Friday, August 26, 2011


...and for grody sidewalks in the Cantina Garden!

 I discovered and identified that specimen above the first summer after we bought this place.  I'm sure it was here long before the house was even built (they are very slow growers, maxing out at about 35 ft.).  Now, it seems, we have another smaller one, over on the side of the house.

I just discovered that one the other day, when I was coming down the stairs and suddenly noticed the big black orbs on that scrawny twig of a tree.  Since only one in many specimens is a female fruiting tree, what are the odds that I would have not one, but two, right up next to my house!  They are both tucked up under large live oaks, so I'm guessing they are happy there.

I've read that early settlers used that purple-black juice to dye leather (I can certainly vouch for its staining capabilities!) and valued its hard, heavy wood, which is in the ebony family.  I also hear that the little black fruits rival the common persimmon in sweetness and flavor, and make a very good jam.  I have tasted a couple, and they were pretty good, but I'm not likely to ever find out about the jam, for it seems I have quite a bit of competition for that fruit. 

All kinds of birds and mammals love it.  Guess that's why I can never find more than one or two ripe ones at a time.  In addition to those who snatch my fruit, we've got the deer browsing the leaves, birds roosting and nesting in the tree, and the flowers attract many pollinators.  It's even a food source for butterfly larvae, and a source of nectar for adult butterflies!  So, I'll give the fruit up to them, and just be content with the fact that I have two lovely little specimen trees, with gorgeous peely bark at certain times of the year, which then reveals a beautiful, smooth underlayer of mottled greys and pinks.  Best of all, they don't seem to be the least bit phased by this wicked heat and drought we are experiencing.  Oh yeah, and I got them both for free!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I'm taking a mystery guest to Curves with me today, and to a meet up of the Muses this afternoon.   I'm not sure anyone will recognize her.  Do you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Well, the boy has been reunited with his dog.  We told him we would be quite happy to keep her another week or two, since he was so busy getting caught up at work and all, but he wasn't buying it.  We ended up meeting halfway last night, at a nice little Tex-Mex place in LaGrange, to do the handover.  I don't think we've had our two kids together in one spot since Easter, but it looks like they are both going to try and be in Wimberley for Labor Day -- maybe even with their new "friends" in tow.  ;-)

It's the same way with the Muses this summer.  Getting all four of us together in one place has been about as easy as pulling teeth.  One of them can only float with us if we do it early in the morning.  Another, only in late afternoon.  One wants to meet on Tuesdays, another on Thursdays.  One gets back from two weeks in France, another leaves for 3 1/2 weeks in Illinois.  That one comes back, and a third leaves for two or three weeks in Australia!  How is it that we manage to stay so busy all the time?  Aren't we supposed to be takin' it easy in our old age?  Ah well, at least we're all bsuy doing the things we really want to do these days, instead of just scrambling to do all the things we're supposed to do!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Many moons ago, when we came back from our first stint overseas, we went to an auction.  It was about the only thing there was to do in Kingsville, Texas on a Friday night, once football season was over.  There we found this beautiful little draw-leaf table with barley twist legs.  How I loved that table and its gorgeously grainy wood.  It was in pretty bad shape at the time, and we hadn't even found a house yet, but we nabbed it for next to nothing, hauled it back to our apartment, and I discovered what a really nasty task it was to strip and refinish something by hand -- especially something with four barley twist legs.

Later, when we were living in Houston, and had fallen in love with another table with beautifully twisted legs, the little draw-leaf table and the hutch my father-in-law George built for us got relegated to the kitchen.  Once we had moved to Midland, and butcher block tables and painted furniture had become all the rage, I had the "brilliant" idea of removing the original top from the draw-leaf, getting George to make a butcher block top for it, and painting the base dark Hunter Green. What can I say?  I bore easily.  But wait, there's more!

My own father was a home-builder in Dallas, and one of his favorite haunts was a place called Architectural Antiques (if I remember right), which was full of all kinds of interesting stuff they had found overseas or salvaged from demolished buildings.  When I was young, he was always wagging home odd bits and pieces that he thought he might use in our own home, or in one of the houses he would build some day -- stuff like that piece of carved wood above (which is why we could never park any of our cars in the garage).

Just look at the detail, and that gorgeous grainy wood!  Anyhoo, one time when the folks were in Midland visiting, Dad stumbled across that tabletop in my garage.  He said if I was absolutely sure I would never want to use it to "restore my table to its original beauty", he had an idea as to how he might use it to make something nice for over my mantel.  This is what I got for Christmas that year:

Gorgeous, isn't it?  Unfortunately, it's been sitting around in pieces ever since we sold our house in Katy, because there was no room for it in the townhouse, and we haven't yet figured out the best spot for it here.  I really think it's about time we rectified that situation, don't you?

Monday, August 22, 2011


The first annual Casino Night event, held this weekend to raise money for our local after-school art program, turned out to be a lot more fun that I was expecting!  We're still waiting to hear if we won any of these masterpieces in the silent auction, but thought you might enjoy seeing a few of them in the meantime.  Looking forward to doing this again next year.  In fact, I may even be compelled to decorate a chair myself next time!

Once everyone had a chance for a good look, the lights went down, the music cranked up, and the fun really began.  Turns out I just can't lose at Black Jack -- as long as I'm only playing with "pretend" money!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Most days I'm having a cup of hot tea and some steel cut oats by 5:30, so I can get straight to my writing once hubby is awake (my computer sits about 3 ft. from his pillow), and be off getting some exercise by 10 or 10:30.  On Sundays, however, I like to slow things down a bit.

I''m still usually up by 5:30 or 6:00 (just can't help it!), but I've found that if I sip a mug of something fragrant and frothy as I watch the sun come up, such as a good chai latte, I can stave off my hunger until Hubby is awake, and we can enjoy breakfast together.

After two different pricey electric frothing devices crapped out on me, I decided to simplify, and went with the Chocolatiere. (Santa brought it to me, so I'm not sure where it came from, except, you know, somewhere in the North Pole)  The insert resembles the inside of a French Press coffeemaker, and all I have to do is remove the lid mechanism, pour some skim milk in the cannister (skim makes better froth), zap it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, stir in a bit of the chai mix, reinsert the lid, pump the handle up and down a dozen or so times, and their you have it.  Nirvana! 

Just be careful about inhaling too deeply, or you might end up with a frothy-tipped nose! (not that that's ever happened to me, or anything)  It works equally well with hot chocolate, or with plain milk, if you want some froth to add to your morning cup of joe.  I'm very happy with this for now, but if it ever breaks,  I plan to simplify even further, and get me one of these -- a Molinillo!
This is the traditional tool for making a frothy cup of Mexican hot chocolate.  You simply insert the carved end into your cup, then twirl the spindle back and forth between your palms a few times.  It's simple, it's cheap, it will never break, and it forces one to sloooow down.  Best of all, it takes up no counterspace whatsoever.  Muy Bueno!  This makes me very happy.

What about you?  What simple pleasure have you slowed down to enjoy this week?