Saturday, October 13, 2012


You won't believe what my precious daughter gave me when I took her home yesterday, as a combo birthday/thank you gift for taking care of her after her surgery. This!

She won it as a door prize at one of her A.S.I.D. functions, but said as soon as she laid eyes on it, she knew it had my name written all over it. I think she was right.

I left it sitting in the back of my car while I was unloading a bunch of plants I had bought, and when I came back to fetch it, I found this little ceramic skull tucked in amongst the greenery. Apparently Alexis wasn't the only one with a gift for me yesterday. Hubby was just being silly when he stuck it in the planter, but I actually like it there, don't you?

Which is why I went looking for my Dia de los Muertos candle, and added that to the grouping as well. I'm thinking it might be kinda fun to change it up with the seasons, tuck a little bling in there come Christmastime. Best of all, the plants are all artificial, though you'd never know it without actually feeling them. That way I won't be having a meltdown whenever one section or another starts to crap out on me.

Thank you, thank you Lexiepoo, and feel free to have surgery again any time! I'll be more than happy to play nurse for you.

Friday, October 12, 2012


The most amazing butterfly flitted into the Cantina Garden yesterday, and kept me mesmerized for ages, watching it from the balcony above, and trying to catch a decent photo of it. You can't tell it here, because the wings aren't fully spread, but that thing was gi-NOR-mous -- about the size of a salad plate! I had to rush right out to King Feed to buy one of their butterfly guides, so I could figure out which kind it was. I'm guessing it's an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail...on steroids!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I figured I'd get to keep Lex through tomorrow, but it turns out she has a doctor's appointment tomorrow at 10:00, so I guess she needs to be back in Austin before then. I thought about taking her back this afternoon, but I'm just not sure I'm ready to let her go yet. I suppose I could take her back early in the morning. Then I'd have a good excuse to spend an entire day knocking around Austin on my own. It's been absolute ages since I've done that.  Where would I go? Well, I think I'd start with a trip to World Market, to look at their white dishes. Then I might head down to S. Congress and have lunch at my favorite little Enoteca. After that I'd mosey on down to Great Outdoors. I need to add some more perennials to the Cantina Garden, and I need to get them in by the end of October. If I have any energy left after that, I may even stop by Archivers on my way home. I've been working on a two-page spread in one of my art journals, which has an oriental feel to it, and I thought I'd take a look around, to see if they have any interesting ephemera I could add to the pages. This could turn out to be one of my perfect days, no?

That reminds me of an expression that keeps popping up amongst my art journaling friends -- flopabilities. A flopability is something that looks like a total disaster, but if you just play around with it a bit, maybe walk away from it for a while and come back later, then play with it some more, it could very well turn into something uniquely wonderful.  That's what I love about art journaling. It's not about creating masterpieces for others to judge. It's a place of freedom -- freedom to experiment and try new techniques. Freedom to flop! Come to think of it, these oriental journal pages started out as a major flopability. Are you familiar with masks and stencils? If you took a piece of cardboard and cut a shape out of the center -- say, a Chinese lantern shape -- the outer piece would become a stencil, which you could lay on a background and paint or draw through. The piece that you removed from the center would become a "mask", which you could lay on a background and paint over and around, so that it leaves an area devoid of color when removed. Anywho, I saw something online where someone did a black and white piece using Chinese lantern shapes, and decided to play with that idea, only of course I wanted lots of color! I decided to try it with my new Dylusion sprays, only the sprays warped the cardboard stencil, got up under it, and went drizzling down the page. My lanterns looked like they had melted. A total flop, right? No, a flop-ability!

I just printed up some more Chinese text, glued it to the opposite page, then tried using the stencils with Pan Pastels this time. Perfect! But what to do about the other page? Well, I started by laying the masks over the lantern shapes, and tried covering up the oozy parts with more sprays. Not quite the effect I was after, but I figured I could do some journaling with a white pen in the big blotchy space. Meanwhile, quite by accident, my masks ended up with this fantastic verdigris patina! I could never reproduce it in a million years, so I decided to preserve it by gluing them onto the little card separating my two pages.

I've been playing with the layout all week, and each time I walk away from it for a while, I see it through new eyes, come up with new possibilities. Should I add a dragonfly to this page?

Should I cut up this Malaysian notecard I've been saving for years and years, and collage it on, or photocopy it and try an image transfer?

Haven't made up my mind about those last bits yet, but I do know that, with each new step, I'm loving the pages more and more. Just shows to go you. When your day, week, or life doesn't go according to plan, don't think of it as a flop. Think of it as a flopability!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Well, we've got our baby girl here with us now, snuggled up in her favorite spot. No, I don't have my Christmas decorations up yet. I'm recycling a picture from last Christmas -- where she is in the exact same spot, on the same sofa, under the same blanket. She really likes that spot. Only difference is, this time she doesn't look quite so perky, and she's got her hunny's hoodie snuggled up to her, 'cause "it smells good." Sheesh.

The surgery (her first) went just fine, other than that she seems to have inherited her momma's propensity for tossing up her toenails after anesthesia. Made for an interesting drive back to Wimberley. Here's a helpful tidbit we picked up from one of the nurses. She asked me if Lex had problems with motion sickness. I told her I wasn't sure if she still did or not, but she had as a child. She then told me that, if she ever needs surgery again, and tells them about that up front, they will put one of those motion sickness patches behind her ear, and it should help with all the heaving and hurling afterwards. Unfortunately, it doesn't do any good to put it on if you are already queasy. Sure wish someone had told me about this, four or five surgeries ago!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Poor little Alexis. I guess it's true what they say -- the genes will out! As with my grandmother, mother, all three siblings and niece, her gallbladder has gone wonky, and is having a coming out party in just a few hours. That used to mean a week in the hospital and six weeks to recover. Fortunately for her, it's now a day surgery, but still requires at least a week of recovery before returning to the workplace. We'll be heading over to Austin shortly for her surgery, and will bring her home with us so we can keep an eye on her for a couple of days, then she can go home and do a bit of work from there for a few more days.

Shortly after she leaves, son Austin and his puppy dog Guinness will be showing up. He has just accepted a job with a company in Austin, and starts work there on Monday. Unfortunately, his sweetheart Areej is a teacher, and must finish out the semester in Houston, plus they need to find someone to sublet that house they just leased after she leaves. In the meantime, we get to enjoy Austin's company on weeknights for the next few months, and spoil his puppy rotten all day long!

I couldn't be more pleased with how strong and independent my kids turned out to be, about the wonderful partners they have met, and that they both have work they are passionate about. Still, a momma misses her babies, and sometimes, well, it's kinda nice to be needed!

Monday, October 8, 2012


If you've ever wondered what makes the water in the Blue Hole so crystal clear, it is this stuff here -- karst limestone. I always thought I was so cute and clever, dubbing it Holey Rock, but when I stumbled across this sign along the Blue Hole hike & bike the other day, I realized I wasn't quite as original as I thought.

Click Image to Enlarge
I first heard about it years ago, before I even lived here. There's an Austin landscape architect named Jill Nokes, who wrote a book called How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest. That book was like my bible when I was back in school taking a propagation class. Anywho, one day I'm flipping through a gardening magazine, and there's Jill Nokes, big as life, standing next to the most amazing garden wall I've ever seen. They'd built their arched entryway from this karst stone, imbedding various little treasures in the process. What really tickled me though, was that people just walking by on the street were so inspired by it that they began pausing to tuck little trinkets of their own into the various nooks and crannies. How cool is that? It was through Jill that I learned of another Austin landscaper/artist named Berthold Haas, and the amazing sculptures he has created throughout the Hill Country using karst stone -- like this Grotto Wall at Sparky Park.

We've got a good bit of this stuff scattered around our property and, someday, I'm going to build something out of it, you mark my word. Probably not anything on the scale of those two walls above but hopefully, at the very least, that little mini grotto I've been talking about forever and a day. I will most likely need some assistance though, and I'm certain I can't afford the likes of Berthold Haas, so if you know anyone who's good with stone, feel free to drop me a note!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I have a dish dilemma. This morning I was perusing a weekly design newsletter I get online, and I came across a segment showing five or six different patterns of simple white dishes, from basic catering style, to a contemporary one with square plates. They even had one that looked like French stoneware, and another Bauer-like pattern with embossed rings. Suddenly I was feeling that old pang again. You see, when I first got engaged, and went to our local gift shop to fill out my wedding registry, I chose a pattern of simple white dishes. My mother asked "Why on earth would you want that?" "Well, because it's simple. I love colorful napkins and placemats and tablecloths, and no matter which ones I feel like using, these dishes will always go with them." She thought I was crazy, and my sisters pretty much agreed with her, so eventually I changed my registry and chose this Noritake pattern instead.

Later we added the colorful Fiesta dishes...

then I picked up a cute set of winter/Christmas dishes over in Indonesia for next to nothing...

and then I was gifted with some gorgeous serving pieces that had that Italian pottery look.

The only problem was that, whenever it came time to host a dinner party, I never seemed to have enough of the right dishes or glassware to go with the table linens or placemats I was planning to use. So I started collecting a mismatched set of gold and white china that would go with anything.

My mom gave me a pile of gold rimmed plates from her stash, to get me started, but most of them were more ivory-colored, while my serving pieces were all pure white. Now I have tons of dishes taking up tons of storage space -- storage space that could be holding art supplies instead -- and it still takes me a couple of hours, every time I have guests, to juggle around bits of this and that before I can come up with a table setting that will work.

Well Mom, I hate to tell you this, but you were wrong. I still don't appreciate having all this fancy stuff, now that I have "finally matured." Right now I would give anything for a full set of plain white dishes -- dishes that could be mixed with a few select serving pieces from my pastel wedding dishes at Easter time, or a bowl and platter from my winter set during the holidays. Dishes which would be just as comfortable alongside a gold and white china tea set as they would be with my old white ironstone jugs, and which would go with any of that closetful of tablecloths or those drawers full of napkins I have accumulated. And you know what? This time, after only 38 years or so of waffling, I'm finally going to get them!

P.S. I apologize for the photo quality today, but good pics need good, natural light, none of which is available in the wee hours of a cloudy morn.