Friday, September 28, 2012


I'm still in my nightie, haven't finished packing, don't know for sure what time I am heading out, or whether I am riding with my buddy or taking my own car, but I just couldn't resist taking the time to share with you some pictures I snapped yesterday.

We never know how bad the morning traffic will be, or how long it's going to take, when we head over to San Antonio for a meeting with our financial advisor, so we always allow extra time. Yesterday we ended up with thirty minutes to kill, so we went driving around and stumbled across this Japanese tea garden. Yes, I realize that sign above says "Chinese" but I think someone made a boo boo. All the other signs say "Japanese." Now, I've been to several Japanese tea gardens before, and they are always serenely beautiful, but none has ever blown me away quite like this. As soon as I spotted the bridge and tower above, I felt my Spidey-senses tingling!

I'm dying to go back again, to get more information, but I gather this was patterned after a traditional Japanese estate. I think I overheard a guide calling the tower a "kiln", and he said that the larger building would have been the main house, and these smaller ones the outbuildings.

What I really want to know though, is who did this amazing stonework? Who created these sculptural masterpieces?

OK, now I'm really signing off for a couple of days. Turns out I'm leaving in an hour! Catcha later.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Donna Downey
Well, tomorrow's the day -- the day that High School Debbie and I will be heading over to San Antonio for this 2-day workshop with Donna Downey. At least, I hope Debbie will be going with me. Her daughter is expecting, and though her official due-date wasn't until mid-October, they are now thinking the baby could come at any moment. Normally, I would be praying for her daughter to hold on for a while longer, but since they have estimated that her baby is already a nine-pounder (her hubby weighed eleven pounds at birth), well, that would be downright cruel!

We'll be taking three different classes, each requiring different supplies. You receive a kit for each one, containing some of the supplies, they bring certain supplies for all of the students to share, and then there are other supplies that each student must bring from home. My original plan was to pack my art supplies in that little tote bag on the left, and my clothes, make-up and what-have-you in the rolling carry-on bag on the right. Once I started gathering everything together, however, it didn't take long to figure out that it would have to be the other way around!

See ya later alligator!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I love people , and places, with a good sense of humor -- which is why I'm forever snapping pictures of funny signs. Thought I'd share a few of the ones I've spotted recently, to get your day started off right, and help get you over hump day.

No, that one above was not funny, but it set us up for what we then saw on the bar right next door, when we were in Port Aransas. There's nothing like a little friendly competition, right?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


We met our friend Danny when he was a young engineer fresh out of Texas A&M, and had come to work with my hubby at Mobil Oil, down in Kingsville. In fact, we've known him longer than his wife Peggy has, since that is where he met her. We've been through a lot together since then. Peggy and I had miscarriages together in Houston, our toddlers played together in Midland, and if it weren't for them moving to Sumatra ahead of us, and sending us four thumbs up, we might never have had the courage to move back to Indonesia that second time, with kids in tow. It has been a very, very long friendship, and one of the things I have always loved most about it, was hearing Dan's stories about how he grew up.

Though we were both born and raised in Texas, our lives couldn't have been more different. I grew up in Dallas, as did my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. I think I had one great grandfather Fritz who was supposedly born on the boat coming over from Germany, but his parents were probably city slickers too. Danny grew up in the section of the Texas Hill Country (Doss, Texas, population 225)  where just about everyone calls their grandparents Oma and Opa. His grandparents all spoke German, and his family were all ranchers. Danny and his three siblings attended a two-room school house (still in operation, though it now has three rooms) until it was time to be bussed over to the big consolidated high school in Fredericksburg, about 20 miles away. When we first started visiting Doss, there were only three businesses there. You had his father's mechanic shop; there was his mother's tiny grocery store, where all the hunters stocked up on supplies, and which had a meat locker out back; then there was another little general store owned by a different family. Everyone in Doss hunts. I think their son Travis was only in first or second grade that time we showed up at their grocery store for a visit. He had just shot his first deer, and came running out to grab our hands, squealing "Come see my deer! Come see my deer!" We braced ourselves to see the poor creature hanging in the garage, ready to be skinned. We were not at all prepared to find it already skinned and stretched out on the table, being carved into steaks and roasts. Whenever we spend the night with them, Danny loves to offer to fry up some blood sausage for my hubby's breakfast, just to watch him turn green.

Peggy and Dan were always very frugal, and it wasn't long before they'd saved up enough money to buy their own ranch in Doss, right down the road from his parents. Theirs just happened to come with a quaint old house on it -- a house I fell madly in love with. Peggy thought the house would do for a weekend getaway, but often said that if Dan Reeh ever expected her to live up there full time, they'd probably have to tear it down and build from scratch, as it would likely be a lot cheaper than trying to renovate this one. She may have been right, but each time she said that, I cried.

I doubt my tears had a thing to do with it, but somewhere along the way, they decided it was worth preserving, no matter the cost. It just so happens we were up there this weekend, for our annual meet up with a group of Indo-buddies, so I thought I'd snap a few pics to share with you. The part you see above was the original house, though they shifted the entrance over to frame the front door.

This new section on the right gave them a large open living/kitchen area for entertaining, a master suite, and another lovely porch.

The Barns

This little building out back, which is Peggy's someday-garden-shed, originally housed the smokehouse on the left, and wash house on the right.

This is where they built the fire to heat up the kettles of water for doing their wash. I can't say that I  blame Peggy for not wanting to do her laundry that way. There's even an old root cellar that used to lead down from the original kitchen. I seem to remember Peggy saying there were still a few jars of stuff down there on the shelves, which the previous owner had canned, when they bought the place. The old kitchen became Dan's office when they remodeled, and the door to the cellar is still there, but it's hidden behind a swing-out set of bookshelves. I hate to burst the bubble of those who attended high school with young Travis, but Mr. Reeh has never worked for the C.I.A., and that hidden door did not lead down to his secret headquarters.

Dan used to give the kids horseback rides whenever they came to visit. Now he has a new toy to tour them around in.

Anywho, I don't know what made them change their minds about tearing it all down, but I'm ever so grateful for whatever it was. Some things are worth preserving, don't you think?

Oh yeah, one last thing! All the original businesses in Doss are closed now, but some new people opened that fancy general store in the photo up top. Then they brought in a really good chef, and opened a mighty fine restaurant right there in the store. I admit, when Peggy first told me about it, I questioned the sense of opening a restaurant in a town that small, but it seems folks are driving in from all over to dine there. It even got written up in Texas Monthly magazine! So, if you are ever in the area, and want to view a bit of living history, why don't you head on over to Doss to look around, maybe even have a bite to eat. The peach cobbler is delish!

Monday, September 24, 2012


You'll never guess what my daughter did this weekend, as a sort of "welcome to our team" project for her new job at Linfield Design. She got to participate in a Lozilu Women's Mud Run! I think they do them in lots of different cities throughout the year, but this one was held at the Stunt Ranch between Austin and Dripping Springs. It's not really a race, as they don't track times or anything. It's just a fairly hilarious way of doing a little teambuilding with your bff's or coworkers, while raising a bit of money to help fight leukemia. All you have to do is run/walk a mere 5k, while overcoming a few obstacles along the way. Oh yeah, and your team needs a cute name, and outfits to match.

Lexie's team called themselves the Double D's, or Dirty Designers.

Now, if you know my daughter at all, you know that she is more into dancing than jogging. Or climbing. Or getting dirty. But what the hey, it was for a good cause.

And they're off! They had different "waves" starting at different times, so some groups were already finishing up as Lexie's group took off. They had great music playing the whole time (I recognized a few of my Zumba songs) which inspired more than a few spontaneous spurts of "dirty dancing."

The best part was getting to see all the different costumes the groups chose for themselves. Several teams wore their hair in braids, and were dressed a la Hunger Games (I heard the announcer refer to one of them as the Tracker Jackers), some resembled Brave Merida, and others went for the more feminine ballerina look. Those tutus will never be the same!

We didn't know our way around well enough to get ahead of Lex and see her going over all the obstacles, but if you click on the Lozilu link above, you can see examples of what they had to deal with along the way. We finally caught up with her just in time to see her entering the final mud pit.

She wasn't exactly smiling when she came across the finish line, but after she had time to catch her breath and gulp down a bottle of water, she finally admitted that it was "kinda" fun.

When asked if she would be willing to do it again next year, she would only say "Well, if I do, I'm training for it this time!"