Thursday, June 19, 2008


I need another swimsuit. Nothing wrong with my current one, still good as new. I've only had it about 10 years, so it's only been worn about 10 times. But having only one just isn't going to cut it, now that I'm hanging out with the Muses. It barely has time to dry out before they have me back in the water again!

They started me off easy with a dip in the hot tub, after dark, girls only. Then on Monday, they finally got me into a kayak. When they first suggested kayaks, I was somewhat hesitant. I recalled our river rafting trips when most of the kayaks we passed were upside down. But it turned out to be way more fun than I expected. The only hard part was getting them loaded and unloaded from the racks on the top of a big ol' SUV, when you had one tall person and two shorties. These weren't your lightweight sport kayaks either. They were your heavy duty, ocean-going, fishing kayaks, and they were dang heavy! Good thing there was no one around with a video camera, or we might have ended up on YouTube. Next time, I'm bringing a step stool.

The very next day they had me swimming at The Blue Hole, and before we left, had me convinced that I needed a season's pass. We went back again on Wednesday. Now they're talking Schlitterbahn, hiking up Mt. Baldy, and riding the Zip Lines (not gonna happen). I accused them of trying to turn me into Outdoor Woman. They busted a gut laughing, then one said "I don't know if you'll ever be Outdoor Woman, but I know you'll try everything with a positive attitude!"

Jeez, I hate shopping for swimsuits.

P.S. That's Cheryl's 17 yr. old chimp, Spencer, perched in the tip top of that huge tree. Shortly thereafter, he leaped from that branch, down into the water. Cheryl says she's planning on doing it herself, one of these days.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


It was time for the annual lavender festival, and things were really hoppin' over in Blanco. On Friday evening I headed over to Brieger Pottery to attend a book-signing party honoring Jeannie Ralston, and her recently released The Unlikely Lavender Queen. I was hesitant to go by myself, but shouldn't have been. I ended up having a great time. Saw several people I knew, and met some others. Jeannie thanked me for the Story Circle Network book review I did, and told me that Susan Wittig Albert (founder of SCN) had since called her to set up an author interview. That's what I love about Susan. She's always doing anything she can to help other writers along, instead of treating them like "the competition." Susan later emailed me to see if there was anything I was dying for her to ask Jeannie during the interview. I came up with 2 or 3 questions, and she then wrote back saying she was going to put us down as co-authors on the interview! See what I mean? There was no reason in the world for her to do that, but hey, I'm not complaining!

On Saturday I went back for the Cooking With Lavender class that was to be taught by Sibby Barrett, of Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm. This time her class was to be conducted at Heron's Nest Farm, herb growers extraordinaire. Unfortunately, Sibby became terribly ill, and was unable to conduct the class. She did manage though, to supervise her assistants as they prepared all the luscious luncheon items she had planned for us, before totally collapsing. We dined on: Lavender Raspberry Coolers; Roasted Olives with Local Goat Cheese and Raisin Rosemary Focaccia Bread; Juniper Provence Roasted Chicken Salad with Caramelized Onion Jam; Salad of Grilled Salmon with Lavender Basil Glaze and Raspberries; Manchego, Apple and Fig Salad with Roasted Shallot Lavender Honey Vinaigrette and Lavender Sugared Pecans; and the piece de resistance - Lavender Scented Mascarpone Fresh Berry Sundaes, and Lavender Infused Truffles. It was all FABULOUS. The recipes should be up on her website if you are interested (

Afterwards I made a quick stop at McCall Creek Farm for some fresh produce, strolled the lavender fields at Hill Country Lavender, stopped in at the Arnosky's, then drove happily home, trailing the scent of lavender behind me.

I do have one suggestion for the festival organizers though: I don't know why you insist on holding this thing when the silly plants are in bloom. We all know what the weather is like in Texas mid-summer. Hot. Damn hot. Africa hot. I vote for January!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


In one of the mid-life blogs I read recently, several women were discussing how different things are now for we women, compared to how they were for our mothers at this age. When these women tried to recall just what their own moms were doing in their 50's, they came to the conclusion that mostly, they sat. When the last child left the nest, they pulled out a chair, and that was that.

Not so with my Mother-in-law. By the time I met her, Theda was well on her way to being quite a character. She was an artist, and took great delight in being somewhat eccentric. As we grow older, we tend to lose our inhibitions, so occasionally, Theda could be a bit embarrassing. I did not particularly enjoy shopping with her. Before she had children, she was a buyer for a department store. That was back in the days when they still believed in pampering their customers. One day I was with Theda when she needed to pick up a catalog order from a store in the mall. The clerk informed her that the orders were in alphabetized bins around the corner, and she should go help herself. "I most certainly will not!" she replied. "What the heck are they paying you for? To stand there and look silly?"

Nonetheless, I loved and admired her. Her life was full of hardships, but you'd never know it. When she was in her 80's, had already had heart attacks and by-pass surgery, and was caring for her invalid husband at home, she still faced each day with gusto. She painted, taught herself to carve wood, volunteered at Hospice, her church, and the art museum, taught people to read, and went to water aerobics several times per week. No, she definitely was not sitting.

When I was rummaging through old photos, looking for something to use in my next art project, I came across several of Theda as a young woman. I wish I had known her then. She grew up in New Mexico, but her parents divorced when she was young. She ended up having a whole slew of siblings, half-siblings, and step-siblings. Before remarrying, Theda's mom took her four kids and homesteaded a piece of property for a friend. Theda said they were dirt poor, but didn't know it, because her mom was so creative and could make something out of nothing.

Life could not have been easy for Theda, being the oldest of 10 or 12 kids, but you'd never know it from looking at her photos. In every last one of them, she has a huge grin on her face, and appears to be having the time of her life - except in those where she has tucked a flower behind her ear and is striking a movie star pose. She was quite exotic looking, perhaps because of her Native American ancestry, and it's no wonder George fell head over heels the first time he saw her, and married her about 6 weeks later! Yep, that Theda Jane was a spunky gal, from start to finish.