Friday, April 26, 2013


New Page For My Nature Journal
I am not a fan of armadillos. It was kinda funny when it was a cute baby armadillo, and it preferred hanging out in my hubby's beds upstairs. Cracked me up to see John running around with his flashlight, night after night, determined to "nab that pesky varmint!" Not so funny anymore.

This morning was the second time in the last couple of weeks that I have thrown open the windows and settled into my writing nest, only to be distracted by a strange rustling sound coming from down in the Cantina Garden. Sure enough, it was 'Dillo Dan, only he ain't so little and cute anymore. He's turned into a leviathan that could probably go toe-to-toe with a VW beetle, and win! I managed to run him off by flipping on the porch lights and aiming a hose at him, but the damage was already done. He seems to have it in for my coneflower bed.

Here's what I'm wondering.  As you know, the Cantina Garden is a terraced garden. You can't get from one bed to another without going up and down steps built for human-length legs. With his itty bitty legs, I just don't see how he does it, unless he starts on the top level, then rolls himself up into a bowling ball and hurls himself down from one level to the next. If so, I hope it hurts!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


 "Smells are surer than sounds and sights to make heartstrings crack." ~ Rudyard Kipling

I've been reading bits of Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance yet again, as I transform a spare copy into an "altered book" art journal, and the part about making the most of our senses while we still have them really spoke to me. She quotes Diane Ackerman first, saying "Smells spur memories, but they also rouse our dozy senses, pamper and indulge us, help define our self-image, stir the cauldron of our seductiveness, warn us of danger, lead us into temptation, fan our religious fervor, accompany us to heaven, wed us to fashion, steep us in in luxury..." She then adds, "And if we lost our sense of smell, if suddenly we experienced anosmia, as do two million Americans? We would find ourselves bereft and cast adrift without the internal sextant of scent."

I can attest to that last bit, for I have watched my poor hubby be cast adrift this past year, as first his sense of smell, then taste, were affected my various illnesses and medications.  It is a sad, sad thing. Therefore, I am following her advice to delight in the simple pleasure of my sense of smell, and indulge myself with comfort aromas.

"Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived." ~ Helen Keller

Which got me to thinkin' -- about all the scents that transport me across miles and years. So I made a list, of course. You see that bottle of original spring green Vita Bath there? All I have to do is pop the lid, and I am 21 again, luxuriating in a delicious bubble bath at the Singapore Hilton (the first fancy schmancy hotel I had ever stayed at) thanks to one of the little bottles of Badedas bubblebath that all the bathrooms there were stocked with. The smell of cloves reminds me of the clove-scented cigarettes all the men in Indonesia smoked, and the smell of vomit takes me to the Indonesian markets, where a fruit called durian had a similar scent.

If I want to travel back to my early childhood, all I have to do is take a whiff of Play-do or Crayola crayons. The scent of fresh laundry or ironing has me tagging along behind our housekeeper Geneva, while the scent of vanilla or almond extract has me licking the beaters after my mom has mixed up a cake batter. The scent of certain antique shops, in older buildings with floor furnaces, transports me to the homes of my grandparents and great aunts.

The smell of certain glues and just the memory of the way freshly printed mimeographs smelled, can whisk me back to elementary school, while the smell of chlorine makes me flash back to summers spent at the community pool. The smell of leather and shoe polish takes me to a little shoe repair shop in Hillside Village. The scent of ammonia takes me to a hair salon in that same shopping center, where Mom and her friends all got their perms.

Anything pine-scented turns me into a teenager sitting by the river in Creede, Colorado, where we vacationed every summer. Same thing happened when they brought back Herbal Essence shampoo in the original scent. If I want to relive my college years, all I have to do is catch a whiff of patchouli. The smell of coconut oil puts me on the sunroof of my dorm.

Last but not least, the scents of baby powder and baby oil have me snuggling up to my freshly bathed kiddles, while damp puppy dogs make me remember how they smelled after playing outside.

"For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it's a pity that we use it so little." ~ Rachel Carson

What about you? What scents cause your heartstrings to crack?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


High School Graduation
I think the one thing about my life that I am most grateful for, is that I have enjoyed each and every stage of it.

A 50's party in college, where my date was a dorm cafeteria waiter named John.
In fact, each stage has always managed, somehow, to be even better than the last, ...

Celebrating our two miracle babies in Houston with the Sanfords.
The preschool years in Midland
and I am always looking forward to whatever comes next.

One last Hill Country fling with the Sanfords, before heading off on our three-year Indonesian adventure.
The Katy years where, first, I landed the job of my dreams, then later, thanks to frequent trips to the Hill Country to visit Lexie at Texas State, we managed to find the future home of our dreams.
Even now, I can still get excited thinking about what's ahead, creatively, grandmotherly, and possibly even trying on yet another lifestyle -- one where we live in the heart of this little town we love, and can walk to most anywhere we want to go. Who knows what might lie ahead? All I know is this. I can't imagine anything worse than being a person who felt like their life peaked in high school, and who has wasted the rest of it looking back, instead of ahead. Can you?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Is there anything more exciting than watching a garden slowly come back to life?

Mexican Bird of Paradise

Unless, of course, it's seeing a loved one come back to life.

Wild verbena popping up in our stone pathway.
Cow's Tongue -- the first I've managed to overwinter out of doors -- beginning to bloom.
We haven't received official word from the Scary Shit Specialist yet, but we did put in a call to his lab techs yesterday.

A morning glory bush my friend Nicki gave me last fall, which spent the winter in a pot and just got planted a few weeks ago.
All the yuccas are sending up blooms.
They told us his blood cultures came back negative.

Picture me dancing my way through the garden, singing "Ding dong, the staph is dead!"

Monday, April 22, 2013


It just wouldn't be a T.A.I.R. (Thomas Annual Inspirational Retreat) without several rounds of high-stakes Shanghai!
Well, I'm back from a fun, fun weekend with my two sisters and daughter Alexis.  Lex is an interior designer who had installs to do in Dallas both last week and this, so she offered to just stay in Dallas straight through, if we would all agree to meet up for a big slumber party over the weekend. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it, since we still hadn't heard anything about John's test results, or whether he'd be going back into the hospital, but he sort of shoved me out the door, and managed to survive the weekend just fine without me!

Normally, when we go on a TAIR, we meet up at a fun B&B or resort somewhere. This time, however, we met up at big sister Poodie's new place, since Lex and I had not yet seen it in person.  So, it being Color Mad Monday and all, I thought I would share with you some of the colorful finishing touches that have been added since I posted the first pictures of her redo. The entire condo has sort of a "Parisian Flat" feel to it, what with the charcoal grey walls and soft grey flooring, crystal chandeliers, lots of French Provincial antiques, and touches of black and white, but she has now added bright pops of turquoise, hot pink, and grass green throughout.

Poodie and my mom were both avid antiquers, and though she had to shed most of her collections when she downsized, there are still a few of the smaller ones scattered here and there.

I don't believe I ever showed you Poodie's bedroom and bath.

She went with more muted pinks in here.

See the shower curtain in the mirror? That's where she tore out an old tub/shower combo from the 70s -- an accident waiting to happen for anyone with bad hips or knees -- and replaced it with a spacious walk-in shower.

This little linen cabinet alcove was created my closing off an extra door leading to the hallway -- not something you really need in a  bathroom that you don't plan for guests to use.

Here's my favorite bit:

This statue has been at all the houses we grew up in, as well as each of Poo's houses since my parents passed.
She painted her back fence aqua, transforming an ugly storage area off her den into a magical focal point!

Last but not least, it just wouldn't be a proper Thomas get-together if we didn't scope out any interesting markets or eateries in the area, now would it?

So thank you Dear Hubby, for kicking me out the door, and for promising to call the doctors to check on your results, if we don't hear from them by this afternoon!