Friday, December 20, 2013


Just having a bit more fun with with those sparkling Silks, a white Sharpie paint pen, and of course, some snowy glitter!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Written 12/05
Posted to Seasonality 12/14/07

It's odd, but when I first found out that John had to go back to Houston from Dallas, to work a few more days, I almost decided to go with him. I was afraid I might be bored here in Wimberley without him. Then I decided it might be a good time to work on my year-end summary for work, start a garden design, get caught up on bookkeeping, etc., so I loaded one whole suitcase with the notebooks and materials I would need for all these projects, and hauled them to Wimberley with me. Well, I've been here for four days now, John and Austin are coming in this afternoon, and so far, I haven't done doodley on any of those projects!

On Monday Lex had a day off from work, so we decided to do a girls-day-out in Austin. Most people in the rest of the country know Austin only as the capitol of Texas, and probably picture it as a somewhat stately place full of politicians. Others may know of it as the home of the University of Texas, and picture it full of Longhorn football fans. I chose to go to school there primarily because, back in the seventies, the hippies outnumbered the sororities and fraternities, and that suited me just fine. Since I was working my way through school, I couldn't have afforded a sorority even if I'd wanted one, so it's a good thing I didn't. Anywho, somewhere along the way, the people of Austin were smart enough to realize that having so many neat funky shops, hotels and restaurants, as opposed to the homogenous national chains populating most other metropolitan areas, made Austin more interesting, and somewhat unique. They decided to promote and encourage this by coming up with the "Keep Austin Weird (support local businesses)" slogan that you will see plastered on many a bumper hereabouts.

We started our day off at the new Whole Foods Market corporate headquarters that opened recently. Oh-My-Gosh, talk about foodie heaven! I think I like it even better than Central Market, which always makes me feel kinda like a rat in a maze. This store has normal back-and-forth rows in the center, which are fairly easy to navigate, but around the perimeter are what I can only describe as satellites of decadence. In the seafood section, I could have sworn I had been transported to Fisherman's Wharf. The counter was quadruple the size of any I had seen in a grocery store, was raised on a dais, and the fish mongers were all clad in those orange rubberized overalls with suspenders, like you see on fishing boats. I expected them to begin tossing huge fish carcasses through the air to one another at any moment. In addition to the extensive selection of fresh seafood, which looked as if it had leaped straight from the water onto those trays of ice, there was a separate kiosk filled with every possible variety of prepared seafood dish, ready to eat or take home with you. The meat section was equally as impressive, but what really sent us over the edge were the chocolatier and the bakery sections (I have a notorious sweet tooth, while Alexis is a fresh bread junkie). We thought we had died and gone to Europe! Then there were the mini-restaurants scattered throughout the store, where you could belly up to the bar and watch as they prepared the sushi, pizza, stir-fry, or whatever it was you were craving for lunch. To top it all off, they have their own parking garage underneath the store, complete with a moving sidewalk to carry your cart down, or you can opt for grocery valet service, if you prefer. It's a good thing I don't live in Austin. I could drop a butt-load of money in that place.

Next we went over to S. congress Ave., to stroll through all the funky shops that I missed on my last go-around. I found another piece of Bauer pottery that I could actually afford, and an old paperweight for John that had a picture of a covered wagon in it and said "Midland, Texas", which is where we lived for many years. I took Alexis to lunch at the little Italian bistro I had enjoyed so much last time, picked up a fresh baguette at Texas French Bakery to go with our dinner, then we went home and spent the evening pouring over a great new book I had found at Uncommon Objects, which describes hundreds more interesting shops and restaurants in Austin that I didn't even know about!

Tuesday was spent running errands, shopping for groceries, and leaving phone messages for excavation contractors. We have decided that having our driveway resurfaced will be our Christmas present to one another this year. Unfortunately, we can't seem to get anyone to come out, or even return our calls. One guy did come out several weeks ago, but then he never got back to us with an estimate. I was quite excited when one of these guys actually returned my call first thing the next day, and even more so when he proceeded to set up an appointment with me for that same day (this has to be a good sign!). Since he wasn't due here until 11:00, and I knew better than to expect a contractor to be punctual, I decided to do some picking up around the house while I waited. As I was doing that, it suddenly occurred to me that my Christmas tablecloths were hanging in the coat closet, so at least I could get to those without too much difficulty. Then, as I was spreading them on the dining room table (a small red fringed one layered diagonally over a large green plaid cloth), I happened to glance up at the corner curio cabinet where I keep my teapot collection. Was it possible that my Christmas teapots were stored in the cabinet down below? YES! Hallelujah! I pulled out a few to place on the table, put one on the sideboard, and a couple on the mantle. Then I decided to light my piney-smelling candle, and next thing you know, I'm singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."!

I was even more impressed with this contractor when he showed up for our appointment precisely on time, but my happy little bubble burst when he handed me his estimate. Apparently we can either spend $5,000 every couple of years to regrade the driveway and add new gravel, or we can bite the bullet and have it paved with asphalt, which should last 20 years or more if we just reseal it on a regular basis. When I told Alexis how much that would cost, her reaction was "Shit! I could buy a car for that!" After he left, I was feeling kind of blue, so I decided I really needed to head over to Juan Henry's for a mini mushroom quesadilla and a diet coke with fresh lime slices in it. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, a quesadilla is the Tex-Mex version of a grilled cheese sandwich - several varieties of grated cheese sandwiched between two flour tortillas and sauteed in butter until crispy on the outside, oozey on the inside.) That did a lot to cheer me up. Next I decided to explore the local library, which was surprisingly good for such a small town. I got myself a library card and checked out a couple of books about Wimberley history, plus one about Christmas in Texas that described all the different cultures that settled here, and how they celebrated the holidays. By the time I got back to my recently decluttered and bedecked house, I was feeling quite jovial again. I spent the afternoon cooking up a big pot of chicken gumbo, then read my books all evening, and now, here I sit on Thursday morning saying "My, how time flies!"

to be continued...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


This makes me sad:

And another one's gone, yeah another one's gone. Another one bites the dust!

Why yes, that IS a huge agarita shrub that all the bottles landed in, and will have to be retrieved from.

In case you aren't familiar with those shrubs, they are pricklier 'n all get-out, which makes them a favorite hiding place for snakes. Yes, snakes are in hibernation in most of the country right now, but hey, it's been short-sleeve weather here all week, and I'm not takin' any chances!

Looks like we'll be needing considerably bigger stakes. And more of them!

This, on the other hand, makes me very, very happy each time I drive past:

Wait for it...

wait for it...

Taa-Daaa!  Reminds me of the uber-fun Wild Art class I took from Junelle Jacobsen this summer, where we all went a bit vintage-camper-crazy! It's the little things, y'all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Part Two of a Post Written 12/05
Posted to Seasonality 12/13/07

We met Alexis in Dallas on the Saturday before Christmas, and celebrated with my family that evening. John had to go back to Houston to work for a few more days, and Austin wanted to stay in Dallas to hang out with some old buddies, so the next morning I drove to Wimberley with Alexis. Of course, our first evening there, we had to go to our favorite little Mexican joint, Juan Henry's. Actually, I guess you can't really call it a Mexican joint anymore. Originally, the proprietor owned two restaurants. One was just off the town square, looking out over Cypress Creek -- where Inoz' is now. It was called John Henry's, and served burgers, chicken-fried steak, and such. The other one, out on River Road, was called Juan Enriquez's, and was strictly Tex-Mex. One year John Henry's suffered serious flood damage, and rather than trying to rebuild it, the owner combined the two restaurants, and the two names, at the River Road location. Thus, Juan Henry's was born. Still our favorite place to eat! After dinner we went back to the house, and I just can't describe what a thrill it was to see my little house twinkling festively up on the hillside. Once we were inside, we curled up in our cozy chairs by the fireplace, with our fuzzy lap throws tucked around us, and I presented Alexis with her first Christmas present. This was no ordinary gift, however.

Years ago, when we moved to Indonesia, Austin was just starting kindergarten, and Alexis was in third grade. Although I didn't keep a journal at the time (picture me slapping my forehead and saying "Doh!"), I did try to write weekly letters home to the grandparents, filled with everything the kids were doing, so they wouldn't completely miss out on watching the kids grow up. Just for my own entertainment, I tried to make the letters as humorous and interesting as possible.

Now, fast forward about ten years, to the time when John's mother had just passed away, and we were trying to empty out her house in Odessa before selling it. The one glimmer of light in a horrible, horrible task, was to discover a little bundle of 25 airmail envelopes, with my handwriting scrawled across the front. Could it be? Oh Joy, Oh Joy! She actually saved some of my letters! Because things were in such a turmoil at that time, I didn't tear into them immediately. Instead I took them home with me, put them up on the shelf in my closet, and savored the pleasure that I knew was in store for me one day.

Funny. I thought I remembered every single thing about those years in Indonesia, but apparently there was quite a bit that had slipped my grasp, and which came rushing back as I read through those letters. For instance, I had completely forgotten about the time when Austin was six, and we were all sitting around the dinner table. Out of the blue, Austin said "Dad, do I have any ann-brothers?" John said "That depends. What's an ann-brother?" Austin replied "Well, you know how Granny has all those ann-sisters she's always talking about? Since I'm a boy, does that mean I have ann-brothers?" Now, how on earth could I have forgotten that? And what about the time when the two Hall boys had just arrived on the compound, and had come over to play? Not long after they showed up, Alexis stuck her head into my room and whispered "Mom! I think I'm in love!", referring to the elder brother. Austin, on the other hand, ended up in tears, because the younger brother, Kevin, told him that all our video games were stupid. Alexis fell out of love rather quickly, but Austin and Kevin have been best friends ever since, and intend to go into business together some day, designing video games!

Anywho, I was planning to just sit there reading my book, while Alexis read all the letters, but every time she laughed, or gasped, or said "Oh my gosh!", I had to stop and ask her what she was reading about at that point, and that would get us to talking about the various events and the people involved. By the time she folded the last letter and put it back into its envelope, it was way past my bedtime, but oh my, my, what a wonderful time we had!

 (to be continued)

Monday, December 16, 2013


Well, we're back from Big D, and other than having to deal with the unbelievable traffic coming up I-35 (lots of construction that seems to be taking years to complete), the nightmare of coming to a crashing halt as you head into downtown Dallas, and the general madhouse that is Central Expressway, a good time was had by all.

In case you're wondering whether everyone in my family got stuck with crazy nicknames like Gus Gus and Poodie, well, that's Wooly Booger, my baby brother, standing behind the sofa. Ha! I just realized that every single male here is either an engineer, a computer geek, or both. Thank goodness they aren't all introverts as well. Conversation is much more lively now that Nate has joined the group! (That's him, on the sofa, sporting his trademark "Ugly Christmas Sweater" with some rather naughty reindeer on it.)

Hubby swears in a new member to his anti-photo fan club.
On Saturday evening we met for a lovely dinner at a great little neighborhood Italian place called Aboca, which is practically across the street from Poodie's condo. Afterwards we came back to her place for dessert and prezzies. Did I take photos? Not a single one! That's what happens when I get to yakkin' with my sibs.

Next morning we met up out in Plano at Gussie's house for brunch, and I almost did it again! Luckily, about five minutes before the party broke up, I remembered to run around like crazy and snap a few quick photos. What a doofus!

Back to the traffic thing, which is really becoming an issue. I guess I've just been living in Wimberley too long. When you deal with that craziness on a daily basis, you don't give it that much thought. But the longer you've been away from it, the harder it is to come back. My sisters were never too fond of driving through Austin on a Friday afternoon to come see me, either, but now that they are retired they can travel mid-week, and there are ways to bypass it altogether. Unfortunately, there's just no way to avoid the downtown/central madhouse when I go to see them, and it matters not what day it is. Anywho, it got us to thinkin'. We're thinking that, before any of us get too much older, we should try to find a central place between Plano, Fort Worth, and Wimberley, for our family get-togethers, where no one has to drive more than three or four hours, and which has other ways to get there besides I-35. Any suggestions? Anybody?