Saturday, December 17, 2011


I found a couple of startling new additions when I went to walk the Wimberley hike & bike trail this week, for the first time in a couple of months.  What were they?  The sight, and sound, of rushing water!
There were new little streams and waterfalls all over the place!  I also spotted quite a few of these things...
little piles of stones, obviously arranged by human hands.  I seem to remember learning something about them -- I believe they were called cairns -- as a wee Girl Scout.  I think we even constructed a few ourselves, and they were meant to be landmarks or to convey some message to hikers or travelers who came after us.  So.  What do you suppose these cairns were trying to tell me?

Friday, December 16, 2011


As I've told you in my Christmas posts every year since we bought this place, we are ever adjusting our attitude as to how we decorate for and celebrate Christmas.  We continue to shed those notions that have been imposed upon us by the media and others, as to how things "should" be done, and try to figure out what really works best for us.  Apparently, we aren't the only ones who have been thinking outside the box this year.  Let me show you what a couple of the Muses have been up to.

Both of them were loathe to give up space in their houses to the ginormous trees they usually put up, and, like me, they were unwilling to spend the time it takes to decorate one, with no kids around to help.  My solution was to switch to a modest, yet traditional, tabletop tree, where I could still display my favorite ornaments.

Outdoor Woman came up with this idea:

Don't you just love it?
Buffalo Woman stepped even further outside the box, and moved her tree out to the front yard.
She happens to be an amazing photographer as well, whose pictures have been in several shows around the Hill Country.

As for our Fiber Woman, well, she celebrates Christmas waaaaay outside the box, and if I can nab some pictures from her or her hubby, of where they will be for the next couple of weeks, I will tell you all about it.

Is it any wonder that I call these women my muses?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Image from
I can certainly understand why at least half the people here in Wimberley seem to have come from Houston.  After all, it's such an easy trip due west on I-10, very little traffic, maybe three hours tops.  The perfect weekend get-away to the Hill Country.  What I don't get is all the weird connections that keep popping up between Wimberley and the old central Dallas neighborhood where I grew up -- a neighborhood called Lakewood.

For one thing, getting here from Dallas on a Friday evening is anything but easy.  It's almost twice as far as the trip from Houston, you get to travel down I-35 with hoards of other people, and then you get stuck in gridlock from Georgetown south through Austin.  There are lots of other weekend getaways that would be much easier for Dallasites to reach.  Still, there must be some magnetic attraction that draws them here to this tiny hippie hideaway -- and not just from Dallas in general, but from Lakewood in particular.  Let me give you a few examples.

I should start off by telling you that when we bought this place, we didn't know a soul who lived here -- from Dallas or anywhere else -- so that had nothing to do with why we chose to retire here.  However, one day when I was working out at my gym in Houston,  I heard the woman next to me talking about her house in Wimberley.  "You have a house in Wimberley?  We just bought one there ourselves!"  Her name was Betty Brents, and we became friends.  It wasn't until later that I discovered her husband Dan grew up on the same street in Lakewood that I was born on -- Alexander -- and went to my same high school, though he was several years ahead of me.  Some years later, after he spent time in the military, married Betty and had two sons, they moved back to Lakewood, lived one street over from my sister Carolyn, and had many friends in common with her.

Sibby with my sister Carolyn.
Sibby assists my son Austin, while Carolyn and I look on.
Then there's my friend Sibby Barrett, who runs a fabulous cooking retreat, Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm, where my whole family loves to take classes.  Turns out she used to live in Lakewood too, and owned a bakery there that my sister Carolyn loved so much, I once called and ordered a gift certificate from there for her.  But wait, there's more!  Last time we all took a class there, Sibby's younger sister was there visiting.  We got to chatting and I discovered that, back before their mystery-writing-father Neal Barrett moved them all to San Miguel de Allende, the girls went to Lakewood Elementary for a few years, and Sibby's sister was not only in my fourth grade class, but also my Girl Scout Troop!

Another time Dan and Betty, whom I mentioned earlier, invited us to a party at their beautiful log cabin home here.  Betty was introducing me to a few of the women when I heard my hubby calling to me.  "Uh, Beck?  You need to come over here!"  Apparently, as soon as he had walked up to the guys surrounding the beer coolers, a total stranger had turned to him and said "Now I suppose you are going to tell us you went to Woodrow Wilson too, huh?"  "Um, no.  That would be my wife."  Turns out half the people there had gone to my high school, though most were a good bit older than me.  I did know one guy though.  Or at least, he knew my family.  He grew up just down the block from us on Bob-o-Link, and went to our same church downtown, where our grandmothers were friends.  I think I was even named after his step-mother Becky.  His name was Harold Vanburgh back then, but after he ditched his law career and took up acting, he switched it to Hawk Storm.
Speaking of high school, do you recall my mentioning Debbie-from-high-school?  That's her on the right, above.  The thing is, we didn't actually know each other in high school.  However, we did share a mutual friend.  That would be Sarah, there on the left.  Sarah and her hubby live in New Jersey, but when she found me on facebook a while back, and realized that both Debbie and I were now living in Wimberley, and were both Mother-Earth-types who probably had a lot in common, she hooked us up.  Turns out we had been running into each other at Mimas about once a week for ages, with nary a clue that we were both from Lakewood!  Oh yeah, and did I mention that Sarah and her hubby happen to own a home here in Wimberley too, where they plan to retire some day?
Oh, and we mustn't forget Jean, the pretty blonde there on the left.  We met during a weaving workshop out at Old Oaks Ranch.  We got to talkin' and, yes, she too used to live in Lakewood -- just a couple of doors down from my sister!  In fact, I think maybe she taught at Lakewood elementary, and my niece used to babysit her kids.

Here's the biggest shocker of all -- one I just discovered this week. You know Robin and Mac, the couple that owns Wimberley Cafe, the place where I go for my weekly fix of Migas?  I assumed they had lived in Wimberley forever, but no.  Guess where they lived in the 90's, and where their kids went to school?  Yep, Lakewood!  It is a strange, wee little world, is it not?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


image from
I discovered another great author recently, thanks to the internets and my book-loving facebook friends.  Ever read anything by Ann Patchett?  If not, why on earth not?  She writes my very favorite kind of books -- novels that grab hold of you right from the start, pulling you in and carrying you along with their gripping story line, but which also educate you and make you think.  Novels like The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, which question your beliefs, your ethics, and everything you have been taught.  I finished this one, State of Wonder, over a week ago, and it's still got me thinking, asking, wondering.

First of all, it has me questioning my own courage.  Sure, I went off to live in some exotic places as a newlywed, but they were places where others had always gone before me, paving and easing the way.  Could I have been one of those people?  The ones who went first, and had to figure out how to communicate and bargain with the indigenous people, get the supplies they needed, train workers to carve out a space in the jungle and fill it with our kind of structures and facilities, teach them our way of doing things.  No, probably not.  Did we even have the right to do any of this?  For fuel?  For medicine?  For water?  For diamonds?

What if I were to wake up and find myself stranded in a jungle village somewhere?  Could I ever let go of all my western notions, let go of my deep-seated fear of things that sting, bite, gnaw and strangle?  Could I ever adapt to their way of doing things, go native, so to speak, or would I just go stark raving mad?

In this story a botanist has stumbled upon an Amazonian tribe whose women continue giving birth their entire lives.  Now a pharmaceutical company has set up a research lab in their village, with the intention of developing a drug that will allow women in first world countries, for a hefty price, to silence their ever-ticking biological clocks.  But what if that price is more than monetary?  More than they ever imagined?  Should we be fooling with Mother Nature in this way?  Do pharmaceutical companies have the right to cater to the wealthy few, while ignoring less lucrative drugs that could cure millions of penniless people?  So many questions!  So much to ponder.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Have you ever noticed how so many fruits and vegetables that come into season together just naturally seem to go together?  Like peppers with tomatoes, strawberries with rhubarb, green beans with new potatoes, and avocados with citrus?  Yes, I said avocados with citrus!  Perhaps you didn't know about that combo.  I know I didn't.  However, just the other day, right after I told you about the big basket of citrus and avocados we were gifted with, I started flipping through some of my favorite cookbooks to see if I could find some good ways to use either the grapefruits or the avocados.  Know what I found?  Several recipes that used both, together!  Recipes like this one, which was quite delicious:
from Barefoot in Paris, by Ina Garten
Serves Four

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
3 ripe Hass avocados
3 large red grapefruits

Place the mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Before serving, cut the avocados in half, remove the seeds, and carefully peel off the skin.  Dip each avocado half in the vinaigrette to prevent it from turning brown.  Use a large, sharp knife to slice the peel off the grapefruits (be sure to remove all the white pith), then cut between the membranes to release the grapefruit segments.

Arrange the segments on 4 small plates.  Cut the avocados in wedges and arrange them with the grapefruit.  Spoon a little vinaigrette on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Miss Becky, in '55 or '56, at Mimi and Grandad's house.
Older sisters Poo (Carolyn) and Gus (Kathy).  Our mom probably made all those felt circle skirts herself.
Our Tree (circa 1959)
Another year, another skirt.
Poo and Gus model evening gowns they received for  Christmas.  Mimi made those.
Circa 1957.  This is what happens when both of your parents are a bit too creative.
1958, the year Wee Willy joined the party.  No, I did not try to remove him from this picture out of jealousy.  I adored my little brother.  I thought he was the best toy ever!
OK.  Sometimes their "creativity" just plain ran amok.  They used "The Cone" a couple of years in a row.  The other time it had angels floating on clouds, with twinkle light stars.  Notice how the cone theme carried over to our stockings that year.  This one is actually from the early 60's, which could explain a lot.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Have any of you met my pal Heather?  If you live anywhere around Austin/Wimberley/New Braunfels, you have surely heard of her.  I stumbled across her when I started reading her Green Guru column in the Wimberley News and Views magazine.  Or, maybe you've seen her amazing sculpture exhibit, Lifeboats, as it made its way around the Hill Country.  She's the wife of Dr. Marc Gitterle, mother of nine-year-old Aiden and four-year-old Gable, and, when she was pregnant with young Gabe -- because, you know, she just didn't have enough on her plate at the time -- she helped to create the amazing Bountiful Sprout (perhaps you've heard me mention it once or twice?).

Anyhoo, we've been working together on the TBS board now for about four years, and it's been quite a ride.  Heather is our president, idea person, and schmoozer extaordinaire.  I just do ordinary stuff like taking minutes and keeping track of all the producer permits, but every so often I tag along to help out at various events, and it's always such a treat to see Heather in action!

Friday before last I got to go with her to this awesome event at the beautiful Barr Mansion in Austin.  I know you have surely heard of the Slow Food movement by now, but do you know anything about Slow Money?  Slow Money Austin exists to support and enrich a sustainable regional food system.  They're working to increase capital opportunities for food entrepreneurs, producers, innovators and local organizations that are leading the way toward sustainable, financially beneficial growth in Central Texas -- organizations like TBS.  Events like this one at Barr Mansion help raise awareness, make connections, attract investment and align resources amongst all the people with a stake in sustainability here in our community.  Plus, they're just a whole lotta fun!
The room was surrounded with tables like ours, and before we'd even finished setting up, people were stopping by to chat with us.  They wanted to know what our purpose was, how we got started, how our business "worked", and what our plans for the future were. They all had a bit of trouble believing that we weren't in it for profit -- that we wanted as much money as possible to stay with the farmers and producers themselves.
While we were doing our "thing", local chefs were back in the kitchen preparing an awesome feast, using ingredients contributed by all of the participants.
Our contribution was the beautiful soy candles that went on all the tables, and the liquid hand soap that went in the bathrooms, from two of our vendors.
Before the evening was over, we had acquired new members, had a new producer who wanted to sell his fabulous hummus through us (which had been served here as the appetizer) and had managed to spread the word to a lot of Austinites that we had just opened a new branch there in Austin that very week.  Wow.  It just never ceases to amaze me, what all can be accomplished when you combine an idea person, a few worker bees, and some good old fashioned networking.