Friday, March 11, 2011


Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

Remember the movie You've Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?  I loved that movie.  And yet, I hated that movie.  I hated it because, up until that point, I was pretty much oblivious to what was happening to all the little Mom and Pop businesses across the United States.  I adored that little children's bookstore in the movie, and cried real tears at the thought of it being forced out of business and replaced by something so huge, cold and impersonal.

Meg's little shop reminded me so much of all the stores that used to be in our neighborhood shopping center where I grew up, Hillside Village -- most of which had owners who lived right there in the area, and who had kids that went to our schools.  It was the shopping center where I got my very first job, at a place called Community Sewing Center.  The movie got me to thinkin', and I realized those shops had all disappeared, one by one, and been replaced by the larger, glitzier, chain stores that you could now find in every other shopping center, in every other city.  It made me wonder when I had grown so blase about shopping in places where no one knows my name.

Soooo, fast-forward about thirty years, and imagine my surprise when we drove up to the Borders Bookstore in south Austin the other day (the only bookstore anywhere near us), only to find it draped with "Going Out Of Business" banners!  I got to thinkin' again...about the big malls in Houston that have been torn down recently, because people have grown weary of that whole "mall experience" and want their shopping to be a little more personal.  Now "mixed use" developments, that are trying to recreate the aura of a village or neighborhood shopping center, are springing up everywhere.

Then I remembered the charming little Blue Willow bookstore that was near our townhouse there.  It has served several generations of book-lovers -- it took a lickin', but kept on tickin'!  Wouldn't it be ironic if the tables were about to be turned?  What if the on-line book dealers and the popularity of e-readers, which has put the monster stores and their huge overhead expenses out of business, ends up creating opportunities for some small shops who cater to those who crave a more intimate experience?  If they ever make a movie about that, you can bet your boots, I'll be there cheering!

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

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I ask you, what could possibly hold more promise than the buds on a new peach tree?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


A home-built slip 'n slide in Indonesia - the kind of thing engineers think up when they've got too much time on their hands.

My hubby is much more of a risk-taker than I am, and that's a good thing.  We balance each other.  Were it not for him, I'd have stayed in Dallas forever, doing whatever my folks wanted me to do, liking what they thought I should like, and I sure as heck wouldn't have two blog's worth of stuff to write about.  On the other hand, were it not for me, John would have died a tragic death, or been horribly maimed, years ago!

Sometimes, it's good to step out of one's comfort zone -- try new things, even if you don't want to, like maybe, learning to drive a stick-shift car, on the wrong side of the road, in a foreign country that doesn't seem to have any traffic rules other than "He with the loudest horn has the right-of-way."  Or perhaps, just learning to pump your own gas, or trying to body-surf, or getting a microwave oven, or using a computer or cell phone, going back to school, starting a garden design business, applying for a job I had no experience for but knew I'd love and be good at,  or even starting a blog.  I might never have done any of this, were it not for John's two hands on my rear, always shoving me along, despite the gouges my heels were digging in the floor.

Occasionally, though, I really do have to draw the line.  I think that's why God gave me more than my share of common sense, so that I can fast forward and see all the possible outcomes of a particular situation.  Have you ever known a person who used to have a fairly decent life, and you wonder how it ended up a total trainwreck?  Well, it was probably because they decided to take a little risk -- something as simple as leaving a space heater running all night to keep the pipes from freezing -- an no one tried to talk him out of it.  No one asked him, "But what if it catches the whole neighborhood on fire?  What if someone gets killed?  Would you be able to live with the consequences, cuz I know I sure couldn't!"

So, like I said, we balance each other.

P.S.  See that slip 'n slide the guys built in Indonesia?  They put a hump at the bottom to slow you down and keep you from running into the trees.  Only, instead of slowing John down, it sent him airborne, he lost hold of his little floatie thing, and he came down with a horrible thud, right on his tailbone.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I guess I kinda forgot about Color-Mad Mondays for a while, but then I stumbled across this big ball o'yarn, in all my very favorite colors -- my Cantina Colors.

And when I say big ball, I mean BIG BALL.  That's a normal ball of yarn on the left, just to give you an idea.  The only thing I don't like about this yarn is that it's acrylic.  It squeaks when you knit it.  Bbbrrrrrr!  But the colors...I just couldn't resist those colors!

I could probably get several tea cozies out of a ball like this (and there's the first one, already in the works), but I'm thinking afghan -- an afghan that could be used for snuggling in any room of the house, and serve as the basis for any Cantina color choices that we might need to make, such as the upcoming Cantina Shower and Cantina Kitchen Floor re-dos.  In fact, Lex is using it right now to choose a color to paint my Cantina Laundry/Potting Room.  But if I'm going to knit an afghan, one big ball just isn't going to cut it.  Guess I'd better get back over to Hill Country Weavers pronto, and pray that they have several more just like it.  Anybody got a nice afghan pattern to share?  This will be my first!