Friday, February 20, 2009


I worry about my daughter sometimes, for I fear she is too much like me. Poor baby. Not only does she have to go through life with people constantly telling her she looks just like me, she also seems to have inherited one of my personality traits that I am not particularly proud of. I'm afraid we are both the-grass-is-always-greener kind of girls.

I suppose that's OK when it comes to houses, cities, gardens, etc. In fact, it comes in down-right handy if you're the type who has had to move frequently. Just when I was beginning to tire of a place, or the house was beginning to look worn and needed boring maintenance work done, we would get transferred in the nick of time. I was usually able to walk away with hardly a backward glance, giddy at the prospect of new places to explore, new houses to decorate, new gardens to create and new people to meet. Trouble is, I can shed friends almost as easily as I shed houses.

For a variety of reasons, I have failed to develop any strong, lasting friendships in most of the places we have lived. After the first few moves, and having to leave close friends like Paula and Tim behind, I tended to settle for a nice group of pals to hang out and socialize with, but I always kept them at arm's length. Part of it was self-protection I suppose, knowing we would leave before long, but when it comes right down to it, I'm just not a real "people person." Perhaps it's the writer in me. Oh, I love listening to them, observing them, and dissecting them. But, interacting with them for extended periods of time? Not so much.

I am too quick to judge, for one thing. People I am enamored with at first end up driving me crazy, and some who really rubbed me the wrong way turned out great. I make friends fairly quickly in each new town: I find a group I am crazy about and rave on about how perfectly wonderful they are, but it isn't long before I start to notice chinks in their armor. Little things start to irritate me, and I begin to pronounce judgement. This one always hogs the conversation, and no one else at the table can get a word in edgewise. That one is a control freak, and treats her family as if they were her puppets. Another one is way too high-maintenance, spending all her time shopping and undergoing "procedures." Still another never ponies up her fair share when we split the tab. In other words, I discover that they are only human, and I find that extremely irritating.

Not my hubby though. John is the exact opposite of me here - another good reason we balance so well. People think he is shy when they first meet him, but I think he is just busy observing, holding back, biding his time. Once he has deemed you worthy of friendship, though? You are his friend for LIFE! I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, now that I am settled in a spot where I have no escape plan in place. I want to be more like John, letting new friendships develop slowly and naturally. I hope to find people with a similar core of values, but I want also to learn to celebrate their differences and idiosyncrasies.

Perhaps I should model my friendships after our marriage. I believe that when two people with the exact same strengths and weaknesses unite, it is a recipe for disaster, for you will amplify one another's tendencies. You need a partner who shares your ethical beliefs and sense of morality, but who will cause you to stretch and grow in other areas. And you need to balance one another's extreme tendencies, pulling each more towards the center, so that you don't both fall over the edge into the Nut-Job Sea.

So, this time I am looking for friends with common sense and a social conscience, but who are each living their lives authentically, and who will force me to step out of my comfort zone periodically. I hope to become less judgmental, and learn to appreciate them for their uniqueness. I have the same hopes for my children, both in their friendships and in their relationships, wherever life may take them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Isn't it amazing, the things you can get in the mail these days? These guys showed up at the local post office on Monday, which happened to be a holiday. Fortunately, someone was there working in the back, and they called my friends Deb and Nick to come get their package. When I said "Oh, wasn't that sweet of her!", Deb replied "Heck, she was probably desperate. You should have heard the racket that was coming out of this box when we picked it up!"

Deb ordered a grab-bag assortment, and they came packed in that tiny little white carton you see here (not sure why that photo turned red - guess I got too close to the warming lamp), along with some green gelatinous goo that nourished them while in transit. Deb and Nick were fairly nonchalant over the fact that one has already died, and another was iffy, saying "That's just the way it is - you're always going to lose a couple." Make that reason #2, right after egg-snatching snakes, why I've decided to leave this endeavor up to my friends.

The good news is, the Muses have another creative project ahead of them! Deb has dubbed her chicken coop Le Palais de Poulet, and we get to help her transform it into a palace worthy of its name. I promise to post pictures, if and when we get it completed (our list of projects is fairly lengthy).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A new grouping on my counter, that is both beautiful and practical (I use the oatmeal, popcorn and red wine vinegar almost daily).

An unusual container-grouping that I planted months ago, and which managed to survive winter unscathed by freezing temperatures and deer. In fact, it seems to have doubled in size almost overnight!


"Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God ever gives us... It is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking." - from A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by Anna Quindlen

There is a woman here in town that I have a just-budding friendship with. She is on the board of The Bountiful Sprout with me, and she is the one who finally convinced me to join her yoga class, after 30 years of my just talking about it. I have not yet had the opportunity to spend any one-on-one time with her, though I do get daily updates on Facebook that give me a voyeuristic peek into her life. The last update she posted read "I am colored, waxed and ready to go on my trip! Can I leave now, please?"

We were supposed to be going on a producer-inspection visit together tomorrow, and I was looking forward to that as an opportunity to get to know her a bit better. This morning, as soon as I turned the computer on, I saw that there was a message waiting from her. However, instead of finding details of where and when we were to meet up, she told me that her parents and brother had been involved in an horrific accident out on Fischer Store Rd. Her father did not survive, her brother is touch and go, and her mother has broken hip, pelvis and ribs.

This woman's entire world has just been turned upside down, leaving her completely numb and in desperate need of our prayers. A terrible, tragic reminder to us all that life is uncertain, and we need to make the most of every single glorious day that we are gifted with. Please keep that in mind as you go about your day today. Slow down and pay attention in each and every thing you do. Breathe in the fragrance of your life, bask in its warmth, thrill to its colors, delight in its laughter and music. Soak in every moment as if this might be your last opportunity to do so, because, well, you just never know...

Monday, February 16, 2009


I have three rows of blog-sites saved on the bookmark bar at the top of my screen, and I visit most of them once a day - one row in the AM, one in the afternoon, and one before bed. I'm not wasting time, it's research! Three rows is my limit though, and if I happen across a new one I really like, I can only save it if I'm willing to delete something else. One thing I have noticed is that my tastes have morphed over time. At first I was saving blogs about midlife in general, and some about the craft of writing. Then for a while it was foodie, garden, and a few craft blogs. Now I glom onto any blog that really gets the big picture. I want the whole shebang. I want blogs about people who know what it means to be living the good life.

Looking over the ones that are now bookmarked, I have begun to notice certain features that I am drawn to. One thing I love is a blog that teaches me how to do stuff. Next, I love blogs that tell a story - blogs that make me want to go back to the beginning of their archives and work my way forward. Most of all, though, I love wonderful photos of life's simple, ordinary, everyday activities. I will try to keep all of this in mind, when I'm thinking about what to post. Oh yeah, and I adore before & after pics, so here are a few for you:

First and second, our original living and dining area were combined in this one small space.

Third, the bumped out version as it is now.

Fourth, the original porch that we had to borrow from, and...

Last, the dining area we got by doing that.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Yesterday was a landmark day. First of all, I got to come home to Wimberley, after being away for two weeks. Second, my honey was here waiting for me. Third, he knew that once I got home to my little house, I probably wouldn't want to get out again for a while, so he agreed to meet me in Austin (which I pass through, coming back from Dallas). We got to hang out in the bookstore for a while, went to see Coraline (Awesome!), and ate yummy Mexican food at Matt's El Rancho. When we finally got home, we spent the evening snuggled on the sofa. We read, we watched an old Clark Gable (Oops - I mean Carey Grant - see comment) movie (part of my gift to him), and he even stayed upstairs to watch Rosemary & Thyme with me, instead of wandering down to the bat cave to watch Sci-Fi. Best of all, though? He gave me the most amazing Valentine's gift ever - a gift certificate to Kiva. Which proves that my guy gets me. He really in truly gets me!

In case you are unfamiliar, Kiva is an organization that facilitates microloans, and has been featured on CNN. They allow you to lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world, thus empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty. Loans can be for any amount you are comfortable with, starting at a mere $25. For more information, visit the Kiva website. Below is a summary I found there:

How Kiva Works

Choose an Entrepreneur, Lend, Get Repaid

The below diagram shows briefly how money gets from you to a developing-world entrepreneur, and back.

1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of our microfinance partners worldwide.

2) Kiva's microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur's chances of success.

3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.

4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.