Thursday, December 6, 2007


Yesterday was my 52nd birthday, but we've saved the celebrating for tonight, when we will finally be going to check out The Little Texas Bistro, in Buda. I can't wait - it has been getting rave reviews from everyone. Since the time for planting wildflower seeds is upon us, I think we may head over to Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg, to stock up. Should be a fun day all around!

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Although my husband is better than most men I know about "getting in touch with his feminine side", he can occasionally be such a typical male that it is almost painful. As we were about to head out to Fredericksburg, I pulled out my trusty little map of the Hill Country, to look it over. John walked into the room, and I said "Well, it looks like we just need to head to Blanco, then we can take either of these two roads west to Fredericksburg. Wanna take a look?" He just flipped his hand towards the map and said "Nah, I don't need to. I know how to get there." Well, I already know how this story goes, so I surreptitiously folded up the map and slipped it into my purse, just in case. It was about 9:30 in the morning, it was a gorgeous day, and we were both in jovial spirits as we headed out. There is one main road that goes through Wimberley, and it splits in two as it heads north out of town. The left fork goes to Blanco, the right to Dripping Springs. John took the right fork. In my sweetest voice, I said "Honey, isn't Blanco the other way?" He replied "We don't want to go to Blanco. We want to go up to Johnson City." We do? Well, he did recently drive all around this area with his brother Mike when they were touring the vineyards, so maybe he knows something that I don't. "OK Sweetie, whatever you say." As we were driving through Dripping Springs, I spotted a store called Cowgirls and Lace. I told John that I had heard good things about it, so he stopped and we browsed around for a bit. We left around 11:00, and I said "What a great shop! I'm so glad we came this way."

We continued on our merry way. Some time later, we came to another fork in the road. The sign said Johnson City was to the right, but John turned left. I said, still in a pleasant voice, "I thought you wanted to go through Johnson City?" He replied "Nah, this is the way we need to go." Next thing you know, we were driving through Blanco (I thought he didn't want to go there), and I was starting to get worried, and hungry. Then I saw signs for Canyon Lake. OK, I've been to Canyon Lake before, and it was only a thirty minute drive from Wimberley. Why has it taken two hours for us to get there? Could we be driving in circles? John must also have suspected that something was seriously wrong, for he hesitated a bit, then took the next cut-off. He turned to me with a big smile on his face, and said "Isn't this fun, getting to explore some of the surrounding countryside?" I said "Yeah, I suppose, but I'm really getting hungry. I was hoping to try one of the neat restaurants in Fredericksburg, but I don't think I can wait that long." John spotted a little barbecue joint that was connected to a liquor store, and pulled into their parking lot. I ordered the chicken plate, and he a barbecue sandwich, then we went to sit down. A bit later, the waitress came over and said "We don't have nothin' but dark meat. That OK?" Well no, not really, but "Alright". We sat a while longer, then she came back and told me "The chicken that's done just don't smell quite right. You wanna wait for us to cook up a new batch?" I reply "Tell you what, maybe I'll just take one of those breakfast tacos instead. They don't have any meat in them, do they?"

Finally we were on the road again, and after going through Boerne and Comfort, which are not even close to being on a direct path between Wimberley and Fredericksburg, we pulled into town. There's a neat place there called A Rather Sweet Bakery, run by a women named Rebecca Rather. Articles about her have popped up in several of my magazines lately, and I was dying to check out her shop. However, after being content to just mosey along for the past several hours, John suddenly had a bee in his bonnet, and whizzed down Main Street so fast that I was unable to spot the bakery. Instead, we stopped at a filling station just on the other side of town, for a soda. I told John that I was going to ask the clerk which road we needed to be on to get to the farm. He said "Don't bother, This is it. We're on it." I asked "Are you sure?" He replied "Yes, I'm sure!" So, off we go. About forty-five minutes later, in a voice that was no longer quite so pleasant, I said "Are you absolutely sure this is the right road?" Finally, he pulled off to the side and said "Gimme the damn map!" He spent about five minutes just trying to get it unfolded, ripping it in the process, stared at it for a few minutes, tossed it into my lap, and drove on. My lower lip started to poke out a bit. A while later, he pulled off the road again, grabbed the map, mumbled something about what a shitty map it was, then drove on. My lip poked out a bit further. Finally he did a u-turn, and stopped at another filling station. Did he ask for directions? No, he just bought another map! By this time, my lip was sticking out so far, I was having to hold it in my lap. After studying his new map a while, he said "Well, how on earth did that happen? Can you believe it? We've been driving in the wrong direction!" And then he had the nerve to chuckle. I must have made a choking noise, because he finally turned, and actually looked at my face. In a shocked voice, he said "You look pissed. Why are you pissed?" In a voice that was not the least bit pleasant, I said "You are such a cliche! If you had just asked for directions when I first suggested it, we could have been there hours ago! But nooooo! You don't need no stinkin' directions. You know you're on the right road." He just grinned and said "Well, actually, I was on the right road - just headed in the wrong direction."

I guess I should explain about that grin. It happens to be a magical grin, and has saved his sorry skin on many an occasion. Next thing you knew, I was laughing too. We finally made it to the farm, after only about five hours on the road, but when it was time to head back, I knew I'd better pull out the big guns. I said "Listen buster. If you don't get me back in time for our dinner reservations tonight, I'm not even going to the grocery store this week. We will just eat out every meal, three meals a day, for the entire week. Is that clear?" Know how long it took us to get home? About forty-five minutes!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Well, this has certainly been one hell of a weekend. Just last week, it seemed as if everywhere I went, people were complaining about all the hurricane Katrina evacuees that had invaded their city from New Orleans. This week, they got a taste of their own medicine. When we first heard that another hurricane was already forming, and it might be headed this way, I half-jokingly asked John if he had our evacuation plan plotted out. He replied "Yeah, and it's called Wimberley!" When they started talking a category 4 or 5 hurricane, and we had to spend the entire day disassembling the garden center where I work, taking down all my displays and demolishing everything I had accomplished in the last couple of months, to prepare for the storm, we were no longer joking. I won't go into the boring details, but when I tell you that the trip, which should have taken us three hours to make, ended up taking about 14, you will understand why I was ready to get down on my knees and kiss the ground when we finally made it to Wimberley. Because the horror of Katrina was fresh on everyone's mind, the entire city of Houston decided to evacuate. The only reason we made it out at all was that we were headed west, not north. Many people finally gave up and just went back home to face the hurricane. Thankfully for Houston, Rita turned at the last minute, and they avoided a direct hit. Not so fortunate for others.

Thinking the worst was behind us, John and I set out to have a pleasant extended weekend in Wimberley. Saturday morning we headed out for our usual walk, and before I got five steps down the driveway, I stepped on some loose gravel, and my feet flew right out from under me. I came down hard, with one leg twisted back under me, and took most of the skin off my knee and shin. John was very solicitous, but you could tell he was secretly thrilled that for once it was me, and not him, who had done something klutzy and been injured. If only he could have left it at that! A couple of hours later he was puttering around in the garage, and when he walked in front of his car, the license plate slashed his calf and laid it open. When the kids were small and had assorted injuries, I used to wonder how you would know for sure whether one was serious enough to warrant stitches. When I looked at John's leg, which bore a close resemblance to a butterflied pork chop, there was no doubt in my mind whatsoever. I just yelled "SHIT!", grabbed a huge beach towel to wrap it in, stuffed him into the car, and once again we were off to the emergency room, where he received a dozen stitches. The good news is that when you have a gaping, bleeding wound, they work you in much quicker, and we were out in time to keep our movie date with our friends Dan and Betty. Quite convenient, since the movie theater is practically next door to the hospital, but somewhat humorous since John and I had both injured our right legs that morning, and Betty's right knee was acting up from arthritis, so we hobbled down the stairs of the theater in unison. They took us to their favorite Mexican restaurant afterwards - a great little neighborhood joint called Herbert's Taco Hut. By this time, John's pain deadener had worn off, and he was more than ready for a giant margarita.

The rest of the visit was fairly uneventful, except that I kept imagining that I felt something moving around under my bandages. I had been too chicken to allow John to peel back the main skin flap when he cleaned up my wounds, and now I feared that I might have maggots moving around under there or something. Much to my relief, I discovered that it was just miniscule pieces of gravel working their way to the surface - a process which continued for weeks, if not months.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

LIFE ON THE PORCH, continued

Wow, today is 9/11. Kind of gave me the chills when I realized that. Hard to believe four years have passed since that day. And what have we accomplished in our war on terrorism? Not much, I'm sad to say.

It feels absolutely delicious out here on the porch this morning. When I first came out, about an hour ago, it was still quite dark, with such a solid cloud cover that no stars were visible. Although I couldn't see individual streaks of lightning, it was as if there was a strobe light show pulsating behind the clouds. The rooster was crowing steadily at first, but suddenly he stopped. That's when I realized there was a constant whooshing sound some distance away, that was growing steadily louder, as if it were coming towards me. Could it be? Woo Hoo! It's actually raining! Too bad the strong rain only lasted a few minutes, to be followed by a light drizzle off and on. But beggars can't be choosers. It's finally light out, but the cloud cover is pretty solid, with a layer of fog tucked down in all the crevices between the hills, just like a blanket. The breeze is the most wonderful thing I've felt in months.

We had two hummingbird feeders hanging on the front of the porch, but one lone bird was hogging them both, and wouldn't allow anyone else near them. We decided to move one of the feeders around the corner, and John sort of hid it behind a column, out of sight from the other feeder. At first, no one at all was using it, but moments ago a little hummer discovered it. I was just about to congratulate myself for outmaneuvering Mr. Selfish, when suddenly he appeared out of nowhere and dive-bombed the poor newcomer, scaring him away. Oh well, at least we tried.

We had another front-porch-feast yesterday. Originally some friends from Houston were going to be our house-guests this weekend, but they had to cancel at the last minute. That left us with just two local couples that we barely knew, so I was a little nervous. John and I are both on the shy side with strangers, but we handle it in totally opposite ways. He gets very quiet and hardly opens his mouth all evening. I turn into Chatty Cathy, and talk enough for both of us, for fear there might be one of those dreaded voids in the conversation. That's why I usually like to have at least one couple at the table that are somewhat verbose. I needn't have worried though, because everyone in this group was very sociable, and very interesting. Wimberley just seems to attract interesting people, with great stories to tell. The problem with having spent so many years socializing with the same old people (oil people move around a lot, but keep running into the same people wherever they go!), is that although you are comfortable with them, you tend to hear the same old stuff over and over again. The neat thing about my plan for these feasts is that I'm constantly adding new names to the invitation list as we meet more people here, as well as keeping all our old friends on the list. Different ones show up at each feast, and in different combinations, so it's never the same ol' same ol'. The only thing that upsets me is that we never got to bring John's mother Theda here. She would truly have been in her element! She would have just thrived here amongst all these artists and eccentrics, and would have had such a blast at our feasts, holding court with all these interesting people.

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Well, I survived another summer, and John is just going to crack up when he comes out here and sees me. I've been complaining about the heat for so long - couldn't wait for it to cool down. Yesterday (10/6) we finally got our first cool front of the year, and what am I doing? Sitting on the porch wearing a coat, gloves and ear warmers, and still I'm shivering - and it's probably only in the 50's! What a wimp. Can't help it though. When you've spent the past five or six months in the breezeless, sultry, mosquito-infested upper nineties of Houston, this nippy breeze is quite a contrast. I'm not complaining though, for it invigorates me like nothing else. All summer I haven't had the slightest inclination to start on any of our projects around here, but now I can't wait to go on my morning walk and see what's happening around the place, then come back and do some painting or gardening or something.

John bought a big old bag of birdseed recently, and stashed it out in the carport. The next evening we walked out the back door, and our entire garage and driveway were just full of deer. Apparently a few had managed to knock the bag down and tear it open, then, just like a teenager's party with illicit beer, word somehow spread throughout the deer community. There was a party going on, and we were definitely the crashers! John went out the next week and bought some seed in a tightly sealed, hard plastic tub, and this time he stored it on our lower porch, which is completely fenced in except for a small opening at one end where the steps are. The following week, when we were back in Houston, we got a call from our daughter Alexis. She said a raccoon had found the tub and managed to get the lid off, then scattered about half the seed on the porch (who would have thunk?). She ran him off, and sealed it back up again. The next morning she opened her bedroom door, and was about to step out on the porch, when "what to her wondering eyes did appear?" A porch full of deer, and one was staring her right in the face. The rest of them scattered immediately, but he just stood there staring at her for a moment, then actually snorted in her face, before turning and sauntering away. She didn't admit to this, but I bet she almost wet her pants! We now store the birdseed indoors.