Saturday, September 1, 2012


Unbeknownst to me, John had another exersplorin' adventure planned for the very next day. He didn't give me any details before heading off to Austin, just that it had something to do with sculpture. It did indeed, for he was taking me to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, located just around the corner from Zilker Park. We did have to pay to get into this one, but it was less than $5 each, and oh so worth it -- exercise, education, and lots of great nature photos for my art class, all in one fell swoop!

The Kiss

Mother and Child, and The Poetess
Charles Umlauf was born to immigrant parents on a farm in Michigan, but moved to Texas with his wife in 1941 to be an instructor in the new art department at the University of Texas. He taught there for forty years, and continued to work in his studio every day until his death in 1994. During his career, he was awarded nearly every professional award offered, and his work can be seen in museums across the country, including the Smithsonian in D.C. and the Metropolitan in New York.

In 1985 he and his wife gave their home, studio and 168 of his sculptures to the City of Austin, and in 1991 a new museum and sculpture garden were built with private monies on adjoining City property. Next on the agenda will be linking the two sculpture gardens -- the museum garden and the original one up the hill.

War Mother

We had arrived at 10:00, so we could do our walking before it got too hot, and finished up right at 11:00. How convenient, then, that one of our very favorite restaurants was right across the street, they just happened to be hosting their 24th annual Green Chile Fest, and best of all, for once we beat the crowds!

While there we were seated next to (and eavesdropping on) a fascinating little group, but I will save that story for later.

Friday, August 31, 2012


John and I have been doing our best to make walking a part of our regular routine, but no matter how beautiful one's neighborhood is, walking the same ol' route, day in, day out, can get pretty boring. Therefore, we are ever on the lookout for someplace new to do a little exersplorin'. Wednesday morning I stayed at the computer so long I ended up missing my Zumba class, and needed to take a walk instead. When I was pondering where to go, I remembered a recent dinner table conversation with some new friends -- friends that I actually met through this blog several years ago. They were living on Catalina Island at the time, but had bought a home here in Wimberley, which they planned to retire to. They finally made it here this summer, and are still in the oh-so-giddy stage where they wake up every morning thinking "I can't believe I finally live here!" They are doing lots and lots of exploring, and one of their recent adventures was to the Emily Ann Theatre. You may remember my mentioning the Trail of Lights they host there each holiday season. They also host the big butterfly release each spring, and in summer, it's Shakespeare Under the Stars. Ken and Sherri had just gone to see Much Ado About Nothing there, which was done with a circus theme, and were verily impressed! They asked if I had ever gone there just to wander around the trails and gardens, and I said no, only at night during the Trail of Lights. I hadn't realized you could do that without paying any kind of entry fee. So that's where I went on Wednesday.

It turned out to be quite a hoot. For one thing, there is lots of very odd stuff scattered here and there. Many local businesses and organizations set up light displays each year, as part of the big competition, and I'm guessing they leave some parts of their exhibits up year round. Like a lavender version of Cinderella's carriage, a giant serpent, and this little building here.

Looks just like the one where I eat lunch all the time!
There were many lovely little garden sections, such as the pond below, which were installed and are maintained by local families and organizations -- some in memoriam for lost loved ones, just as the theatre itself was built in memory of a beloved daughter who passed away very young.

It was absolutely covered with little frogs!

Guess what else I discovered? A troth-pledging tree! Couples are supposed to hold hands, touch the tree, and read the lines that are posted there, which I suspect are from some Shakespearean play. If they're from Romeo and Juliet though, I'm not sure I'd want to read them, considering how things turned out for them.

Before I knew it, and without really noticing the effort, I had reached the top of the hill where the Veterans' Memorial is located, and had a pretty good view out over the Wimberley valley. That's Mount Baldy across the way, the most popular hill to climb in the area, but one which I will probably never tackle.

Can you see that staircase running along the ridge there? That's a whole lotta steps! Almost 300, if I remember correctly. Steps I don't plan to climb. I opted for the elevator at the Eiffel Tower, and I really can't understand people who spend their lives trying to swim the English Channel, or win their eighth Tour de France. When I hear the phrase "because it's there", I just want to grab them by the shoulders, rattle their brains around, and yell "For Pete's sake, find something useful to do with your time! Get to know your kids or something!" But that's just me.

The Emily Ann has always been an outdoor theatre, but pretty soon, it will have an indoor facility as well. All in all, I think it's a pretty amazing place, not just for the official events that they host, but also as a place to take a nice little walk, enjoy a picnic, or maybe even to re-pledge your troth to the person you have been in love with for the past forty or so years.

Chess, anyone?

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Most people think I'm a Little Mary Sunshine, and they are pretty much correct. Every so often, though,  events will pile up on me, and suddenly I find myself in a very dark place. Yesterday was one of those days. Back in '76, I had a string of 'em. Remember when Baby Jessica got stuck in that well in Midland, Texas? Well, we were living in Midland at the time, and I had a little boy right about her age, and a little girl who was four. Every time I heard the news reports (and it was pretty hard to avoid them) all I could think was "What if it was one of mine? How could I possibly bear it?" Then I'd find myself spiraling down into that dark place. The only way I could climb out was to seek out my children, remind myself that they were indeed very safe and happy, smother them with lots of hugs and kisses, make them giggle with delight, and tell them how much I loved them.

My kids are all grown up now, but some things never change. Yesterday we first found out that friends had lost a brother to suicide. Just a short time later, we got word that Fiber Woman's son had been in a serious motorcycle accident. And down I went, into that dark place of wondering "What if it was one of mine? How could I possibly survive?" There was only one thing to do, of course. I got on the phone with them, just to hear the sound of their voices, reassured myself that they were happy and safe, and, most importantly, told them how much I loved them. It helped. It helped a lot.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Guess what I'll be doing, right about this time next month? I'll be pulling out that little rolling carry-on bag that I bought for the trip to France, dusting it off, and filling it up with everything from Crop-a-diles to baby wipes.

Why? Because I'll be gettin' ready to head off to my very first ever weekend art retreat! I've been dying to go to one ever since my first online art instructor described the fabulous one she had just taught at in North Carolina, at the shop/studio of artist/designer/blogger Donna Downey. High School Debbie and I both read her blog now, and have talked about how much fun it would be to go to one of her retreats some day. But you know how it is, what with the time, effort and expense involved in attending something like that halfway across the country, I just never got around to it. Imagine my glee then, when I opened that email from H.S.D. a few weeks ago -- the one that read "Guess who's coming to San Antonio?" Yes indeedy! Donna Downey herself will be teaching three separate workshops in one weekend at the Courtyard Marriott at The Rim, and we're gonna be there for it, up to our elbows in all kinds of yummy art-journalling-goodness!

There's only one hitch. Debbie's daughter is expecting, and her due date is perilously close to the date of the workshop. If the baby comes early, Deb may have to run out in the middle of the workshop. Don't worry Deb, I've got you covered! I promise to take lots of pictures, and you can see everything you missed here on my blog afterwards.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


At least, no critters have managed to pull down our little mesh tents, as of yet.

I've got a couple of 'maters in this one. Of course, I doubt they'll set any fruit until the daytime temps drop into the 80s, which could be another month or so. The bees can't get in to pollinate, so I thought I might have to leave the sides propped open during the day. However, according to what I read on line, most tomato plants these days can pollinate themselves, as long as there is air circulating around them, to move the pollen about. No worries then, for breezes they have aplenty. In fact, that is my major concern right now. If we get one of our ferocious wind storms up here, these little plant covers are liable to end up over in the next county!

These are some some of those big, flat Italian green beans -- Romano beans -- that are so delicious when parboiled very briefly, then sauteed in a bit of olive oil, garlic, and Panko bread crumbs. Just toss them around in the pan a bit until they are coated in the crispy crumbs. The deer love them too, so it took me all summer, last time I grew them, just to harvest enough for one or two servings! The deer didn't really bother the plants much until they started producing beans, so we won't really know if the tents were worth the investment until then.

I've also got one row of tri-color bush beans, about ready to be thinned out, and one of the little skinny haricots vert, which we like to oven roast at 400 F., in a bit of olive oil and sea salt, until they have those nice brown caramelized patches here and there. We then pick them up and eat them with our hands, like french fries!

There is still plenty of room to add a variety of lettuces and other cool weather plants, once our night temperatures finally cool down a bit (our lows are still in the mid-seventies, unfortunately). When they do, I just might try planting me some broccoli and cauliflower. If the tents can keep them from being decimated by those nasty leaf rolling caterpillars, well, you'll probably see me doing my happy dance all around the side of this hill!

Monday, August 27, 2012


Do you remember my telling you about Whimsy Woman and her shop a while back? About finding my fabulous old painting of some little boys skinny-dipping in Jacob's Well while I was there? Well, her first shop was in a not-so-great location, so when word got out that the stained glass lady was thinking about retiring, Whimsy Woman and her hubby jumped at the chance. They now have a fantastic location for their Whimsy Store -- in which they have both their original type of merchandise and stained glass -- right next to the staircase leading down to Inoz', which means I pass her shop on a regular basis. Almost every time I do, I feel the need to whip out my camera and snap a picture of something. Why? Well, because she's the only person I know who's almost as color-mad as me. She prefers to express that color-craziness on shabby old pieces of wooden furniture and accessories, such as this pile of old picture frames I spotted there the other day.

Mad, right? But in a good way!

P.S. You get extra points if you noticed that the picture frames echo the colors in that pot holder quilt that is hanging there to the left.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Know what I love most about living in Wimberley? I love that it's a community plum full of incubators. There's all kinds of incubators, you know. There's the kind that saved my niece's life when she was born three months early, and of course, there's the kind all my chicken-raisin' friends use to get their babies off to a good start. But there's plenty of other kinds as well. I guess you could say we created The Bountiful Sprout to be an incubator -- an incubator for our local farmers and producers, to help them figure out how to make a living, doing something they love and believe in. I've been hearing a lot about "kitchen incubators" lately -- places where local food entrepreneurs can rent space in a certified commercial kitchen by the hour, for a modest fee -- and that's something we've added to our wish list at TBS. Montesino Ranch is an incubator -- a marriage between people who just happen to have money and land, and young farmer wannabes who don't.  Of course, this whole trailer food phenomena that has taken hold here in the Hill Country is an incubator too. It's one for people who want to get into the restaurant business -- a way for them to get started without a whole lot of money, and build up a loyal following for their cuisine before investing in a brick and mortar facility. We even have several art incubators here -- everything from our Arts From The Heart program that's bringing art to our kiddos, to artist co-op galleries, and a brand new place called Fe29, that sounds like it is trying to do for artists what Montesino Ranch did for young farmers.

As much as I love all of this, the thing I love bestest of all is the way Wimberley acts as both an incubator and a retirement facility for local musicians.  We have at least three or four restaurants here that have live music every weekend, and some weekdays too.  We have Blue Rock Studio. Then there's our own favorite venue, Susanna's Kitchen. First time we saw Ray Wylie Hubbard play there, he had brought along his teenaged son Lucas to play with him. Last time we saw him there, he groused that Lucas was just too dang busy playing his own gigs these days, to tag along with his poor old dad.

This Thursday we went there to see a group called The Trishas, who played at SXSW this year, and who are about to head out on tour (despite one band member being six months pregnant) for their newly released album, High, Wide and Handsome. I did not know much about them before the concert, so I went online to hear a couple of their songs. Having grown up on groups like the Mamas and the Papas, Abba, and Simon and Garfunkel, and having sung in a traveling female choir all through college, there's not much I love more than some great vocal harmonies. Soon as I heard these girls singing an old gospel song called Trouble, well, I was seriously hooked. As the fellow sitting next to us said, "They're a lot like The Dixie Chicks, with a little less twang." The girl on the far left there is Savannah Welch, daughter of another local musician, Kevin Welch (who will be playing here 12/20). Savannah was very pregnant the whole time they were recording their latest album, and her baby was there in the church nursery being well-cared-for throughout the show. She says she remembers coming here to Susanna's Kitchen to see her dad and brother perform. In fact, there is a song he wrote for her when she was born, called Too Old To Die Young, and that's the song The Trisha's sang as their encore, while one baby was snuggled in the nursery and another was there on the stage, snuggled up to the vibrations of his momma's guitar, and most likely keeping time to her singin'. One helluva incubator, no?