Saturday, February 18, 2012


I can usually judge the water level in our creek by the sound that greets me when I step out onto the porch or throw open the windows each morning. For most of the last two years, that sound was dead silence which, of course, meant dead dry. Then, however, even though they had predicted another dry, dry La Nina year, we started getting the occasional little thunderstorm here and there. For a short time after each one, I was greeted by a faint trickling sound.

Our Little Waterfall
A couple of weeks ago, we got about two inches of rain all at once, and it's been drizzling off and on ever since. Before we knew it, that trickle had increased to a steady stream.
This morning I awakened to a series of loud thunderclaps and a flashing light-show, followed by a sudden deluge hitting our metal roof. We got another inch and a half in a matter of minutes. When it finally died down I wandered out to my writing nest on the dining porch, and opened one of the big windows just a crack. Know what I heard? Gushing! Actual gushing! Now there are little ponds in fields that don't usually have ponds, and the culverts on either side of our driveway have turned into streams themselves.
Know what that means? That means,"Better get some groceries Beck!", 'cause all it would take is just a wee bit more rain, not just right here, but even anywhere upstream of here, for that gushing to turn into a deafening ROAR, which would mean our creek had jumped its banks, our low-water crossings were impassable, and we wouldn't be going anywhere for a while. Such is life in the Texas Hill Country -- persistent drought with intermittent flooding!

Oops! What is that I hear? May not make it to the grocery store after all. Let's just hope I can get this posted before I lose my internet connection!

Friday, February 17, 2012


My kids are just too funny. Ever since John had his stroke this Christmas, they have been showing their love and concern for him, each in their own special way. I think I mentioned before that Lex installed software on John's computer that makes the screen go black whenever he's been sitting there too long, and that they rearranged the furniture in the man cave, replacing one of the recliners facing the TV with his exercycle. But, did I mention that my son went out and bought $50 worth of books on clean eating for him? Well, I suppose those were probably meant for me, huh, since my hubby doesn't cook!

Anyhoo, I had some beets that I needed to use up last week, and I wasn't sure what to do with them. I also had a nice chunk of feta cheese from the farmers' market, some arugula growing in my garden, and a blood orange that I'd spotted at our grocery store that morning, and brought home just for the fun of it. Therefore, it must have been divine intervention that led me to stumble across this recipe in one of the new books that Austin gave us. And so, I give you now, the very best use for beets EVER!
from The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook 2, by Tosca Reno

4 medium beets, any kind (red, golden, Chioggia)
1 blood orange
4 cups arugula, loosely packed (I mixed in some other lettuces as well)
2 oz. low-fat feta, crumbled

2 T. blood orange juice (from reserved membrane, see directions below)
1 T. champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. sea salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place beets in a loaf pan or similar bakeware and add enough water to come half an inch up side of beets. Cover tightly with foil and cook in oven until tender when pierced with a toothpick, about 1 hour (baby beets don't take near that long). Remove from oven, uncover, and let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel beets (wear latex or rubber gloves if you don't want to stain your hands), cut them into slim wedges and cut wedges into bite-sized pieces.

Using a paring knife, cut away peel and white pith of blood orange. Segment the orange, reserving membrane. Set segments aside. (I'd hold the orange over a bowl as you segment it, to catch any juice that drips - see next step)

To make vinaigrette, squeeze juice from reserved blood orange membrane into a small bowl. Add vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, and whisk, adding olive oil.

Place arugula in a bowl and add half of vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Divide arugula among plates. Add beets and remaining vinaigrette to bowl, and toss to combine. Place beets around arugula. Divide reserved blood orange segments among plates and crumble feta over top. (I just tossed it all together) Serve immediately. (4-6 servings)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We had a little time to kill in Austin on Sunday, between our yummy lunch at EZ's (fantastic rosemary chicken and focaccia) and seeing Wicked, so we decided to check out this unusual hardware store I'd been hearing about. It was "unusual" alright! It had all kinds of furniture, both indoors and out...
lots of gardening stuff, including these cool pop-up greenhouses...
all kinds of good smelly stuff, which my hubby promptly loaded his arms with...
not to mention aisles-full of toys, dishes and housewares, canning supplies, organizers, etc.  In fact, just about the only thing they didn't have a whole lot of was, well, hardware.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Here is a little something I wrote several years ago, when I first moved to Wimberley full-time, but hubby was still working in Houston. I hope it provides encouragement for any of you who might be struggling in one of those "middle stages" of marriage.  I call it...


Did I ever tell you how I met my husband?  When I first got to the University of Texas, I took a job in my dorm’s cafeteria. I had only been there a short time when my roommate caused a rather embarrassing incident.  She was quite the head-turner, with glossy hair falling down past her tuckus.  She was also very near-sighted, but too vain to wear glasses.  When going through the cafeteria line together, I had to describe the food choices to her, since she was unable to see them.  One Sunday, she looked up at the guy serving us, and said in her deep, sultry voice, “Hey Gordon, that was some date we had last night.”  I jabbed her with my elbow, but was ignored. Dropping her voice further, she leaned forward, saying, “I had a really, really good time!”  I cleared my throat, said, “Pardon us please”, then shoved her down the line, growling “That wasn’t Gordon numbskull, that was John!”  Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw John staring at us, with a cocky grin on his face.  “Well, great!”, I thought.  “And another one bites the dust.”
The oddest thing happened though.  Usually, when working in the kitchen, I cleared trays that came down the conveyer belt.  Suddenly I began finding little notes on them, and when I glanced out the tray-feed window, there was that same cocky grin.  The notes were pretty corny (under a bowl of peaches I found one that read “What a peachy girl!”) but I’ve always been rather fond of corn.  Top it off with a mischievous grin and twinkling eyes?  Well, I was a goner in no time.
* * * * *
Now, looking back, I can see a sort of “seasonality” to the stages of our forty years together.  The first stage was the idyllic one - he’s wonderful, I’m wonderful, and everyone’s deliriously happy.  Some call it the honeymoon stage, and for us, it actually was.  John took a job overseas at the end of my junior year.  Neither of us was any good at expressing our feelings verbally, and not a word had been mentioned about marriage, so I feared this move might be the end of us.  As it turned out, we happened to be superb letter writers.  We made up for lost time by pouring our hearts into those letters, and soon felt closer than ever.  John also discovered that adventures are better shared. We married the minute I graduated, and set off on a three year honeymoon.  Since ex-pat wives weren’t allowed to take jobs in Indonesia, I spent my days turning our thatched-roof bungalow into a cozy nest, entertained his friends from my improvised kitchen, and waited with bated breath for hubby to come home each evening.
The honeymoon stage ended abruptly upon returning to Houston. Suddenly I worked 60 hour weeks, including every Saturday, expected John to share in the housework, and was way too exhausted to entertain.   Though the letter writing had ended when we married, our verbalization skills had yet to improve and, since we both tended to avoid confrontation, many issues just got swept under the rug.

Stage three began when our first child arrived. If you know someone who thinks a baby might help their marriage, just slap them and yell “Snap out of it!”  Nothing is less likely to make things easier. Although our relationship was still strong, I knew my life was about to change dramatically, and was prepared for that. I assumed John’s life would change equally.  Silly me.  I think poor John assumed that we would go back to the honeymoon phase, now that I was no longer “working.”  Silly John!  His rude awakening came the first time Alexis had colic.  Instead of coming home to a scantily clad wife with welcoming drink in hand, he was greeted by a frazzled wife, still in her robe, who thrust the baby into his arms and said, “Here - your turn!”  

Not long after child number two arrived, hubby awoke to discover a monstrous burden crushing him with its weight.  He found himself thinking, “Wow! These kids are expensive, and I’m responsible for their future. I must make more money!”  As Dad became more and more caught up in his career, Mom became caught up in raising children, and we as a couple became less and less caught up in one another.  One day, I realized that we rarely talked of anything other than the kids.  When I mentioned this to John, he replied “Well, what would we talk about?  You never even pick up a newspaper.”  Not a smart thing to say to someone who’s trying to cook, with a baby in one arm and a toddler on her ankle, while hubby sits reading his paper.  It’s probably the closest I ever came to bopping him with my frying pan, and it’s when I began to feel rather boring and unattractive. When John's job began requiring more and more overseas travel, I developed navy-wife-syndrome.  I was expected to hold down the fort while he was away, make rules and handle emergencies, but when home, he often tossed my rules right out the window.

Thankfully, we stumbled upon a gifted counselor, who gradually reeled us back in towards one another and taught us how to communicate.  I often wondered how anyone survived stage three without a counselor such as ours.  I soon realized that many don’t, upon seeing how many of our friends bailed out on their own marriages as soon as they entered stage four -- the "kids-are-gone-now-what-do-we-do" stage.   I worried that we might have a relapse ourselves, once the last child left home, and worried again when John suggested I might move on to Wimberley, where we planned to retire, ahead of him.  Were we strong enough now to withstand that separation? 

Over dinner last week, I looked up to find John smiling and staring intently at me.  “What?”, I asked.  “Oh, just thinking about how you’ve grown and changed over the years.”  Suddenly I felt like the most interesting woman in the world!  Whenever John leaves voicemail messages these days, they usually begin with “How’s my Treasure?”, and I’ve just spent hours planning what to cook for him when he arrives for the weekend.  Yesterday his email said, “It’s very dreary in Houston, but then, every day is dreary, whenever you’re not here!”  Pretty corny, huh?   Then it hits me.  We’ve come full circle.  In fact, you might say we’re taking a second honeymoon!

Monday, February 13, 2012


That bat above the stage made the little kid in front of us squeal and crawl behind his dad about two minutes into the show, when it suddenly came to life. His eyes lit up a fiery-red, and he turned to look straight at us!
Bass Hall lobby
Souvenirs anyone?
A wee-witch-wannabe in the audience
Well, as you can imagine, we had a wicked good time at the music hall yesterday. We gave tickets to Lex and her beau for her birthday last month and, of course, invited ourselves to tag along. I wouldn't recommend taking very young children though. For one thing, they'd never be able to follow the story. For another, those flying monkeys are even more terrifying when they are life-sized!

Usually, I find it adds to my enjoyment of a musical if I have listened to the soundtrack ahead of time, becoming familiar with the story and a few of the songs. I think this play might be the one exception, for, no matter how talented the person playing good witch Glenda, I just couldn't squelch that little voice in my head which kept saying, over and over again, "If only you had seen it on Broadway, with Kristen Chenowith!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012


At last!
Image from