Friday, December 14, 2007


Originally, Austin was planning to spend a full week in Dallas, hanging out with his best buddy from middle school. I was shocked when he called to say he was coming to Wimberley earlier than planned. Apparently he wasn't having as much fun as anticipated. Back in the early days, his buddy had just been a fun-loving, goofy kid who made average grades, and was only interested in girls, clothes, and hanging out with his pals. His father was some kind of financial consultant to the rich and famous, and was determined that his son would follow in his footsteps. Dad kept threatening to send him to private school, so he would be around the "right kind of people". We thought that was pretty funny, since our school district was nothing but upper-middle class, and you had to have well above a 4.0 GPA to even be close to top 10% of the class. Shortly after we moved away, Dad did in fact send him off to boarding school in Switzerland, so he could begin making "contacts", with summer programs at Oxford as well, so he and Austin were rarely able to get together. When Austin found out that his buddy would actually be in Dallas while we were there, he couldn't wait to see him, but I guess his father's brain-washing campaign was more successful than any of us anticipated. Austin said the entire time he was there, the guy talked about nothing but the future of investment banking, how much he was going to hate his job, but how rich he would end up being, and whether he should buy a Mercedes or a BMW.

Now, I will admit that I have occasionally felt twinges of doubt with regard to our parenting skills. I sometimes wonder if we cheated our kids by not pushing them harder, by not filling their every waking moment with private lessons and educational pursuits, and by not demanding that they be the best at everything they do. How would they compete against kids who have? But then I usually come to my senses and think "Nah, that would suck." What could be more wonderful than having kids who not only like themselves and love what they do, but who also still like hanging out with their folks upon occasion? Besides, look what happened to all those other wunderkinds who were determined to prove to Daddy that they could run with the big dogs - they're mostly in jail! Anyway, that's what Austin is claiming to be his reason for coming home early. Truthfully, he was probably worried that we were having too much Christmas fun without him. We had Taco Soup and warm focaccia bread for supper after the boys arrived, then we all snuggled up on the sofa together to watch "The Polar Express". It just doesn't get any better than that.

The next day Austin and I headed to San Marcos to finish up the last of our shopping. I needed to stop in at Hill Country Humidor to get a gift certificate for John's stocking. He loves going to that place because it's run by an old hippie with a ZZ-esque beard, who's a lot of fun to gab with. This guy has definitely perfected the art of living "the good life". He posts no hours of business on his shop door because he refuses to be held to a schedule - he opens when he damn well pleases! His bookkeeping system is rather unique as well, but ingenious. To pay for my gift certificate, I pulled out a credit card, but he said "Oh sorry, no can do. Has to be cash or a check for a gift certificate." I said "Oh really, why is that?" He demonstrated by taking the $20 bill I handed him and dropping it into a little zip-lock baggie, along with the stub from the certificate. Apparently, when John comes in to spend the certificate, he will simply pull the baggie out of his file drawer and hand him the $20 to spend. Makes perfect sense to me!

While I was doing that, Austin popped into Paper Bear to finish up his list. This store is every merchandiser's worst nightmare - their philosophy is cram as much merchandise as you can into as little space - but for some unknown reason, it works. Maybe it's because this is a college town, and students aren't all that particular. Or maybe it's because it makes you feel as if you are on a safari or a treasure hunt. I think I love it because it reminds me of shopping at my neighborhood Five and Dime as a kid. All I know is, whatever you are looking for, odds are, they will have it. When we had completed our shopping, we headed back to Wimberley to meet up with John, who had spent the morning comparing the offerings of our local pie companies, of which there are at least three. Once Alexis got off from work, we headed out to participate in one of our annual traditions - attending some type of Christmas theater production. Now, most people would immediately think "The Nutcracker", or perhaps "A Christmas Carol", but I'm not married to most people. We were headed for the Alamo Draughthouse in Austin, to attend the special Christmas performance of "Mister Sinus Theater". If you were ever a big fan of "Mystery Science Theater" on TV, where they had that guy and two little robots sitting on the front row at the movies, watching old, really bad sci-fi flicks, and providing rude remarks and commentary throughout, then you would love Mr. Sinus, because it is a live, comedic spoof of the TV program. However, if you hated that show, or have never even heard of it, then you just wouldn't get this one at all! John and the kids adored it, and I adored watching them and their reactions.

To be continued....


It's odd, but when I first found out that John had to go back to Houston from Dallas, to work a few more days, I almost decided to go with him. I was afraid I would be bored here by myself, with nothing to do. Then I decided it might be a good time to work on my year-end summary for work, start a garden design, get caught up on bookkeeping, etc., so I loaded one whole suitcase with the notebooks and materials I would need for all these projects, and hauled them to Wimberley with me. Well, I've been here for four days now, John and Austin are coming in this afternoon, and so far, I haven't done doodley on any of those projects!

On Monday Lex had a day off from work, so we decided to do a girls-day-out in Austin. Most people in the rest of the country know Austin only as the capitol of Texas, and probably picture it as a somewhat stately place full of politicians. Others may know of it as the home of the University of Texas, and picture it full of Longhorn football fans. I chose to go to school there primarily because, back in the seventies, it was populated more by hippies than sororities and fraternities, and that suited me just fine. Since I was working my way through school, I couldn't have afforded a sorority even if I'd wanted one, so it's a good thing I didn't. Somewhere along the way, the people of Austin were smart enough to realize that having so many neat funky shops, hotels and restaurants, as opposed to the national chains populating most other metropolitan areas, made Austin more interesting, and somewhat unique. They decided to promote and encourage this by coming up with the "Keep Austin Weird (support local businesses)" slogan that you will see plastered on many a bumper hereabouts.

We started our day off at the new Whole Foods Market corporate headquarters that opened recently. Oh-My-Gosh, talk about foodie heaven! I think I like it even better than Central Market, which always makes me feel like a rat in a maze. This store has normal back-and-forth rows in the center, which are fairly easy to navigate, but around the perimeter are what I can only describe as satellites of decadence. In the seafood section, I could have sworn I had been transported to Fisherman's Wharf. The counter was quadruple the size of any I had seen in a grocery store, was raised on a dais, and the fish mongers were all clad in those orange rubberized overalls with suspenders, like you see on fishing boats. I expected them to begin tossing huge fish carcasses through the air to one another at any moment. In addition to the extensive selection of fresh seafood, which looked as if it had leaped straight from the water onto those trays of ice, there was a separate kiosk filled with every possible variety of prepared seafood dish, ready to eat or take home with you. The meat section was equally as impressive, but what really sent us over the edge were the chocolatier and the bakery sections (I have a notorious sweet tooth, Alexis is a fresh bread junkie). We thought we had died and gone to Europe! Then there were the mini-restaurants scattered throughout the store, where you could belly up to the bar and watch as they prepared the sushi, pizza, stir-fry, or whatever it was you were craving for lunch. To top it all off, they have their own parking garage underneath the store, complete with a moving sidewalk to carry your cart down, or you can opt for grocery valet service, if you prefer. It's a good thing I don't live in Austin. I could drop a butt-load of money in that place.

Next we went over to S. congress Ave., to stroll through all the funky shops that I missed on my last go-around. I found another piece of Bauer pottery that I could actually afford, and an old paperweight for John that had a picture of a covered wagon in it and said "Midland, Texas", which is where we lived for many years. I took Alexis to lunch at the little Italian bistro I had enjoyed so much last time, picked up a fresh baguette at Texas French Bakery to go with our dinner, then we went home and spent the evening pouring over a great new book I had found at Uncommon Objects, which describes hundreds more interesting shops and restaurants in Austin, that I didn't even know about!

Tuesday was spent running errands, shopping for groceries, and leaving phone messages for excavation contractors. We have decided that having our driveway resurfaced will be our Christmas present to one another this year. Unfortunately, we can't seem to get anyone to come out, or even return our calls. One guy did come out several weeks ago, but then he never got back to us with an estimate. I was quite excited when one of these guys actually returned my call first thing the next day, and even more so when he proceeded to set up an appointment with me for that same day (this has to be a good sign!). Since he wasn't due here until 11:00, and I knew better than to expect a contractor to be punctual, I decided to do some picking up around the house while I waited. As I was doing that, it suddenly occurred to me that my Christmas tablecloths were actually hanging in the coat closet, so at least I could get to those without too much difficulty. Then, as I was spreading them on the dining room table (a small red fringed one layered diagonally over a large green plaid cloth), I happened to glance up at the corner curio cabinet where I keep my teapot collection. Was it possible that my Christmas teapots were stored in the cabinet down below? YES! Hallelujah! I pulled out a few to place on the table, put one on the sideboard, and a couple on the mantle. Then I decided to light my piney-smelling candle, and next thing you know, I'm singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."!

I was even more impressed with this contractor when he showed up for our appointment precisely on time, but my happy little bubble burst when he handed me his estimate. Apparently we can either spend $5,000 every couple of years to regrade the driveway and add new gravel, or we can bite the bullet and have it paved with asphalt, which should last 20 years or more if we just reseal it on a regular basis. When I told Alexis how much that would cost, her reaction was "Shit! I could buy a car for that!" After he left, I was feeling kind of blue, so I decided I really needed to head over to Juan Henry's for a mini mushroom quesadilla and a diet coke with fresh lime slices in it. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, a quesadilla is the Tex-Mex version of a grilled cheese sandwich - several varieties of grated cheese sandwiched between two flour tortillas and sauteed in butter until crispy on the outside, oozey on the inside.) That did a lot to cheer me up. Next I decided to explore the local library, which was surprisingly good for such a small town. I got myself a library card and checked out a couple of books about Wimberley history, plus one about Christmas in Texas that described all the different cultures that settled here, and how they celebrated the holidays. By the time I got back to my recently decluttered and bedecked house, I was feeling quite jovial again. I spent the afternoon cooking up a big pot of chicken gumbo, then read my books all evening, and now, here I sit on Thursday morning saying "My, how time flies!"

Thursday, December 13, 2007


We met Alexis in Dallas on the Saturday before Christmas, and celebrated with my family that evening. John had to go back to Houston to work for a few more days, and Austin wanted to stay in Dallas to hang out with some old buddies, so the next morning I drove to Wimberley with Alexis. Of course, our first evening there, we had to go to our favorite little Mexican joint, Juan Henry's. Actually, I guess you can't really call it a Mexican joint anymore. Originally, the proprietor owned two restaurants. One was just off the town square, looking out over Cypress Creek. It was called John Henry's, and served burgers, chicken-fried steak, and such. The other one, out on River Road, was called Juan Enriquez's, and was strictly Tex-Mex. One year John Henry's suffered serious flood damage, and rather than trying to rebuild it, the owner combined the two restaurants, and the two names, at the River Road location. Thus, Juan Henry's was born. Still our favorite place to eat! After dinner we went back to the house, and I just can't describe what a thrill it was to see my little house twinkling festively up on the hillside. Once we were inside, we curled up in our cozy chairs by the fireplace, with our fuzzy lap throws tucked around us, and I presented Alexis with her first Christmas present. This wasn't an ordinary gift, though.

Years ago, when we moved to Indonesia, Austin was just starting kindergarten, and Alexis was in third grade. Although I didn't keep a journal at the time (picture me slapping my forehead and saying "Doh!"), I did try to write weekly letters home to the grandparents, filled with everything the kids were doing. I didn't want them to completely miss out on watching the kids grow up. Just for my own entertainment, I tried to make the letters as humorous and interesting as possible. Now, fast forward about ten years, to the time when John's mother had just passed away, and we were trying to empty out her house before selling it. The one glimmer of light in a horrible, horrible task, was to discover a little bundle of 25 airmail envelopes, with my handwriting scrawled across the front. Could it be? Oh Joy, Oh Joy! She actually saved some of my letters! Because things were in such a turmoil at that time, I didn't tear into them immediately. Instead I took them home with me, put them up on the shelf in my closet, and savored the pleasure that I knew was in store for me.

Funny. I thought I remembered every single thing about those years in Indonesia, but apparently there was quite a bit that had slipped my grasp, and which came rushing back as I read through those letters. For instance, I had completely forgotten about the time when Austin was six, and we were all sitting around the dinner table. Out of the blue, Austin said "Dad, do I have any ann-brothers?" John said "That depends. What's an ann-brother?" Austin replied "Well, you know how Granny has all those ann-sisters she's always talking about? Since I'm a boy, does that mean I have ann-brothers?" Now, how on earth could I have forgotten that? And what about the time when the two Hall boys had just arrived on the compound, and had come over to play? Not long after they showed up, Alexis stuck her head into my room and whispered "Mom! I think I'm in love!", referring to the elder brother. Austin, on the other hand, ended up in tears, because the younger brother, Kevin, told him that all our video games were stupid. Alexis fell out of love rather quickly, but Austin and Kevin have been best friends ever since, and intend to go into business together some day, designing video games!

I was planning to just sit there reading my book, while Alexis read all the letters, but every time she laughed, or gasped, or said "Oh my gosh!", I had to stop and ask her what she was reading about at that point, and that would get us talking about the various events and the people involved. By the time she folded the last letter and put it back into its envelope, it was way past my bedtime, but what a wonderful time we had!


No matter how long I live here, Texas weather never ceases to amaze me. Yesterday it was in the mid-eighties all day, and I was wishing I had packed some shorts this time. We opened all the windows and turned on the ceiling fans before we went to bed, and still I was kicking off the covers because I was so hot. This morning I woke up to the sound of wind slamming doors shut and blowing everything in the house around, and suddenly I'm shivering and grabbing for the quilt. Obviously it has "come a norther", as my friend Paula says. Now I'm back to sitting on the porch in my flannel-lined overcoat with gloves and ear-warmers on. Oh well, at least it feels more like Christmas now. It also looks more like Christmas - meaning it's totally grey and overcast. Maybe that's why I actually like dreary days. They make me feel festive because they remind me of the holidays. Snow is so rare around here that for us it's considered a freak occurrence - about like a tornado or hurricane. Schools let out, businesses shut down, cars bounce off of one another - talk about fun! But not something we actually associate with Christmas.

Hard to believe it's been a whole year since we bought this house. Closing date was just a couple of days before Christmas. We loaded our truck up with the bare essentials, drove to Wimberley to sign the papers, went straight to the house, unpacked and sort of camped out here overnight, then went on to Dallas to spend Christmas with my family. So, this is our first Christmas actually spent in the house, and I get to stay for two solid weeks! We sure have managed to fill up all that empty space in a short period of time. Of course, a lot of it belongs to Alexis, but it won't be long after she leaves before John manages to fill up that space as well. Apparently my husband abhors a vacuum, and just isn't happy until every house we buy is absolutely stuffed with stuff. Personally, I liked it better when there were still some empty spaces. We didn't even bother to set up the tree this year because we couldn't find anywhere to put it! I keep reminding John that we will have to combine these two houses into one some day, but that boy just loves to shop. What a pair we are. He loves clutter, I just hate it. He likes dark and cozy, I need light and airy. He's Victorian frou-frou, I'm Arts and Crafts simplicity. In order to save my sanity, and to keep from turning into the wicked witch of the west, I suggested that he could decorate the downstairs (his office, TV room and guest bedroom) any way he chose, if he would let me decorate the upstairs (the kitchen, living area and master bedroom), and agree to keep it a clutter-free zone. I just hope there will still be space for actual guests in the guest room, by the time he's finished.

When we were here for Thanksgiving, I managed to get some garland with red bows looped across the porch railing, and icicle lights strung from the eaves, but that's about as far as we got with our Christmas decorating. Alexis was right in the middle of all her final projects for school, and had them spread over every surface in the house. I didn't have the heart to make her put it all away, just so I could start decking the halls. Besides, we weren't even certain where most of the Christmas stuff was stashed. My sisters didn't really believe me when I said I was okay with not having a tree up for the first time ever. They think I must be depressed or something, but as long as I can come home in the evening and see the twinkle lights up on the porch, then come inside and light up my pine scented candle and listen to some carols, I'm as happy as a little clam. After all, I've been doing the Christmas thing at work since last August, so I've had a pretty good dose! One thing I just love about my job at the nursery is that, once I get everything set up for Christmas, there's not much left for me to do, and I can reduce my hours just when I need the extra time to do my own shopping and holiday preparations. By mid-December there is nothing left for me to do at all, so they have me take vacation until after New Year's - perfect for entertaining house guests or going out of town. This is certainly a far cry from my days working in retail and for florists and caterers, when this was their most frenzied time of all! Because I had so much time off, it only made sense to spend it all in Wimberley. It looks like John and Austin will both be able to spend time here as well, so we are all quite excited - one more step towards feeling more like Wimberleyites, and less like visitors.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WE GIVE THANKS, continued

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and my first guests begin arriving this afternoon. I always go through several distinct stages during the holidays. When they are still a month or two away, I have thoughts like "Wouldn't it be a blast to have the entire gang here in Wimberley with us for the holidays?" I'm completely laid back and enthusiastic about it at that point, but as the time draws closer, I start thinking about all that needs to be done, and a slight sense of unease begins to creep in. What am I going to feed them all for those eight meals? Can I get all the groceries I need here in Wimberley, or will I have to haul some of it from Houston? Do I have all the spices, pots, and pans I need here? Where will everyone sleep? That's when I start making lists. Lots and lots of lists. My husband likes to tell people that I make lists of all the lists I'm going to make, but he exaggerates. When I feel comfortable that I have every single thing that needs to be done written down on paper somewhere, and I have all my lists assembled in front of me, I start thinking "Oh shit, how will I ever get all of this done? There just aren't enough hours in the day!" That's when unease progresses towards mild panic, and I begin making schedules - cooking schedules, cleaning schedules, chore and errand schedules for each member of the family... You get the picture. John once referred to it as switching into "Maximum-Martha-Mode".

We are beyond that stage now, and on to full-blown panic! Once the cooking and cleaning are under control, I start thinking about the people themselves, and all the clashing personalities involved. That's when I slap my head and say "What was I thinking!" I was just sitting here on the porch this morning, praying "Please God, don't let anything happen to spoil this get-together. It may be the last one where we are all here, so please, let it be wonderful!" Then suddenly I remembered that scene at the end of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", where everyone in town is offering up prayers at once, for the well-being of Jimmy Stewart and his family. I got really tickled thinking that I'm probably not the only one who is sending up a prayer for my family to behave themselves this year. In fact, God is probably being bombarded with them from all directions about now! The good news is that, once the doorbell rings, the panic completely disappears, to be replaced by squeals, hugs, and jumping up and down. Yes, there will probably be tears at some point, and there will most certainly be hurt feelings, but this is the only family I've got, and that's just how it goes. The only families that never have to deal with this are the ones on TV!
* * * * *
Well, the week is over, and it's time to head back to Houston. I started to say "head home", then I realized that Wimberley is finally starting to feel more like home than Houston - especially after spending a whole week here with all the family, and celebrating a holiday here. Yesterday I started hanging garland on the porch, so we could take a photo for our Christmas cards, and that just clinched the feeling. Every time I started to get a little blue about having to leave, I just reminded myself that I only have a couple of weeks left to work, and then I get to come back here for Christmas, and that just cheered me right up!

I'm still amazed that Mom and Dad actually came, and that the visit went more or less smoothly, all things considered. They said the drive down wasn't nearly as bad as they were expecting, and they truly seemed happy to be here, and delighted to see what a wonderful home we have here. The weather was perfect, so we set up long tables out on the porch for our feast. I tried a new Tex-Mex Turkey recipe this year that had tamales in the stuffing, and served it with an enchilada gravy. What a hit! Even Bud, who rarely pays any attention to what he's eating, asked for the recipe.

Although Mom and Dad didn't arrive until immediately before the meal, once that was over with, I think Mom felt like she had accomplished what she set out to do, and now it was time to go home. Ever since they moved into their new house with my sister, Mom has bemoaned the fact that the living room is at the rear of the house, and she can't sit on the sofa and keep tabs on what is going on in the neighborhood. We thought she would absolutely adore sitting out on our porch , being able to see the little church house down the way, watch the comings and goings at the antique store and bakery across the road, watch the deer munch their way across the yard each evening, and especially, enjoy all the birds that she loves so much as they congregate in the trees just an arm's length away. Imagine our surprise the next day when she announced "The book says fresh air is bad for me." For as long as I can remember, Mom has preceded most statements with "The Book Says". I'm still trying to figure out exactly which book that is. From that point on, she never set foot on the porch, and if we forgot and left a window ajar, or turned a ceiling fan on, we would look up to find this little tented mound in a chair, with a blanket covering her from head to toe.

Dad, on the other hand, seemed to thrive up here. He hadn't been able to sleep for weeks prior to coming here, but actually managed to stay in bed an entire night before the visit was over with. He joined us on the porch each morning to watch the sun come up, loved going to the cafe for breakfast, and bonded with John out at his cigar-smoking table each evening. All in all, I think the whole weekend was well worth the effort!

Since it is Thanksgiving, I think I should wind up by saying what I am secretly most thankful for, in addition to my large, loving, wacky, wonderful family. I am thankful for the book Simple Abundance, which set me on the road to finding my voice. It taught me that it was OK to be just a little bit selfish, and made me realize that if I stopped trying to be the person that everyone in my family wanted me to be, and just concentrated on being me, then I would be a much happier, complete person. That led me to going back to school, which led to my wonderful job at the nursery. It also led to my pushing for the move to Wimberley, which gave me something to write about! And though I knew from childhood experience that anger and bitterness were contagious, I soon discovered that happiness and enthusiasm were also contagious. Mine spread to my kids and my husband, improving their lives as well. So thank you Sara ban Breathnach, we owe you one!

Monday, December 10, 2007


When it comes to pain tolerance, my parents are at opposite ends of the spectrum. My father is your classic stoic. He has a serious blood disorder that necessitates weekly transfusions, but still he grows weaker by the day. He refuses to give in to it though, and when I go to visit them, I must sneak my suitcase out to the car in the middle of the night, or he will insist upon carrying it for me. My mother, on the other hand, is what you might call hyper-sensitive. One time my whole family was at a Mexican restaurant together. Because one side of the table was too close to the wall, the waitress was having to hand our plates across to us. She was handling them with her bare hands, but when she started to hand one to my mother, Mom asked "Is that plate very hot?" The waitress replied "No ma'am, it's fine." Mom reached for the plate, then let out an ear-piercing shriek. Rolling my eyes, I said "Oh give me that!" and I set it down before her, with no difficulty whatsoever. The waitress began to stammer her apologies, saying "I swear, I didn't think it was that hot!", to which I just replied "Shush, don't worry about it. She's fine." Her only real health problems are heart and diabetes related, but both of those are well under control, now that my sister is supervising their diets. Before Carolyn took over, Mom and Dad both thought that Ding Dongs and Dinky Twinkies made a mighty fine breakfast. Unfortunately, the folks don't really travel anymore. They hate being away from their own bed and their doctors, and I can't say that I blame them. However, they are dying to see our place in Wimberley, just once, so I suggested that we all celebrate Thanksgiving here together.

A few days before they were to arrive, I headed to the grocery store to buy all the fixings for our Turkey Day feast. That's when it occurred to me that perhaps I should check in with my sister, just to be sure they hadn't changed their minds about coming. Carolyn giggled as she told me about their visit to the doctor the previous day. When he asked Mom what their Thanksgiving plans were, she replied pitifully "Well, we were supposed to go to my daughter's house in Wimberley, but I'm just too sick, so I suppose we will have to stay here by ourselves." The doctor just stared at her for a moment, then said "That's a bunch of bull. You are healthier than 90% of my patients." I would give anything to have seen her face at that moment! As they were preparing to leave, he went on to say "As a matter of fact Kathryn, I insist that you go to Wimberley. It's doctor's orders!" When they got home, and Dad proceeded to tell Carolyn what had transpired, Mom interjected "He only said that because I didn't tell him everything that was in my head!" (a Freudian slip perhaps?) At first she was in a snit, but after a while she became almost cheerful, and said "Oh well, if the doctor says I have to go, I guess I have to go!"

The next day, since I had done as much as I could to prepare for their arrival, I decided to treat myself to a whole day in Austin. My plan was to check out all the great garden shops I had heard about. One of my favorites is called Big Red Sun. I am always inspired by it not only because they are so fun and funky that they personify everything that is Austin, but also because they suffer from the same restrictions that we do where I work - being landlocked in an older, urban neighborhood. After all, any nursery can do well when you have unlimited space to work with, but it takes true talent to keep increasing sales each year when you are stuck between two houses on a residential street!

Around mid-day I headed over to S. Congress, thinking I would allow myself one hour to check out all the neat shops there. Two and a half hours later I was still there, and I hadn't even made it through half of them! I guess I will have to come back one day soon, and spend an entire day on this one street alone. My favorite discovery was one block that contained a great little Italian enoteca where I had lunch, as well as the Texas French Bakery, and a little shop called Farm to Market that had wonderful fresh produce and all kinds of gourmet goodies. All three epitomize what I am trying to accomplish by learning to cook and eat with seasonality - using simple but tasty recipes that adapt to a variety of ingredients, using what's fresh and in season, and discovering what's handcrafted or produced locally. Perhaps they are a sign that the tide is moving away from mindless consumption of junk on the run.

to be continued...