Friday, December 31, 2010


Yesterday morning I asked John "Don't you need to go to Walgreens or Home Depot over in Drippin' today?" "Not really. Why?" "Well, I've got this audio book from the library that's just

about due, and I'm not making much progress on it. We need to drive somewhere that takes more than five minutes, so I can finish it up." A moment later he was standing by the door, cap on and keys jangling, so I scrambled to get ready and we took off.

He headed straight for Dripping Springs, but instead of turning in at Home Depot, he whizzed right on past and kept goin'. I settled back into my seat with a grin. "What? No questions? No demands to know where I'm taking you?" "Nope. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the adventure!"

At the point where RR12 dead-ended into another road, we spotted a wonderful old filling station/restaurant/bar/bait shop and decided to stop for a soda. Alas, though the neon "Open" sign was lit, the doors were locked and it was dark inside. That's when we noticed the "For Sale" sign in the flower bed, and the slick new station that had gone in across the street. We couldn't help feeling a wee bit sad, as we continued on our way.

After passing signs for "Bee Cave" and "Hamilton Pool", the area beside the road began to drop away and undulate, and I got the feeling that we were nearing water. Sure enough, as we rounded the next corner, I spotted the sign for "Lakeway", but instead of the green hills and valleys we remembered from college, we found a sea of MacMansions, stacked one upon the other. We ended up having lunch at a fun little place called The Iguana Grill, and as we sat there looking out over the lake, we reminisced about skinny-dipping at Hippy Hollow and other adventures from "back in the day."

After lunch, we explored the area a bit more, and discovered that the residents of Lakeway no longer need to drive into Austin, for Austin has come to them. They now have a huge mall and pretty much every chain establishment you could want, including my favorite, Mandola Market. Kinda nice, I guess, since it means we no longer have to fight the traffic up I-35 to get a city fix, but still...

On the way home I realized that we were about to pass the Doctor Pound Pioneer Farmstead in Dripping Springs, and we decided to pull in. It was the perfect antidote for the "march of progress" we'd been witness to all day, and an ideal ending to another lovely day of adventuring with my Squeedunk.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I thought it might be fun to go back and read what was going on around this time five years ago, when we'd owned the place for a year. We've come a long way, baby!


Yippie-kai-yo-kai-yay! They're coming to pave our driveway today! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it - even if it does mean we will probably be trapped here at the house once they start work. Now if only we had a washer and dryer here, things would be perfect.

By Monday, the day after Christmas, we were running out of food and underwear, so Lex loaded up all the dirty laundry and hauled it over to the laundromat in San Marcos, and I went to exercise and do the grocery shopping. Unfortunately, the dryers at the laundromat don't actually get things completely dry, and since Lex was going straight from there to Austin, to meet up with friends, she stuffed all the damp clothes back into the laundry bag, and it spent the night in the trunk of her car. Tuesday morning we pulled them out of the bag, and had to spread them out all over the bed, and drape them over chairs. They are finally dry now, but the wrinkles are something else! Let me think, do I even have an iron here in Wimberley?

Once we finished with that, I went with John to get his hair cut at the old-fashioned barbershop in town. It shot me straight back to the sixties, when I used to accompany my little brother for haircuts occasionally. The shops were almost identical, except for one major difference. At this one, one chair was manned by your typical good ol' boy, who just loved yakking about fishin' and huntin', but the other was manned (or should I say wo-manned) by a young gal with very long legs, and a very, very short skirt. Looks like she's pretty popular, too. I heard her taking lots of calls while I waited, and it sounded like she was booked way ahead, whereas John was able to walk right in and get a cut from the guy with no appointment at all. Hmmm, go figure? Oh yeah, there was one other big difference from the shop of my childhood. We didn't get any Double Bubble gum when they finished John's haircut, or even a lollipop. Bummer.

* * * * *

Well, I guess my excitement about the excavator was a bit premature. We waited around all day on Wednesday, and finally, sometime in the late afternoon, we heard someone chugging up the driveway. When we looked out the door, we saw a truck pulling a trailer up the hill, with a tractor loaded on it. The driver proceeded to unload the tractor, but then got back into his truck and just drove away! That was it. Zip. Nada. Well, I reminded myself, what the contractor actually promised was that the tractor would be there by Wednesday, not that they would begin working then, so I can't really say he was lying, can I? The next day, we waited in vain all morning. After lunch, another tractor showed up, but again, the driver turned around and left. Round about supper time, a piece of pipe showed up. So, we're zipping right along on this project. "Remember Becky", I remind myself again, "you wanted a slower-paced lifestyle!"

* * * * *

It is now Friday morning, and my hands are shaking so hard, it's difficult to write. I had been working in the kitchen earlier, when I heard a loud crash from the direction of the bedroom. I had all the windows open, so I assumed that something big had blown over. When I ran in there to check it out, I discovered that was not the case. What I had heard was the sound of the ceiling beam (or rather, the huge board that forms the base of an artificial one) that runs across the 20 ft. peak of our ceiling, crashing down onto our bed. In fact, one end of it was propped up on the wall at the foot of the bed, and the other was resting smack-dab in the middle of John's pillow, as if someone had aimed a huge javelin directly at his head. It's not even 10:00 a.m. yet, and if I had not awakened him early, John might well have been lying there now, with this beam embedded in his skull!

After John's third or fourth mishap here, my brother-in-law Bud said "Has it ever occurred to you that this place might be cursed, and you need to git while the gittin's good?" At the time, we just laughed, but now I'm beginning to wonder. The couple that actually built the house turned out to be friends of my sister-in-law's family. We found out from them that shortly after the house was completed, the husband discovered that he had lung cancer. I don't think they ever even moved up here full-time. After his death, the wife decided to stay in New Braunfels, and put this house up for sale. It had been on the market for at least two years before we came along. It was kind of a strange house, obviously built with their specific needs in mind, rather than an eye towards resale. However, it had everything that was on our wish list, and the price was right, so we decided to go for it.

After moving in, and learning all of this from Jack and Alma, I decided to write a little note to the wife, telling her how much we adore the place, and how grateful we are that she was willing to sell it to us. She wrote back and said that building this house had been her husband's life-long dream, and that we would never know how much love, passion, and attention to every tiny detail, he had put into it. Out next to the pump-house is a marble bench with a great view. This is now John's favorite place to sit after supper, smoke a cigar, and survey his new kingdom. I would imagine that it was the previous owner's favorite spot as well, because there is a little plaque on the ground in front of it, bearing his name. One day John and his buddy Tim were out there chewing on their cigars, and discussing how that plaque resembled a grave-marker. They went on to postulate that perhaps his family had scattered his ashes over the hillside there, if that was, in fact, his favorite spot in the world. I started imagining his spirit wandering the property. In a way, it was comforting, but it also made me a little bit nervous.

When we decided to call the place Seasonality, even though we knew he had dubbed it Fox Hill House, I couldn't help but wonder what he would think about that. When we painted the kitchen yellow, I wondered again if he would approve. One of the only things that really bothered us about the house was that the outside was totally beige - beige stone, beige stucco, beige trim, beige doors, beige porch rails... I kept trying to picture what I could do to give it a little more character. If only they had stained the porch columns a nice, natural cedar color, or if only we had room to add some rustic louvered shutters to the windows - anything to break up that sea of beige. Now don't get me wrong. I think they had excellent taste. They built a beautiful house, and we love it. It's just that John and I love color, and since we spent so many years being transferred from place to place, we always swore that once we settled down, there would be no more neutrals! Eventually, we decided to paint the porch rails a nice sage green, and that is exactly what John was working on when the beam came crashing down on his pillow. Think maybe someone didn't approve of his color choice?

Oh, by the way. It is now January 8th, and our driveway still isn't finished!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Well, the year is winding down. I can't believe I already got my first seed catalog in the mail! I'm still waiting to get something edible out of my fall garden, and here it is time to start planning the spring one?

January is going to be a crazy month for the Lane family, from the very first day (John's birthday) to the very last, when we hand over the keys to our Houston townhouse. So much to be done. So much to figure out. Walls to be patched and painted. Carpets and oven to be cleaned. Movers to be scheduled. What furniture to keep and where to put it? How to dispose of the rest? Usually January is a slow month, a time to rest and recoup from the holidays, and to make plans for the year ahead. But not this year. This year we've got to hit the ground running. I just hope little Lexie's birthday, mid-month, doesn't get lost in the shuffle!

Ah well, there're a couple of days of this year left yet and, you can bet your booties, I'm gonna savor every minute of 'em! There will be much reading, relaxing, and sipping of tea going on here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I don't know all the ins and outs of how the Danish government works, but I know enough not to have been at all surprised when a recent survey ranked the Danes as "the happiest people in the world." Years ago, when we were on our way back from living in the Middle East, Copenhagen was one of the many stops we made along the way. While there, we took a tour of some government run facilities, including a day care center and a retirement home. They were unlike anything I had ever seen in the states, and I couldn't believe the Danes got to use them for free.

Later, when we signed up to host an exchange student for a year, we were lucky enough to get a Danish boy named Eric, whom we have stayed in touch with for about 30 years now, and visited a couple of times. I remember telling my father once, about how things worked in Denmark -- how they don't have "the dole" as we know it, but that each Dane is guaranteed a job that pays a living wage, good child care so that they can perform this job, and great public transportation so that they can get to this job, not to mention health care, education and geriatric care. Dad was horrified. "So where's their motivation to go out and work their asses off building a career and becoming a success?" I had no answer for him.

At first it seemed as if Eric had set out to prove my father's point. He never did settle into one career and throw himself into clawing his way up the ladder as America's youth were expected to do. He loved to travel, and he loved spending time with his kids, so he would work at a job just until he had saved up enough money, then they would take off to do something amazing -- like spending the summer on the beaches of a Greek island and learning to scuba dive. When they returned, he'd try on another job for size.

Thirty years later, this is still his modus operandi. Was my father right? I'm not so sure anymore. Is their way of doing things really so bad? What did our singleminded determination to be "successful" get us? An entire generation of kids whose parents were never home? Who completely missed out on seeing their kids grow up, and the chance to really know them? Landfills overflowing with all our discarded "stuff"? Rampant greed and corruption? A country that can no longer feed or fuel itself?

Eric's life has been anything but carefree. He has been dealt some shattering hardships -- of the sort that have forced many Americans to end up living on the streets -- but because he is Danish, he has received excellent medical care, has stayed employed, has a decent home, his kids are going to get a good education, and he knows that he will be well cared for in his old age. Best of all, he has been an important part of his kids' lives every step of the way. Is it any wonder that the Danes are so happy?

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

Monday, December 27, 2010


Christmas Day involved: being wide awake by four a.m., then working my way through my handy list of obnoxious tricks for waking others up; opening a mound of gifts (most unique were Lexie's gifts to her brother - hand knitted Dr. Who

Tardis socks and a very succulent dinosaur, while most heartbreaking was the Mohican Wind Harp I ordered for John, but which arrived with half it's wires snapped); partaking of John's sumptuous Christmas breakfast, the one time per year when he steps up to a stove voluntarily; being introduced to Rock Band: Beatles by son Austin (what a hoot!); seeing the wonderful movie True Grit: and, last but not least, gathering round the table with our nearest and dearest for roasted beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, potato gratin, spicy roasted sweet potatoes, curried fruit compote, rosemary focaccia, and apple pie. We are so very blessed.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


On Friday we introduced my sister and her husband to a few of the Christmas Eve traditions we've acquired since moving to the Hill Country: hot chocolate at Cafe 1886; a visit to our favorite haberdashery, where the kids each came

away with jaunty new hats; time spent browsing at Book People and Waterloo Records; lunch at 24, right next to Waterloo - YUMMO!; time spent cruising through the flagship Whole Foods store, picking up delicacies for our top-your-own-pizza dinner, drooling over all the Christmas confections and checking out the ice rink set up on the roof; last but not least, the traditional bad sci-fi movie selected by John. What a day!