Friday, July 27, 2012


The downside to driving a Mini in Texas is trying to back out of a parking space when parked next to a behemoth.
Anyone willing to stand out there and stop traffic for me, while I try to back up?

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Young farmers kick back, at a Montessino Farms barn dance.
When we are young adults, it can be ever so difficult to listen to our hearts and use our common sense. Friends will make fun of you for being a "party pooper"(non-smoking, moderate drinker). Others will give you grief for being a "tightwad" or "miser"(conservative spender, steady saver). When you get a bit older, the focus seems to be on food and exercise, and a "moderation in all things" motto will seem to be totally unacceptable. You may feel like you are the only one who believes it makes more sense to put forth a little effort or make a few small sacrifices, rather than just popping a magic pill, or the only one who refuses to jump on the Atkins/South Beach/Paleo/Vegan/Dietary Supplement/Whatever bandwagon. When you see the magazines at the checkout counters, they will make you feel quite lazy for settling for a mere exercise routine, instead of running marathons or spending hours in the gym each day to perfect one's pecs, while at the same time your little ones might make you feel guilty for needing to take that daily walk, when you could be spending quality time snuggling on the sofa with them. You may wonder if it's really worth the effort to stick to your guns, especially when your results don't seem any better than those others. It may not be until you hit your early fifties that you finally beging to notice a difference -- to actually see some payoff for the effort. Oh, it's not going to keep you from being in an auto accident or guarantee that you will never get cancer, but it could make a huge difference in quality of life. 

All families have genetic predispositions for certain things. In our family, one of them happens to be a wonky gall bladder. All my siblings had to have theirs out when it was a major surgery with a lengthy recovery. I was lucky enough to hold onto mine just a wee bit longer, which means that, when it does go, thanks to advancements in technology, mine will be a simple out-patient procedure. If arthritis or diabetes runs in your family, the payoff might be extra years of traveling free and unfettered, instead of having to give up your mobility or carrying syringes wherever you go. If it's heart disease, it can be the difference between having the energy to play with your grandkids, and never getting to meet them at all. I can't tell you how many times I've heard guys, who are somewhat hedonistic in nature, use that line about wanting to slide under the pearly gates hollering "Whoa! What a ride!" Since no one likes to be preached at, I bite my tongue and don't say anything about how my father-in-law ended up, thanks to that attitude.

I'm no poster child, and would certainly be in much better shape if I could lose about twenty-five pounds and keep it off for good, but through many years of observing those who are living The Long and Good Life, here's what I've found to be the prerequisites:

  • eat your veggies
  • choose active over sedentary
  • be proactive, not reactive
  • choose long term happiness over instant gratification
  • practice moderation in all things
  • know that there is no such thing as a magic pill -- all medications have side effects, and though they may, someday, be a lifesaving necessity for you, one can usually postpone that day for a good long while, just by exerting a wee bit of will power
  • get a life -- don't let your job be who you are

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


One of our favorite new areas to go exploring is old east Austin. We never used to go much of anywhere east of I-35, but not long ago The Bountiful Sprout added an Austin pick-up site for their members. It's located at Hops & Grains Brewery, which is housed in an old warehouse at the easternmost tip of 6th St. When we attended our first board meeting over there, John and I were shocked at all the interesting places we passed along the way. In fact, that very day there was some kind of art studio tour going on, and we saw lots of people walking or riding their bikes around to the various studios in the area, one of which was housed in the same warehouse as the brewery. It reminds me of two of my favorite areas in Houston -- Montrose and the Heights -- before they got all  "gentrified". The park where we went to see Ghostbusters: The Play was in that same general area, as was the French cafe I told you about a couple of days ago. Next on our agenda is to check out the cafe our daughter has been urging us to try, the Hillside Farmacy, which is just down the block from Blue Dahlia. Originally housing the Hillside Pharmacy, and still containing all its original cabinetry, it's now home to a fun cafe and grocery -- one which endeavors to use locally sourced ingredients and is said to serve a killer truffle mac & cheese, and some wonderful charcuterie.

I went a bit color-mad over these gorgeous mosaics, which were on the corner near the Blue Dahlia. I'm assuming they convey a bit of the history of this old neighborhood -- a history worth learning more about. Yep, I'm lovin' me some old east Austin.
Alas, the irony of all this is that these very shops and cafes that I'm so delighted with are indications that this neighborhood is already on that slippery slope towards gentrification, and those things that once held it together and made it such a tightly knit, economically and culturally diverse community (the very things that modern day developers are trying, but failing, to recreate in their "mixed-use communities") are quickly being eroded away. Here's a link I found, in case you are interested in knowing a bit about east Austin's history, and about the battle that is now going on to preserve its sense of place.

Ahhh, if only we could figure out how to have our cake, and eat it too...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Sunday was a lot of fun, all things considered. My blog friend Sherri and her family finally moved here to Wimberley just a couple of weeks ago, and have already discovered and fallen in love with the Driftwood Vineyards. John and I made plans to meet them there Sunday afternoon for a glass of wine, and to go out to dinner with them afterwards. Outdoor Woman and her hubby love the place as well, and when I found out that they were finally back in town (she's been flitting around all summer) I suggested they join us there. Shortly after they arrived, they ran into a couple they knew from Houston, who just happened to be here on vacation, so it turned into quite the party!

Now, normally, I prefer white wine, but since it was about as cheap to buy a whole bottle as three glasses, I agreed to share a red with John. That was my first mistake. I had taken only one or two sips from my glass, when someone made the mistake of asking me about "those classes you've been taking", wondering how on earth one can learn art online. That was the second mistake. As usual, when talking about something that excites me, my hands get ta flappin', and, well, this was the result.

Fortunately, Outdoor Woman's hubby hopped right up, ran inside the tasting room, and came back with  a bottle of fizzy water and a wad of paper towels, which I carried off to the restroom to see what I could do with. John claims that when I poured that icy cold Pellagrino down my cleavage, they could hear my squeal from a hundred yards away, but he exaggerates.

Miracle of miracles, it did such a good job of taking the red out, they managed to talk me into sticking to our plan of going on to dinner afterwards. Instead of looking like I'd spilled red wine on myself, I looked like I'd merely wet my pants, which, for some odd reason, didn't seem quite so bad in comparison (it was a dark restaurant). Best of all, my hubby thought I smelled fantastic!

Monday, July 23, 2012


Do you know what I mean when I talk about Disneyesque shops and restaurants? The ones that were built to a theme or country or time period, but which are all shiny and new and spotless, with none of the age or patina or character? They're always fun to go to once or twice when they first open, but they aren't the kind of thing that will keep calling me back, because I will never feel "at home" there.
When I kept hearing about a newish European cafe in old east Austin, called Blue Dahlia Bistro, I was willing to give it a try, but I assumed it would be one of these types. I figured there was just no way it would even come close to having that same feel that the cafes we visited in France last year had. I was wrong.
Loved the big communal tables down the center of the cafe.
John had the egg salad tartines. Mine had ham, gruyere, Dijon and cute little cornichons.
Nothing was there just to carry out a theme. It all served a purpose.
Our shared dessert of salted caramel gelato with chocolate chips.
It was a bit crowded and noisy on a Saturday morning, but unlike the infamous Franklin Barbecue, which is just down the street and had people lined up around the block, we were able to walk right in and get seated. The nicest thing about being retired, though, is that we no longer have to do everything on the weekends. We could easily come over here mid-week, have a leisurely brunch out on one of the patios, then wander over to the Violet Crown for an art house flick. In fact, we just might have to do it on a regular basis, for I could feel very much at home here. Tres, tres bien, non?

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Know how I said we didn't get one single peach on our little peach tree this year? Well, I lied. That is, in fact, exactly what we got.
When I first spotted this little splash of color from afar, I assumed it was just a dead leaf.
The closer I got, though, the more excited I became.
Alas, the insects got to it before I did. Ah well, maybe next year.