Saturday, August 30, 2014

Road Trip Again-This Time Stop At Revival

Another good destination on Hwy 71, this time at Bee Cave, Texas, is Revival, a shop I am not sure how to describe, but a place loaded with all kinds of different ideas and interesting stuff.

Yes, I know stuff is not a good descriptive word, but that’s what they have-stuff. All kinds of things: furniture, doors, antiques, re-purposed items, plants, an interior design studio, fabric, wallpaper, old wood, chickens, playhouses, toys, jewelry, chalk paint, DIY classes. a pot-bellied pig.

All this stuff is to provide the conscious consumer with authentic, quality products that simplify the consumer’s ability to consume sustainably while being aware of the product’s impact on community, environment, and future generations. I lifted all this information from the Revival Overview sent to me by owner David Camp, who is passionate about his mission to make this kind of shopping available to the growing population of the Lake Travis/Austin/Bee Cave area. To grossly oversimplify, I think Revival provides a way to shop green, if you will.

I caught David hard at work on signs the day I visited.

But all that noble and heartfelt effort to become the Whole Foods of the furniture and home decor field aside, it’s a fun place to shop! David and his wife Tara opened Revival in November of 2010 with a vision of providing diverse home-related products and sources for the conscientious shopper. I can remember stopping by after they first opened and being impressed with the variety of unusual items they had amassed and clustered under the big oak tree. And they continue to gather and expand their inventory while  enlarging on the Revival shopping experience. More buildings are planned for independent vendors and an old, architecturally significant Baptist church is being moved from Middletown, Ohio, and reconstructed stone by stone as I write this.

Shirley Cameron was busy repurposing some china tea cups as pots for succulents; the finished products are to be used as bridesmaid’s gifts.

Architecturally interesting doors and furniture are big items scattered all about:
Kids and patrons are free to wander about in the courtyard.
The design studio:

Various merchandise inside the building:


Hamlet, the pig I mentioned, pretty much has the run of the place, but he also has his own living quarters here in this trailer.
He also gets lots of attention from the kids, shown here with one of David and Tara’s daughters, accessorizing his looks with these snappy sunglasses, a must for every well-dressed pig.

So when you are in the market for what David Camp calls real stuff-old things. new, things found in a barn, repurposed goods, vintage antiques, one of a kind items, head to 13308 Hwy 71 in Bee Cave, go past all the fancy Galleria stores, go down the hill, and turn right into Revival.
Say hi to Hamlet. You can’t miss him.

For a more in-depth look at what Revival has to offer, their website is  and the phone number is 512-263-4182.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Road Trip-The Living Desert Ranch

If you are in the Austin area, like I was this past week, or not even close but just need a destination for a road trip, or have a burning desire to add to your cactus collection, I would suggest Living Desert Ranch in Spicewood, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Austin west on Hwy 71. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I have frequented the Living Desert for more years than I can remember, dating back to the original location in Bee Cave, down the road from the new location in Spicewood, and always enjoy my stops there to buy yet more cactus that I really don’t need and to visit with Darrell Dunten, the owner. Darrell and his wife Yvonne, started the business in 1978 after moving to the Lake Travis area and trading a 9 to 5 job for one, as Darrell put it, that is eight days a week!

This is the original location. I took this right after he had to move. Now there is some ugly concrete and brick car lube place there, and they cut down all the trees! What a waste.
You will  have to be on the look-out and ready to turn at 22701 Hwy 71 into the new Living Desert Ranch. The greenhouse sits back on the property away from the busy highway, and that is a pleasant change from being right up on the highway  like before.

I asked Darrell if they ever regretted making the change, and he shook his head no. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do-take something we love and turn it into our occupation? And he did, enjoying the geometrically-designed plants that can endure a harsh environment that reward the faithful with beautiful flowers.


Darrell is also an artist who can create beautiful paintings, but he also uses that talent to create glass and metal sculptures for the garden, and uses glass pieces as hardscape touches with cactus plantings.


Things have changed for Darrell: he lost his wife Yvonne to ALS in 2010; his son Jared was left a paraplegic from a tragic swimming accident; the business made the move from Bee Cave to Spicewood. But life goes on, and the Living Desert continues.



His son Jared, his wife Kimberly, and their twin sons Levi and Asher, live on the grounds of the Living Desert, and Jared has further developed his own artistic talent in spite of his paralysis and has his art gallery open at the Living Desert. Darrell has a new love in his life, DeAnna Lynn, and the Living Desert has diversified from being just a cact5us nursery, also offering itself as a destination for corporate meetings, wedding, reunions, overnight stays, and other occasions.

Jared now paints with his mouth and produces lovely pieces, like the one below.


Even if you think you aren’t a cactus and succulent fan, the Living Desert is still an interesting stop with lots of things to see, art to appreciate,  and ideas to offer for your landscaping.


And who knows? You might even find out you like cactus after all.


For more information and pictures of the Living Desert, check out my cactus blog at

Monday, August 4, 2014

Requiescat For The Little Woodpecker


The cottonwood tree had been sick for years; this year Bill finally cut it down. He cut the trunk into two and three-foot pieces for me to use on the borders of my walk path and in the cactus bed. As I was poking through the pile of short logs for just the right one to finish the redo on the bed under the pinion pines, I came across the section that had a nice round hole in it, made and used by a woodpecker family for several years. I’m not sure what kind of woodpeckers they were, but we rather enjoyed listening to the rat-a-tat-tat when the birds were in residence at the old tree.

I don’t remember hearing or seeing the woodpeckers much, if at all, last year, and since their tree is no longer standing, I haven’t seen them this year, either. I felt a bit guilty when we cut down the tree, knowing they had a nest there, but thought surely they could make another one in another tree. Bill said he had heard and seen them, so I would like to think they fashioned another home close by.

But when I picked up the log with their nest in it, I was curious as to how they furnished their nest inside, so I looked. There, nestled inside was the body of a young little woodpecker, eyes closed, feathers dry but still intact. How sad to see the little baby curled up in there as if waiting for Mom or Dad to return. Or did they return, and it was too late? I’ll never know what happened, of course, but it broke my heart to see the little thing still waiting silently. And then I couldn’t help but think of human parents who have lost a child, and the hole that leaves in a life, in a heart.

I have no idea how long the little woodpecker has been there in its nest. The body doesn’t seem decomposed; our dry weather and the protection of being inside the tree trunk may protect it for years. I could have tried to take it out, but there was no reason to. And somehow, every reason not to. I am sorry the family left. I am sad the baby died. This was the only way I could think of to pay my respects. So there he shall stay.


Godspeed, little bird, and all little children who have left the world too soon.