Thursday, May 22, 2008


I just had a brain fart while I was brushing my teeth. I was standing there facing the mirror, foam on mouth and toothbrush in hand, thinking about an email conversation I'd been having this morning with my new friend Sibby Barrett. Suddenly the light bulb switched on, and I realized why I could never give up my blog.

There are several women that I have become acquainted with recently, due to my blog and related emails: Susan Wittig Albert the author, Sibby Barrett of Onion Creek Kitchens, Pamela Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers, and Jeannie Ralston of Hill Country Lavender. All four are women I had read about in the media long before I ever met them. They are like rock stars to me. And here I am, thanks to the net, having conversations with them on a regular basis. I feel like I'm back in high school, and for some reason, the popular kids have invited me to hang out with them. Neat-o!


Did I ever tell you how I met my husband? When I first got to the University of Texas, I took a job in my dorm’s cafeteria. I had only been there a short time when my roommate caused an embarrassing incident. She was quite the head-turner, with glossy hair falling down past her tuckus. She was also very nearsighted, but too vain to wear glasses. When going through the cafeteria line together, I had to describe the food choices to her, since she was unable to see them. One Sunday, she looked up at the guy serving us, and said in her deep, sultry voice, “Hey Gordon, that was some date we had last night.” I jabbed her with my elbow, but was ignored. She leaned forward, and dropped her voice even further. “I had a really, really good time!” “Ahhem! Pardon us please,” I said, then shoved her down the line, growling “That wasn’t Gordon you idiot, that was John!” Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw John staring at us, with a cocky grin on his face. “Well, great!”, I thought. “Another one bites the dust.”

The oddest thing happened though. Usually, when working in the kitchen, I cleared trays that came down the conveyer belt. Suddenly I began finding little notes on them, and when I glanced out the tray-feed window, I saw that same cocky grin. The notes were fairly corny (under a bowl of peaches I found one that read “What a peachy girl!”) but I’ve always been rather fond of corn. Top it off with a mischievous grin and twinkling eyes? Well, I was a goner in no time.

* * * * *

Looking back on our years together, I see a certain seasonality to the stages of a marriage. The first stage was the idyllic one - he’s wonderful, I’m wonderful, and everyone’s deliriously happy. Some call it the honeymoon stage, and for us, it truly was. John took a job overseas at the end of my junior year. Neither of us was any good at expressing our feelings, and not a word had been mentioned about marriage, so I feared this move might be the end of us. As it turned out, we happened to be superb letter writers. We made up for lost time by pouring our hearts into those letters, and soon felt closer than ever. John also discovered that adventures are better shared. We married the minute I graduated, and set off on a three year honeymoon. Since ex-pat wives weren’t allowed to take jobs in Indonesia, I spent my days turning our thatched-roof bungalow into a cozy nest, entertained his friends from my improvised kitchen, and waited with bated breath for hubby to come home each evening.

The honeymoon stage ended abruptly upon returning to Houston. Suddenly I worked 60 hour weeks, including every Saturday, expected John to share the housework, and was way too exhausted to entertain. Though the letter writing had ended when we married, our verbalization skills had yet to improve, and since we both avoided confrontation, many issues got swept under the rug.

Stage three began when our first child arrived. If you know someone who thinks a baby might help their marriage, just slap them up side the head and yell “Snap out of it!” Nothing is less likely to make things easier. Although our relationship was still strong, I knew my life was about to change dramatically, and was prepared for that. I assumed John’s life would change equally. Silly me. I think John assumed that we would go back to the honeymoon phase, now that I was no longer “working”. Silly John! His rude awakening came the first time Alexis had colic. Instead of being met by a scantily clad wife with welcoming drink in hand, he was greeted by a frazzled wife, still in her robe, who thrust the baby into his arms saying “Here - your turn!”

Stage four began when hubby awoke to discover a monstrous burden crushing him with its weight. He found himself thinking “These kids are expensive, and I’m responsible for their future. I must make more money!” As Dad became caught up in his career, Mom became caught up in raising children, and we as a couple became less caught up in one another. One day, I realized that we rarely talked of anything other than the kids. When I mentioned this to John, he replied “Well, what would we talk about? You never even read a newspaper.” Not a smart thing to say to someone who’s trying to cook, with a baby in one arm and a toddler on her ankle, while hubby sits reading his paper. It’s probably the closest I ever came to bopping him with my frying pan, and when I began to feel rather boring and unattractive. As John began spending more time overseas, I developed navy-wife-syndrome. I was expected to hold down the fort while he was away, make rules and handle emergencies, but when home, he often tossed my rules out the window.

Thankfully, we stumbled upon a gifted counselor, who gradually reeled us back in towards one another. I often wondered how anyone survived stage four without one. I guess quite a few don’t, as many friends bailed out on their marriages the minute they entered stage five (the kids-are-gone-now-what-do-we-do stage). I worried that we might have a relapse ourselves, once the last child left home, and worried again when John suggested I might move to the house where we planned to retire, ahead of him. Were we strong enough now to withstand that separation?

Over dinner last week, I looked up to find John smiling and staring intently at me. “What?”, I asked. “Oh, just thinking about how much you’ve grown and changed over the years,” he said. Suddenly I felt like the most interesting woman in the world! Whenever John leaves voicemail messages these days, they usually begin with “How’s my Treasure?”, and I’ve spent all week planning what to cook for him. Yesterday his email read “It’s very dreary in Houston, but then, every day is dreary, whenever you’re not here!” Pretty corny, huh? Then it hits me. We’ve come full circle. You might even say we’re taking a second honeymoon!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Since my blog template only lets me post 5 photos per entry, I didn't have near enough room for all the photos I took on the day of the studio tour. Here are a few from my morning in Blanco, all taken at McCall Creek. The view out their back door is of Hill Country Lavender's fields and gift shop.


If it hadn't been for the email message I got from my daughter that morning, Saturday would have been such a great day. After breakfasting in town, I headed straight for Blanco, where I shopped at McCall Creek Farm (got peaches, blackberries, tomatoes, garlic and cucumbers), Brieger Pottery (4 lavender plants) and at the Arnosky's blue barn (goat cheese feta, 2 pepper plants and a Mexican Bush Sage). I got home with barely enough time to shower, change and grab a bite of lunch, before heading out to meet up with Deb Bradshaw and Debi Bowers, two of my muses.

We were on our way to "Drippin' " for their annual Artists' Studio Tour. There were nine studios on the tour, and at each stop there were several different artists displaying their wares. The art was unbelievable, and I'd just about trade my children for one of those kinetic sculptures we saw at Solstice.

Our last stop of the day was Lonesome Sage Ranch, and one of the artists there was Deb's good friend Tammy. She had told us in advance that they were having a little party afterwards, if we'd like to stay. We had expected about 30 minutes of wine and cheese, but instead were welcomed for four hours of cowboy singers, chuckwagons, longhorn cattle, fantastic fajitas, old galvanized bathtubs of icy beer, and tours of the most amazing 78 year old stone house with a cellar (unheard of down here, where everything is solid rock) and an unusual barn (now the artist/owner's studio) that was built into the side of the hill with the outer edge on stilts, so that there was space for the animals to shelter below.

Like I said, if it weren't for that email, telling me that Alexis and her promising new boyfriend had already split, and finding her in tears when I called to check on her, it might have been a really great day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The only problem with this blog is that it seems to be influencing what I write, rather than the other way around. I used to sit here on the porch every morning, watch the sun come up, then put pen to journal and let the words flow. It was totally stream-of-consciousness, but you would be amazed out how often something interesting or profound would float up out of the gibberish. After three years, my husband finally convinced me to transfer all that to a blog, so that I could share it with those outside my immediate circle of friends and family.

Anyone who saw how hard I fought that move, would be flabbergasted to know that I am now obsessed with this thing, and can hardly walk past the computer without leaning down to check for emails or comments on the blog, or to check the site meter to see how many hits I've had that day, and where they came from. More and more, I find myself being drawn straight to the computer first thing in the morning, and the journal is feeling somewhat neglected. When I do write in it, it's usually to chronicle where I've gone and what I've discovered that I think my "audience" might be interested in. Nothing profound is ever going to come out of that!

So, who would have thunk? This whole project that I undertook strictly as a means to showcase some of my writing, is now keeping me from writing! Never fear, I'm not about to give it up. It has opened me up to a whole new world that I never even knew existed, and I have made the most amazing connections because of it. No, I simply must find a way to balance both these things in my life. Perhaps I can have designated days for blogging about certain subjects. Maybe I can allow myself "What's New Wednesday" and "Foodie Friday" if I set aside "Thoughtful Thursdays" for forcing myself to delve a little deeper. Not too deep though - my well only goes so far. What say you, Audience?

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have spent my entire life living in subdivisions and company compounds, where every other house in the neighborhood looked pretty much like mine. Sometimes exactly like mine, as in you walk through their door and say "Oh! You've got my floor plan, only flip flopped. And I have that same kitchen wallpaper in green!" One thing I love about Wimberley is it's uniqueitude. Every single house you enter is one of a kind, and reflects the interests and attitudes of the people who live there.

My friend Deb Bradshaw lives in a house that is not particularly huge, but which lives large. It is tucked back into the woods, sits just above a dam on Lone Man Creek, and is surrounded by beautiful decks, where they spend as much time as possible. They keep a couple of kayaks, so they can paddle up and down the creek. They also have a huge garden scattered with art finds and artifacts, and two little wiener dogs who's mission in life is to give the local deer as much grief as possible. When we have had enough rain, there is a great little swimmin' hole on the creek. And, pictured in the photo, they have the perfect place to kick back with a margarita, regardless of the weather. Thank goodness they finally got around to inviting me to try it out!