Friday, April 9, 2010


As you probably know, finding one's own special style can be a long, arduous process. It took me years to pin down exactly which clothing styles best suited my body type and personality. Then, just when I thought I had it all figured out, I underwent a head-to-toe mid-life shift (both physically and mentally), and had to go through the entire process all over again. Thankfully, I've finally got it down to the point where I can quickly scan the racks in a store or a page in a catalog, and zero in on the items whose color, cut and ambience are least likely to elicit groans when viewed in a dressing room mirror. Figuring out that last part - that je ne sais quois that just whispers "Becky!" to me - took the longest. Even more difficult has been trying to put a name on it. Try going shopping for a special event, and telling the sales-clerk you're looking for something with a "Casual Bohemian Hippie Gypsy Cowgirl" look.

OMG! Guess what just came to me, this very second, like sparks going off in my brain and traveling down my arm, onto this page. The perfect name for my fashion style! I'll just start telling them I want the "Hill Country Hippie" look, and just about any Texan who's been around since the 60's or 70's will know exactly what I'm talkin' about.

I've had a similar problem with the naming of my new garden. When I was first trying to explain what I was going for, to the archi-friend who was to help me design and build the structures, I told him I wanted a Mexican Hacienda Courtyard Kitchen Cantina Garden. Quite a mouthful, huh? So, it usually gets shortened to "the courtyard garden", or "the hacienda garden" or "the cantina garden" - but none of those really paints the full picture. They just don't convey the way this garden makes me feel! Then, yesterday, as I was adding a few more plants in riotous shades of magenta, hot orange and lime green, I got to thinkin'. About how this garden is my own personal celebration of family, food, friends, fun and color. And then it came to me. It's a Fiesta Garden!

P.S. Anyone know of a beverage that comes in a coral, peach or orange bottle? That's the only thing missin' from my soon-to-be Bottle Tree!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


(click image to enlarge)


Everything blooming on our property right now, from the Texas Mountain Laurel to the verbena, seems to be a similar shade of violet. When I noticed that even my little baby head of cauliflower was taking on that hue, I began to wonder, "Could it be contagious?" I didn't remember buying a special "purple" variety of cauliflower, so what was going on? I decided to query the nets, and this is what I found: Some cauliflower, when exposed to very intense sun (of the sort we obviously have here in Texas) will begin to take on a purple tinge. It's the same pigment that you find in purple cabbage, and is not harmful when eaten, but can turn a rather unappetizing shade of grey when cooked in water. So, if you wish to keep your cauliflower white, all you need to do is take the three largest leaves and clothespin them together to shade the head. Neat, huh?

Hmmm. The more I look at it, though, the more I like the way the purple cauliflower blends with the purple alyssum on one side, and the ribs of the big purple cabbage leaves on the other. Yep, the clothespin's gotta go!


I adore that girl - the one in yesterday's photo. The one who manages to find something to feel giddy about almost every single day. I lost her for a good long while, but ever since I rediscovered her, I've gone out of my way to make sure she doesn't stray again.

There was a discussion going on, over at Down-To-Earth yesterday, that reminded me of what it was like when my friend in the picture went M.I.A. It brought back some guilt- and resentment-laden memories of a time when I had so much, and tried so hard, but still felt that something was missing. It wasn't until I read the book Simple Abundance, by Sarah ban Breathnach, that I realized what the missing piece was. Me!

Like so many other young wives and mothers, I'd got so caught up in doing what everyone else thought I should do, and being who everyone else thought I should be, that I just forgot to pay any attention whatsoever to that girl in the photo. I guess she got tired of being ignored, cuz one day I finally looked up, and she was gone. Splitsville.

I hadn't a clue how to find her and lure her back, so you can imagine how happy I was to discover there were two great books - first, Simple Abundance, then, The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron - that gave me step-by-step instructions for tracking her down and reconnecting. Eventually, we were reunited, and not long after, I went back to school to study horticulture. At last! I finally had something to talk to my family about over dinner, other than the chores and errands I had accomplished. They seemed to get quite a kick out of my tales of trying to drive a bobcat for the first time, and of having to climb a huge tree with a mischievous teenager in charge of the rope to my safety harness.

One day I was at my drawing table out in the sun room, working on a garden design that I was very excited about. When John came up behind me to watch, I launched into a description of the vision I had in my head. When I glanced up over my shoulder to ask him something, I caught a glimpse of a look on his face that I hadn't seen for quite some time - pure, unadulterated love. If only I'd known. All this time? He'd been missing that girl in the photo every bit as much as me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


It pays to have friends. Friends with benefits. 'Tho I haven't been able to find any morel mushrooms on my property so far, my friend Outdoor Woman has hit the jackpot at her place. So, rather than having our usual weekly meet-up at the coffee shop, the Muses and I gathered at her place this morning. Not only did I get to go 'shroomin' for the very first time, I also got to gather eggs from the hen house - another first for me. Then we snipped some parsley from her garden, brought our spoils inside, and she made us an absolutely yummy brunch of scrambled eggs with sauteed morels, and hot Challah with herb butter. Once again I felt compelled to say, "It just doesn't get any better than this!"

P.S. We did do our research, and I hope you will too, if you decide to go 'shroomin' yourself. There are false morels, so be careful! I hear in France, during mushroom season, you can take your basket of shrooms into any pharmacy, and their experts will tell you if any of yours are dangerous. Wouldn't that be nice?


John wanted to have one last meeting with our financial advisor, before going ahead with his plans to retire and let the Houston townhouse go mid-summer, so he drove over to San Antonio yesterday to meet with her. Looks like she's managed to convince him that he should hang in there a while longer.

Based on the estimated budget he provided her with, and assuming we will both live to be 85 or 90, we only have enough savings to fund 80% of our future needs. We used to have plenty, but lost about a fourth of it all when the economy tanked. Pretty discouraging, huh?

Of course, I see a couple of major flaws in their reasoning. First of all, it's based on a budget that John drew up - which means it allows for constant upgrades on cars and gizmos, more remodeling projects, travel and entertainment, etc. In Houston, these are his only pleasures in life, so they are very important to him. Once he's here in the Hill Country full-time, really living the good life, I just don't believe he'll feel the need for those kinds of crutches much anymore (though he may need some time for weaning away).

The second flaw is that, if John moves here soon, starts going on his photo-taking walks and working in the garden on a daily basis, eating what I have prepared with our fresh from the garden produce and locally-raised, grass-fed meats, he just might make it to 80 or 85, despite all of his existing health problems. If he stays in Houston much longer, getting no exercise at all (except when he comes here occasionally and almost kills himself over-doing it), and continues to steadily gain weight by eating mostly packaged, processed and restaurant foods? Not a chance in Hell!

So, what's a girl to do?

Monday, April 5, 2010


I recently switched from my winter sunrise-ritual spot, in the corner of our enclosed dining porch, to my spring location out here on the real porch. So much better for watching the hummingbirds fight over the feeder, for smelling the Texas Mountain Laurels in bloom, for trying to decipher the cacophony of bird songs I am hearing (what is that one that always sounds as if he's saying "Neener, neener, nee-ner" to the others?), for feeling perfect temps and gentle breezes (most days - tho sometimes it's more like gale-force winds), and for savoring the sound of rushing water in the creek, for as long as it lasts. No mosquitos have attacked me yet, no spiders have spun their "Keep Off!" webs across the seat of my favorite rocker, and the hordes of red wasps have yet to stake claim to the rafters. I am as happy as happy can be.

This is my church - the place where I feel most reverent. I cannot help but be awed by the miracles of life that surround me here, and the miracles of creativity that come to me, seemingly out of nowhere, if only I take the time to sit and listen. In this church, I am ever reminded of all that I have to be grateful for.