Saturday, November 19, 2011


If I had to choose my two favorite books from the last five years or so, it would probably be The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, and The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.  I chose those off the top of my head, because they were the only ones I remembered not being able to put down until I had finished them.    Funny, then, that they should have so much in common, both being set in the deep south during the race riots, both centering around a young white female's search for her voice and place in the world, and both about the strong black women who helped them find it.

A couple of years ago, Sue Monk Kidd co-wrote another book -- a memoir -- along with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor.  It's called Traveling with Pomegranates.  I came close to buying it several times, but always ended up putting it back on the shelf after reminding myself that I only made it half-way through Kidd's second novel, The Mermaid's Chair.  Not long ago, however, my friend Nellie brought me a big box full of books she wanted to pass on.  I guess Nellie isn't much into fiction, since most all the books were of the self-help/inspirational variety.  Poo.  But then she grabbed one out of the box, asking "Have you read Traveling with Pomegranates yet? You are just gonna love, love, love it!  And you're gonna love me for bringing it to you!"

I wasn't sure I agreed with her at first.  It's definitely not the page-turner that Secret Life of Bees was, but, with each page I've turned, I've loved it even more.  Actually, it's two sides of the same story -- the story of what led up to Kidd writing the book she was meant to write, which, though she had been a writer most her life, was her very first novel, and not written until she was in her 50's.  It's also the story of her daughter's struggle with depression and finding the work she was meant to do -- about being able to step out from under her mother's shadow, and overcoming her fear of failure.  It's about learning to parent an adult child, and it's about the two of them traveling through Greece and France, learning about and from the strongest women of history, religion and mythology.  It's about following our passions, and about finding the place that speaks to your heart, feeds your passion, and pulls forth your creativity.

I guess it's pretty much about all the same things I sit here musing about every morning, and sometimes talk about on this blog, only they do it in a much deeper, more insightful way!  I will definitely be passing this one on to Miss Alexis when I am finished.  Could there be a more perfect book for mothers and daughters to share?  And, oh yeah, thank you Nellie!  I do indeed love you for sharing this with Lex and me!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I'm sitting in the living room, reading, when the phone rings.  It's my hubby calling, from outside!  "If you want to enjoy this fire, you'd better get out here fast."  Fire?  What fire?
Turns out, after that little rain we got on Tuesday, they decided to lift the burn ban temporarily, give people a chance to burn their brush piles.  Hubby came straight home, lit up a cigar, and then the fire pit. The first thing I thought when I joined him was "Aw, if only we had the makings for s'mores."  But then, "Hey, wait a minute...", and I ran back into the house.
Sure, the marshmallows were about a year old, but would it really matter once they were toasted?
And yeah, this was probably going to spoil our dinner, but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!
A cigar in one hand, and a s'more in the other?  That was one happy boy!  Too bad the party had to end so soon.
What is it about fires that makes them so mesmerizing?


This photo here?  This is the kind of thing that tends to happen when I'm a bit bored, and Hubby is just way too absorbed in one electronic screen or another.  If he had glanced up at any point in my knot-tying, or even twitched a muscle, I would have stopped what I was doing.  I would have known that he was, in fact, aware of another presence in the room.  Alas, he did not move a muscle until he heard the click of my camera.

It's a good thing he's not a morning person.  He's usually still in bed when I finish my sunrise reverie, head back into the bedroom to begin writing, and get sucked into my own personal oblivion.  Even if he does wake up before I finish, it's at least another hour before he climbs out of his fog.  That is my saving grace -- the only thing that has kept me from suffering serious retribution.  Thanks to that, I get by with nothing more than his sneaking up from behind once in a blue moon, to bounce me up and down on the balance ball I use as a desk chair.  At least...I think it's once in a blue moon.  To tell you the truth, I probably don't even notice half the time.

One of these days, he's going to grab my camera and flush it down the commode.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Well, our Fiber Woman wasn't joking when she said she enjoyed a challenge.  Everyone at my little get-together today took a gander at my kitchen shutters, but after five minutes or so of fiddling with the difficult ones, we all decided we'd rather go chow down on a few of my fall favorites: roasted hazelnuts with thyme and sea salt;  orzo salad with spicy pecans, feta, and dried apricots; beautiful fall pears with orange dipping sauce; and havarti-pecan quesadillas with pear preserves.  
All except Miss Cheryl, that is.  She cut away fabric to get a better view, used a wooden skewer to feel around with, tugged and pulled, and finally, she did it!  Now, whether we will be able to get those rods back in again is another matter altogether, but she met her challenge, and won a raspberry-colored market basket for her efforts.
Outdoor Woman said "Well, if I'd known it was actually a good prize, I would have worked a bit harder at it!"
I gave them all caramel apples as consolation prizes -- the old fashioned, made from scratch, unwrap a hundred individual caramels kind.  They were happy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The problem with not "finding my voice" until after I turned 50 was that I had so much stuff stored up that I wanted to talk about.  Which is why I have written around 1,350 posts on this blog alone, and a good number on my other one as well.  And, the problem with having so many posts under my belt is that, every now and then, I have trouble remembering whether I have actually told you about something here on the blog, or whether that was a conversation that's just been going on in my head for a while.  Take these shutters for instance:
I don't think I've told you about the party they've inspired, but I couldn't swear to it, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to dig back through a bunch of old posts this morning, so I'm just gonna chance it.  Forgive me if I'm wrong.

You see, these shutters and their fabric have become a big pain in my buh-donka-donk.  The toile fabric that was in them when we bought the house went just fine with that black and white checkerboard floor, but it does absolutely nothing for the hacienda-like tile and flooring of our recent remodeling project.  Change it out you say?  Easier said than done.  John, Lex and I have all spent a good amount of time trying to get the rods out of the shutters, to no avail.

The inside of the shutters.
So, I decided to assemble my think-tank and set them to work on the problem.  I've invited a few friends over for lunch tomorrow, and while I'm at the stove preparing their Pecan-Havarti Quesadillas with Pear Preserves, they can be studying the shutters to see if they can figure out how to remove this heavy galvanized steel rod -- the one with no break in the middle, no springs, and no way to bend.
I've even offered a prize -- a really good one, I might add -- to the first person who figures it out.  Which makes it especially funny that, while I was trying to take the photos for this post a little while ago, one of the rods just slipped right out in my hand!  Can you believe it?
Thinking I now had it figured out, I went back to work on the original toughie, but no, it's still not budging.  Since it won't do me any good to change out the fabric in just one of the shutters, I have adjusted the prize-winning-requirements to read "the first one to get the rods out of the most stubborn shutter, without breaking said shutter"!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Miss Peggy with the Jones family.
Several families whom we knew back in Sumatra happened to be in the Hill Country this weekend, so we decided to have an impromptu Indo-Mob meet-up.  What better place than The Salt Lick?

Young Travis had to go fetch his latest trophy from his truck, to share with us all.
His brother-in-law Colby was impressed!
Mr. Dan kept everyone down at the manly end of the table entertained.
These folks are all characters in the stories I've been telling over on my other blog, Miss Becky Goes Abroad, and those stories triggered lots more story-swapping and sharing over the dinner table.  I have to say, it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  Seriously. Just ask Alexis.  Those Indonesian monkeys could be downright scary!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Writing about the TreeHouse store yesterday reminded me of my favorite tree -- the one in my neighborhood that I pass several times a day.
I love this tree.  I loved it when it stood in a rushing creek, creating a shady green bower with leaf-covered, chandelier-hung limbs that touched the ground, and I love it now, stark and almost bare.
A tree as old as this one forces you to slow down and think -- about all the people who may have sat under it, or in it, over the last century or two.  It makes you look at the bigger picture, to see how silly some of the things we waste time fretting about are, and how important other things might be, if we continue to ignore them. Things like wasting water.
This tree makes me sooooo happy.  I wish I had a house in this tree!