Thursday, July 20, 2017

SUMMER BLISS

I can't believe summer is already half over, and the Muses and I just now made it to The Blue Hole, on Cypress Creek, for our first float of the season! Now that the temps are a steady stream of triple digits, it's quite the popular place, thanks to the always-cool water and the blessed shade from those ancient eponymous trees which line its banks. We are ever so grateful that, unlike the ones along our section of the Blanco River, these were spared from the devastation of the floods.


Mobs of people had the same idea as us yesterday, but the Muses and I have a secret modus opperandi. Wait and go around 4:00, when people are starting to poop out, and walk past all the moms with little kiddos in the shallow section. Keep walking past the hordes of teens and tweens standing in long lines at the the rope swings, awaiting their two seconds of bliss when they can swing out and let go with a Tarzan-like scream. Then keep on walking until you reach the very last ladder down to the water. Climb in there and paddle your float or tube down even further, until at last you reach the rope with a sign saying something like "Halt! Private Property". Then, at last, you will have reached the one and only calm, peaceful spot in the entire place.


Well unless, of course, the Muses and I happened to get there before you, in which case we'll be laughin' and yakkin' our heads off.

Monday, July 17, 2017

COLOR-MAD COWGIRLS


Miss Paula and Mister Toad came in for a one-nighter this weekend. We decided we were getting into a rut so it was a try-new-stuff weekend. As usual, we were having so much fun together that I pretty much forgot to take any pictures at all! But, that's actually a good thing, when you think about it, cuz it means I was fully "present" in the moments! We met up in San Marcos, which is undergoing a bit of a renaissance for some reason, with new stuff popping up every time you turn around. The guys headed off in one direction (to an Irish pub for burgers, followed by a stop at their favorite little cigar shop) while we gals headed off to try a new-to-us place, the tea room at The Price Center. Since I forgot to take any photos there until we had demolished our stuffed cabbage rolls and Salisbury steak, I thought I'd share this link to a review by fellow hill country blogger and foodie Charlotte Caldwell. The food was pretty yummy, and the big old house and gardens where it's located were gorgeous. The only thing we didn't really care for was that it was full of old people. What's with that? Oh, and the fact that they were out of their usual Baklava dessert. But that actually turned out to be a good thing, since it led us to Rhea's Ice Cream, the newest brainchild from the Root Cellar group. All flavors are made by hand, in store, with the freshest ingredients. Some sound kinda strange, but trust me, they're gooood! I tried their S'more flavor, and my dad would've loved the Big Red flavor, but Miss Paula went with their very best seller, Raspberry Jam With Goat Cheese. Yeah, I know you just wrinkled your nose up at that but, trust me, it's their best seller for a reason!


We also checked out a new dress shop I read about in a local publication. It's named after the owner's little daughter, River Rose. Is that a cool Hill Country name, or what?  Best thing in the store? This color-mad display on the back wall.


If I didn't have the world's tiniest closet, I might be tempted.


As it is, I'm on the verge of getting rid of all the hats and boots I already have, since I can't even remember the last time I wore any of them. Besides, I need more room for grandkid stuff!

Biggest surprise of the day? The fact that the Blue Dahlia Bistro, a long time Austin favorite, has opened their third location right there on the San Marcos square! It really got me to wondering, what's going on with this no-longer-sleepy-little-town?

Friday, July 14, 2017

A VERY GOOD DAY

 
We had an awesome day with our daughter and Little Goober on Wednesday. Someone very sweet gave them a family membership to Thinkery for his first birthday, and Lexi invited us to go along with them. We've been wanting to check it out since we first heard about it, but they do not allow unaccompanied adults, which is probably a good thing. As it turns out, with that family pass, Mima and Papa John got in free too. Woohoo!


The place was jam-packed, it being the end of summer -- when it's 100 degrees out and frazzled moms have run out of ideas for entertaining their kids -- so we squeezed our way past all the mobs around the big kid stuff and headed straight for the room designed just for those 30 months and younger. Unfortunately, they do allow older siblings to come in with them, and we had to watch Calvin like a hawk, to keep him from being knocked over or trampled. It will probably be much more relaxing when school is back in session.  He didn't seem to mind the tumbles one bit though...




as long as no one tried to take that purple onion away, that is.

As you can see, the whole place has a veggie garden theme going.  There were even veggies he could pick...


and special portholes where he could glimpse what was going on underground or inside trees!



Afterwards we walked just a few doors down to have lunch at a new place called J.T. Youngblood's. Only it's not really new.


If any of you grew up in the Dallas area back in the 50s and 60s, you probably have many fond memories of going to Youngblood's for Sunday dinner.  Apparently the current owner grew up doing just that, later bought the rights to their secret fried chicken recipe, and has now opened this place in Austin. Of course, the interior is now very hip and cool, and many of the sides have been updated for modern tastes, but the delicious chicken is still served with yeasty handmade rolls, a plastic bearful of Youngblood's honey, and some old-fashioned bread and butter pickles.


They even have Dr. Pepper floats and root beer in a frozen glass!


Not to mention the handy takeout window with reserved parking spots for pickup.


Afterwards Hubby needed to make a quick stop at the best camera store ever. While he was in there, Lex, Goobs and I went next door to the best children's shoe store ever. Then we all met back up at the best toy store ever, which happened to be next to that.

It was a very good day!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TRAVEL PLANS

My hubby keeps pestering me to decide where we should go on our next travel adventure. We had talked about Tuscany -- about renting a villa and staying in one spot for at least a couple of weeks, and just taking side trips out from there. The only downside would be that it requires renting a car and having to drive in a foreign country. We've done it before but, at our age, it doesn't really excite me. One of the couples staying at our hotel in San Miguel had been doing just that, and ended up being in a bad wreck which left them totally traumatized. Not my idea of a great vacation.


Then, just a few days ago, we got a couple of catalogs from Viking River and Ocean cruises -- a weekly occurrence since our one river cruise six years ago. I found myself thinking "Hmmmm, maybe we should just consider doing one of these again. It was ever so easy, letting them handle all the grunt work for us, and all we had to do was show up!" So, instead of taking these catalogs straight to the recycle bin as I usually do, I sat down and started flipping through them. What about this river cruise from Budapest to Bucharest? Or maybe the one in Portugal? We've never been to any of those places. Ooh! Ooh! Or what about this ocean cruise along the Mediterranean coast?

When I really took a closer look at the details, however, it all came back to me. The one tragic flaw in all their itineraries. The fact that, no matter where they go, by ocean or by river, you really only get one day in each city.


One day to absorb an entire city -- to capture the feel of a place and it's people. One day to figure out how they live and what they love.


We've done it many times before, but I suddenly realized that I just can't do it again. Not after our most recent adventures, where we got to spend an entire week each in Khartoum, Barcelona, and San Miguel de Allende (twice!). I guess we're spoiled now for any other form of travel, for though we still left those places feeling like we'd barely scratched the surface, they left an indelible mark on us and blessed us with memories to last a lifetime.  All those other cities we speed-traveled through? Pretty much a blur to us now. Never again.

As if I needed it, Synchronicity dropped by this week to strengthen my resolve. As you know, I've been going back through all my old journals before tossing them out, and just this week I reached the one where Hubby quit his job working offshore in Bahrain, and we took a whole month to travel through Europe on our way home.

All Aboard!
Seven countries. Ten cities. All in less than 30 days, with about a third of that time taken up with getting transported from one place to another, then trying to find a place to stay based on advice from our tattered copy of Europe On Ten Dollars A Day.

Wouldn't have missed it for the world, but...

No. Never again!
 

Monday, July 10, 2017

A MISSED CALLING

 
When it comes to art, you'd think my favorite part would be the making of it, right? The painting or the drawing or the tearing or the gluing. But for me, it's none of the above. It's the admiring. I finally figured this out recently when I was starting a new project in my travel journal.



I work on one color at a time, tearing up bits of my hand-painted papers, then gluing them onto the rough painting I have done in the journal, as if they were bits of mosaic. To be perfectly honest, as much as I love the results, the gluing gets kinda tedious after awhile, so I can only do it in short spurts.

But, what I really, really love are those points in the process where I'm switching to a new color, and I pull out everything I have in that hue and fan them out around me.


Then I just sit there. Admiring them.

The same was true when I was a seamstress and then a quilter, and spent more time collecting fabrics and arranging them by color than I actually did sewing.

Or when I learned to knit and started collecting yarn.

Or when I took up gardening and spent most of my time wandering the aisles of garden centers, adding and subtracting plants from my cart until I had a color blend that made me smile.

It kicked in BIG time when I discovered on-ling art workshops, and began collecting art supplies. Is there anything more fun than buying new paints, inks, or crayons, then reworking your shelves to make room, and sitting back to admire the results? Or is it just me?

Alas, I fear I am no artist. I am actually a color-collector!

Not long ago I stumbled across this little video about the Forbes Pigment Collection, housed in the Harvard Art Museum. Then I realized it was some lucky someone's job to organize and display those 2500 pigment samples.

Talk about a missed calling!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A KID-FRIENDLY FOURTH

This year's July 4th hoop-de-doo was probably one of our calmest ever. We actually celebrated with our kids the day before, and we didn't dare go into town the day of, since they close the roads off at 9:00 AM for the big parade, which doesn't start until 10, and the crowds don't dissipate until after lunch. We didn't think our little Calvin was old enough, or had patience enough, to stand around in the blazing heat for the mandatory hour, waiting for the parade to begin, let alone last through the parade and the log jam afterwards, when everyone wants to leave at once. So, I admit, it made me a wee bit jealous when my BFF Paula posted pictures of their annual celebration with their grandson.

Little Wyatt, Back in the Day
They've lived in the same subdivision in College Station, with quarter acre lots and no curbs, since their own son Chase was a toddler. When they moved there it was on the edge of town and felt like being out in the country, but now they've been absorbed and surrounded by the ever-growing city. Paula doesn't remember exactly when it happened, but some years back a few grandmas got together and decided to organize a more kid-friendly way to celebrate the Fourth with their little ones. They organized an annual parade for their subdivision, which all the kids and grandkids could actually participate in, instead of watching from afar.

Pawpaw Tim and dad Chase, who is the baseball coach at Rudder, hence the shirts.
They raise the flag and say the pledge, then ride around the big triangle at the entrance to the neighborhood in/on their home-decorated conveyance of choice. Then everyone has cookies and the kids get to explore actual fire trucks and police cars, which is a pretty big deal!

Not-So-Little Wyatt This Year, His 5th
They're all hoping he has another year or two to go, before he decides he's too big for all this fun!

Too bad our tiny neighborhood sits on a steep hill with only one main road. The ride down would be great... 'til you hit that curve and land in the creek.

Monday, July 3, 2017

MORE FUN EVERY DAY

Got an unexpected call from my daughter yesterday. We already had plans for a meet-up at their house to celebrate The Fourth, but they had a nice long 4-day weekend to fill, and were thinkin' about coming down to hang in Wimberley for a bit. Did we mind? What a silly question!


We ended up meeting them at Hays City Store for brunch, and just had the best time.  We normally don't sit outside this time of year, what with all the mosquitoes and temps hovering just below 100. However, with their huge oak trees for shade, and fans all around us, it was actually quite pleasant -- and much less crowded and noisy than the inside!

We're at the lemon-loving stage.

The boys like sitting in front of that big fan and letting their hairs blow back.
Two packages arrived at our house earlier this week -- things I couldn't resist ordering for our little Goobs, even though he won't be old enough to play with them for another year or two. One package held a little tool box made by Green Toys, along with a couple of tool-themed books to go with it.



The next day his "explorer" outfit came, complete with pith helmet, binoculars, bug net, magnifying glass, and a vest with lots of pockets and clasps -- much like the one Papa John used to wear to carry all his camera lenses in, and still has. They can be twins!


Both orders were meant to tie in with with the "Builder" and "Explorer" outfits that I got for his Wonder Crew Doll a while back, and I was probably more excited about their arrival than if I had ordered a magnificent piece of jewelry or a boxful of art supplies for myself. No, not probably. Definitely!



I have to remind myself constantly not to rush through any part of this experience, but it's so hard not to, when he just gets to be more and more fun every single day!

Alas, he still has a ways to go before he's ready for this level of imaginative play. He is, however, entering the mimicking stage, and has started picking up a variety of items, holding them to his ear, and babbling away as if he were talking on the phone. It came as quite a shock to my daughter, when she realized what he was doing, since she takes great pride in not being a phone addict, like most of her generation.

What can I say? Monkey see, monkey do.