Saturday, August 8, 2009


Is there anyone here, other than me, who sometimes longs for the good old days? The days when you could get in and out of the grocery store in no time at all, because there were only two or three varieties of deodorant to choose from, two or three kinds of laundry soap, and everyone in your family used the same bottle of shampoo? I wrote here about my belief that having too many choices can sometimes be just as difficult as not having any at all.

It was bad enough when we only had to decide which product worked or tasted best. Then they managed to convince us that we were each such unique individuals, that there was no one shampoo or toothpaste or mouthwash that would work for an entire family. We had to find the one that was just right for each person's special needs. Then we had to worry about whether it was healthy for us, or contaminated, or humane, or ecologically sound, or sustainably produced, or, or, or...well crap. I give up! Can anybody help me?

But wait...what is this? I'm at the store, grocery shopping with my son. I have become stuck in front of a vast array of yogurt choices, unable to make up my mind. Suddenly he whips out his i-phone, thumbs begin moving at the speed of light, then he turns to me and says "You want the Silk vanilla yogurt." On the next aisle, I become bogged down once more, and again, the phone comes to my rescue. What in the world is going on here?

It seems my prayers have been answered, in the form of Good Guide. What started as a UC Berkley research project is now available to anyone who needs quick access to all the information necessary for making informed decisions. They have given items numerical ratings based on health, environmental and social performance, and stars for user preference. If you don't have an i-phone, like me, just peruse your shopping list before leaving the house, and check the ratings on-line of anything that's likely to cause you angst. Suddenly, shopping just got a whole lot easier!

Friday, August 7, 2009


A while back, when we first spoke of getting professional help - landscaping, not mental! - John suggested I contact "that garden blogger in Austin that you like so much." He was referring, of course, to Pamela Penick, at Digging. So I did, only to find that her focus is designing for the do-it-yourselfers with normal-sized urban or suburban plots, and she doesn't do installations at all. She did, however, have a name to give me, so I passed it along to John.

Some time passed, and nothing more was said. I had warned John that a project such as this could easily cost as much or more than our entire water-catchment system installation, and I figured this news must have quelled his enthusiasm. Au contraire! Just yesterday he forwarded to me an email he had sent the landscaper, which said merely "We are interested in using native plants to minimize watering and care requirements. We like to keep things natural looking. If you accept jobs in our area, we’d like to set up a time to meet and discuss the job. If you are unable to undertake this project, can you suggest another designer who does work in the Wimberley area."

Turns out his estimate for paying our quarterly taxes had been a tad high this year, and we got a bit back for a change - a bit that might just about cover this project. I decided, though, that the landscaper needed a tad more info than John had given her, so I wrote to her, saying "OK, you've heard my husband's side of the story, now here's my wish list, along with a few photos of the area you'll be working with. Can't wait to meet with you!" I wouldn't have been surprised if she had run off screaming, once she saw the disaster area she'd be working with, and my ridiculous list of demands, but she did not. Must be made of strong stuff, for her reply was "Hi Becky, I just got lost in your blog! Thanks so much since I'm up to my eyeballs in work and my husband is in the hospital. (Really, he hurt his back...will pick him up soon.) Seriously, I enjoyed seeing photos of the house and landscape. You have some fine Little Bluestem...a sign of good habitat. Cantina garden certainly doable."

Keep your fingers crossed. She just might be "The One!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009


If you're looking for ways to use up an excess of zucchini, have I got a surprise for you! I really didn't expect to like this very much, as I'm not a huge fan of any squashes or of mint, but boy, was I ever surprised. Try it. You'll like it!

Zucchini Carpaccio (adapted from a recipe by Kemp Minifie, found in Gourmet Magazine)

Slice a bunch of zucchini into thin rounds with a handheld mandoline, working right over a large platter. Overlapping layers is fine. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice (I didn't have any lemons on hand, so I substituted some white balsamic vinegar), and olive oil, and season it with flaky Maldon sea salt and fresh pepper. Over all this, scatter a handful of fresh mint leaves, and lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano curls shaved from a big wedge with a vegetable peeler. That's all there is to it. I was just going to eat a bit of this with my dinner tonight, and save the rest for later, but ended up finishing off the entire plate in one sitting. Yummy!


Where she'll stop, nobody knows. Where does that come from? Is that what they say when they are spinning a wannabe pinata smasher, or does it have something to do with the game of roulette? Well, no matter. It's the perfect way to describe how my brain works each morning, as I sit here watching the sun come up. Usually it flips past maybe a half dozen subjects before it begins slowing down, then finally latches onto one topic and won't let go of it until I've mulled it over thoroughly, and dumped all of my thoughts and conclusions out on the pages of my notebook.

Occasionally though, I feel more like a slot machine. There are days, such as today, when I just barely have time to pause on a subject - such as the disturbing fact that way too many of my friends and cousins are popping up with cancer all of a sudden - before someone reaches out, pulls the crank, and sets my mind to spinning again. Then it's off to thinking about something I want to cook, and over to the weird dream I had last night, and from there to the subject of how much money we wasted on braces for me and the kids, since all three of us now have crooked teeth again, and then it's on to...well, you get the picture. Finally, it just made me too dizzy and tired, so I chucked the journal and decided to make a list instead.

I love my lists. They always make me feel so much better! For instance, when I find myself stewing over all the things I have not yet accomplished in my life, it's very helpful to turn the tables and make a list showing just how far I've come. When I begin to wonder if I'll ever be able to call myself a "real writer", all I have to do is go back and read some of the first stuff I wrote (Ack! Painful!) then compare it to more recent stories. Can I call myself an artist? No, but there was a time when I could barely draw stick-figures. Don't believe me? Just scroll back to that very first "To Do List" I posted on my blog last September. Yikes! When I get depressed about trying on swimsuits, I remind myself what it was like ten years ago, when I was about twenty pounds heavier, my knees were both threatening to go out on me, my gallbladder was making me miserable, and my cholesterol was trying to go through the roof. In fact, I think that if I were to sit down and make a list of every way in which I've grown or changed for the better; all the new things I've tried or learned; all the adventures I've had and wonderful people I've connected with, just in the past two years here in Wimberley, why, I'd probably be downright amazed at myself!

That, however, would be a very long list, and I haven't the time for it just now. I think I will focus instead, on this one little week. The one that has just flown past me, with so much left undone.

What Have I Accomplished So Far This Week?
  1. Finally got rid of the front door wreath full of wasps.
  2. Have almost completed one of my newsletters for the old folks, which I haven't bothered with in weeks!
  3. Hooked up with a bunch of long-lost friends on facebook.
  4. Agreed to sit on a blogging panel at Story Circle Network's national conference in Feb.
  5. Fertilized my plants for the first time since early spring.
  6. Went to the laundromat.
  7. Vacuumed up 20 lbs. of fluff, left by our favorite furball last weekend.
  8. Finished reading The World According to Bertie, by Alexander McCall Smith.
  9. Went on a mystery shopper call and filed my report.
  10. Typed up my first official minutes from the TBS board meeting, and figured out how to post them on our website.
  11. Blogged pretty much every day.
  12. Put together a book-give-away package for the blog, gave a review of the book, and got the package shipped off.
  13. Finally got new glasses as back up for my contacts. I can see again!
  14. Finally replaced the key tag for tracking my workouts at Curves, which I lost about a year ago.
  15. Finally passed below that magic number on the weight charts where I am no longer labeled "obese" - I'm just fluffy.
  16. Finally cleared off my desk. Then proceeded to crap it out again.
Not bad for one short week, eh? What's on your list?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Yes, I admit it. I do enjoy torturing you with pictures of luscious food when you are stuck there at your desk.


Homemade vanilla frozen yogurt, with just a hint of cinnamon. Perfect topped with fresh peaches, or perhaps alongside one of my Mexican Chocolate Streusel Brownies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Not long after we bought our house, I wandered into the Village Library looking for books related to Wimberley's history. I found a lovely little tome called Wimberley: A Way of Life, by Linda Allen. Turns out Ms. Allen is a woman of many talents, for not only does she write books and poetry, she has also been one of the premier caterers in these parts for quite some time.

A year or two ago, I guess she decided to branch out, and needed more space. I noticed that a cute little stone house just past the library was being renovated, and a sign went up that read Linda Allen Catering, and Fine Foods To Go. Well what do you know? We've got our own little Eatzi's, right here in Wimberley!

I kept meaning to go in and pick up a few things, but somehow never got around to it. Then I noticed something in the paper, saying that they had added some dining areas for those who preferred to pick out their items from the case, and consume them there on the premises. Still, I didn't stop in. Then I started noticing the cars. Lots and lots of cars. Finally my curiosity got the best of me, and John and I decided to have dinner there. We've been kicking ourselves ever since, for all the time we wasted!

My picture really doesn't do the food justice, I'm afraid, but the salmon patty special that evening was outstanding, and included dessert and a beverage for less than ten bucks each. Next time I went back, I got a veggie plate, because there were so many amazing sides and salads that I was itching to try. By the way, quinoa salad with apricots, edamame, pistachios and dried cranberries? To die for!

Monday, August 3, 2009


For those of you who followed the saga of our water-catchment system installation all those months ago, I am sad to report that we have not yet been able to switch our pump over from well to tank, to begin supplying our whole house with cloud juice. I'm not sure what the magic requirement is, but the guys from Tank Town say we still don't have enough water in our tank to make the switch. Every time we get the least bit of rain, I immediately run out to the tank, and knock on its side to see how far up the water reaches. Next, I run back into the house, call John and report, "It's ankle-high." Then calf-high. Almost to my knees. Approaching mid-thigh. Finally he said "Tell you what. You let me know when you've got water up to your woo-woo. Then I'll start getting excited!"


RITERGAL! Congratulations Ritergal. If you will just send your mailing address to me at becky.lane(at)vownet(dot)net, I will get your prizes in the mail A.S.A.P.

By the way, if any of you readers have ever had the urge to put pen to paper, be sure to check out Ritergal's wonderful blog The Heart and Craft of Life Writing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Today is the last day to get your name in the hat for these fabulous prizes, so leave a comment before midnight if you wish to be included in the drawing!