Friday, September 2, 2016


Normally it looks a bit like the Sahara desert around here come late August. But not this year! This year everything is green, green, green, and blooming! The thing I'm most excited about its this -- another of those surprises that just showed up on my doorstep one day, thanks to Dear Hubby.

It's a tomato planter, complete with metal climbing support and rolling wheels, so you can follow the sun if need be! I never had much luck growing them down in the garden, but Hubby thought maybe if we could grow them up here on the balcony, where the deer can't get to them, we might have a fightin' chance. Unfortunately, it arrived in late July, the worst time in the world to plant anything in central Texas! I didn't get a chance to warn him before he had that cloth liner filled with potting soil and planted with two Black Krim tomato plants. Which turned out to be a good thing, since we ended up having one of the coolest, wettest Augusts in history! It's also a good thing that the planter came with an extra section of trellis you can add on later, since those plants must've grown a foot a week!

Just when I was getting all revved up about how lush and beautiful they were, with no sign of disease, and lots of blooms, I noticed that on the bottom half, where they had finished blooming, there was no sign of any tomatoes forming. Then it was on to full-blown panic. What if the bees can't find it up here, and it didn't get pollinated? We get plenty of hummingbirds, wasps and wind up on the balcony, but I've never seen a bee up here! Oh no! 

Then, a day or two ago, I spotted this...

and I'm back to doing my ecstatic Snoopy Happy Dance each time I see them.

Fingers crossed that the raccoons don't catch their scent and follow it up here!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Our son's Christmas stocking broke our brand new car.

Yesterday was a day full of mixed emotions. It was the day we were to go pick up my new car at the dealership in N. Austin, which is pretty exciting stuff, right? But it was also the day I was to say goodbye to my dear Little Zippy, the beloved friend who has put a smile on my face every day for the last 10 years/100,000 miles. She set the bar so high, I wasn't sure any old machine could meet the challenge.

Goodby Little Zippy!
The basket-o-crap cleared out of her, including a set of fuzzy antlers and big red nose she once wore during the holidays.
It was a beautiful, sunny day when we arrived. They drove the car off the showroom floor and parked it out front, to give me the rundown on all of its features (in one ear, out the other). Then we went in to fill out the paperwork. We were just about to sign on the very last dotted line when we heard it -- a torrent of rain beating down on the roof above us...and on my shiny new car! Who doesn't even make it off the parking lot, before getting their brand new car filthy dirty? And, apparently, that's the only place it rained, because five minutes down the road it was dry as a bone.

Since we were already in far north Austin, we decided to drop in on our son Austin and his wife. While there, I noticed his Christmas stocking sitting on a table. We keep them at our house, since that is where we usually celebrate, but last year he accidentally packed it up with all his gifts, and has been "meanin' to get it back to us" ever since. I grabbed it and tossed it into the "boot" of our new car, along with some stuff Hubby had bought at Costco that morning.

We started home, then noticed an alert on the dash telling us the hatchback was open. We pulled over and I got out to re-shut it, using a little more force this time. We took off, then the alert came on again. This time Hubby got out to deal with it, only to discover that he couldn't get the door open. At all! After trying over and over he finally gave up and headed home. When there, I tried it myself, but to no avail. Who doesn't even make it ten miles down the road from the dealership, before breaking their brand new car?

Hubby had to fold down the rear seats and crawl in back to retrieve his wine and groceries, and that's when he saw it. One corner of the stocking was stuck under the hatchback where it latches. He spent a good hour trying to pull, cut, tear and tease the bits of cloth away from the latch, but it still would not open. So he went inside to check the owner's manual, to see if there was a magic release button somewhere. No such luck. He did, however, find a warning to "make sure the area is clear before shutting the hatch, as it may jam." Now they tell us! I dread finding out how much this is gonna cost to fix, as I'm fairly certain "Christmas Stocking Damage" is not covered by our warranty!

Hello Big Zippy! (Please don't make me re-dub you The Demon Car.)
When I held up what was left of Austin's handmade-by-his-grandmother-from antique-lace-and-findings stocking, Hubby said "Guess you'll have to make him a new one, huh?" I thought for a minute, then grinned and said "Nope, we're keeping it. Just think of the great stories we can tell when the grandkids start wondering why we all get such pretty stockings, but poor Unkie Austin gets that crummy torn one!


Monday, August 29, 2016


Well, we got the link to the professional photos from our son's Hill Country wedding several months ago, but what with a new grandbaby coming and a week in Dallas and then a 3-day art workshop, it took me a while to narrow down the hundreds of options to just 50 or 60 that I wanted to have printed up for us. I thought that was the hard part, but no. The hard part was then narrowing those down to just 10 or 12 photos to share with you here on the blog. It forced me to do some serious thinking about what made this wedding wonderful, and I came to the conclusion that it had very little to do with the outfits, the venue, the food, the flowers and decorations, or the music, though all of those were wonderful. All those things we tend to lie awake at night stressing out over in the weeks leading up to the big event (the weather)?  Totally superfluous to its success. What really made this wedding wonderful was the people.

Austin has an amazing group of friends -- the kind who would do anything for you, and have! One has been his buddy since kindergarten in Indonesia, took him to Disney world twice, invited him to Houston for a week at a time when we moved back to a different city, and introduced him to all his computer nerd friends. Which meant that, when we later got transferred to Houston ourselves, he had a ready-made geek gang to hang out with all through high school. Two of his friends were fellow computer engineering majors at A & M, one of whom was willing to live with him all four (five?) years. One was his best buddy when he went to work for my hubby's consulting company straight out of college -- the only reason he was able to survive working for Hubby's two ex-partners for as long as he did. Two are his wonderful new brothers-in-law, one of which introduced him to the world of white hat hacking, lured him to Austin, and got him not one, but two jobs in computer security, which turned out to be his true forte. These friends made this wedding wonderful.

The fellow on the left above, the one who worked with him at Hubby's company, was Johnny-On-The-Spot when, moments before the guests were due to arrive, we discovered that, though we had an over-abundance of wine and champagne, we had no flutes or glasses to serve it in! As it turns out, miscommunications like these can make a wedding wonderful too, for they make the best stories afterwards. I am so grateful that he has all of these young men in his life. I am also grateful that he has this not-so-young man in his life. A man who, just a few years ago, had so many near death episodes that he honestly didn't think he'd be around to see his kids get married, much less play with his grandbaby!

He did so much to make this wedding wonderful, the very least of which was monetary.

I am so grateful for the way the sibling rivalry between my two kids, which made my life a trial when they were young, just disappeared somewhere along the way. I love it that, the minute Austin's lip began to tremble while saying his vows, big sister Lex burst into tears, and kept crying throughout the entire ceremony! She blames it on pregnancy hormones.

Her love for her little brother made this wedding wonderful.

Check out these purple tennies the bride and groom changed into after the ceremony!
I am so grateful for the wonderful family our son has married into, and the way they have embraced him into the fold. One unexpected bonus is that they are a dancin' family, and they know how to get a party started!

I love to dance too, but hardly ever get the chance anymore. Between their Sudan wedding and this one, we've danced more this year than in the last ten! This family made the wedding wonderful.

Austin and Areej, no matter what life sends you in the years to come, with friends and family like these, you'll never have to handle it alone.

We gotcha covered!