Saturday, July 3, 2010


Letting go...that's a doozie, isn't it? Story Circle Network recently offered that up as a writing prompt, and though I'm not planning to submit anything, the topic just seems to have dug itself into my brain, and rears its head every time I turn around.

When our adult kids moved back home for a few months, Austin with John and Lex with me, I didn't have too much trouble letting go of my Mom-the-advice-giver-and-problem-solver role. It was the Mom-as-worry-wart role that I just couldn't shake . It was a constant battle, stifling the urge to call and check up on her whenever she was late getting home, even knowing that she'd managed just fine without me for the last nine years!

My friend and Muse, Outdoor Woman, has been holding vigil as her father passed on this week, and it brought back lots of tough memories regarding the passing of my parents and in-laws. Old age sucks. There's just no denying it, and no way around it that isn't much worse. But, I think it sucks for a reason. I think it's all part of the plan, for helping us to let go. Of life. It helps the one who is passing to anticipate the dropping of their shackles, and it allows those left behind to feel a sense of relief over their loved one's deliverance from pain and suffering.

Mostly though, I've been thinking about letting go of stuff. About how much harder it is for some people than for others. Now, John and our friend Tim are nothing like the hoarders on that new reality TV show, but they definitely have more trouble letting go than Paula and I do. In fact, whenever Paula gets the urge to purge, Tim has been known to start gathering up all his old ratty clothes and various belongings, then stashing them in the locked trunk of his car until her urge passes.

There are only two things that I have trouble letting go of. One is anything that was gifted to me, even if I've had it for years, and never used it once. It just seems like such a betrayal of the one who cared enough to give it to me, and I'd die if they ever found out and were hurt by it. The other thing is certain serving pieces and artwork. I had no trouble whatsoever getting rid of all the fancy silver and crystal that just weren't me in the first place, and never got used. However, most of the stuff pictured here was deeply loved and used to death, and represents so many wonderful life-experiences from another place and time. Though I will never be able to return there physically, I travel back in my mind each time I see or handle these things. So, what do you do, once you've accumulated 30 or 40 years worth of these memory triggers, but have chosen to settle in a place about half the size of previous ones? Well, you take a lot of photos. You write or tell stories about the memories they unearth. And then, you let go.

Friday, July 2, 2010


As I was beginning to write "Went to see Lexie's new apartment yesterday...", it occurred to me that I may have omitted some important details here on the blog. Like, you know that great little flat in the funky old house that I helped her move into just a few weeks ago? She doesn't live there anymore.

If you recall, the apartment was being rented by three different individuals, and she sublet from one who was moving off to Minnesota to take care of his parents, supposedly. The other two roomies were never there. When she finally did meet up with one of them, she discovered that they were both planning to move out at the end of July. Hmmm...., she wonders, who's responsible for finding replacement roomies, me or the landlord? If I don't find some in time, will I get stuck paying their share of the rent? So, she starts playing phone tag with the landlord, and when she finally pins him down, he says "Oh, didn't Doofus tell you? The entire place has been pre-leased beginning Aug. 1st. You all have to be out before then!" If there is such a thing as bad Karma, I hope it gives Doofus a serious kick in the ass, for failing to mention that minor detail before he let Lex pay to have all all the carpets professionally cleaned, and we hauled all those boxes and that furniture up those rickety stairs.

Ah well. Fortunately, she found a nice little efficiency in the area of Hyde Park, which she had fallen in love with, fairly quickly. Best of all, two new friends offered to help her move, so she and I didn't have to haul that now-assembled Ikea armoire down those then up this new set of rickety stairs. It may not have as much character as the other place, but she seems quite happy. No loud-music-in-the-middle-of-the-night-neighbors downstairs, and, it's hers and hers alone.

After my brief tour, we decided to have lunch at Hyde Park Grill, a venerable Austin institution. The food was okay, but what tickled me to death was discovering that it was right next to the new cheese shop, Antonelli's, that I'd read about in Edible Austin and had been dying to check out. Oh my! Not just cheese, but anything that goes well with cheese, like all kinds of charcuterie, Vosges chocolate, honeycomb, wild strawberry or fig preserves, and wine. What a jewel. But wait, there's more!

In the same little cluster of shops and eateries, we found a gelateria, an Italian trattoria, a Mexican joint with outdoor seating, where several people were enjoying a leisurely brunch (bet they have Migas!), a washeteria, and a yummy looking bakery/cafe with wifi - the perfect place to hang on those work-from-home days, while her laundry spins nearby. All this within biking distance of her new place? What more could a girl ask for? Like the man says, when one door closes, a window opens.

P.S. I was just going to throw out my usual thank you to Apron Adventures for the image above, which I grabbed off of google images, but something about her blog's name called to me, and I had to check it out. I think you should too. Now I have this young foodie Austinite's blog bookmarked with my favorites. I have a feeling it's going to lead me on many bloggable adventures!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I've got some friends who will be in the area this weekend and want me to give them an insider's tour of Wimberley. Then, in a couple of weeks, I'm hosting a cousins reunion here, and some of them will want a tour as well. My problem is, there's no such thing as a one-tour-fits-all solution, and small though Wimberley may be, you'd wear yourself to a frazzle if you tried to fit it all in at once, especially in the summer heat.

So, I'm trying to come up with a set of five or six either/or options that will help me tailor these
quickie tours to the individuals. Here's what I've got so far:

  • Choose one: Wimberley Glassworks, where they have continual glass-blowing demonstrations in an air-conditioned gallery, or, Old Oaks Ranch, with shopping for all things yarn related, alpacas, and a great sculpture garden?
  • Lunch: The Leaning Pear (gourmet locavore soups, salads, sandwiches) or Mima's (grandma's made from scratch tacos)?
  • Shops (great shoe store, Blue Willow, Wall St. Western, River House, Circa and Kiss the Cook) or Galleries (Wimberley Art League show @ Community Ctr., Bent Tree Gallery artists' co-op, and Gallery on the Square)?
  • Afternoon break: sno-cones at a shaded picnic table, DQ Blizzards, or cool libations on Inoz' shady terrace overlooking the creek?
  • Drive-by peeks at The Blue Hole, Wimberley Players Theater, and the Corral outdoor theater, on the way home.
So what do you think? Based on your own visits here, or on things you have read about on this blog and would like to see for yourself, am I forgetting anything important?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010




I tell you what, there's nothing quite so exhilarating as being awakened in the wee dark hours by a shrieking smoke alarm. No smoke, just a spent battery (my bad). Wasn't that on one of my to-do lists a while back? The event was made even more exciting by the fact that this particular alarm cannot be reached with our household stepladder, which meant a trip to the garage...the open air garage across the wide, dark driveway...the open air garage filled with clutter to trip over...the open air garage where I saw a big snake not long ago.

I managed to make it out of the garage alive, maneuvered the ladder through our small house without breaking anything, set it up in my bedroom and began to climb, only to discover a giant mud-dauber wasp's nest on the second rung from the top. Remind me again, why was it that I was so hell-bent on moving to the country? Oh yeah, because it gives me something to blog about! Well, as you can see, I lived to tell the tale.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


When John gave Lex this great little "Townie" bike, as a house-warming gift when she moved to her new digs in Austin, it got me to thinkin', about what makes a person athletic. Is it being exposed to sports and physical activities from an early age - being groomed to it, so to speak? Or, does it have more to do with body type and genetics?

There is not one single female in my family who has ever been any good at anything physical. In fact, if there is such a thing as a gene for lethargy, I'm pretty sure we have it - and it goes way back. Lex has much better eye-hand coordination than the rest of us ever did, but she's carrying on the tradition in other ways. I was reminded of this by a recent on-line exchange between her and her father.

Her bike had been on backorder, and when it finally arrived, they asked her to test-drive it around the shop, to be sure it was adjusted properly. That afternoon, her facebook update read "Contrary to popular belief, one can lose the ability to ride a bike over time." Apparently, she came close to crashing into their bike displays. Twice! Her father replied "Well, if I remember correctly, you weren't real swift, even as a kid!"

I suddenly had a flashback to that day, about 25 years ago, when John came wagging home a pastel-colored "Big Wheel" for her - one of those plump, plastic, ground-hugging 3-wheelers that most kids are crazy about. We had seen other little girls whizzing around our cul-de-sac on theirs, just having a blast, and thought surely Lex would love one. The day she got it, we had to practically force her to try it out. She rode sedately to the curb and back, and that was it. Hardly touched it ever again. It wasn't a total waste, though. Soon as Austin could reach the pedals, he was off like greased lightening, growling "Vrooom, vroom!" and whooping with glee.

Both kids shared the same environment, so I have to believe there is more to it than that. My mother, sisters and I were all a bit wobbly on bikes and skates, late-ish (some never) on learning to swim, and could never seem to get a bat or racket to come into contact with a ball. Our brother, on the other hand, was an avid biker and jogger, and is now obsessed with karate. It just has to be something genetic, being passed from female to female!

The good news? A few days later Lex posted this: "Just finished a half-hour bike ride. No near-accidents this time!" It seems she is quite happy, sedately cruising her new neighborhood.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I have a thing for color. Have I mentioned that before? Only a thousand times, you say? Well, lest you forget, I think I just might make an official habit of sharing with you some of the things that send me over the moon.

This weekend, it was a piece of fabric. It called to me from across a crowded room. The combination of this siren's call, a certain bohemian-hippie-gypsy-cowgirl je ne sais quois, and my husband's giddy insistence, forced me to do something I haven't done in...well...I can't even remember, it's been so long.

I purchased a dress. Not a pair of jeans. Not a top. Not even a skirt. An actual dress. Hubby is over the moon, too.

Now comes the fun part - accessorizing! Which pair of earrings do you prefer?

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Like it or not, most women throughout time (though certainly not all) have spent much of their lives as caretakers - caring for houses, pets, gardens, children, grandchildren, spouses, friends, siblings and aging parents. However, in the olden days, when girls tended to get married right out of school and start having babies a year or two later, if things went according to plan, they were usually allowed two small windows of opportunity - brief periods when they were able to focus on some quality "me" time. One period began as their younger kids started driving, thus becoming fairly independent. It lasted as long as their aging parents were able to remain self-sufficient. The second window began when all four parents had passed away, and lasted as long as both the woman and her spouse were able to retain their own health and independence.

I myself, and many other women these days, missed out on that first window altogether. John's parents were both 30 when he was born, and he was 33 when our first child came along. Add to this the fact that his parents were both smokers, and what you end up with is a mother-in-law who had her first heart attack when our daughter was only a year or two old, and a father-in-law who started having strokes when our youngest was still in preschool. That became my era, not for me-ness, but for learning how to juggle. By the time the kids were pre-teens - not able to drive yet, but always needing to be five places at once - when I was back in school myself, with a part-time job and a husband who spent most of his time abroad, and my own parents were starting to go downhill as well, it was all I could do to keep the balls in the air.

My second "window of opportunity" has been a bit nebulous, kind of hard to pin down. We moved my mother-in-law in with us when my youngest was in high school, and Theda had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Within a year of her passing, John had his first chest pains and needed several stints. That's when I realized that if I didn't get proactive about things, I could miss my second window as well, and our dreams of a life outside the suburbs might never see the light of day. So, here I am in the Hill Country, grabbing for all the gusto I can, for as long as I can. This window may not be open long, but I've always preferred quality over quantity. Besides, it's really not good to have too much me time. My mother missed out on her first window too, but more than made up for it with her second, which stretched out for about 25 years. She went so deep into me-ness that she eventually became pretty much oblivious to anyone's feelings or point-of-view other than her own. Personally, I'd just as soon not end up like that.

Our parents have all passed, and the kids are out on their own, but there's still one thing missing from this picture - John. We had hoped he would have segued into occasional consulting by now, but due to recent events in the world of oil, he is still in Houston, working even more than full-time. Our parents had so much anger, so many regrets and disappointments regarding their golden years. All I ask is a few good years - time to build up some great memories in this bit of heaven for the both of us, and for John to experience his own window of me-ness. Memories that will see us through that final rough patch, and which will one day comfort our kids with the knowledge that we left with no regrets whatsoever. We emptied our bucket list. We had it all!