Saturday, August 25, 2012


This week I spent a bit of time in my wee little studio playing with "abstracted flowers", based on this tutorial by  Carla Sonheim.

Most of my time, however, was spent wandering around out in the heat, picking up more bits and pieces of this and that, for the Ode to Nature class I am taking. While last week's assignment was to start assembling collections from these bits and pieces and to take photographs of them, this week we did something different. We started a new kind of journal, and learned to take field notes!

The sketches we do in these journals aren't meant to be finished pieces of art, anymore than my stream-of-consciousness morning pages are meant to be publishable stories. Like those morning pages, however, they will be a great source to come back to -- for "mining" ideas and inspiration when I am ready to get down to business.

Just what I need, right? A whole 'nuther trunk-load of journals to store!

Friday, August 24, 2012


I got a big 'ol bag of mixed peppers, both sweet and hot, in my last order from The Bountiful Sprout. Just as I was standing there at the kitchen counter, trying to think of what to do with them all, my hubby came waltzing in with a bag full of freshly roasted Hatch chiles! (It's Hatch Chile Festival time over at Central Market in Austin)

We were having baked potatoes topped with leftover chili and cheese for supper that night, and a few skinned and chopped roasted chiles made a superb addition to that combination, but I still have at least a half dozen more large, plump chiles in my freezer, as well as that bowl of fresh peppers on my counter, just waiting for a few brilliant ideas. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Berries on a Live Oak? No, not really.
It took me an awfully long time to fall in love with gardening -- more than forty years, in fact. It's no coincidence that my transformation took place right around the same time that a new next-door neighbor introduced me to perennials and the whole concept of an ever-changing garden, as opposed to  the well pruned evergreen shrubbery and puddles of pansies that I grew up with. The old way was always neat and tidy, but oh so static and boring. Her way was exciting, and gave me a thousand reasons to step outside and go exploring, instead of just glancing through the window to see if the lawn needed mowing or hedges needed boxing. Now there is always something new or different to see. Always seasonal changes to look forward to. Take these trees, for instance. If I had been glancing out the window, as of yore, I might never have noticed that my oak trees seemed to be sprouting beautiful, coral colored berries! And not just a few, but millions!

Upon closer inspection, I realized they weren't berries. They were tiny colorful galls attached to the bottoms of all the leaves. Galls are formed much the way an oyster creates a pearl. When a wasp injects a secretion or lays its eggs on a leaf, something in the tree reacts to this irritant, and forms a protective casing around it. The casing actually protects the eggs until the insect matures and is ready to make its escape.

The big round ball in the lower right corner is the type of gall I am used to seeing, and the little hole shows where the wasp made its exit. All these colorful tiny galls? Well, that was newly discovered treasure for me -- something I had never seen before, which warranted investigation! Luckily, an article came out in the newspaper right about then, explaining what they were and that they were not harmful to our trees. It said the biggest problem with gall-infested plants was that they may seem "unsightly." Unsightly? I think they are down right bee-you-tee-full!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Things look any different to you? They should! Although I love the color of green that has been my blog's backdrop for the last five years, I've discovered that I also love the simplicity of white, and the way it makes all the photographs and illustrations pop. Soooo, I've decided to play with that for a while, using one of the basic templates offered by Blogger. If I decide I want to keep it, then I may hire the same lady who carried out my plan for my other blog, Miss Becky Goes Abroad, to help me do a birthday re-do of this blog. I'd like to perk up the banner and buttons and whatnot, but don't have the technical expertise to do it myself.  In the meantime, it's time for Wednesday's Wanderings!

A couple of days ago the Muses and I headed over to New Braunfels for a little splorin'. We were there to check out the fiber arts show in which our own Fiber Women had several pieces on display. We parked behind Huisache Grill, since that was where we planned to have lunch afterwards. As we were cutting through their backyard to get to the main street where the gallery was, we were reminded that they have several interesting shops and galleries, in quaint little historic cottages, right there on the grounds of the restaurant!

That little artist's co-op gallery on the left wasn't actually open on Mondays, but one of the artists happened to be there on the porch, doing some sprucing up. And, since two of the Muses happen to have turned "chatting up shopkeepers" into a fine art, it was no time at all before she invited us to come inside and take a look around.

Oh my, my. How I love towns that make an effort to preserve little buildings like this, instead of razing everything to make way for glass and steel. In fact, there's only one thing I like better than shops in cute little historic buildings...

and that's the ones where the artists each have their own little work space, with all their gorgeous art supplies out on display, for me to drool over! Anyhoo, from there we just had to hop across the railroad tracks to get to the big gallery on the main road downtown (can't remember its name), where we spent at least an hour drooling over every kind of hand-crafted fiber magic you can imagine, the most fabulous of which was crafted by our little Fiber Woman (a.k.a. Cheryl Elms).

She does most of her work in leather and sheepskin, and combines weaving with a bit of sewing, crocheting, hairpin lace-making, and who knows what else!

She doesn't limit herself to apparel, either. She also had several unique wall-hangings on display, but I was gently reminded that no photography was allowed in this gallery, before I got around to taking pictures of those!

All and all, the day was quite fabulous, ending with a wonderful little lunch at one of my favorite cafes. I do so love having such creative friends!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Waaaah! My cutie-pitootie donkey neighbors moved away! I'm so, so sad. Apparently their owners were just leasing the place in our neighborhood while they were waiting for their house to be built or something. I guess it's true what they say -- you just don't realize how much something means to you, until it's gone. Oh, how I miss seeing those happy little faces every time we drove in or out of the neighborhood, and the way they would come running over to the fence to greet you if you showed any sign of pausing.
Perhaps I should go hang a sign on their fence, for any prospective leasers or buyers, that reads "MUST HAVE DONKEYS."

In other donkey news, do you remember those two succulent plants I bought in honor of my fuzzy-eared friends, just because they were called "Donkey Ears"? I added them to these urns which contained another succulent whose name I adored, Cow's Tongue!
Well, just yesterday I noticed something rather unusual about those Donkey Ears. They seem to be reproducing. Only, instead of sending up pups at their base, as most of my other succulents do...
they are doing it way out on the tips of their big ol' droopy leaves!
 Interesting, no?

Monday, August 20, 2012


My "Artfully Abstract" Assignment
I'm still plodding along with my Letter Lovin' assignments, squeezing in a bit here and a bit there whenever I have a spare 15 or 20 minutes in the kitchen with nothing to do. They are the perfect fillers in between each of my Ode To Nature assignments, which only get posted once a week, and which necessitate my leaving the house to go in search of those treasures.

Doodled Alphas
Have I ever told you how much I love, love, love playing with my Koi watercolor box and my Tombow markers?

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Hey! Did I tell you about the little retirement village they are planning to build in Wimberley? Just heard about it last week. It's not going to be assisted living or a nursing home. It's just going to be a group of fourplexes, for people over 55, and it's going to be built right behind King Feed -- in walking distance to the grocery store, the library, Curves, the coffee shop where my Muses and I meet each week, and all the shops and cafes around the square! How cool is that? It's being built by the same people who did this complex over in San Marcos. They won't even break ground for at least two more years, but that's fine by me, because I'm not even close to being ready to leave this house we love so much. However, in another ten years or so, when I'm closing in on my 70th birthday and getting pretty darn tired of all the maintenance this property requires, and of having to climb really tall ladders to change lightbulbs and smoke alarm batteries (actually, I'm already hating that), and when we can no longer drive at night to meet up with friends, and they can no longer trudge up our steep driveway or handle our outdoor staircase, well, I expect that complex right in the heart of town, with all its built-in social opportunities, is going to be looking better and better to me. Why, living there would be almost like being back in the dorm again!

On our way to the Tapping Dinner, where I'm about to bounce my magic wand off the heads of next year's new  wing advisors.
My sister Kathy and I both lived in Carothers dorm at UT, though not at the same time, and absolutely loved it. We were both wing advisors -- the ones responsible for making name tags for all the doors, hanging jokes in the bathroom stalls, and organizing impromptu "Wing Flings" to liven things up and to help our fellow residents bond with one another. Unlike most people we know, she and I always thought living in a retirement home could be kind of fun, especially if we were in one together, because it would be like being back in the dorm again, and our rooms would be party central!

Despite all appearances, absolutely no alcohol was consumed during the production of this hilarity.
Now, if one could combine all that with being in the heart of this wonderful little town, right here in the beautiful Texas Hill Country -- finally able to experience that Euro-Village-Walking-Lifestyle one has always dreamed about -- well, I ask you, what could possibly be any better?