The Katy House B&B has a new website!

On Thursday this week we’re launching our new Katy House website. Most likely if you’re reading this post, you’ve already found us at www.katyhouse.com.

We bought the Katy House four years ago but never updated our website to reflect the many updates we’ve done to the Katy House these past four years. Some highlights of these updates:

  • The day we closed on the Katy House, five new beds were delivered. We also had guests that night. Lori and Joe were our first guests. We still have our first dollar bill they gave us. It’s on display in the kitchen.
  • All the rooms have been painted and re-decorated in a French country style.
  • A new room, “The Thomas” was created as an adjoining room to the Texas special. The Thomas was previously used as a storage room. It contains two twin beds and can be used an add-on to the Texas Special.
  • Later in 2015 through early 2016, the wooden surfaces of the outside of the house were repaired and painted.
  • In 2016 the garage under the Conductor’s Quarters was converted into a new room, The Garden Room, complete with a full kitchen, bathroom and modern heating/air conditioning system. This room also boasts our best TV – a 50-inch flat screen. It’s perfect for families as it has a queen bed and two twin beds.
  • In 2016 we also completed some landscaping in the back.
  • Also in 2016, the main house and the Conductor’s Quarters were re-roofed.
  • In 2017 the bathroom in the Katy Limited was completely remodeled.
  • In 2017 through early 2018 we completed a kitchen remodel.
  • This year we’ve updated the Katy Tower with a new bed and modern heating/air conditioning system.

However, until this week, we neglected our website. We are thrilled to now have updated information and photos. I especially  thank the great people at InsideOut Solutions for their great work.  They designed our site as well as the original website for the Katy House and provide excellent hosting and creative services.

Our photos were done by Lori Gola Photography.  As you can see from the photos on our site, she does amazing work.  We thank her for a job well done!

One obvious thing I realized in completing the website is: Smithville has grown a great deal since we took over the B&B! Just look how many Area Attractions are offered on our site. There are many, many more than when we first moved here.

I hope you like our new website. Please send me feedback at innkeeper@katyhouse.com.  Hopefully this will be the first of many blog posts from Linda and me.

Out in Smithville,
Stu

Smithville Tx is a Busy Place!

Smithville, TX is a busy place!

Playhouse Smithville has one more week featuring Arsenic and Old Lace.  It is a great show and one not to be missed.  The Formula One Race takes place this coming weekend and being only 34 miles away, race goers will be staying in and around town.

November 8th, Saturday, is the “Airing of the Quilts” and the Smithville Garden Club “Tour of Homes.”  Quilts line the Main Street and are displayed outside many of the historic homes.  Five homes and one church will be open for the “Tour of Homes.”

The first Saturday in December, the 6th, is the annual “Festival of Lights.”  Fun activities all day, and ending with a lighted parade that night. Playhouse Smithville will have a special performance of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” right after the parade.  For more information visit the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce or Playhouse Smithville.

Linda and Stu Leibowitz have purchased our Katy House Bed and Breakfast! They are keeping the tradition of hospitality and are maintaining the Katy House in name and in fact. They’ll be joined by Charlotte Beadles who has a great gift of talent and taste and serves a wonderful breakfast as well. They’re moving from Austin and have a wonderful feel for Central Texas heritage. We will be living only ten blocks away and plan to make the transition seamless and certainly fun.

We’ve put more than twenty years in making the Katy House not only a distinctive piece of architecture, but a place of warmth and personality. There have been many great stories and friendships made at our table told by some of the best guests to Central Texas. It has been our pleasure to be a part of that experience and the greatest compliment we could be given is when someone says “this feels like Grandma’s house.”

Keep up the good stories and great times at the Katy House and our sincere thanks to all that you’ve been to us.  Linda and Charlotte will have our new emails and look forward to hearing from you!

Make on-line reservations at http://www.katyhouse.com or call 512 237-4262
Check out Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce at http://www.smithvilletx.org
or  http://explorebastropcounty.com/bastrop-county

Bruce and Sallie Blalock

Please keep in touch
Our current email addresses are: (subject to change)
Bruce at texspl@austin.rr.com
Sallie at bblalock@austin.rr.com

October 27, 2014

Veterans Memorial Park in Smithville, Texas

Honoring the fallen in Smithville

About halfway between La Grange and Bastrop, nestled on the banks of the Colorado River, lies the town of Smithville, Texas; population: 3,817.

Cornyn

Cornyn

It’s an idyllic Texas town with a brick-and-mortar Main Street that retains the charm of an earlier era.  And though it may be small, Smithville’s contributions to Texas and to the United States are extraordinary.

Since its founding in 1827, this Texas town has established an incredible tradition of military service.  For nearly two centuries, its sons and daughters have answered the call to serve their country.

From the ranks of General Sam Houston’s army, to the war-torn fields of France, to the valleys of Afghanistan – and everywhere in between – Smithville has always stood on the frontlines of history.

This has not been without sacrifice.  Between 2006 and 2011, Smithville and the surrounding region lost seven of its own in Iraq and Afghanistan – three falling in the line of duty in less than twelve months.

In a community of this size, the loss is felt throughout.  As resident Lucille Bartsch put it, “When something happens to somebody, it happens to everybody.”

With each loss, the people of Smithville banded together in an outpouring of love and community strength.  They knew that they needed to do something to permanently honor the memory of their neighbors and make sure their sacrifices would never be forgotten.

Under the leadership of Mayor Mark Bunte, the town undertook an ambitious project to construct a park that would rightfully memorialize these heroes of Smithville, as well as all Texans who have served in the military.  They envisioned a place where the community could gather to “pay homage to all families whose husbands, wives, sons, and daughters have given the ultimate sacrifice,” as Mayor Bunte explained.

After nearly three years of tireless work, the Smithville Texas Veterans Memorial Park will officially open this Memorial Day.  I am honored to have the privilege of participating in the dedication ceremony on Monday morning.

We will dedicate this park to all the men and women who have stood bravely on the frontlines of freedom and fought off the dark and tyrannical forces that would do us harm.  We will dedicate it to the veterans living amongst us, and the veterans who live on in our hearts.

And we will dedicate it to Pfc. Tina Priest, Spc. Joshua Farris, Captain Joshua Meadows, Lance Cpl. Cody Stanley, Sgt. Mario Rodriguez, Staff Sgt. Joe Altman, and Chief Petty Officer Matthew Mills – the heroes of Bastrop County who laid down their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we could live freely.

Liberty is the birthright of all Americans.  But liberty requires constant guardians – it needs brave men and women willing to take up arms in its defense.  Smithville has produced more than its fair share of such guardians.  In doing so, it has come to embody the very best of the American spirit, and this park is a testament to that.

In the face of tragedy, the people of Smithville have shown love and resolve.  At every turn they have shown what great strength can be drawn from living by a simple commandment: love thy neighbor.

While this park cannot fill the hole left in the hearts of the bereaved, I hope that it will bring solace through the fact that the memory of those to whom it is dedicated will never be forgotten.

This Memorial Day, let us rededicate ourselves to the great founding principles of our Republic that so many men and women have given their lives to defend.  May we count each day as a gift from the fallen; may we endeavor to be worthy of this gift; and may God always bless Texas and the United States of America.

For more information check the Smithville Times.

Smithville Veterans Memorial Park

Smithville Veterans Memorial P

 

Smithville, Texas’ own Playhouse

Three Penny Opera, A Musical, Book by Bertolt Brecht/Music by Kurt Weill – Join the Playhouse cast for this classic musical.  This is a world in which capitalism fosters greed, love doesn’t last, and double dealing is the golden rule while celebrating sinners for their inextinguishable life-force and the pure energy that radiates from their misconduct.  They are bad-bad-bad and they make the best of it.  A romantic comedy that is fun like none other with music like none other directed by john  daniels, jr. (sic) like none other. All this and Mac the Knife too… “Oh, the shark bites with its tooth dear and he keeps them pearly white…”  Opens Friday, May 24, 7:30pm.  Show runs May 24, 25, 30, 31, June 1, 7, 8 (7:30pm).  Tickets are $15.00 at www.playhousesmithville.com or call 512-360-7397 for reservations.
Playhouse Smithville 110 Main Street Smithville, TX 78957 512-360-7397 www.playhousesmithville.com
For more information on Smithville, visit the Chamber page at www.smithvilletx.org
For Lodging visit the Katy House Bed and Breakfast web site at www.katyhouse.com or call 512 237 4262
Sallie Blalock

Texas Bed and Breakfast Board meeting

It was a great meeting.  We met at Eva’s Escape at the Gardenia Inn,  in San Antonio, Texas.  Our main topic was our upcoming convention, September 8 through September 10, 2013 in New Braunfels at  T Bar M Resort.  There will be a Pre-convention Workshop for those that are interested in starting a Bed and Breakfast,  called “Innkeeping: The Basics.”

For more information call the TBBA Administration Office – 800-428-0368 or email info@tbba.org

The schedule of workshops will be on the Texas Bed and Breakfast Website soon!

I am now back in Smithville and at the Katy House Bed and Breakfast. Sallie Blalock, 512-237-4262

www.Katyhouse.com

Plan to attend this informative and fun convention.

 

 

DOONBY, filmed in Smithville, TX Opens

Review:by the Christian Movie Guide

DOONBYis a very intriguing story about a holy fool character. The holy fool is a medieval and Renaissance Christ character used in French and even Russian literature as a Christ figure who comes from nowhere to transform people’s lives.John Schneider plays Sam Doonby, who drifts into a small Southern town (Smithville, TX) and starts to protect people from one disaster after another. For instance, two thugs hold up a bar where he gets a job, and Doonby saves the owner from being shot. Doonby saves a baby from being hit by a Mack truck. He also saves a young woman from being killed by a deranged killer who’s escaped a mental asylum in New York. During all this, Doonby attracts a following as a bartender and a singer. Several women throw themselves at Doonby, but he acts with the utmost chivalry and respect.As the story develops, there are flashbacks to Doonby’s youth. Doonby thought his mother was a beautiful blonde angel, but she hung out on the wrong side of town at the wrong bars and with the wrong men. Eventually, she abandons him.

Beneath all the good that’s happening in the small town, there’s the deeper story of who is Doonby. When the girl who loves him refuses to accept love and denies him, the audience finds out the shocking truth.

The first half of DOONBY flows very well. There are some extra plot issues inserted at that point. These issues create a few minor plot diversions. Even so, the Twilight Zone ending is compelling and designed to help people understand the value of life.

DOONBY has a good cast of known veterans and newcomers. Jenn Gotzon does a wonderful job in her role as Laura Reaper, although there are one or two scenes where the direction of her scene is over the top. John Schneider gives one of his better performances, which could have been improved by better direction. Norma McCorvey, who was the legal “Jane Roe” in the landmark American lawsuit Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion, plays a strong pro-life first role in the movie to help proclaim her faith and change of heart in real life. Overall, however, DOONBY is a movie with an important story that’s interesting to watch.

DOONBY displays a lot of latent talent on the part of the filmmakers. Movieguide® commends them for all their hard work. That said, there’s a lot of drinking, carousing, and some scary violence in the movie, so caution is recommended, especially for pre-adolescents. Even so, DOONBY has a very strong Christian worldview with a pro-life message.

 
(This movie was filmed in Smithville Tx.  The bar, Huebel’s,  near the Katy House Bed and Breakfast was used as the bar in the movie where Sam Doonby found a job.  You will see many areas of Smithville in the movie. For info on the town of Smithville see the chamber page at http://www.smithvilletx.org/   Sallie Blalock)

Playhouse Smithville presents “The Imaginary Invalid”

With your permission and for your pleasure Playhouse Smithville presents Moliere’s comic satire and farce The Imaginary Invalid. Artistic Director john daniels, jr. (sic) adapts, directs and stars as Argan, the theatre’s most famous hypochondriac. Live music, dance, gypsies, and the Playhouse treatment of a classic comedy, drives this steampunk, grunge rock indictment of the heeling/ healing arts. Come take your medicine!  Plays April 13-28, 7:30pm at Playhouse Smithville, 110 Main Street, Smithville, TX 78957.  Tickets are $10.00 at www.playhousesmithville.com or call (512) 360-7397.
 
P.S. the Playhouse is just a block from our B&B, the Katy House Bed and Breakfast.  It is great fun to have live theater here in Smithville, Texas.  Come check out our great small town. For info on Smithville go to the Chamber of Commerce web site.   www.smithvilletx.org
 

Review of Malick’s Tree of Life, filmed in Smithville

Back Stage

SASA MAJUMA

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?
The Tree of Life (2011) is one of the best films from last year. It is being shown at the Gaborone Film Society tonight at 7 pm atMaru-a-PulaSchool in the A/V Centre. It is by the great director Terrence Malick who only makes about one film every decade.

He is famous for Badlands(1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998) and The New World (2005). With The Tree of Life his approach has changed: he currently has four new films in production.
 
At the 64th Cannes International Film Festival The Tree of Life swept the Palme D’Or (but not without boos, jeers and great applause from a divided public). The line that divides reactions to this film is strong for it begins with the cosmos, the Supreme Being, the meaning of life, birth and death, and how life may be lived.

The catcalls come from viewers who want modern entertainment, not Great Issues. Nick Pinkerton writing in The Village Voice says of Malick that, He’s one of the few American filmmakers operating on the multiplex scale who makes movies feel like undiscovered country.

In Genesis, 3:22-24 in the Garden of Eden the tree of life has fruits that give eternal life. In science the image is used to represent the evolutionary divergence of all living creatures.

In Kabalism the spheres of life or the 10 attributes of the infinite belong to the tree of life. This film spends considerable time probing images of the past. From the Hubble telescope, the birth of the universe is observed. At one point the earth belonged to the dinosaurs (an injured plesiosaur contemplates his wounding), then they were extinct.

“I made him feel shame …how did I lose you?  Mother was I false to you? …. Where were you? Who are we to you? 
  From the Red Centre, to the nebulae of outer space, from eruptions, to the feeding frenzy of circling hammerheads and Saturn’s rings, We cry to you, my soul, my son”. 

Light of my life I search for you. At the start and in conclusion the audience can see only a flickering flame Ð is this the beginning and end of our universe?

The creation leads us to a family inWaco,Texas, in the 1950s Ð yes, the same town of the famous massacre, but there is no link established between it and this movie. It was actually filmed in Smithville, nearAustin,Texas.

A gentle, warm, loving Mother O’Brien (acted by Jessica Chastain, inGaboronepreviously in The Help in Texas Killing Fields, The Debt and Wilde Salome) is the lodestone for her three sons. Her path is the opposite of her husband’s. “Love everyone. Love every leaf, every ray of light,” she tells her sons.

The demanding, harsh and judgemental father O’Brien (played by Brad Pitt) imparts survival lessons that are intended to promote individualism, competition, and Looking Out For No. 1. Pass the butter please, Sir.  

O’Brien disciplines his sons like the family was an ancient military camp and the offspring the uncouth foot soldiers. 

They must learn how to avoid being bullied, to fight back, and to master the art of self-defence, to face DDT spray without flinching. Do you love your father? Yes, Sir. His message to his sons is one of loyalty and obedience coloured by cunning. The world lives by trickery … if you want to succeed, you can’t be too good.

As they grow a little older, Number One, Jack (played by Hunter McCracken) becomes a bully with his two younger brothers R L and Steve (Laramie Eppler and Tye Sheridan). He also articulates his rebellion and his hostility against his father’s repressive regime.

“You can hit me if you want.” O’Brien tells Jack, I want you to grow up strong, be your own boss. Jack becomes the axis of the film. He even tries to talk to God. Can we hear the answers?

O’Brien has 25 patents, a thankless job, that comes to an end, loves classical music, but is a failed musician. His sense of failure permeates the film. He wants more for his sons. To accompany its unfamiliar images The Tree of Life is filled by some of the best In music by Bach, Couperin, Mozart, Mahler, Smetana, Gorecki, Respighi, Holst and others.

To find the young actors, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan and Hunter McCracken, who play the three preadolescent brothers, months were spent searching and 10,000c non-professional applicants interviewed. The results are a credit to this prolonged search.

Sean Penn gives a taut portrayal of the troubled first son, Jack, now an adult, who struggles to find the best in his harsh, disciplinarian father. As an actor he somehow expected more. He is quoted as saying: I didn’t at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I’ve ever read.

A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What’s more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly.

The adult Jack keeps looking back on his past. One of his younger brothers has died. He is working as an architect in a glass skyscraper in downtownHouston,Texas(little is really explained about who he has become, as it is his remembered past that occupies the screen).

Still, this is a film about mysteries, well worth watching and debating.  It is a poetic movie, but you don’t have to be a poet or a true believer to watch it.

Thus may be The Tree of Life, but in this resurrection it is the American suburb of half a century ago with its green lawns, cars to wash, and sibling rivalry to be transcended. It is a coming-of-age story with a difference. 

The Tree of Life is two hours and 13 minutes long. It is rated 12+. The director is Terrence Malick who also wrote the script. The cinematographer is Emmanuel Lubezk. The editor is Mark Yosikawa. The music is both by and arranged by Alexandre Desplat. 
sasa_majuma@yahoo.co.uk

(our bed and breakfast, the Katy House is 10 blocks from the home used in Tree of Life. Sallie Blalock)

 

A Year in France- Living Like a Local, hosted by Smithville Chamber.

 

Join Smithville native, Shelley Row, and her husband, Michael Miron, as they share stories from their year living inFrance.

 Lots of people talk about living abroad, but Shelley and Mike did it! 

  Hear about baking croissants, see pictures of harvesting grapes, and experienceFrance’s very own country western line dance troupe, the Coyote Dancers of Cotignac!    

 Shelley may take home some Texasbarbeque, but she’ll leave behind a bit of inspiration from their French life, adventures and even a little danger.

Don’t miss this chance. Shelley isn’t in town often!

 Smithville Public Library- September 22-  6:30p.m. to 7:30p.m.

This presentation is hosted by the Smithville Chamber of Commerce.

 Shelley is providing this presentation free of charge for her hometown crowd.  Optional donations to the Smithville Public Library are welcome.

 Shelley Row, P.E.   531 6th Street,Annapolis,MD21403  Shelley@shelleyrow.com  www.shelleyrow.com    http://mikeandshelleysfrenchadventures.blogspot.com

Shelley is a transportation engineer and senior government executive. She has inspired audiences at the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Research Board and has upcoming engagements inMichigan,Georgia,Maryland,Washington,D.C.andIdaho.

 

Smithville, TX Goes Hollywood

 Who would have thought that we would get to meet movie stars and have them stay in our Bed and Breakfast?  Check out  this new  article from the Houston Chronicle. I love the last line: “They are beyond film-friendly,” Patterson says. “There’s something almost magical about filming in Smithville.”

Texas’ quaint Smithville goes Hollywood

By MELANIE WARNER SPENCER
Copyright 2011, HOUSTON CHRONICLE

June 21, 2011, 12:09AM

 Road trippers, business travelers and other rambling types who have driven the stretch of highway between Houston and Austin likely have spied the big “Smithville, Home of Hope Floats sign off of Texas 71. Despite the town’s proud history with the 1998 Sandra Bullock movie, Smithville likely isn’t the first place to spring to mind when most people think about Texas film. Since 2008, however, when Texas writer/director Terrence Malick shot much of his Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or award-winning opus The Tree of Life in Smithville, the sleepy hamlet has served as the backdrop for nine feature films and a variety of shorts, commercials and Web series. “It’s a beautiful town,” says John Patterson, location manager for The Tree of Life. “For six weeks, we filmed in one neighborhood. Part of the idea was having a neighborhood in the ’50s where the boys could run yard to yard without fences and without knowing whose yard they are in.”The film is set in the Midwest and focuses on the relationship of the eldest of three sons, Jack (played by Sean Penn), with his father (Brad Pitt). It tackles questions about relationships, faith, innocence lost and the meaning of life. Smithville offers a wealth of virtually untouched ’50s-era architecture, as well as Victorian, ’60s, ’70s and contemporary suburban streetscapes.The former made it a natural location for the movie, but according to Patterson, Smithville had much more to offer than just a great look. “We really got to know the town,” Patterson says. “Some of the cast and crew lived right in town and rented houses and rode their bikes to the set. It’s a pretty unique way to make a film.” Rather than using the ubiquitous trucks and trailers for hair and makeup, wardrobe and stars dressing rooms, they rented out a house for each department or actor to use as a base. While logistics and location are key, there is one thing that comes up every time you talk to a person who has worked on a film in Smithville: “It comes down to the people who live there,” Patterson says. “They all know it’s a special place. They are happy to be there and happy to show it off.” Quenby Iandiorio, a wardrobe supervisor and set costumer who moved to Austin from Los Angeles in 2010, has worked on three movies in Smithville in the past year: Beneath the Darkness, a thriller starring Dennis Quaid; Doonby, a drama featuring John Schneider; and Natural Selection, a dark comedy starring Rachael Harris by writer-director and Houston-native Robbie Pickering.The latter swept Austin’s South by Southwest film festival in March, nabbing the Grand Jury Prize for narrative feature filmmaking, the festival Audience Award and jury prizes for music, editing and screenplay, as well as breakthrough performance honors for Harris and Matt O’Leary. Iandiorio has both commuted to Smithville and lived there during production. (Beneath the Darkness is due in theaters in October; Doonby and Natural Selection are awaiting distribution deals.)”I totally dug it,” Iandiorio says. “It was a small town, and it’s really easy to get to work every day and change locations. When I was living there, it was magnificent. To be able to ride your bike to set blew my mind, coming from L.A.”While it was at times challenging to find clothing at the last minute, Iandiorio says it’s just part of doing this kind of work in Central Texas. “No matter how much you prepare for a trip, something comes up,” Iandiorio says. “Even in Austin there aren’t the resources that I’m used to having (in L.A.). It’s more challenging to get what the director wants if it’s not already in your collection. But nobody is going to have everything. … You have to shop for it and go secondhand and vintage.”Echoing Patterson’s sentiments, Iandiorio says it’s all about the residents, who are quick to assist the crew and for whom hometown hospitality is matter-of-fact. “Everyone lends themselves to the production,” Iandiorio says. “The small filmmakers wouldn’t be able to do these productions without their assistance. Film commissioner Sheila Tamble really rolls out the red carpet for people and opens up her house. Her husband’s cooking is amazing. Robert would cook for 70 people for lunch at night when we are shooting.” For Tamble, a Smithville native and real estate broker who got into the business quite by accident after showing a house to Malick prior to the shooting of The Tree of Life, it’s about bringing something unique to her community. “What I like is exposing our youth to different opportunities,” Tamble says. “They use the kids a lot in the films. They see the hair, the wardrobe. Our school district, like a lot all over Texas, can’t afford the arts. It’s the best way to show the children up front what it is.”Tamble and other enterprising community leaders in Smithville also recognize the economic benefits of being a film-friendly community. They have made permitting, security and other processes and procedures quick and easy for filmmakers. The mayor allows crews to office out of and hold casting calls at City Hall, and the police department is available to lead directors through the proper steps of a crime scene investigation. In return, thousands of movie-making dollars flood into the town and into the hands of its business owners and residents, who rent out their businesses, homes and guesthouses to crews. They have been known to lend or lease personal property, including planes, vehicles, a bottle of champagne in the middle of the night, farm equipment and even livestock to productions. Tamble’s rooster, Colonel Sanders struts his stuff in Doonby and Five Time Champion. (The latter was an indie favorite at SXSW and Dallas film festivals.)Local nonprofits reap the benefits from the industry, too. Tamble says producers from The Tree of Life, donated fruit trees to the community gardens. During the filming of Beneath the Darkness, Quaid participated in a Blue Santa benefit that raised more than $10,000. And Darkness director Martin Guigui is planning to return in October for the Smithville Music Festival. “The economic impact is something we see more because we are a small community,” Tamble says. “Tree of Life’s impact was about $725,000, not including what cast and crew spent on their own time.”The chamber of commerce has also gotten in on the action, creating a city map that pinpoints locations from the various movies and revamping its website, http://www.smithvilletx.org/, to include up-to-date details on current and past movies. Its tagline is: “A film-, family- and business-friendly community.” “They are beyond film-friendly,” Patterson says. “There’s something almost magical about filming in Smithville.”

melanie.spencer@chron.com
Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/7618946.html#ixzz1Pwdol9q9