about my internship and my story about Karl Rove by clicking here.

The Louie Chronicles: Left for Dead

A story from the view of my purse. 

It was summer and my owner and her then husband were traveling with friends to San Francisco and Napa valley. 

Naturally, my owner got on the plane and shoved me under a dirty airplane seat. I tried to avoid old gum and half eaten bags of peanuts. 

We arrived and I was swept through the airport, the rental car line, the grocery store, and a park. 

The whole city smelled like ocean and piss. 

I was drug all over that pisshole of a city that my owner seemed to be enjoying. 

“It’s the crooked street! These are the best oysters!” 

Like, who cares? 

Not uncommon, the owner ended up stopping and talking outside a bar to people on the street. Talking, talking, talking. 

She rummages through me, finds a cigarette, and drops me on the street under a street lamp. 

More talking talking talking, and then, she just walks off. 

Hello? Really? I hold the money. She needs me. Where the fuck did she go? Do these people she was talking to even have homes. Oh God, this city smells. 

Where is she? Where did she go? This is no Aspen. I don’t feel safe. I feel dirty. 

After what seems like days the owner runs up, scoops me up and starts thanking God and digging for the poor wallet. 

“It’s all here!” She exclaims. 

At that moment I knew I nearly escaped death. 

Hotel Ella

Where everybody knows your name… I cannot say enough amazing things about this hotel. It’s… wonderful. The hotel itself is an old mansion in Austin which they have restored and added onto. The staff greet you by name when you arrive, I love all the valet’s but I must say Devon, you are just the best, and because I stay there so much, a couple of the girls who love hearing my stories will actually jump up and down and say, “Ms. Matthews is back, How are you Ms. Matthews?” Megan, Shelbie, Chelsea, you girls rock! 


The pool is outstanding… you feel away from all troubles and worries and any care in the world.


The chandelier  tree/seating area is perfect for working on the lap top, smoking a cigarette, meeting other cool people staying at the hotel, or having a cocktail whipped up for you by one of the fabulous bar tenders at Goodall’s Kitchen, the restaurant on site.


One of my favorite things about this hotel is that they offer free rides from the hotel {you can cab or uber it back}. I think they will take you anywhere within a five-mile radius, but don’t quote me on that. This works perfect for me, because I love to go see my friends play on South Congress, and I’m not going to drive, so I only have to pay for a ride back. So nice.


The other night, no shocker, I was at the Continental Club and… my phone died. Thankfully, they have an ultra hip sister property, Hotel Congress, just up the street. So I just walked up the street, greeted Elliot by name, and ask him to please call me a cab.

“Of course Ms. Matthews! Did your fridge end up working the other night?” He ask.

Good memory… last time I was at the hotel my fridge wasn’t working at Elliot had been sent up and promptly fixed it.

The next morning I was walking out of the hotel and one of the managers stopped me and ask what I did, and ask for the name of my blog. I told him I had just finished up writing the ‘Skid Row’ post and had to get on the road.

“Leaving too soon,” he assured me. “Come back soon, I’m gonna check out your blog!”

So until next time Hotel Ella, the ‘Cheers’ of my world.

*And if you find yourself at The South Congress, look for Andrew at the front desk and Nick at the bar. Nick… who I was about to ask if he remembered me goes, “You’re not still with that Chicago guy are you? Please say no!” The answer was a resounding Hell No. But the Mormon sister wives prevailed!!! More on that in another post.