Saturday, August 21, 2010


This recession of ours was slower to reach here than other parts of the country, but eventually, it took its toll. Two years ago the restaurant that has been the cornerstone of the town square for longer than I can remember, Cypress Creek Cafe, closed its doors. Next it was the wine bar, and most recently, the restaurant I've been going to as long as I've been coming to Wimberley, Juan Henry's, down on River Road. I'm gonna miss having ol' Dave greet me from behind the bar, with his handlebar moustache and a twinkle in his eye. His food wasn't the greatest (though I was mighty fond of that mushroom quesadilla), but he's one of the first people who comes to mind when I think "Hill Country Character." I mean, you gotta love a guy who is willing to preside over a community-wide rain dance dressed in a bunny costume, right?

Of course, the economy wasn't the only thing that forced those two landmarks to shut down. They were in business a very long time, and got pretty set in their ways - but the times, they are a changin'. New kids are coming to town - kids like the couple who opened The Leaning Pear - and they've raised the bar on our expectations by making simple, delicious food using fresh, real ingredients. You either step up to the challenge, or you get left behind. Mima's, who has always offered simple, made from scratch food at a good price, is probably busier than she has ever been before, despite the sagging economy.

Now, after two years of sitting empty, Cypress Creek Cafe has finally reopened, and the wine bar has been reborn as Lucy & Ethel's Eatery-Bakery. Will they be up to the challenge? Only time will tell.

Afternote: When I went to snap a photo at Lucy & Ethel's, I decided to step inside and ask for a menu. Somehow I ended up leaving with two tiny croissants - one almond, and one chocolate. If my almond croissant taste-test is any indication, I'd say L&E is probably up to the challenge!

Friday, August 20, 2010


It may be August in Texas, but there's still color to be had!


I should have known better than to think John could just ease himself out of his company and into retirement. He hasn't changed his mind, but I have a feeling it's going to be anything but easy.

You see, John has these two partners. They are polar opposites of each other in every way except one - they both want more than anything in the world "to be somebody." One is a power junkie, the other needs lots of bling to make him feel valuable. All John wants is for everyone to be happy. Sometimes the company rocks along OK for a while, but then partner #1 will come up with a new idea - the thing that is finally going to make them all rich, and crown him king of the world. He goes a little nutso when he latches onto something like this, and it never ends well. Last time he got them all ensnarled in a nasty lawsuit, which they won, in theory. However, we all know the attorneys are the only ones who really win in a situation like that.

Once they made it over that hurdle, things got back on a fairly even keel for a while. Idea Man had a new little project to obsess over, causing him to neglect the bread and butter side of their business, but at least it kept him out of John's hair. Gradually though, I think he began to realize that this one was never going to pan out either, and that John was really serious about retiring soon, because he seemed to be making a fast spiral down from his usual manic perch. Then along comes the call from BP, saying "Hey John. How about coming to lend us a hand for a few days?"

In no time at all Idea Man was back on his perch. This was it, man! The thing that would get him on the cover of Forbes, and make them all bazillionaires! He knows he's run out of time, too, so he's not gonna give up on this one. It's now, or never.

My gut tells me this is not going to end well. At all. Their attorney is feeling mighty chipper though!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Hmmm, I just realized it's been a very long time since I added anything to my garden journal. I suppose I should take a stroll around, making note of what's going on. You always think you will remember from one year to the next, but you never do. For instance, I need to remember that the fruit on this little tree to the left of the oak - the best discovery we ever made on this bit of land - is ripening right now (turning a dark purple-black), unlike its common cousin, who will cause your lips to pucker and your eyes to water if sampled before the first frost.

It's also much sweeter than its Asian relatives that you see in the grocery store. This, my friends, is a native Texas Persimmon, and we are extremely fortunate to have it! Especially when you consider that only one out of many is actually a female, fruiting tree. (See? I told you I was lucky!)

According to my Trees of Texas book, settlers used the juice to dye leather, and woodworking enthusiasts value the hard, heavy wood (this tree is in the ebony family). Apparently country kids used to play "ridin' 'simmon saplin's", a game where they would climb to the top of a young persimmon, bending it until they could reach the next one, and so on (they tend to grow in clusters), pretending they were Tarzan, swinging from tree to tree. Personally, I'm crazy about the way the bark peels up and makes those cute little curlicues. Not so crazy about the huge mess it's making on our nice new stone pathway.

I finally got the nerve to put tongue to fruit this week (if you've ever seen the face of someone who's just tried an unripe one, you'll understand my hesitancy), and was startled by it's tastiness. There's too many seeds and not enough fruit for it to be a great eaten-out-of-hand fruit, but I bet it'd make a mighty good jar o' jam. Only problem with that is, it turns out I'm just not much of a jelly eater, and John won't touch anything but grape. I love buying it - especially the beautiful jars of homemade preserves that I see at all the farmers' markets these days - but then it just piles up in the refrigerator until I run out of room and toss them all. So sad. Come to think of it though, the fruit did taste a lot like grape, and it would be the same color too. Wonder if John'd ever know the difference?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Most of the older women I know will tell you that they have given up driving at night, because they can't see well enough any more. On the other hand, I don't think I've ever heard a man admit to that, regardless of age. So, here's my question: Do old men have better eyesight than old women, or, do they hate driving at night just as much as women do, but feel they must do it anyway because it's the manly thing to do, or, do they continue operating, right up to the bitter end, under the same belief system that allowed them to take so many risks as adolescents, and which led to the creation of the Darwin Awards books and provides most of the material for America's Funniest Videos - the belief that the laws of nature just don't apply to them, and they are somehow invincible? One more question: Can you even imagine two females doing what those guys in the picture are doing? One of my horticulture professors told us about two guys on a lawn crew who grew tired of trimming hedges with clippers. They decided a better idea would be to get on each side of their lawnmower, curl their fingers under the edge, and lift it up so they could just run it along the hedge and let it do the trimming. Now they have no fingers. I think I've just answered my own questions.

P.S. Many thanks to for the above image.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I am a practical minded, common-sense kind of gal, but also a designer and lover of beauty, so often my two sides come into conflict - especially in the garden. Right now my practical side is telling me to just break down and buy a bolt of that floating row cover fabric for my veggie beds. My

neighbor across the creek swears by it. She has raised rectangular beds with hoops over them, and has had them covered with this fabric all season long. She says her gardens have been pretty much pest free because of it. It might even deter the deer.

Unfortunately, my other side is screaming "Not only no, but hay-ill no!" This side of me says think about how many times per day I wander over to the dining porch windows to gaze down upon the garden below, and of how much pleasure I derive from seeing the patchwork of colors, shapes and textures that has formed there. "How much fun would it be," she asks, "to look down upon nothing but rows of dingy white fabric?" So far, she is winning the argument. Guess I'm just not hungry enough. Perhaps the Bountiful Sprout and the local farmers' markets are keeping me too well fed to get properly worked up over having my pole beans ravaged twice in one week - especially when the deer were nice enough to leave that one tiny cucumber that is finally forming on a vine that has sat there doing nothing all summer long, as well as my two plump watermelons and a few peppers that have formed on similarly lethargic plants. I have decided that a nice compromise would be to drape just the pole beans in a bit of bird netting. Of course, this agreement is null and void should the deer ever get greedier, or I get hungrier.

If the netting works, and I finally do get some mature beans, the big question will be, "Can Becky find her way through that tangle of fabric, or will the beans rot on the vine?"

Monday, August 16, 2010


Two things I'm crazy about are color (as you well know) and the city of San Antonio. I don't care how many tourists it attracts, I still love it. It's just one of those towns where you can't walk the streets without feeling history all around you.
Soooo, imagine my glee when I came across the book San Antonio In Color: Paintings by W.B. Thompson just lying out on a table at our library the other day. I have never known artwork to grab me the way this has, and that just from pictures in a book - imagine the effect were I to to see the real deal, face to face!

Thompson went to Trinity University in San Antone, and while there, he took an art class from Professor Bill Bristow. Apparently Bristow saw something in his work, for he encouraged him to continue developing his talent. Early shows and gallery exhibitions ended up putting Thompson through law school. He now lives and paints in the Virgin Islands. I would give anything for one of the pieces from his San Antonio period, but his success has made them way to precious for my budget. I read somewhere that he uses a combination of oil pastels, conte crayons and colored pencils, so I have bought some to play with here at home. I figure that if I can't afford any of his artwork, I'll just have to learn to make my own!

P.S. Many thanks to for the book jacket image above, and to for the Night in Old San Antonio image.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Halleluia, my camera works again! John tried reformatting it while I was in Houston this weekend, and it seems to have done the trick. That's one of the upsides of the weekend. The downside is those three trash bags I brought back with me, shown sitting next to the laundry basket full of stuff I brought back last time. Now I get to sort through it all and either discard or find homes for everything, and when I am finished, I will go back for more. This will continue until the townhouse is completely emptied out, so that John can relinquish it at the end of the year.

Those sacks are filled with tablecloths, placemats and napkins, which were all stored in one elfa unit that fit nicely in our large coat closet there. The only closets I have on the main floor of this house are these two narrow ones in our bedroom. As you can see, the coat closet also holds my vacuum cleaner, ironing board, cleaning supplies, and even a few out of season clothes. No elfa unit going in there! Guess that means I must reorganize the linen closet - which also holds pillows, quilts, knitting and craft supplies - to make room for my table linens as well. The laundry basket holds all the books and reference materials that were in my former office, and which must now be worked into the shelves in our bedroom, where I now have my office. Good thing I actually enjoy culling out and paring down, huh? Wish me luck!