Saturday, October 8, 2011


Just for the fun of it, I decided to go back and re-read the posts I have written, right around this same time of year, each year that we've had this house.  Oh my gosh, what a trip!

Do you remember this one from '05, called Happy Birthday to Me, about our first drive over to Fredericksburg?  The drive that took almost five hours!

In '06 I wrote I Won't Grow Up, which told of my discovering the Mystery at Jacob's Well.

In the fall of '07, when I wrote Lean On Me, we were recovering from all the repair work that had to be done after our roof just up and blew away, were extremely grateful for the wonderful friends that got us through it, and had just discovered an amazing little cafe, called The Leaning Pear.

In the fall of '08, we began our Year of Reading Dangerously book give-away, I was learning to appreciate Me, As God Intended, and I published my very first pictorial to-do list in She Loves Her Lists.

The next fall I gave you a Sneak Peak at my plans for a Mexican Hacienda Couryard Kitchen Cantina Garden, we learned that our precious Lexie was finally going to return, after four years of living in California, and we had to face up to the fact that the last of our four parents was going steadily downhill, and we were about to become the senior generation! 
 This time last year I was celebrating fall making concrete yard art and having tea parties with the Muses, attending my first ever dinner party held Outstanding In Her Field, and getting ready for my hubby to move to Wimberley full-time, at last!

Hard to believe another whole year has elapsed since then.  Impossible to believe almost seven have passed since we bought this house -- seven years of living the good life!  It's easy to forget, sometimes, what a truly wondrous trip this has been.  Thank goodness I have this blog to remind me!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Caught in the act!
I can't believe it.  I was just sitting here watching the sun come up one morning not long ago, amazed that it was time to start thinkin' about Christmas gifts already, when suddenly it came to me -- the perfect gift for my dear hubby.  It's a miracle!  He has to be the hardest person in the world to buy gifts for.  The only things he likes are all the gizmos I know nothing about, and the truth of the matter is, if there is a piece of equipment out there anywhere that he hasn't already bought?  It's only because he doesn't really want it.  He's not one to drag his feet when a shiny new doo-dad comes on the market.  On top of all that, he's kinda forgetful and a bit impatient.  I force him to make a wish list every year, go out and buy a bunch of the stuff on it, then end up spittin' bullets, when, a week or two before Christmas, he goes out shopping and comes home wagging a few goodies for himself -- things he forgot he had put on his list, which I already had wrapped and ready to go under the tree!  Now I ask you, who goes shopping for themselves right before Christmas?

But not this year, by-doggie!  This year there will be neither spitting of bullets nor gnashing of teeth!  For the first time in forty years, I know exactly what to give him, and it's going to blow. his. mind!  If I can just pull it off.  It will involve a bit of sneaking and snatching -- two things I'm not very good at.  Too bad I can't write anything more about it until after the holidays!
P.S.  Actually, that wasn't really Santa in the fireplace of the garden center giftshop where I used to work.  That was just half of Santa -- and I had a devil of a time getting him shoved up into it!  Did you happen to notice that Santa traded in his traditional boots for some of the super-comfy garden clogs that we sold there in the shop?

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Rancher Dan Gives Riding Lessons
Back in the days when I got all my food from a huge supermarket, I really didn't give much thought to where it came from, or the people who raised it.  John had some uncles who farmed, and my Uncle George was a rancher, but since we only saw them on holidays or at rodeo time, I was pretty much oblivious to what their day-to-day lives were like.

That all changed when we moved to Wimberley, and I got involved with The Bountiful Sprout.  Now, much of what I eat has a name and a face attached to it, and I am all too aware of the struggles they have gone through just to bring it to me -- even more so as we approach the end of this second year of the area's worst drought in recorded history, knowing that it's far from over yet.
Our friend Danny only went to work as an engineer for Mobil Oil in order to support his ranching habit.  For thirty years he's spent most every weekend and all of his vacation time here in the Hill Country, helping his dad to run their combined ranches.  A couple of years ago, when Mr. Reeh was nearing 80 and had lost his right-hand-man, their son Travis became a rancher as well.  Dan finally got to retire from engineering this year, on September first, to become the full-time rancher that he always dreamed of being, only to be faced with hauling in trailer after trailer of hay, priced around $130.00 per bale, just to keep his starving animals alive.  But, according to his wife Peggy, even if you can afford to buy the hay, the cattle just won't get fat eating that alone.  They need something to graze as well.  Peggy says they can probably hold on the rest of this year and next, but if the drought hasn't broken by then, she's not sure what they'll do.

Thanksgivings at my uncle's place, named Belly Acres, so he said, in honor of all the griping his kids used to do.  Uncle George is the tall, skinny feller in the back.
I've also heard that the reason beef is fairly cheap right now is because all the ranchers and farmers who can't afford the hay are having to dump their stock, which has caused a glut, and they are getting next to nothing for it.  All that will change drastically when there are only a few ranchers left.  When I mentioned all this to my friend Paula, she said "That is exactly why I could never farm or ranch.  I watched my dad suffer too much from weather problems that he could not control, and what he went through wasn't nearly as bad as this! Some wet years, he would get a really good crop of hay and cut it, but then it would rain on it and it'd be ruined before he could get it baled. Other years it would be a drought, and there'd be no hay or grass.  Too much stress!!! "

So, this is the kind of stuff I think of now, every time I take a bite of meat.  I hope you do too.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I've never been one to read books or watch movies over and over again.  There were just too many out there waiting for my attention, and new ones coming out every single day, to waste time rehashing the old stuff, right?  I'm beginning to rethink that stance, however.  It seems that, in order to find one great book these days -- one that grabs me and just won't let go -- I must first struggle through forty or fifty where I have to force myself to keep going to the end.

If only every book could latch onto me, and make me feel the way I did as a wee little girl discovering the worlds of Heidi and The Little Princess -- that feeling of being totally lost in another place and time.  I remember my mother having to drag me, literally, away from Heidi one evening, after having called me to dinner several times with no success.  As she hauled me to the table, I told her "Fine!  But I only want a piece of bread and a chunk of cheese, like Heidi!"

The same thing happened to Teen-Me when I discovered Jane Eyre, Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, The Moon-Spinners, by Mary Stewart, and a book called Marnie, by Winston Graham.  As an adult I have been grabbed and transported (abducted?) many, many times, but a few that come to mind are: the trips I took when reading James Michner's books Hawaii and The Source; the first couple of books in Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series; the first few in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series; my stays in Tuscany with Frances Mayes and in Provence with Peter Mayle; and of course, my amazing trip through the magical world of young Harry Potter.

Anyhoo, when I was telling you about Greece and The Moon-Spinners not long ago, it suddenly occurred to me that it had been so very long since I read that book, I could hardly remember anything at all about the plot.  All I could remember was the way it made me feel, and, perhaps, if I were to go back and read some of these abductors again, after such a long time, I just might be able to re-experience some of that magic.  Of course, I will never give up my search for new books of the same caliber.  I just wish I didn't have to wade through so many dogs in order to find them!

So, tell me.  Please!  What are some of the most mesmerizing books you have ever read?  The ones that grabbed you so hard, you risked smuggling them into the classroom, and propped them up behind the textbook you were supposed to be reading.  Or the ones you couldn't resist taking to work with you, just to read a bit on your lunch break, then got so immersed you forgot to eat at all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


It can be mighty hard to find good food in a tourist town.  Take San Antonio for instance.  The locals rarely ever go down to the Riverwalk, but they get a steady stream of tourists there year round.  They know they'll probably never see most of their customers again, so they aren't really aiming to lure them back over and over again with their delicious food.  All they really need is to be more appealing on the outside than any of the others around them, and not to be bad enough on the inside to make anyone sick and end up in the national news.
Wimberley is a bit unusual, in that, though we are a bit of a tourist town, we also have a whole lot of residents who moved here from places like Austin, Dallas, and Houston -- people who have reached that stage in their lives when they enjoy cooking less, and eating out more, and are accustomed to getting very good food when they do so.  People who also like to talk and blog about what they eat, so that word gets around fast.  If a restaurant here isn't good enough to attract the locals back over and over again, that's a restaurant that just isn't going to last.
So, the trick to finding good food in most tourist towns is to find out where the locals like to eat.  Which is why I'm so grateful that I have my friend Peggy to guide me whenever I venture over to Fredericksburg.  If you've been reading my other blog, Miss Becky Goes Abroad, you may have noticed her name popping up a lot lately.  She's the one who married our friend Danny, from the German ranching family in Doss, about an hour outside of Fredericksburg.  Peggy comes into town to work a couple of days per week, at a very cool shop called Remember Me Too.  If you are ever there, stop in to say hi, and tell her Becky sent you.
Anyhoo, one of the places Peggy likes to eat, whenever she's in town, is Pasta Bella, a little mom and pop run place just off of Main on Llano.  They turn out the most amazing food from their tiny galley kitchen, at very reasonable prices (lots of lunch specials for about 6.99 each).
So when my niece and sister wanted to drive over there to explore this weekend, we didn't pay six dollars just to get into the area where hordes of tourists were celebrating Oktober Fest by purchasing lots of beer and overpriced sausage on a stick.  We had a nice quiet lunch here at Pasta Bella, then wandered the streets and shops, which surprised us by actually being less crowded than usual!  We felt quite smug about it.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I'm so happy that I finally learned to knit.  It's such a peaceful, meditative thing, forcing you to slow down and just let it all go.  I will probably never knit a sweater, as that requires too much concentration.  Plus, we hardly ever need them here.  I prefer simple, quick, utilitarian projects.
I've had my fill of knitting tea cozies for a while, and have moved on to these guys -- little baby gnome hats!  I couldn't be more tickled with them.  Just ask my sister how many times I've picked this one up since she got here, asking her "Is this not the most precious thing you've ever seen in your life?
I can't help it.  It's just so dang kuh-yooooot!

So, what about you?  What is your favorite meditative task?  The one that forces you to slow down and just...b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


What can I say about Market Days in Wimberely?  500 booths. 1,000s of people, all determined to uncover treasure .  Traffic that creeps along at a snails pace.  Not being able to get anywhere near Mima's for a taco, since it happens to be right next door to all the hoopla.

Normally, we won't even go into town on a Market weekend, but about once a year, when the weather is especially fine, and an enthusiastic friend or relative is here visiting, I venture forth and join the melee.  You just never know what you might find.
Somebody must've snitched these from the Corral Theater
This time I happened to find a most unique gift for Dear Hubby -- something very old and utilitarian that is just perfect for solving one of his modern-day dilemmas.  But, I guess you'll have to wait until after Christmas to see or hear anything about that, won't you?
Not a great photograph, but trust me, the booth was amazing!