Saturday, August 11, 2012


The new, nature-based art class I just started is being taught by a young woman who grew up on the Oregon coast, in a very nature-lovin' family. After spending most of her young-adulthood in a southern-Cal metropolis, she and her little family have just recently relocated to the town where she grew up. This class, I think, is her way of sharing the joy that she feels over being back home. Several of the videos we have seen show them strolling along the beach or playing in the surf, and I haff ta tell ya, it's really given me The Urge!
You see, other than those ten or twelve years spent in the Dallas burbs and west Texas, we have spent the rest of our thirty-seven-year marriage within an hour of the ocean, including one oh-so-memorable stint on Java, where we actually lived in a bungalow right on the beach!
I don't know that I love being in the ocean all that much, but I love, love, love being near it. It has always been one of those creative-trance-inducing things for me. I love watching it, hearing it, and could spend hours and hours walking along the beaches beside it, scanning for treasures and becoming ever-more lost in my imagination. It's like free hypnosis or therapy for me.
Anyhoo, like I said before, I've really had the yen for some beach-time lately, and when two different sets of friends mentioned going to Port Aransas this summer, my antennae perked up. Growing up, Padre and Galveston where the places to go if you wanted to do cool stuff like shop and surf (or at least, ogle the surfers). Port A. was where you went if you were serious about fishin'. I wasn't, so I didn't. I think those lines must have blurred over the years, and since it's the easiest place to get to from here, I decided it was worth looking into. When I asked my young friend Kris for recommendations on where to stay and eat, she sent me the names of all the "nice" places, thinking that's what we old people would probably prefer. I sent a note back to her, saying "We're not all that picky. All I really need is a not-too-crowded beach for my early morning walks, maybe a nearby coffee shop where I can hang out and write or sketch until my hubby decides to get up. We don't need any gourmet food, just some decent shrimp and oysters. Oh, and John will need a bar with a deck where he can hang out and bikini- people-watch."

A short while later she sent me the link to this place, touted to be "among the last authentic Beach Bars in the U.S." She said "I've been wanting to check this bar out for a while. Now you can try it for me, and let us know what you think." Bar? That's no bar! That's everything I just asked for, all rolled into one place! I sent a note back to her saying "We're gonna do more than just check it out for you. We're gonna stay there!"

Know what's the very best thing about being retired? It's being able to wait and go in early September, mid-week, when most everyone else is back in school or at work, but it's still hotter 'n blazes here in Texas.Woohoo!

Friday, August 10, 2012


I started a new online art class this week -- Alisa Burke's Ode to Nature. Our first assignment was just to get out and find ways to connect with nature. You don't have to live in the country to be able to do this. Even in the city there are parks and zoos and garden centers. Come to think of it, I was living in a Dallas suburb when I first got hooked, and one of my favorite places to hang out was old cemeteries. I had gone back to school to study horticulture, and was taking my trees class. As it turns out, old cemeteries are the very best places to find lots of big old specimens of a great variety of trees.
Lucky for me, it's uber easy to get in touch with nature where we live now. One day this week, I decided to skip my gym workout and go for a walk on the Hike 'n Bike instead. I love it when Hubby decides to join me. For one, that's the only time when it's safe for me to branch off from the main path onto all the little nature trails, because, unlike me, he can always find his way back.
That's how we discovered these cool picnic tables and barbecue pits, which I had never seen before.
Another good thing about having him along is that he sometimes grabs my camera and wades out into snakey-cactus-territory to snap a photo that I was going to pass up. Shortly after I moved up here by myself, a local woman went missing, her abandoned car found by the side of the road. When the police couldn't find any clues, they sent out Search & Rescue. They finally found her in some tall grass, not too far from her car, covered in snakebites. Apparently she was a wildflower lover who stepped in a snake nest by accident. Which is why I only walk in places where I can clearly see where my feet are going.
When we were driving towards the park that day we saw a big hand-drawn sign, pointing that way, that said T+L. When we got to the Blue Hole entrance, we were stopped by a park employee who asked if we were coming for the park or to swim. When we told her we were just there to walk the trail, she said "Fine, then, go ahead." We figured the swimming area must be closed for some private party, so we took the path that leads to the overlook, so we could spy on them. Guess what we found? A film crew!
They were filming some kids doing the rope drop into the river. Now I'm wondering if T+L didn't stand for Travel+Leisure magazine. Anywho, the best thing of all about having my hubby along was that I then had someone to share lunch with me afterwards at Inoz', which has a nice big deck overlooking Cypress Creek, where no one minds if you're a wee bit sweaty. Even if they had minded, they would have been too distracted that day, by the girl who spent so much time leaning over the porch rail, barfing into the area where the geese hang out. Poor geese.

Get it?

Thursday, August 9, 2012


It's been so long since I've been totally absorbed in veggie-growing, I had to dig back through my baskets full of notebooks and records to remind myself of what to do, and when. I thought I was getting  quite the early start on my fall garden, when in fact, I'm a little behind.
One thin that's good to plant here in August is beans, and I just happened to have quite the assortment of bean seeds stored in the veggie drawer of my refrigerator. Beans were a real deer-magnet when I tried to grow them first on the trellis by the front door, and then in my courtyard garden. So I'm thinking that these leftover seeds will be the perfect test crop for these old raised beds with their new "deer proof" fabric tents that fit over them.
Better to know up front, before investing way too much time and money, if I'm fixin' to get my heart broken again. Right?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I appreciate vultures. Really, I do! You spend enough time in deer country, and you come to realize that, were it not for them, we'd all be up to our eyeballs in rotting road kill.
Still, I must admit, when one takes a perch right in front of my house, and stays there all day, just waiting for something nasty to happen, it does kinda

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


In case you missed reading it the first dozen or so times I mentioned it, I am not a multi-tasker. I'm more of a focus-on-one-thing-so-hard-you-totally-lose-yourself-in-it kinda gal. First it was the dining porch enclosure, then getting a water-catchment system installed.
Next was designing the Cantina Garden enclosure, to replace that pile of rubble in front of our house.
For a while after that I was totally obsessed with planting up my first real veggie garden.
But, after a couple of year's worth of losing battles with these guys, I decided to switch my focus back to growing mostly native perennials -- something I was actually good at! What I discovered though, was that the easy route isn't necessarily the most rewarding one. Sometimes you really have to fight for something in order to feel a little ecstasy in the achievement of it. Soooo, here we go again!

Monday, August 6, 2012


Image from
Do you ever have imaginary conversations with people? I do it all the time. Probably has something to do with being an introvert who's not too good at expressing herself orally. In fact, I had a fairly lengthy imaginary conversation with my hubby just the other day, as I was watching the sun come up and he was still snoozing away in bed.

The conversation was about fantasy lives, and was probably triggered by these books, which I haven't had the chance to read yet. I was planning to read them this week, after I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. I knew my sister had them all, and had already read them a couple of times each, so when she told me she had a sack of books waiting for me, I assumed they would be in it. They were not. Apparently she's not quite ready to let go of them, even temporarily! But I digress. Back to the imaginary conversation.

I've often read and heard that men think about sex at least a hundred times a day, including fantasies about total strangers they pass on the street. So, in this conversation, I was telling my hubby "I can't vouch for other women, but as for me, when I see a really good looking guy somewhere, I have honestly never given a thought to what it would be like to see him naked or go to bed with him. What gets me hot is imagining what it would be like to dance with them (in my fantasies, they are all really good dancers, of course, who love it just as much as I do). Or I imagine having long, passionate conversations with them, where there is actually a give and take of words, and this person really wants to hear what I have to say. Sometimes I even fantasize about being with someone who always puts their stuff away when they're done with it, and never leaves a trail of belongings around the house. That's what really gets me hot!" At that point in our imaginary conversation, my hubby reached over and took my hand, looked deep into my eyes, and said "Soooo, what you're trying to tell me is, you fantasize about gay guys?"

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Christmas Eve with Dad's Clan, Minus the California Cadre 
Know what I love? I love being part of a big, boisterous, loving family. Of course, it's not near as big as it used to be when, growing up, I had three siblings and at least fourteen or fifteen cousins, all fairly close in age, and all living within an hour or two of us (plus a couple more out in California). We'd host a big get-together for Dad's family every Christmas Eve, then go to a big hoop-di-doo with Mom's family on Christmas day.

Christmas Day at Mimi and Grandad's
Of course, things change. Cousins grow up, marry and merge with other families, then have kids of their own. Siblings move across the country, or even the globe. Grandparents pass away. Eventually my parents quit celebrating holidays with their siblings, and it was just the six of us, plus our spouses, occasional in-laws, and the "new" set of cousins -- a set which, instead of being all close in age, were spread out in three separate clumps, over about thirty five years!

We Six
Once our parents were both gone, and most of our kids were grown, we worried that the same thing might happen to us. Our compromise was to have a whole-clan-get-together a weekend or two before Christmas, so that we could then be at home with our kids, their honeys, and the new, new grandkids (when and if they arrive) on Christmas day.

Niece Merrit -- the Baby of the Family
When we were in Ft. Worth celebrating Merrit's fourteenth birthday (Our baby a teenager? How can that be?) last weekend, one sister threw out the possibility of our meeting up at that fabulous Gaylord resort in Grapevine this December, since they really go all out with their food and decorations during the holidays. I think that would be a major blast, if we can pull it off. On the drive home that got me to thinkin' about an annual summer get-together here in Wimberley -- a way of ensuring that we all got to see each other at least twice a year.

I'm thinking early June, when the Blue Hole is open for swimming, but before it gets so freakin' hot that the creeks threaten to dry up. I want it all to be very casual and easy to pull together -- something our kids won't mind picking up the reins on when their time comes. So here's what I'm thinkin'. Start with a Mexican Potluck here at the house on Friday evening. People will be arriving at different times, so I can have snacks and drinks out for the early arrivals, a Mexican casserole ready to go in the oven, and we can dine when everyone shows up with some easily transportable side dishes and desserts.

There are now a ton of B&B's near us -- several right across the creek in fact -- so I am going to do some research to find out what different ones charge and how many they sleep, then let each family make their own arrangements. I'll leave Saturday morning free so they can sleep late if they wish, or head into town to shop and eat lunch at one of the cafes.

Saturday afternoon could be Blue Hole swimming for the youngsters, and a Shanghai card tournament for the oldsters (we sisters loooooove playing cards together), then Saturday evening could be a casual group dinner at a local establishment -- possibly our gourmet pizza joint and brewpub, which happens to be run by another big boisterous family (they have 13 kids, who all contribute to the running of the business). There's plenty of room upstairs or out on the deck to set up a large table for all of us, but each family can order whatever they want, littles can run around and play, and the guys can do tastings in the brewpub while visiting with the patriarch of the clan, a former pro football player. Last but certainly not least, there will be wine or tea sipping, and plenty of star-gazing, back home on our porches and patio.

I think the whole weekend could be a lot of un -- organized enough to ensure quality time together, yet flexible enough for each family to tend to their individual needs and preferences. Best of all, no one will be overly burdened with cooking, kitchen clean-up, or expenses, which I think will make it much more "sustainable." What do you think?
Yep, regardless of the occasional spats and disagreements (believe me, every family has them!) I am ever so grateful to have been born into a big, boisterous, loving family!