Tag Archives: dentoning

Barley and Board

Barley and Board bestows beautiful balance…..

I’m not going to be that restaurant-review guy, but occasionally a place comes along which warrants an assessment (and brings the Dentoning blog out of hibernation). Some places make a disruptive entrance over what Denton has been accustomed to. LSA, Oak Street Draught House and Mellow Mushroom come to mind.

All these places stretched the status quo of the time and have become part of the fabric of Denton.

Barley and Board is just such an establishment. Barley and Board (BnB) was birthed from the same folks who brought us LSA. Sparky Pearson, Steve Watkins, Earl Herrington, and newcomers, actor Jason Lee and Eric Pulido of the world-renown Denton band, Midlake, have intertwined their various talents to bring to Denton a restaurant sure to become a city favorite.

Barley and Board is located on the ground floor of the historic Texas Building on the northeast corner of our unique Square. Combining the space once occupied by two restaurants, Barley and Board has taken the east side of the building’s ground floor back to its original base. The brick walls, brick ceilings, ancient concrete floors and battered concrete pillars all serve to celebrate old Denton. The addition of complementing newness presents a tribute to what Denton has become.

Barley and Board

There is a reason Denton continues to make local, regional, State, National and International Top Ten lists. Barley and Board will only add to that collective reason and will probably soon be on one of its own.

BnB is a symphony of visual delights. There is that…..but, the FOOD!

The menu is something new to Denton. Pork tenderloin, quail, steak, bone marrow, chicken, babyback ribs and much more are all prepared in ways more reminiscent of New York City than our small ville. Chef Chad Kelly works magic in the kitchen. Everything I have tried is superb, everything I haven’t tried has been proclaimed superb by others I trust. The prices are tame for a place this cool.

Barley and Board

The perfect marriage of all things Denton.

The bar recalls what you’d imagine in the hotels of Denton past, with a modern flair. The restaurant also includes something completely new to Denton. We have local breweries Armadillo Ale Works and Audacity Brew House, but BnB will be brewing its own…..just for the restaurant. It’s more of a pico-brewery than a micro-brewery, with the ability to make 30 gallon batches with each brew. House brewmaster Derrick Rima, will create beer to be served exclusively in BnB.

Barley and Board

A first anniversary beer has already been brewed and is aging to be tapped a year from now. The brew facility will also be loaned to local home brewers on a regular basis, bringing truly original beers to Denton.

Barley and Board

The ambience, the service (some of the cream of the crop of the Denton service industry has been harvested for the venture), the space, the location and the FOOD of Barley and Board will make this an instant anchor in the target-rich restaurant environment of downtown Denton.

Denton continues to grow in coolness……..

Barley and Board opens to the public Wednesday night, August 12th.

Not Dentoning……….

The Mercer Stone

The Mercer Stone

Let’s face it, we all have times when we can’t be in Denton. It happens. It doesn’t make us bad people, maybe miserable people while we’re gone, but not bad people. Surviving those times can be a challenge. The times away from Denton can be caused by a multitude of different reasons, none of them good reasons, but they are what they are.

Family-emergency-caused absenteeism is probably the most well accepted of all the excuses……I mean, reasons. Business travel is another. Vacation still another. The last one I don’t get, but hey, that’s just me…

Family reunions, helping your brother-in-law move out of the house, visits to the Mayo Clinic for exacerbated ingrown toenail appointments and dead grandmothers are all legitimate and exempted occasions which can remove us from Denton and thus Dentoning…..

I’ll give you an example of not-Dentoning. There really isn’t a typical variation of this, each person’s separation from Denton is unique, in and of itself, and should be dealt with accordingly. Of course it should never be bragged about, but sometimes telling your story of time away can help others when they have to confront such times in the future.

I am now not Dentoning.

I’m not proud of it, but it’s happening.

I am in Virginia, helping out a friend. This is a friend I’ve known since junior high, and I consider him my 3rd brother. I am minding the manor while he is away. If one is forced to be away from Denton, this is not a bad place to be.

My friend lives in a very nice house built in 1753. The ruins of an old mill are behind the house and there are still regular fox hunts in the area. 1753 of course, predates Denton which is really difficult for me to wrap my head around. How can that be? As I sit here in an office where George Washington used to buy flour, I have to feel sorry for him and those of his time who didn’t even have the ability to go Dentoning. Oh…..the humanity.

I will be here for a total of eleven days. That is a LONG time not to be doing it.

As you can tell by the age of the house, this is an area ripe with history. The house itself was built on British Territory before being liberated by patriots of the American Revolutionary War. The house has seen three wars……..the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. That is a war-rich environment!

The countryside surrounding Sally Mill is speckled with historic markers, 250 year old houses, low, stone fences built with rock cleared from the fields centuries ago, old slave quarters, and some really nice people. There are only 625 people who live in this town and I don’t know all of them yet, but I’ve only been here 4 days.

As of yet, I know (by name) Cindy who owns the local coffee shop, Barbara who works for her, Jack who is the caretaker of the Mercer Stone (more to follow) and his brother Bud. I’ve shook and howdy’d with some others, but these I know by name.

Cindy and Barbara are nice and called me “Tex” until we properly introduced ourselves. Jack and Bud are a different and fascinating story.

Jack is now in possession of the “Mercer Stone”. This stone is claimed by many to be the predecessor of the “Stone of Scone”, on which the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned for over a 1000 years. Queen Elizabeth was crowned on a throne containing the stone in 1953.

The story is told that the present Mercer Stone was taken to Ireland in the years BC from the Holy Land. This was in the time of Moses and before Christ’s birth, so this thing is OLD! The royalty of Ireland was crowned while seated on the stone for centuries until it was “borrowed” by the Scots. They continued the tradition of rock-related crowning until the British got jealous.

Well one day, the King of Scotland heard that the King of England was coming to get his rock, and he wasn’t too keen on the idea. He hid the Mercer Stone and replaced it with a hunk of Scottish sandstone for the English King to take. Having never seen the stone, he took it back to Westminster Abbey in London and the royalty from then to now have been crowned on an imposter stone.

So, you might ask……..why is the Mercer Stone in Virginia now? It seems back in the 1700′s, a man named Charles Mercer somehow obtained the stone and brought it to the Colonies to give to his daughter as a wedding present. Evidently, she wasn’t too fond of it and had it placed in a spring where it remained until just the past few years.

A while back, my new friend Jack, mentioned above, heard that the land from which the spring flowed was for sale and bought it. Within a month…..and before he could retrieve the stone, some Free Masons from about 100 miles away came with a truck and a crane and stole the stone!!

Well fortunately, a lady saw this stone rustling as it was happening and took a picture of the truck which included the license plate number. Jack was able to track the truck and thus, the stone to where it had been secreted by the vile, thieving Free Masons. Jack and brother Bud quickly went to said place to retrieve their rock. They were met with guns and nastiness. The sheriff was called, and before long, the Mercer Stone was returned to a safe place near Sally Mill……..where it resides today.

Not all non-Dentoning stories can be as intriguing as this one……I just lucked out. Suffice it to say, while not-Dentoning is something to be avoided at all costs, one can learn irrelevant information in the process.

I have six additional days of not-Dentoning and it IS a challenge. I’m pretty sure I’ll survive, but I can’t wait to get back to my town and to my way of life……

Dentoning….life

I am coming up on an anniversary. It is one that I celebrate for a couple of reasons. One, the experience changed my life and gave me a completely different outlook on it. Second, I am extremely glad to be alive, living in Denton and having the family and friends that I do.

Life is good.

I’m going to write about this not to be a showboat or to draw attention to myself. I had nothing to do with the final outcome. I have found through the years though that sharing my experience has been helpful to others either going through what I did or to those taking care of someone who is. I know that talking to someone at the time sure helped me with questions and expectations. People DO survive even nasty forms of cancer…. The recent scare with my brother’s health also re-enforced my appreciation for the fragility of life……

Thirty-three years ago, on December 12, 1980, I had surgery to remove a small knot under my right arm. When my primary care physician Dr. Croissant, recommended having surgeon and friend, Dr. Gill Adami remove it, I had no thoughts of it being anything serious….I mean, I was 23 years old, people that age don’t get cancer. Well, I was wrong.

When I woke up in the hospital room after the surgery, I was surprised to see the room filled with family and friends. In a post-anesthesia haze, it almost seemed as if I was going “toward the light”. After all, I’d just come in for a knotectomy……why were they all there?

It turns out that I hadn’t gotten all the information they had.

I went home to my duplex on Carroll Boulevard after a day or so and waited for the pathology reports. I could tell people were acting a little strange around me, including my girlfriend at the time, Mindy Rue. Mindy was in nursing school and she knew “they” were thinking I could have cancer, but not what kind. I began to suspect, but said nothing, probably in hopes that it would just to go away.

The pathology report took about 3 days to come back, as I remember, and I called Dr. Adami’s office and asked them to let ME know first when the results came back. On the morning of the 3rd or 4th day, I was sitting in my living room, watching the news. John Lennon had been murdered just a few days before, and there was still a lot about his death on TV. As I was watching, I heard two car doors slam shut outside. I went to the window, pulled back the drapes and looked outside. What I saw sucked the soul of my body for a few seconds.

Walking up to my front door were my parents, arms around each other and both crying. That was when I KNEW. Having sons of my own now, I can’t imagine the anguish they were feeling. I let them in and they told me that they had just gotten a call from Dr. Adami (pre-HIPPA days) and that the tests showed that I had a malignancy. We talked, cried and planned. I told them that I didn’t want anyone to know because I didn’t want to be treated differently. They told me that they had requested prayers from friends at church and that my situation was already well known in Denton.

I remember feeling numb….literally numb. It took another day or so to get the final pathology tests back which would identify the type of malignancy I had. When the tests were in, Dr. Adami himself called and asked me to come to his office. Dr. Adami was/is a good friend. He and his family had lived down the street as I was growing up (?) and I was great friends with his kids. Dr. Adami’s personal call gave me the first gut-punch that this was not a run of the mill cancer. (If I do something, I do it right!).

Mindy went with me to Dr. Adami’s office and there I saw for the first time, a certain look in the faces of his office staff, a look that I would be seeing for the next several years. It was a look of hesitancy, of pity and of the fear of what to say. I got used to it. Dr. Adami guided Mindy and I to his office and thoughtfully, but without delay, told us that I had a malignancy that was probably related to a mole I had had removed three years before. Mindy asked if it was melanoma, the good doctor said “yes” and Mindy began to cry.

With Mindy having a medical background, I realized that this was REALLY not a “good” type of cancer to have. Dr. Adami went on to explain that what I had was metastatic malignant melanoma. “Metastatic”, for those of you lucky enough not to know, means that cancer has spread from a primary site to an outlying part of the body. With most metastisis, the odds of survival go down precipitously. I was soon told that I had 15% chance of living another 2 years.

After leaving the office, Mindy and I drove quietly to my folks house. We arrived to a house full of family and we all had a good cry after Mindy explained the diagnosis and prognosis. Dr. Adami is not an oncologist and had told us what he had quickly researched about my cancer and what his colleagues had told him. He said that basically, chemotherapy was not effective with this stage of melanoma and nor were any other forms of treatment. Thankfully, I soon found that Dr. Adami was misinformed.

By this time, I was really feeling numb….out of fear, the unknown, shock, the “why me” and from the looks on the faces of my loved ones. After we had been sitting at the house for a while, the doorbell rang. I answered the door and there stood Father Joseph Schumacher, the priest from the Emaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton. I had grown up Baptist, yet the first person to come visit after “the news” was a Catholic priest. I have always had great admiration for “Papa Joe”, and his being there really meant a lot to me. (I had been the president of the Catholic youth group, “Shalom Sharers”, in high school, and thus my connection with Father Schumacher)..

The next few days are a blur. Dr. Croissant and Dr. Adami contacted a mutual oncologist friend, Dr. Merrick Reese, to decide on the best plan for my treatment. They eventually agreed that my best option was to go to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It was several days before I could get an appointment in Houston, so I stayed at the folk’s house and waited.

Many of my friends came to visit and some really good ones did not. I’ve heard of the same thing happening from other cancer survivors, especially those who were young at the time. My friends and I were in our very early 20s and some were just not prepared to face mortality in the form of a friend having cancer….they just could not face me. I wasn’t, and I’m not bitter about this. I completely understand. It is what it is….

We had a great Christmas with a sad, underlying feel of foreboding. For the 2-3 weeks between the surgery and my first appointment in Houston, I think most people thought I was going to die….including me. My folks, Mindy and I drove to Houston a couple of days after Christmas. I remember as I walked in the front door of M.D. Anderson for the first time, a very young girl in a wheelchair was coming out. She was bald, had a leg missing and had tubes running in and out. I immediately wondered if that was my future.

After hours of paper work that first day, I met the man who was to be my doctor for the next 25 years, Dr. Carl Plager. Dr. Plager had looked at slides from a mole I had removed 3 years before and told us that I had melanoma back then. This news hacked me off of course, but my new outlook on life was beginning to take form and I decided again…it was that it was….The next several days were FULL of every bodily diagnostic test you have ever heard of and several you haven’t.

Once all the tests were in, Dr. Plager told us that the information would be taken before a board of physicians (Tumor Board) who would analyze the info and decide what actions to take. The Board is a form of triage. He told us that one possible option was to do nothing. We waited for their recommendation at the home of my dear great-aunt and great-uncle, Joyce and Bill. It was very nice to have a place to stay other than a hotel during those first weeks in Houston.

During the first couple of days of January 1981, we met with Dr. Plager and he gave us the decision of the Tumor Board. They had decided that even though the statistics were against it, they were going to have me do chemotherapy and immuno-therapy for two years….and 10 days of radiation. At the time, the French were using extremely heavy doses of radiation in cases like mine, and the Tumor Board thought that since I was young and strong, they would try it on me.

On Jan. 5, 1981, I began a 5-consecutive-day-a-month regimen of chemo and 10 days of twice-a-day radiation treatments. I think it was on that day I relaxed, the fear left me and I decided that I was doing everything I could and that fear and worry would be a waste of time. It was what it was….

My outlook on life had changed. I did the first round of chemo in Houston, but was able to do the rest of it at Baylor Hospital in Dallas in order to avoid monthly trips to M.D. Anderson. As it turned out, I completed 18 months of chemo and immunotherapy. One of the drugs I took was cardio-toxic and the people at Baylor said after 18 months that they would not continue the chemo for fear of damaging my heart. Dr. Plager agreed.

The months of chemo were hellacious. I was sicker than I’d ever been before or since….for three weeks out of every month. Thankfully for those facing cancer now, things have improved and chemo is much easier to handle.

The only long term side effects I’ve had are 33 additional years of life (so far) and both my sons were born naked…….

The surgery performed on Dec. 12, 1980 was the last sign of cancer in my body. It’s a somewhat arbitrary anniversary, but it’s as good as any to celebrate survival. I am thankful for each and every day of life. Since that day, through good times and bad, I have realized that life is a blessing no matter what.

No matter what….

Enjoy life and enjoy Denton!!!

Dentoning….Invisible Denton

There is the Denton we all see and love……..vibrant, fun, comfortable, familiar, busy and diverse. There is another Denton that few see and many don’t know exists. Homeless Denton co-habitates with our daily lives and is anchored in places that would amaze many.

We all see people we suspect are without daily shelter…..we may even be approached on occasion by someone asking for a handout, but we don’t have the obvious clues of people at busy intersections, signs in hand, asking for money for one need or another as we do in larger cities. The absence of this does not mean there are not people struggling to live beside the roads, under the bridges and in camps in the woods of Denton.

A Denton home...

A Denton home…

Denton has programs to feed and provide essential needs to the less fortunate. Our Daily Bread is probably the most noticeable of these essential centers. Our Daily Bread has food, personal hygiene items, some transportation and even medical care for the homeless. When it comes to shelter though, the pickings are slim. The Salvation Army has very limited space, with separate areas for men and women. But they cannot begin to handle the numbers that live within the City of Denton.

The homeless are homeless due to many different reasons. Some have mental issues, others substance abuse problems, some are homeless due to the economy……….some just chose that life. I think the average Dentonite would be dumbfounded at, for the most part, the invisible population of homeless people in our city.

Some live in alleys, under bridges, in abandoned buildings, but a large number of the homeless live in camps within a mile or two of our Square. These camps consist of visqueen (yes, that is the correct spelling) covered mattresses and sleeping bags, in tents, boxes, or out in the open. Often tucked in thickets which provide additional protection, these “homes” are the only shelter from the elements these people know. Some are bunched together, but most house just one person.

Homeless camp

Homeless camp

The people who live in these “towns” within our town are fiercely protective of their locations. The less people know, the better. A couple of the camps are amazingly large with populations of elderly, runaways, baby-boomers and even children. The police are aware of these camps, but for the most part allow the residents to live as they must. During the daytime, they are mostly abandoned as people go about their lives. As dark settles, small fires are lit, cooking stoves started and bags are occupied.

These areas, of course, do not have the simple things like water, sewers, trash collection etc.. that we take for granted and thus have the looks of a refuge camp which, in fact, they are. Piles of trash, large collections of empty bottles, clothing, bikes and “natural” bathrooms litter the camps. The people get by, but it is a very hard life. The “real” world to these people has very little resemblance to the world we know.

Homelessness

A home

A home

The homeless “problem” is around us and is part of Denton. We may not see it, but it is here and it is close. Society struggles on how to help these people in towns and cities around the world. Here in Denton, we can give to our Daily Bread, the Salvation Army, and support Dr. Filipo Masciarelli, who along with his wife, provides medical care to Denton’s homeless population……..there are other ways to help if they are sought out. The Holiday Season is usually a time we think of giving to and helping others, but there so many who need assistance year-round.

Transportation

Transportation

We are so fortunate to live in Denton, let’s think of ways to help those who live in Invisible Denton……….