Monday, August 31, 2015

Remembering Princess Diana, and a mutual friend

Just like the rest of the world, I absolutely adored Princess Diana.
And just like the rest of the world, I remember what I was doing the night of that awful news bulletin.

13 years earlier I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of her when I was living outside of London. She was pregnant with Prince Harry and I was pregnant with my daughter. Both of us were mere weeks from delivery. Me, in a tiny hospital 3 hours outside of London. Diana, of course, in the Royal Hospital. That's where the similarities stopped -until many years later when I would become friends with her former Chief of Staff, Patrick Jephson.

Patrick's wife Mary Jo (a very interesting woman in her own right) was a mutual friend of my husband's business partner. It just so happened that I was the chair for an upcoming event with my Capital Speakers Club. This was my second year of chairing this event. The year before I'd hosted designer/tastemaker Carolyne Roehm, so the pressure was on to equal that.

Well, who better to follow up with than Princess Diana's equerry?

Next thing I know, Patrick agreed to be the guest speaker and highlight his service and time with the Princess.
We had planning meetings many times over the course of the next few months leading up to the event.  People always ask me if I have any 'inside scoop' on Princess Diana, and the answer is no. When I first met Patrick, I was too paranoid to ask him anything at all about the late princess. I didn't want him to think I wanted to be friends with him just to find out about her. And second of all? Once I got to know him I simply forgot. He and his wife, Mary Jo are so incredibly interesting I found myself mesmerized by the things they were doing with their life and that's really all I wanted to hear about. (Mary Jo, who incidentally used to work for 2 US Presidents and the Queen of England, is absent from the picture above because she, herself was a guest at Buckingham Palace that night.)
On this night, the 18th anniversary of the Princess' death, I know he feels this loss.
I haven't talked with him since leaving the DC area over a year ago.
It's moments like this that remind you just how short life is. 
I think I'll not let another day pass to send him a note and tell him how much I appreciate him.
Til next time,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Kim Watkins Hogan

It was a few weeks after Thanksgiving 2001. I had just mailed out 150 Christmas cards and even though I'd personally addressed each and every envelope I couldn't tell you the name of one person I'd sent them to.
Except for one:
Kim Watkins Hogan.
Sure enough, about 5 days later my phone rang and I saw her number on my caller I.D.
In the card I'd written that we'd moved to Washington, DC, had survived 9-11, and included my phone number so we could catch up.
I knew she'd call!
"Kathie, this is Ralph, Kim's dad. I just called to tell you that Kim died a few months ago. We wanted to call you but could not find your number."
"Kathie, she really loved you".
When I met Kim I was a newlywed - all of 19 years old. It was my first time away from home and my first time away from friends, family and everything I knew - and my very first real, grown up job.
We both worked at Ruth's, a very popular and expensive department store in downtown Columbus, Mississippi.
I was so completely out of my league.
I was a country girl-tomboy from the Missouri Ozarks and my new colleagues were the most beautiful and glamorous women I'd ever seen in my young life, and believe me - they let me know under no uncertain terms that I was not on their level. Everything about me was fair game for torment. My looks, my clothes and even the old pickup truck I drove. Especially the old truck.
It's safe to say that completely opposite of me,  Kim was probably the most well-liked person at the store.
The store owner, Mr. Bernstein loved her.
Customers and co-workers alike adored her. And as well-dressed and pretty as the other women were - Kim was even more so.
She didn't have that beauty-queen flash that the others had. 
Her beauty was graceful.
Her mannerisms - even simple gestures were quiet and gracious. She had beautiful skin, and a smile so sweet and captivating that she commanded a room without uttering a word. Like the late Princess Diana, she had a way of ducking her head when she smiled. In a word, she was completely charming.  
But more than anything - she was kind.
The way she made me feel about myself when the others made me feel so, so worthless - I'll never forget it as long as I live.
The way she took me under her wing - not caring what the others thought.
We ate lunch and took our breaks together.
Our friendship also extended beyond work, often hanging out and shopping.
She gave me so much confidence that when it was time for me to move on I did so with a sense of adventure.
Even after I left the area we stayed in touch
I continuously sought her approval and advice for many years.
Anytime a major event occurred in my life I called her. She cried with me when I lost my first son. She rejoiced with me when I got my first radio job, and she was proud for me when I won Mrs. Missouri.
We had daughters within a few years apart and we'd compare stories of what they were doing.
I sent pictures of William when he was born.
And I couldn't wait to tell her about my new adventures of being a Washington DC wife.
I looked forward to sharing stories of White House dinners, the Washington Ballet and complaining about the awful beltway traffic.
I always blamed her for my obsession with clothes and makeup and I was excited to show her pictures of what I'd worn to where.
But mostly....I'd looked forward to something that was just not meant to be - growing old with her.
As for the rest of my co-workers from Ruth's?
I never saw nor heard from any of them after I left.
But sometimes their memory creeps in when I witness someone alone in a crowd and obviously uncomfortable.
And that's when my 'inner' Kim kicks in.
Because while I count her friendship as one of life's greatest gifts, I also credit her with my tendency to naturally hone in on that one person in the crowd that is off by themselves, overlooked, ignored and unimportant to others.
And that is the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Who I am....

If you're here because you got this
 then chances are EXTREMELY high that you live in my 'hood...
or that you're my mama, because she collects anything and everything that has my picture on it.
Anyhoo...let's assume that you live in my Texas neighborhood.
Let me start by tellin' you just a bit about myself.
I moved back to Texas after living in the Washington DC metro area where I was a realtor for many years.
(Shout out to my Long and Foster and Coldwell Baker peeps!)
Finally, after 13 years of driving 2 blocks in 3 hours, longing for the sound of birds instead of car horns, big open sky instead of gray, colorless buildings and hoping for at least one 'hello' or a smile at the very least from some one - anyone - that I came in contact with, I went home and told my best friend Sally
'Let's get outta here and go back to Texas.'
So, a month later, I threw a suitcase in the front seat of Little Miss Sunshine (my yellow Mini-Cooper), got Sally situated in the back, and 2 days - voila! We were 'home'.
Now, there are two things I'm pretty good at.
Writing and Real Estate - and not necessarily in that order - and one of those, I guess, it actually depends on who you ask if I'm 'good' or not.
(my fun book)
(my bestseller - great if you like nail-biting suspense)
Because even though I have 4 (almost 5-star ratings) on both novels, some of my critics think I should jump off a bridge and never put pen to paper ever again. And some days I would agree.
My Real Estate Career, however, is another story. I KNOW, without a shadow of a doubt that I'm great at that.
It just comes naturally.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE helping others find their dream home and helping people get what they want.
I just do.
So, every once in a while you'll get these post cards from me.
I've invited y'all to join me here on Hillbilly Debutante. Now, don't worry - it's not 'all real estate all the time'.
No sirree, Bob. We talk about lots of different subjects. It's all very random. You never know what to expect - except one thing.
I have more fun than the law should allow.
Sometimes I share recipes.

A little dollop of sour cream on top of your strawberries sprinkled with brown sugar - I'm tellin' ya - your taste buds will thank me.
Sometimes I talk about my favorite mode of transportation, which is my vintage-style pink bike named "Peggy Sue", and my love of vintage vehicles.

You'll see me pedaling around the neighborhood on any given evening, so if you see me give me a shout-out.
I don't have the Grand Wagoneer yet, so I have to settle for the magnet on my fridge.
I'm also in love with vintage trucks.
Now, don't let this here picture fool ya:
I look like I'd be afraid to work too hard for fear of chipping a nail or breaking a sweat. Nope - you will very seldom see me looking like this.
If I'm not riding 'Peggy Sue' or walking Sally, then you'll very likely see me in boots/jeans.
Here ya' go- see for yourself.
Even if you don't want to buy or sell, but you need the name of a good service provider in the area. I have a list of good plumbers, contractors, inspectors, housekeepers, authors (just kidding) -
And to all my other readers who live across the country who have followed me for the past 10 years, I know you don't want to hear non-stop real estate trends, either.
Don't worry - nothing is really changing.
Mostly, I just wanted to give an introduction as to what we're all about on here.
Stay tuned - we're getting ready to do a little kitchen construction here at Hillbilly Hacienda.
And we're doing it ourselves.
Can Mr. T and Kathie's marriage survive one more project?
Stay tuned!
Until next time

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-sumertime

Bit by bit, and a little at a time, the Hillbilly Hacienda is lookin' better and better. We  Mr. T did a bit of landscaping in the front, and I did my part by placing a few throw pillows on the porch chairs for some color. That was pretty much the extent of my 'help.'

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE to help. But for some reason I never live up to 'you know who's' expectations and then a big fight ensues. I'm not digging deep enough. I'm digging too deep. The plants are too far apart. The plants are too close together. I'm holding the hoe wrong.  I'm sure we're not the first couple fight over an old hoe. (ba-da-boom!)
Okay, let's move around to the back yard, now.

I adore these new 'vintage-style' lawn chairs. I wish I could remember the name of the store where we bought them, because I ALWAYS love to give a shout out to whomever I do business with. It's located on Ross Street in Dallas. Hmmmm....just asked Mr. T and he can't remember either. My daughter knows but it's way too late to call and ask her. Tell ya what....I have to go in town tomorrow and I'll do a drive by and then report back to you.

Anyhoo - Mr. Master Gardener is not going to be happy that I posted his 'bald spot' on the internet, although I really don't know why he should get his panties in a wad. He is building me a wrap-around table around the tree so there is no need to plant grass there, anyway. Besides, these chairs are so darlin' that you probably wouldn't have even noticed this bald patch if I hadn't pointed it out.

 My dining room hasn't been so easy to decorate, but I REALLY lucked out with this white hutch. I was showing farm land to a client last week down in Royse City (about 30 miles south of Dallas) and came upon the cutest little boutique I've ever seen. It's called 'Lyndi's' and it's right there on Main Street. She even delivered it to my house! That creamy white really shows off my Blue Willow china, which just happens to match my curtains.

You can follow 'Lyndi's Boutique' of Royse City on Facebook, as well.  I love her furniture, but she also has really cute cowgirl, prairie style clothing, too. I can tell she is gonna get me in lot's of trouble. Can't wait!
Oh - and guess what? When I gave her my address and told her the name of my house, she knew instantly where it was because she'd driven past and seen THIS:
 Another place I love to haunt is Dot's Consignment in Dallas on Live Oak Street. It's an Awesome (with a capital 'A') place to shop, not only for furniture and home goods, but also vintage clothes/hats/jewelry.

I found this tea/coffee set there for a song. It's silver-plated, but it's
E B Rogers, which is good-quality silver-plate.

 Cardinals add a splash of color to an all blue-white room.
Oh my! I almost forgot. Let's go back to the back yard again.

I think we're not the ONLY ones living here at Hillbilly Hacienda!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Yes, Virginia ....there really IS a Santa Claus

Oops....wrong story.
Yes, Virginia- you CAN still buy a house in the Dallas metro area for under $200,00.
I love this cute, cottage-style home.
But, wait til you see what's inside. Follow me....

 As pristine as can be!
Told ya, so!
However, in this market they are not lasting.
So, make sure you're prepared before you even go out with your realtor. Have your loan lined up before you even get in his/her car. Actually, a good realtor will insist on it the very first thing.
The best thing to do is to ask your realtor for references on a lender. As realtors, we know who can get the job done and get it done on time - which is sssooo important.
(I can not stress enough how important a reputable lender is).
If you're in the Dallas area - or moving here or know someone who is I'd love to work with them.
And yes - this is a shameless plug.
Don't worry - this is not turning into a 'real-estate' blog.
Sure, I'll post about houses every once in a while.
But I'll also still blog about fashion, junking, decorating
Hillbilly Hacienda, and all the wild and crazy trouble I often find myself in - along with the occasional editorial.
In other words, I promise to keep being the predictably unpredictable,random person you've come to know (and hopefully love) the past 10 years.
(Yikes! It's been 10 years already?)
Pinky promise!