The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Friday, May 25, 2018

Oliver has found V's knitting basket.
Coming up on a year in this house and I will sheepishly note - the unpacking isn't complete. Yard work has been a huge push lately, has to be so before the Texas heats chases me back inside for the most of a day.  Already if I neglect to water the potted plants or my hanging baskets they appear to be "sleeping in" the next day.

Husband and I are back to walking an hour and a half or more each early morning and sometimes in the evening - after his cocktail settles in.  Surprisingly, retirement is even busier than when we both worked (and raised our house full of kids).  I guess it seems so because there are no huge chucks of the day scheduled by obligations and little things fill our days.

Come August we will be "empty nesters". It's still easy to remember the joy when back in 1986 we brought our first child home.  Last night he drove down after work to spend the night and drop off his dog for the weekend. The dogs (mine and his) like each other and have worked out their differences. Four's cat, Oliver, is here too. My dog barely spares a glance for the cat and over the past couple of weeks Oliver has settled nicely as far as the dog is concerned.  The Australian Shepard is seeing him for the first time though. AS does not differentiate between small furry animals. He seems to believe they are all feral and probably rabid. He seems bent on total eradication.  The cat delights in taunting him ... rolling around on the floor, mere inches away, separated by large expanses of glass which flank the back of the house. Oliver appears to wink at the dog, showing his soft furry belly as he flirts with a quick end save the glass.  Yeah, there's dog slobber and paw prints all over the place.  I'm a bit OCD about the windows so Monday, or Tuesday, not sure when vacation is over for One, I'll be spraying that wonderful foam window cleaner and buffing them back to invisible. When AS arrives the cat who sorta lives here goes elsewhere.  He and Oliver are not friendly as it is.  I had never seen a cat preparing to kill another cat until these two met ... and it hasn't gotten any better over the two weeks that Oliver has been here. "My cat" stands tall with his fingers splayed, claws unsheathed as though on tippy toe.  His eye are golden slits and his ears are pressed back looking all the world like a special forces guy's flat top.  I mean ... my cat has a notch out of one ear and the other is pierced waiting for a pirates golden ear ring. He is a bit of a thug cat.  He comes here for for a place to heal essentially ... and I think he enjoys sitting with me when I have my coffee first thing. No matter who is doing the accounting, there are too many animals here. Four may come home from her summer camp job for the weekend.  In the Fall she'll begin her career as a science educator. In the meanwhile her household furnishings are neatly stacked in one of the garage bays and her cat is on the prowl for trouble.

I like downsizing.  By American standards I am a minimalist. I still have more airplane stuff than I'll ever want to use again.  That stuff has a emotional attachment I guess ... I'd give it away, most of it, to the right people or place.  One of the local high schools builds an RV every year, sells it and uses the proceeds to buy an new kit for next year. I might look in to that for a "good" place to donate some of my current materials. I have read that actually flight proficiency deteriorates rapidly even among high hour pilots even as their self-confidence increases during long absences from routine flying. I haven't flown in over a year but I'm still keeping my instructor certificates current. As of today I doubt I'll ever take (or give) another flight review.  I miss flying, but I don't miss all the hours in the air it takes to stay good at flying.

And dishes.  I like dishes.

AS keeps on getting in the pool then coming over beside me to shake off. My dog is conserving energy in the shade.  I may smell like wet dog while I do my housework today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

 Mexican Sage to replace those five plants we lost during the extended freeze.  I was able to find a small root ball in each of the holes which I'm experimenting with "reviving".  They are in a nutrient rich tub but no sign of green yet. These guys form a "hedge"line behind some native grass clumps - picture to follow in the months ahead as things take shape.  I am tickled with the front yard first phase of landscaping.  Still have metal edging and mulch to do out there but the back yard is more of a priority right now.

Two pots, alike, flank the front entry.  Still, the new door waits to be hung.  We are incredibly busy with the back yard projects.  I think the door installation is waiting until end of the summer - plus, we haven't decided on traditional key lock or some of the new, finger touch entry systems ... and other details to enhance the front elevation.  For now, the orange flowers are really beautiful. 

Here is the back yard bed where I'm still pulling remnants of drainage blocking ground cover.  This is behind the coolcrete pool deck and abutts the house.  Yesterday we began pour black tiny gravel between the stepping stones that my husband had so carefully placed.  That permeable walkway was designed to help with back yard drainage. The trees are huge and provide a full canopy of shade for the patio.  The elephant ear that I'm "starting" will be moved to this bed once everything is ready for them.  Yesterday I learned that our zone (8b) isn't wonderfully hospitable for wintering over in-ground.  I'm looking for plan B plants for this bed, but I'll still put the elephant ear in ground with the intent to dig them up every year.  If we sell this house in a few years, I wouldn't want to leave the next owners with a gardening job every fall ... so the elephant ears will be joined by some hardier buddy plants.  An hour and a half South of here (@ about 80mph) is practically a tropical zone!  

On selling - L. hasn't settled in to this smaller in-town lot yet.  He doesn't like all the noise that comes with in-town living.  I barely hear it.  Once the trellises are up (and the backdoor neighbor stops peeking over the fence at will) he may like it better.  If not, I'm not opposed to another move. All the landscaping and detail work inside the house will make the property value significantly higher (plus the additional square foot added by the casita addition).  All this work might just be a hobby that pays.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

That back fence line is where I'm putting most of my effort lately.  Turns out, there was an entire row of big, too heavy for me to lift, rocks. They must have been placed there to delineate a flower bed from the lawn.  This house is a lot different from our longterm home - better for us now, and I love having a pool, but the yard has been interesting.  We bought the other house knowing that we could "fix" the house over time (and we did) but the yard was already amazing, neglected, as the house had sat empty for a year or more, but pretty close to  Southern Living photo op quality.
I developed a real love for gardening over there.  Those older ladies, the garden club set. really brought me along.  Good women.

The starts I potted and brought along are now in the ground here.  The daylilies are thriving, and that one little hosta start is going to make it.  The empty looking pot in the foreground of this shot contains four elephant ear bulbs, two regular giant green and two of the dark purple ones.  We are clearing a bed behind this picture where those will be replanted once were ready for them.  I think those bulbs can stay in the ground in this zone, but I may dig them up every Fall anyway.  I'm learning about here.

There's a sack of seed and four empty feeders which I hope to hang this week. Once we return from our graduation trip I'll get right on planting that bed along the fence.  In the "opening" where the backdoor neighbor's fireplace can be seen, we plan to build some trellises for evergreen wisteria - a magenta cluster that does look like wisteria but isn't at all - some of the pink honey suckle and I think star or Carolina jasmine.  My husband intends to build five separate trellis to enhance the looks of this area. I'm planning on mostly purple blooming things interspersed white daisy plants and an assortment of bedding plants ... we'll see.  It'll look nicer this year, but really won't fill in oil next year I think.  Lotsa fun.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

It's the prettiest thing I've seen lately.  I really smiled at the "blue-eyed grass", periwinkle is one of my favorite colors ... this egret. Wow.

I don't know who to credit.  I came across it used as an enticement to read a short story on LONGREADS, a recent subscription for me.

I've asked an artist whose life and work we admire to draw it for us.  I would put it over the fireplace.  As a matter of fact, I can see it there already when I close my eyes.  I hope he says yes.  And I hope I can afford it.

I could draw it.  I'd try gold and silver prism colors with all that grey scale ... and I keep the color true in the bill and feet. I don't even think it would be very hard. But my husband would like it even better if it was done by a real artist. Maybe an anniversary gift.  He misses the view of the San Gabriel river and the birds who lived in that area.

I've never seen a baby bird breaking out of his shell.  I've seen a nest being built.  I've seen eggs in that very same nest when the parent bird flew away for necessities. I've seen the hatchlinsg craning their still wet pink heads and orange beaks up in the open air demanding attention.  I need to check for the shell breaking on you tube.  Somewhere along the way I've come to believe that the shell breaking is accomplished by the baby bird ... unaided ... and on his own time table.  I think I can hear my dad telling me not to break the eggs in a nest because the baby bird was still busy becoming ready for the world. I think he told me that the momma bird doesn't want people smells on the eggs so I wasn't to even touch them.  Maybe it was my big brother who told me that.  I don't remember why I think it's true.

This morning I was trying to explain that to my husband.  Seventeen year olds are exactly like baby birds.  They are struggling to peck their way out of the shell.  I bet it's not easy making those first few intentional neck movements ... their wings would be crammed against the shell itching for room to extend a bit ... the cartilage in the feet still soft.  Baby birds are incredibly demanding. They're vulnerable too. I imagine that all they know is they need. 

I've seen them make the flight out of the nest.  It's a joyous thing to see. Then the nest is silent. Maybe there are birds who return to their nests to hang out with each other. I don't know much about the habits of birds ... what ever the birds who nested around our house were ... they flew out, not very gracefully, and never came back as baby birds.

The 24/7 hands on days of parenting are almost done.
It feels good.
It feels like an accomplishment - they are people who I love, like and admire.  Pretty cool.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It's that time of day when shadows stretch silver and gold across  the pool.  Soon, the hush will fall and insects will start to sing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

There are twenty of those tall brown yard bags full of tree debris lined up for curbside pick up today.  My husbands right eye swelled shut yesterday and was seeping so bad that I teased him about being a cry baby in order to get out of yard work.  Yesterday morning found me on top of the roof blowing that stuff down to the ground ... we wanted to scoop it up before it got blown into the pool where it really becomes a mess! Another wave of it was blanketing everything again before we'd finished a late dinner.  The blower was still plugged in so I blew the bulk of what was around the pool back from the edges last night in the dark.  In a awhile I'll snap a pic of the pool surface.  It looks like we are setting up a habitat for snapping turtles! And water moccasin!  

The picture up there is of the front yard - that's society garlic blooming.  We seem to have lost all of the majestic Mexican sage, and what I call wandering Jew, but am now wondering if those are an unfortunate choice of names nowadays. I'm trying to locate replacement plants.  We have edging material ordered from amazon to start delineating the beds.  I'm excited about that.  I have almost all of the perennials and shrubs in for the front beds.  I'll add to the bulbs over time. The backyard plantings are a priority right now. Last year we put in two palm trees and five knockout rose bushes, two short as it turns out. we'd like to supplement the privacy fence with several staggered trellises planted in trumpet vine, coral honeysuckle and probably some other flowering vines as I figure out the blooming cycle.

Best news! The doctor who is looking at the proteins in my blood - said (this isn't verbatim and all the applicable disclaimers are thus invoked), after a long explanation about those markers, the volume of protein in my blood is (optimistic, but confirming he said) not sufficient to even red flag. Mine are at .1% and the beginning of the potential problem area starts at 4-6% and even in that pool increases at such a slow rate that the progression to multiple myloma is extremely unlikely for me. He did have several vials of blood drawn which he said he'd give me a call on next week. Any concern about that isn't even on the back burner now. It is an interesting thing to consider though - one's own life in light of an early death. I understand as well as anyone how suddenly the death angel might appear, but in my paradigm He's always been coming for someone else.  I may write about some of those thoughts later.

Grateful.  I'm very interested in what comes next, but I really do love being alive.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Yesterday we returned home from what I think is my final college selection visit.  V seems to be all set for next Fall and we couldn't be happier with her choices.  Time hasn't seemed to move faster than it did with the home years of this l a s t  o n e.  

Recently I have been reflecting on what makes a life feel meaningful to me.  I've been privileged to do a lot of really cool things with my life so far, but I think, looking back, the sweetest joys for me have been found right here at home raising my five.  I am so proud of them all ... and they have become adults who I truly enjoy sharing time with.  
Against all odds, I have become a good cook. I count that among my joys too.

Empty nest years ahead - bring 'em!  I'm interested to see what we may find to do with the luxury of free time.  
I have a few little trips in mind.
I've wanted to retrace the Lewis and Clark trail from St. Louis to the West coast for example. I've never seen St. Louis and I want to visit the Arc as a starting place.  Terrell's wonderful installation in the desert of Arizona is at the top of my need to see list but isn't my first choice for a trip - I'd like to build up to that!

roden crater, located in the painted desert region of northern arizona, is an unprecedented large-scale artwork created within a volcanic cinder cone by light and space artist james turrell. the artist’s lifelong research in the field of human visual and psychological perception culminated into roden crater, with specially engineered skyspaceswhere the cycles of geologic and celestial time can be directly experienced. a controlled environment for the contemplation of light. it takes its place within the tradition of american landscape art that began in the 1960s, requiring a journey to visit the work in the remote desert with truly dark night skies. 

All the way back to early elementary school, the Weekly Reader days (remember that?) I have wished to see The Crazy's Horse Memorial.  We think that will be the farthest away point of our first trip, which will include the cliff village in SW Colorado.  I love Colorado, then New Mexico (behind Texas of course).  

I long to see Big Sur and there was a place in Wyoming which I can't remember right this minute.  We are thinking about trying out one of those tiny campers.  I'd like to rent it because I think after a few road trips I wouldn't want to use it again.  We have scouting missions planned to look for what works best for us.  

This arm thing has to be settled out before we get to far away from home.  The PT requires a good bit of floor space for stretching out in.  

I think our next outing will be to see a super moon at the National Seashore.  The new moons of June, July and August are all to be super moons I have read.  A college graduation and big move are the main "plan arounds" for catching one of those events.  I'm excited about putting my kayak back in the water asap!

What I'm really doing with the bulk of my free time lately is yard work.  This yard had no landscaping except a creeping asian jasmine which contributed to poor drainage, and gave harbor to scores of insects and snakes. (No, I didn't see a snake, but I'm sure that those areas were crawling with them!) Fortunately, my husband especially didn't like the ground cover and has put forth a Herculean effort of digging it out.  The soil under that stuff is beautiful.  All those years of decaying leaves have produced great planting beds.  It's looking like the hard freezes we experienced this winter have killed several of my October plantings, which we're replacing as soon as they can be located and bought.  They were purple Mexican Bush Sage and at their mature height of 4-5 feet they will form an important design element in the front yard.  

Last year we planted two palm trees and five knock out rose bushes in the back yard.  I am working on the design back there now. It's so much fun! 

taken by V

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It seems like the Internal Medicine guy is there to hustle up work for the other guys.  I went in for routine bloodwork and came away with (new knowledge of) high cholesterol.  Both of my parents had heart problems - Daddy's death at the incredibly young age of 45 was all about his cardiovascular system. My mom opted not to take high cholesterol medicine back in the 90s, her death was due to cancer, but she left the hospital when that was discovered with a referral to a cardiologist as well as to the oncologist.  So, although my blood pressure is perfect, and I am not at risk for diabetes, I am taking the cholesterol number seriously.  It would be nice to be alive for whatever happens next!

I am also to see an oncologist for those proteins in my blood which aren't supposed to be there.  Worst case scenario for those markers is multiple myeloma.  I'd so much rather not. Most likely is "We haven't figured out why some people have that." why can't the medical community get comfortable with just saying, "I don't know ... we don't know."  Or, "We haven't figured it completely  out yet, but your data might help with that."  I mean, well, two things.  One, I've raised five kids, I know when someone doesn't now what they're talking about. Two, I say I don't know all the time - it hasn't made me seem any stupider.  Lol.  Seriously, I'd love to hear a medical doctor, or maybe especially a PhD say, I don't know.  Period.  If you don't know, stop there.  It's okay.

And ... I do have a rotator cuff tear which I am in physical therapy for.  The surgery isn't scheduled yet because I need to improve the range of motion before it's scheduled.  The woman I work with is pretty amazing. I spend a lot of time working on it at home too and it's really neat to see the improvement.  I am suddenly interested in anatomy so I'm studying up on that.  I think rehabilitation the shoulder after surgery is a pretty long process.  

The picture was taken down the street a ways from the retreat cabin, if a 3000 soft log cabin kit home may be considered a cabin.  If I win the lottery I will definitely spend some of it on a small ranch for a few horses and some of the exotic herds that I've enjoyed seeing at Brushy Top down by Blanco. I like horses and enjoy riding but I don't know how to care for them.    

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


An old friend, Bp, chose to share her birthday largess by booking a place specifically set up to accommodate quilting retreats ... retreats for quilters. The guest list ended up including five people who I've known forever and five strangers.

Gosh, I can tell I haven't been writing for a long time!  This feels so stilted!

I mention the stranger thing because I tend not to warm up to people very fast and sometimes (mostly) not at all.  Close to the last minute I messaged Bp attempting to "vacate" my spot so that a real quilter might enjoy the venue and camaraderie.  Apparently quilt retreats are a thing. I am the sort of quilter who pieced a crib sized top 33 years ago and finally jettisoned it, unfinished, during the great move of 2015. It was a Jakob's ladder pattern and was so meticulously pieced together that I basically was over it before picking out a backing fabric.  I realized in 1984 that I was not meant to be a quilter, but Bp flatly stately, "No, you're in," shushing further discussion on my attendance.  I had a blast!

#doover, pictured above, is a mug rug ... party favor.  Bp requested that each of us create a mug rug (that's like a place mat specifically sized to accommodate a coffee cup, a mug coaster), wrap it up cute (she said doll it up when I asked if it should be wrapped for the party), and each guest would have one to open and take home to enjoy.  Quite frankly, I liked the idea of the challenge - creating something out of the thin air of my quilting imagination, but I wasn't THAT enthusiastic about bringing home another "ditty" when I'm spending so much time on clearing away years worth of
s t u f f.  It takes a lot of time to decide if a thing brings joy, and then if it doesn't, deciding where it needs to go.

 "joy" ... maybe you'll want to look at Marie Kondo's book:

the life-changing magic of tidying up
the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
#1 NEW YORK TIMES best Seller
(on loan from One)

 but I wasn't THAT enthusiastic ... Until 
I opened my package, saw my new treasure, and read the note safety pinned to it. Here's what the little note said:

I am learning not to rehash the previous day & not to listen to the uninvited voices that go along with doing that. Everyday is a do over. I thought it might be a beneficial reminder to the recipient as well.                    Leviticus 2:22-24

Here's one of my favorite parts - remember, I was just writing about "intentional ... in the day ... blah blah ... maybe I'm best at big picture ... lol ... I remember.  "Big picture" encourages one to run amok all over the canvas ... to paint as the Master's did, da Vinci for example was big on layering for effect and painting over entirely to find the most pleasing lines, takes diligence and commitment to excellence.  The mug rug, as beautifully crafted as it's intended take away was thoughtfully conceived, invites me to the present, to today ... to a clean slate and an engaging God.

Here's another one of my favorite parts.  There is no Lev. 2:22-24.  But/and the mug rug's message is "Do Over's, not only allowed, but encouraged".  As I lay on my bunk contemplating the possibilities ... was this a simple mistake ... I thought it would be a verse about His mercies are new every morning ... one of my favorite verses about God's provision of grace ... or was there some little gem in Leviticus, hidden among the rules, that these reference numbers could be un-jumbled to reveal.  I concluded that my new buddy girl might need a do over on the verse directive. I even wondered if she planned it that way.

Here's my next, another, favorite part.  Coincidently, I was seated next to her at dinner.  I told her I'd made an attempt at finding the verse, but "There is no Leviticus 2:22-24".  As her eyebrows pinched together, I continued, "Leviticus chapter 2 stops at verse 16". And her deadpanned response?  "What kinda Bible are you reading?"  Ha!  I laughed out loud!  Too funny.  At that moment.I knew I had found a kindred spirit, a friend.

Here's my mug rug - given the constraint that I can't make every corner joint meet (I know that because of all the hair I lost on my first attempt at the mug rug challenge (yes, it was challenging)) I found a way to make wildly mismatched angles appear intentional. The handwork included French Knot flowers (one for each retreatee) and a bluebird singing in a tree, one of the many forming the piney veil of East Texas.  My mother taught me how to sew, also how to embroidery.

Would have made a delightful Barbie quilt!

Thankful 117/1000 People who love us
                118/1000 Stangers who quickly become friends
                119/1000 a mother who taught me to sew and embroidery
                120/1000 #doover - a beautiful reminder, tailor made to how I start my day, that His mercies are new every morning, in other words, He doesn't run out of grace, patience and love, for us.

PS!  Almost forgot!  I made a quilt top!  It is so cute (if I may say so myself) and I am looking forward to finishing it and will post pics asap - 

Monday, February 19, 2018

My treadmill was plugged in today for the first time since we moved to this house.  60 minutes on the treadmill doesn't sound like that big "a" deal - should be easy to reincorporate some cardio back in to my routine.  It's time, past time actually.
My treadmill has a ledge, a 1/2" deep pocket across the front, below the data screen, which perfectly accommodates either my laptop or an iPad.  The most difficult part of the work out is finding something interesting to watch for an hour.  I guess that's where the TED talks I keep pinning in the middle of the night come in.

I still haven't meandered  to a new word or interesting idea to think about ... sometimes I think I have forgotten how to be truly interested in anything.  That's weird isn't it?  It's like, this intensely interested in lots of things both big and small, has suddenly become a shoulder shrugger.  Spellcheck informs me that is not a word - meh - it should be.

Lobsters have rights?

When we were little (and that's actually part of the problem - there's no "little we" at exactly the time I can do that part of the journey)...

When we were little we used to go to the playground, heading strait for the merry go round, whoever got there when all the places were taken, had to be the pusher.  We did the until someone puks or the last kid gets slung off version of merry.  That was back in the day.  I liked the feeling of the sky spinning. That sort of thing felt very focused to me.  Even later during flight training with my old fighter pilot CFI - I liked that he couldn't rattle me and I liked that he tried really hard to do so.

I think I have lost my ability to focus.

When my brother was dying (cancer) not focusing worked best.  Cancer, for the surviver, is a day by day sort of thing and all the edges are best blurred.

Today, my kid brother's only son is turning 30.  I know I am supposed to "represent" his dad somehow with a meaningful birthday gesture, but ... I don't now how to.  I don't want to spend the day looking for just the right picture to send with a birthday note ... maybe later today.  I'll try.

I am discombobulated.  Huh - it took it, first time, no spelling adjustments needed.

I like the looks of that word.  Not for my word - not for my word to think about or anything. Just - its a funny word and it looks funny.

I have thought that maybe "we" are designed to live in the day ... I think that's what they're taking about with all the "intentional" stuff.  What that - staying in the day -being present,etc. - I've been doing that.  I don't think that works for me.  I might be more of a big picture sort of person.

I am supposed to be enjoying doing things around my house.  And I do really like what I'm doing. and while I'm thinking about it 116/1000 (thankfully - its a gratitude challenge, probably an exercise, but I like challenge resonates better for me) - I am thankful that I can afford the stuff I want for my little home improvement projects.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

b  r  e  a  t  h  e

Still working on my kitchen cabinets. 

Top right shows the backsplash I took down.  It seemed odd to me that tile was installed on the pantry which is a wood cabinet.  We are going to install some live edge shelving there for my coffee supplies and maybe a cookbook or two. There was no trim out molding along the top of the pantry - buying it is actually on today's to do. 
Next, those nasty looking painted over hinges. New hinges are in! Husband has said he will put them on and install the doors - shortly.
Next, the demo - a lot more work than I expected and because there was extensive sanding, patching with plastic wood or sheetrock mud, as appropriate, more sanding and lots and lots of very fine dust.  I also sand the Annie Sloan between paint layers and again before it is waxed.
Botton pic. is of the other, as yet untouched, bank of cabinets.  One that wall we would like to scoot the cabinets to the right about two inches to make a tiny bit more space for the refrigerator. When we do that we will relocate the microwave to the pantry and install a vent hood.  I'll also put all that chevron style tile down and put subway tile there instead.  That's a DIY for us, but it's a bigger job than either of us wants to tackle before we re-do our bathroom.

It's 56 degrees with 96% humidity on my back porch, aka workspace.
Drying time is causing delays!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Except for Max fur that blows like snow on a dry frozen tundra somewhere
the house stays pretty clean

Monday had been housework day (unless I was flying) for a long time now

I'm glad I took time to sit on the floor at that table and play with my kids

the glass top is pretty scuffed up  

but I can hear it giggle
when I close my eyes to hear.

I think, well, I know, I messed up my arm painting this house white.  And, I still have some painting to do.  The kitchen cabinets are still sporting ugly purplybrown paint.  I have started painting them.  I tried on two different shades of Annie Sloan chalk paint and have decided on the darker (color of that dark teal pillow on the couch). The flippers put tile backsplash up a wooden cabinet, also some sheetrock that abuts the cabinet.  It was one of the things here in the house that I thought looked just weird.  I started pulling that off but Larry is removing the thick mortar stuff that held the tile up.  I am supposed to be resting my arm entirely (on the advice of a doctor friend).  My hands got pretty used to working from either seat in the airplane making my non dominant arm a lot more coordinated than it might have been otherwise ... but it's really weird to have a weaker arm.

I remember how it was hurt several years ago.  I actually had put it from my mind until the friend insisted I remember saying this is pain from an old wound.

Old wounds.  I think it's good to forget them.  

I'm past that.  

But I wondered a bit today if there is some good reason for new pain from an old wound.  It made me start thinking about Paul, from the Bible, with his affliction.  I think it actually served him well ... that being the point of why we were even told about it.  

Thank goodness I can paint with my left hand.

I also have a girls three day weekend sneaking up on me and as a party favor we are all supposed to hand create a "mug rug".  Of course I had no clue what that is.  So far my mug hasn't even thought about needing a rug.  Turns out its a quilted thing and I'm looking forward to the design process.  Hoping to get my sewing machine out tomorrow.  My friends don't think I as "sewist" as they are and though I sure that's right, I do have a project or two in mind.  I want to make a pretty pj set with a long full robe.   Like this. 

I've seen some of those high priced pjs in snotty stores in Austin and they are crazy expensive and the details weren't tended to when they were sewn so they look sloppy.  I can remember my mother stressing how important it was to sew with the iron ready at hand so all the seams looked great.  Mom was a stickler for the details and taught me well.  I just don't like to sew ... unless it's something I want that I know I can do as well or better.  also looking for a shower curtain fabric that I'd like for our guest bathroom.  The rod is at 84" just like I asked for.  I have an eye on the exact right shower curtain unless I can make it for a lot less.

I'll post a pic of my mug rug when I get it done.

My friends have me doing the food for our retreat ... because I do love to cook for people.

Monday, January 22, 2018


I do have a new goal, and because I am a post-menopausal woman you might accurately guess it has something to do with physical fitness.  I'm on track.  Check in is every Monday morning at 8:30.  Good.

To dream a new dream ... probably Lewis didn't intend this literally, but I'm taking it that way anyway.

I have a dream stuck in my head from, geez, almost ten years ago.  The dream started and ended somewhere in the middle as dreams (and life) seem so often to do.  I am praying for closure on that dream.  It's just a dream you might think.  To me it is more, a metaphor.

I have an idiosyncratic need for closure.  Most of the time I'd say that's a good thing, it comes in the diligence basket, and I'm diligence personified.  On this, I have wished to "just let it go" but have been unable to comply with my better instincts.  So, there's that.  Dream closure would rock.

Dream closure?  Yeah, it counts.

I stopped remembering my dreams starting in 2015.  I don't know what makes someone, usually able to recall large parts of dreams routinely able to visualize and recount them, suddenly unable to do so.  I'm just guessing it's chronic fatigue or stress (which would be companions).  But, you know what?  Get news - I have arrived at a less stressful, I'd characterize it as idyllic, time in my life.

I know the world is a mess, but my finger doesn't fit the hole in the dam.
I'm actively trying to enjoy the good around me.
Why not?
That to note - now that I'm all chill, I expect to start dreaming and remembering those dreams again.

And, I did dream a little dream last night.

My niece was sitting behind me on otherwise empty bleachers and she leaned forward to whisper something funny (I don't remember what) in my ear.  It tickled my ear. I laughed because it was funny, I laughed louder and longer because it also tickled.  It was the sort of laugh that curls one up in mirth.

I'd like to complete "an old dream", short of that, a new dream might chase the old one away.  Closure either way I hope ... .

"Every beginning, after all, is nothing but a sequel, and the book of events is always open in the middle." -Szymborska

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our garage is about half full of perfectly stacked boxed of stuff. L's stuff. He is systematically disappearing for the entire morning into his study with one of those boxes.  He's scanning notes, pictures, articles, entire books for all I know.  Our oldest son recommended the scanning to digital storage idea and my husband has taken to it as only the truly compulsive can (no disrespect there, it is as the if the kettle is calling the skillet black).  I applaud the effort.  Our huge recycling container sits ready, straining lid cocked open, every pick up day.  We are burning already scanned stuff in our little fire pit. Someday we may be able to park a car in the garage.

This picture turned up.

He came out to find me saying, "Hey, look what I found."  This was taken in July of "81 at the airport in Buffalo.  The night before we had been in what seemed to me was getting ready to be a fatal car wreck.  A speeding car screamed through a red light broadsiding us and spinning the brand new station wagon L was driving round and round and round just like a toy flung during a temper tantrum.  The car was totaled. From my seat on the right I could see more clearly around the blind corner.  I saw it coming.  There's a word for "when time fragments in to tiny fractions of a second and those fraction move forward like box cars on a freight train" ... it's like slow motion ... even one's prayer is stretched like a cassette tape that will never sound right again. 

I've never told anyone this - after my dad died I started thinking, irrationally of course, that everyone I loved would die (because I loved them).  That's some sort of weird messed up.  The earlier death of my best friend/older brother had left a jagged scar, Daddy's death was too much loss to absorb. For a long time I kept my love small because of that ill conceived idea.  

During those splintered seconds before impact my breaking heart reminded God that He promised to never put more than we can bear.  That's what I'd been told.  That's what I believed.  (I now know that is not what the scripture says.)   Please, no, my heart whimpered. My husband and I walked away from the crash.  I miscarried a few days after we got back home.  And I dropped out of graduate school and went to work.  

It surprises me what comes out when I just sit down to write ... . 

I sat down today to talk about how much I am enjoying ALEXA.  Maybe I can tell that story tomorrow because I am out of time today.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Recent birthday pictures - plenty to be thankful for - 116/1000

and what the dog willingly endures when we are inside more than we like to be

the eye liner is all him, I just added the brows

Today I  decided to stop wearing eyeliner myself ... it just smudges so easily and looks bad (noticed as I searched for a pic of myself).

I also received the gift of outdoor heat for my birthday - Max likes that almost as much as I.

This little guy usually snuggles with me first thing in the morning as I sit here enjoying my coffee and life in general.

old electrical plug -

Pictured here because I think the plug is super cool.  There is suppose to be a piece of card stock covering the wiring (and protecting fingers from a little inadvertent buzz.  We bought this lamp in Atlanta several years ago, but I'm just now seeing the wiring. My dad taught me how to do most of what I can do "handyman-wise". This little plug reminds me of that.  I still miss my dad and with that is the lingering regret of not missing my mom.  I am working on being thankful for her.


watching it open has been fun


our home's entry today

our home's entry before the flippers worked in it
"THANKFUL" number 114 - We bought the house this summer and have been working in it ever since. I like that because it's something I enjoy (working around my house) and because it's just gratifying to see something look "better" in general.  The ceiling fixtures were a Christmas gift from one of my sons.  It's neat to think of him when the lights come to my attention.  All five were home for a few days during Christmas which made for a uniquely special time for me. Where do the years go?

Still to do in the foyer - doors.  We have a new front door leaning against the wall in the living room, it's still in the box it was shipped in.  Finding hardware has been interesting.  We wanted an interior "push (and maybe twist) to lock" like the front door on our former home.  Those aren't being manufactured now apparently.  Everything we found was a keyed lock - as in insert key from the outside to lock the door.  Now we have discovered KEVO and the "research is on as to ... how easily can it be hacked ... is it the best of the current crop of lock sets for our needs etc..  The mechanism on the inside is curved at the top  - the hardware I've favored is not curved.  I tend to like straight lines (and circles).  So, the front door is pretty high on the to do list. It's so pretty, I'm excited about seeing it installed (not my project/above my skill set/hubby's job). The flippers took all the arches out of this house. Neighbors who have been in comment on the arches being gone.  In my typical unfiltered style I have stated that I thought they looked absolutely hideous in the pictures I've seen of "before" ... they were all different sizes which would have been very unsettling for me.  A most recent visitor told me that the previous owners had the arches installed because she "loved" the arches in the home (they've been over and heard my arch distaste) across the street.

The local ReStore has a bunch (like several pallets) of solid core doors.  It is my plan to replace every door in the house with a solid core door and I'd like to start in the foyer where there are three pairs of double doors, all of which were hung with significant gaps.  The door knobs on the study doors are "off" by about an inch of each other and remind me of a raised eyebrow.  I want to finish the doors in a white wax but leave them natural otherwise.  Like this:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hello 2018! The year of "Alexa, bark at my dog."

I have concerned myself with many words here.  Protect. Trust.  Hope. Persevere. Love. Still.

I'm ready for a new word.  A good word.  I think stillness has seeped in to my soul.  I know still.

I feel like 2017 actually did finish something.  Most usually I shift my year end rumination session several days forward in January, more towards my birthday coming up.  That's why feeling an end, even when you don't know the end to what yet, is note worthy to me.  I do like endings for the very fact that they signal beginnings.

Five different guest beds, if indeed one's very own (adult) children might be considered guests, generates a lot of laundry!  Hard freeze warnings blanket the area so those sheets and light quilts went right outside to cover our new landscape plants.  Figuring out the skeleton plan for this house's landscape was one of the very fun things I got to do last year.  In the Spring I'll dive in to fleshing the beds out a bit.  Right now we are working on drainage issues in this yard which have compounded over the years.  I think the "fill" from the hole of the pool was heaped around the yard in a haphazard manner.  Totally guessing.  Water events invariably pool at the back corner of the house.  My husband, a CE, has it all figured out and well on the way to handled.  I love working on our home.  One of the kids gave us light fixtures for our foyer.  There is a sheet rock patch on the top of L's to do list and then we can put up the new lights.  It's a lot of fun to see the house taking shape.

Today the tree came down.  Tomorrow I'll renest the baubles in their own little boxes.  That other brass star says JOY.

These light strings are going to the backyard trees..  I am going to run them from the ground all the way up the truck and out the branches, not wrapped, linear, all thirteen lines of them will twinkle from the trees that shade the back patio.  Next summer that bed will be full of elephant ear, hostas, gardenias and multicolored begonias.  I can barely wait!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

So long Year of the Figet Spinner

Selfie taken today as we drove around collecting necessities for the cold forecast to siege the area for the next several days. Currently a declining 28F.  I initially typed 28C and stared at it wondering what was wrong with that for a minute or two.  Pilot stuff.  I haven't looked at my logbook but I do believe it has been a full year since I last flew.  It doesn't feel like my last flight at the controls, but it does feel like I have no intention of teaching again.  I wonder how this will go ... I'll let the flight review lapse ... let the instructor certificates go without a reup ... when I'm to frail to handle the yoke someone will say,  OMG, you were a flight instructor back in the day when people actually hand flew ... maybe they'll let their plane take me up.

Here's a good thing about that sorta pissy observation - I never really wanted to die inside an airplane and I have significantly decreased the odds of that happening for me.  Except I just remembered something important - Gliding is really cool.  I can almost hear the sound of the air curling around the fuselage, it is mesmerizing.  I can almost make a commitment to looking into the local gliding clubs.  That would be good for me.  I may be able to overcome my shyness in support of that.

I noticed that it has been a long time since the last entry here. December was spent preparing for a visit from all five of our kids.  It was really great having all of them home, sleeping under the same roof, for what will be quite rare in the years ahead.

Three, Four, Two, Five and One

This wasn't the best of the batch of pictures of them together, but I like this one because it"s a picture of patience by my sons for the fun their sisters were having.  There is an 18 sec vid of Three skipping a stone which will become a treasured memory of mine.  I haven't really sorted through all our pictures yet - Five said she would create a photo book of our time together.  I would love that.

More shortly.  I'm going to get back to journaling more often. 

Happy New Year!  I'm looking forward to it.  2017 was a good one.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

I was thinking that we all, each of us, have stories that we choose not to tell.  We keep them secret, forgotten perhaps, because to tell them would open the soul in a way that feels exactly naked.  Then it occurred to me that probably people don't really spend the time to formulate a version of  many of their stories (because we stay busy with life management chores).

I have noticed that when I write down my thoughts on something I have read or seen or experienced first hand that the time to select the best words to recount the moments seems to clarify what actually happened, how I responded to it and most usually how I would have liked to respond "better" if given another opportunity.

I miss writing.  I have been filling my days up with being busy, too busy to write, too busy to really think.  During this quieter time though, I have noticed that I've gotten better at being thankful.  Thankful in general.

 Recently an acquaintance told me that he was going to the funeral of a person who I also know though not as well as he.  I asked, what do you think happened next?  I expected some variation on a spiritual theme, but he surprised me by answering  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing. Death is the end.  And he asked me what I thought of that.  I think he was giving me a chance to batter him with religious indignation, he seemed to be bracing himself, but I just said what I think which is I don't know same as nobody really does know. I said I believe in God as the creator/redeemer, but I'm not so certain as most people I know seem to be about what happens next.  I do believe that our souls are eternal.  Mostly I tend not to imagine the mansions and streets of gold ... the canon of hymns seems to have played many very minor and maybe metaphorical elements up so much that they amount to inducements to do right (or burn).

I think the Bible is about a relationship.
I think it's a picture of "not grace" so that the need for grace might be better understood.
I think it is an evolving story of grace.
I think "we" have gotten a lot of it tangled up.
I think the un-knotting begins with love, and I think we learn about love by leaning in to it.

As hard as I try though, I'm not great at relationships -  I misunderstand, say the wrong thing or the right thing sometimes at the wrong time.  Sometimes saying nothing makes messes in my relationships too.

I would be very sad if my relationships were predicated by "the prize" I could give in exchange for another's ... what?  Love, presence, companionship?

I think that "mansion" is a new "wrapper" for my soul, your soul.  I'm just a little creeped out by  living in a tent.  It's cool because of the novelty but the limitations are increasingly evident as time goes on.  Tent living is a humbling experience.  I like it for about 5 days.

I think God might be providing time with the invisible presence choice for me to learn how to "love" well, or at least better, the people I do have tangible relationships with.  It's pretty easy for me to navigate superficial relationships.  I smile and say hi to strangers (for example) in a way that hopefully makes them feel seen.  I think I'm pretty good at relationships with my immediate family and probably with my oldest friends (mostly because they love me ... I'm not great at remembering birthdays and sometimes forget the names of their kids).

>Time for me to get busy, but I'll be back<

Sunday, November 26, 2017

2017 Texas Monthly TOP 50 BBQ list - my notes and pictures

As I understand it, Texas Monthly magazine publishes an article (about every four years) announcing their BBQ team of writer/contributor's favorite bbq places around Texas.  In 2014,  after eating at Louie Mueller's place and becoming interested enough in BBQ because of them I googled Texas BBQ and found the Texas Monthly Top 50 list. 
Brisket smoking in the backyard with my dad tending it, cold beer in hand ... and a paperback for company, was just a part of my childhood that I took for granted.  (My dad keep a Folger's coffee can half full of water, or maybe beer, idk, inside his smoker.  I think he thought the steam helped maintain an ideal moisture content, but I'm guessing.) I, like probably most Texans, took great brisket, smoked links and ribs, served up with Momma's incredibly scrumptious sides  (I still have people asking me for her potato salad recipe) for granted.  Smoked turkey for Thanksgiving and smoked ham at Christmas was a given.  My dad, every once in awhile, even smoked fish caught fresh from the Gulf creating special occasions out of salt air.  Homemade flour tortillas and sweet tea were a given at any of these meals ... I grew up taking mouth watering cobblers. pies, banana pudding and Daddy's beer box for granted. My brother designed and built his own pit and promised to make one for us once we got back home and settled in somewhere. 

But I digress.

My husband and I have made a delightful hobby of visiting the establishments on the Texas Monthly list.  We're visiting places that we wouldn't have had the good fortune to wander in to (like Manchaca, just South of Austin,  and Jefferson, up in the NE quadrant - I hadn't know it was a port city before the CoE blew up the Great Red River Raft sometime in 1873). We get to visit with Pit Masters who are almost invariably fun story tellers and always share their passion for what they do and how they do it. An unexpected bonus has been the friendly fellowship with strangers during the waits. Franklin's provides folding chairs and one can order mimosas if so inclined during the wait ... most places seem to have a BYOB policy even though we don't. 

About half of the establishments on the 2017 list are first timers.  I have to say BBQ is becoming cool ... it's not just good eats anymore ... and the sides ... talk about stepping it up a notch or ten!  There was a place down towards the beach on the 2014 list.  He had one dollar bills stapled to every vertical surface and said he had catered BBQ for President Obama.  All of his proteins were just fine but the potato salad and slaw were yuk, nothing a little tlc couldn't fix, but I remember him telling me that "folks don't come to BBQ joints for the sides ...".  That may be changing.

We've eaten outside at makeshift picnic tables under tin roofs with blowers beating back the heat or eight foot tall space heaters keeping things toasty enough during the recent cold snaps.  We've eaten at a few really elegant establishments and in more than a few super cool high end spots with "trendy" decor.  A handful of places have been extremely humble, and a couple could be described as holes in the wall.  Rio Grande grill served our meals on a plank of wood - that was a neat surprise.  Stile Switch uses vintage looking metal lunch trays - super cool.  However they do it is always part of the fun!

Along with curating the 2017 TOP 50 Texas BBQ joints (and therefore the world - lol) list Texas Monthly has partnered with YETI to issue challenges and truly amazingly generous prizes (complete and document in your "BBQ Passport" all fifty stops and be rewarded with a YETI Tundra 45 - best booze box available)!  We missed challenge #2 Louis Mueller's Family Tree, not because we hadn't already collected the appropriate stops, but because we didn't realize how popular (and competitive)  this FUN would be. I really wanted that 1/2 Rambler jug for road trips and for camping out at the National Seashore (saving up to buy one). Prizes may be redeemed as challenges are completed, but I didn't know that until some kids at Snow's clued me in.  The rules are readily available/you snooze you lose!

As I update this  (25 January 2018) we have 9 places left for stamps on our passports, and plans to click off  five  of them over towards Dallas and four along a drive up to the panhandle.  Hoping to finish the tour by Valentine's Day so that we can start visiting a long list of new favorites until the list is updated in 2021.

BBQ places on the Top 50 List

in alphabetical order by region
* denotes new additions this time 'round

my favorites in largest font



1 2M Smokehouse*

South San Antonio feels closer to the Lower Rio Grand Valley where I was young than it actually is.  2M was most certainly cooking up and serving on a "home made" tortilla my Dad's type of BBQ brisket.  We asked for lean and we got an amazingly delicious cut that wasn't the least bit shy about the fat (ended up trimming it myself because even though my Dad said that was the choicest part, my cholesterol counter says I must demure).  Yummy!

2 Baker Boys BBQ*  

- super friendly - great ambassadors for Gonzalez, Texas.
 Baker Boys BBQ located in historic Gonzales.
 - come and taste it, a play on words easily understood by any Texan past the age of eight - 

The brisket was slow cooked to absolute perfection even though we visited on "fish fry" Friday. It's easy to taste the craftsmanship in every delicious bite.  I liked that the pickles and onion were chilled.  Normally we don't sample the desserts but when I saw the pecan pie I asked my husband if he wanted to share a slice was the banana pudding was trying real hard to outshine the meat though.  By far the best Banana Pudding I've ever scrapped the sides of a cup on!  This was a super easy going, notably friendly stop on the BBQ trail.

3 City Market

4 Cooper’s OLD TIME PIT 

- seemed like "yesterday's dried out meat.
It must be the ambience.

5 Franklin Barbecue (TM#2)

- super gracious hosts - fun, f riendly,  fantastic food - perfectly Austin

We arrived to wait in the line at 10 ... 
were notified that we would be looking at 12:30,
 and could commence ordering mimosa's at noon.  
As much as I don't really want to wait in a line like that again, 
I must admit that it really wasn't a problem.  

The food made it okay.  I really like their BBQ.
These guys really know how to make a long wait work!


-best waitstaff at any BBQ place we've visited
Super cool location, great waitstaff, cocktails rocked, BBQ on point.
New kid on the block knocking it out of the park.

7 The Granary ’Cue & Brew

I'd try them again when I want to sit around having cocktails with friends and snacking on BBQ - proximity to THE PEARL is a plus.
These guys were so all about the "brew" when we visited that we were put off.  Ordered a quarter pound to go.  When I'm back at The Pearl I'll probably give them another go because the place was really cute.  Brisket in the frig waiting for lunchtime now.

8 Hays Co. Bar-B-Que

9 Heavy’s Bar-B-Que*

10 Kreuz Market

It was slightly better than it looks.  Coolest knives I've seen though -

11 La Barbecue

My current favorite (30 Nov. 17).  I wasn't properly prepared to love this particular BBQ spot.  It was a tad disconcerting to me that the man serving beef was sporting a nose ring.  I guess I don't have a clue about why a person would want to wear a nose ring.  To me a nose ring that pokes out from both nostrils is just disrespectful towards oneself ... and in the face about it.  I don't get it.  I don't have a cubby hole for that question, the why of it, and gosh, especially in a BBQ joint ... I understand why a cow might need to be wearing a nose ring ... it was hard to unthink about that while I was standing there placing my order.  The actual meat cutter was like a skater dude who informed us that Mueller's (below) is now (copycatting their chipotle sausage, "You know how Jalepeno (and cheese he said, but thats incorrect and I let it pass as I tend to do) Links are their thing and Chipotle Links are our thing..." (and I thought "No I did not know Chipotle Links were exclusive to y'all's place" again saying nothing even about how cows wear nose rings).  We ordered a scant 1/2 pound, no sides, no drinks and asked for our passport stamps.  

The brisket was absolutely the best.  I do adore  SNOW'S (Currently TM's reigning #1) operation. They are absolutely the epitome of what [Texas BBQ + plus the people who create it + the people who eat it] should hope, strive, to be, but/and I am convinced that La Barbecue (especially if they could get Micklewait's Slaw) is the elevated urbanized "place to watch". 

12 Louie Mueller Barbecue (TM#5)

Louie Mueller's

 We eat here so often that I forgot to take more pictures the day they stamped our book -
I absolutely love eating at Mueller's.  This was my first taste of Texas Top 50 BBQ from my stay out in Taylor in 2014.  For me this whole BBQ thing starts here, he doesn't set the bar, he is the bar ... and if I never had the pleasure of dining with the other's, this would be just fine.

Louie Mueller's

13 Micklethwait Craft Meats* (TM#8)
The meat was "too moist" for me but the sides ... wow!

14 Miller’s Smokehouse

15 Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak*

enjoyed chatting with the owner (who is a character).

16 Rio Grande Grill BBQ*

Harlingen, down on the border, is too out of the way for a Sunday drive from the Austin area where we live but, I grew up down there so I know this young couple is bringing something uniquely special to the South Texas BBQ scene.  I loved everything about our time and the meal there.  Yum!

17 The Smoking Oak*

Got this brisket to go because we had a 7 hour drive ahead of us to get back home.  Tiny taste in the car and reheated it the next day for lunch and I could kick myself for being full and in a hurry when we got there.  It was delicious ... which the added bonus of their restaurant oozing with authentically South Texas hospitality.  I was home the second I stepped inside their doors.  Next time we're down that way I plan on making a meal there a featured event as it deserves!

18 Smolik’s Smokehouse*

19 Snow’s BBQ  (TM#1)

Easy to taste why they are TMTOP50BBQ joints Numero Uno
They're within a easy drive from us, but open only on Saturday. I enjoy everything about Snow's.
On the most recent trip I mentioned that the beans were as good as my mama's and the lady behind the counter replied, they should be they're made by Mama Tootsie.  Mr. Kerry, tending the pits, is a gracious and notably unassuming host. Somehow or other everyone there makes you feel like family.

20 Stiles Switch BBQ & BREW 

Delicious!  The proprietor/pitmaster was notably gracious - out on the floor busing tables and checking in on his patrons.  Definitely a top five for us.

21 Terry Black’s Barbecue*

The meal was super good!  Cute, comfortable place to visit again and again.

22 Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ*

The corn was PERFECTION! Next time we're in we are stocking up on corn!  Really enjoyed the meal - the taco is mine, and I could eat brisket served on a delicious flour tortilla (they know to do lime) every day of the week ... but the corn, the corn was crave worthy.  They seem to be "working" on indoor seating.  We ate outside under a shed roof with space heaters - I thought it was great!

23 Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que*

24 4-T’s Bar-BQ*

Delicious peppery bark bomb on the thickly sliced silky brisket.  Mikey's claim may not be an idle boast! We enjoyed our brief visit with him at the counter and some of the best brisket (and yummy sauce) that we come across on this Top 50 tour.

25 BBQ on the Brazos*

Yum. Yum. And yum.  The breakfast taco was the bomb.  The food was yummy and the owner/pitmaster son were real nice people.  I'd plan ahead to stop here anytime we are up their way.

26 Bodacious Bar-B-Q* (TM#4)
Did not "love".  Food was okay. Ambience felt awkward. 

27 Cattleack Barbequ
e* (TM#3)
"I can explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you."
one of many cute sayings on the wall might have been funny if it didn't serve to highlight the owner's palpable arrogance

Worst customer service experience ever. By time we waited in line for about 45 minutes I was really hoping to love this place, the waits have been longer at other places without it being a problem - here, while it might have felt like a wait for a ride on a hot day at Six Flags - not fun, but worth it - here insult was served up with injury as the owner gruffly yanked his head towards the guy cutting meat next to him.  I really don't want to blast the establishment - the wonderful smell of well prepared brisket wasn't enough to overcome the pervasive scent of arrogance in the air here.  I've noticed that the Top Ten pit master's are gracious people.  (All the pictures of Texas BBQ greats made this new kid on the block look like a wannabe ... otherwise, cute, squeaky clean decor.) Leacking.

arrogance -revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities

Yeah, that is the right word.

28 Flores Barbecue*

29 Harris Bar-b-que*

Super nice owner 
Mr. Harris created the atmosphere for a wonderful visit.

30 Heim Barbecue*
Heim's - food was fine, cute place in Ft. Worth's medical district -
the "facilities" were note worthy in that several private toilets shared a common sink , so while I washed my hands, brushed my hair and refreshened my lipstick four different men stood with me at the mirror - it was odd as they were strangers and I'd say just a little uncomfortable to be sharing the bathroom with a woman.

31 Hutchins BBQ

We stood in line (for an hour) at 2:00 pm in the blowing cold for almost an hour getting acquainted with the folks around us. This place is definitely a regional favorite! Even the drive through line wrapped around the recently renovated building.  The way we heard "it",  the son took a somewhat marginal BBQ place and completely turned it around.  I took that info with a grain of salt because I know how enthusiastic folks are about their favorite places.  Got up to the meat counter where we were "re-energized" by Larry the Cable Guy and his posse.  Those are a couple of Texas Twinkies - the stuffed and sauce slathered muy grande jalapeƱos. See that sign ... this is the only All you can Eat BBQ joint I've seen ... anywhere ever ... and it goes for the price of a pound of brisket. The sides look as scrumptious as the variety of smoked meats being offered.  I really believe this place would be a raving success anywhere in  ... okay, I'll go there ... anywhere in the Country. The line was just as long when we left as it was when we arrived - BBQ worth waiting for. (I hope they will work on heating and cooling the waiting areas during the next round of facility improvements ... and maybe get some beverages available out there!)

 Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue

This was one of our favorite places in 2015 when we were "doing" the previous TMTop50.  Unfortunately we planned this visit as a to go ... and I forgot to ask for the okra!  The brisket was delicious and we plan on getting back up there to spend a few days enjoying the food, friendly dining experience and looking around historic Jefferson.  I saw a couple cute B&Bs on the way out of town.

33 Lockhart Smokehouse
Yummy BBQ - super cool venue - neat pit - friendly folks

34 Pecan Lodge
Deep Ellum was swarming with hipsters and what looked like affluent homeless kids to me.  The wait wasn't long though, maybe twenty minutes and the food was super delicious. 

35 Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ

36 Top 5 BBQ*

I was super pumped about trying Top 5 because of the rub - cumin, turmeric, curry and who knows what else.  The food was great.  World class.  Mr. Greene made some time to visit with us and I loved hearing his story ... he's a sweetheart of a man.  He also, among many of the other PitMaster's we've shared a moment of two with, had a Wayne Mueller story - WM seems to get around blessing people at every stop. This guy seems to create BBQ that ministers to folks.  


Clicking them off!
37 Blue Moon BBQ*

38 CorkScrew BBQ  (TM#7)
This was a "pick up a half pound of brisket and go" type stop for us.  Unfortunately.  I opened the sack and unwrapped the foil while standing near my car in the parking lot.  The brisket looked perfect.  Perfect.  I couldn't resist a sample.  We've got to drive back down to Spring and dine in (or out - they have a lot of fun seating outside too). This is one of, if not the best (we still have the TEJAS stop ahead of us today), BBQ stops in the Houston area. And they have a swing.

39 Fargo’s Pit BBQ

40 Gatlin’s BBQ
super cute venue, super happy staff, super crowded with people at tables waiting for their orders ... we waited 45 minutes for 1/2 pound of brisket to go after standing in line to order. I actually suggested leaving without our little sack of delight because we had already paid and had more Top 50 BBQ stops planned for the day.  This is one of the few places on the list where one does not see the guy slicing brisket and placing it directly on your tray ... btw, that picture is of someone else's lunch ... we saw plenty of them at the pickup counter while we waited.  I'm not fussing about standing in line for good BBQ - I'm suggesting that because of the popularity they have earned they may want to take a note from most of the other top 50 places and learn how to graciously expedite the delivery of the plate ... the tables were full of people and empty of food. 

41 Killen’s Barbecue*
Another "to go" stop for us today.  I don't like this several stops in one day approach to the serious business of enjoying great food!  Killen's offered another beautiful dining area and truly excellent brisket - their sauce is a mustardy sweet surprisingly yummy connection, different from any of the other 40 someone sauces I've sampled and made the brisket even better.  I disliked that I couldn't order pork ribs by the pound - next time we're in there I'll try the rib plate because I bet they're hard to beat with that sauce.  

42 Pinkerton’s Barbecue*
I'm pretty sure there could not be a more perfect setting for enjoying BBQ - this place just "feels" right.  Very engaging and knowledgeable staff - Our brisket was to go this time, but we'll be back!

43 The Pit Room*

In all fairness I have to note that this was stop number 4 of 7 (yeah really) we had planned (and accomplished) that day.  These guys casually invited me to look at their pits (I always want to see the pits) - nice!  They are obviously pumped about making the top 50 list and just as obvious were the reasons they're there!  Super yummy brisket (red oak) and sausage that they make in house (three day process).  This was, imho, the best brisket in downtown Houston, which is saying something because all were noteworthy.

44 Roegels Barbecue Co.*

45 Tejas Chocolate Craftory* (TM#6)
Last stop of the day for us (in other words, 7th batch of brisket I've had the opportunity to sample today) and because they have Chocolate in their company name, I really wasn't hoping for much by way of the brisket.  Oh ye of little faith ....!  Do not be deceived as I was!  This was THE BEST brisket of the day (and believe me, that observation was not fuel by hunger or brisket love).  We live in the Austin area where (honestly) it's hard, make that impossible, to chose a favorite BBQ place.  This is the one (and only) operation around the entire big BBQ loving state that I've wished to clone so that it might be available on a routine basis.  I'm saying this is a favorite place.  I just didn't have a clue that stellar brisket loves hand crafted truffles and visa versa!  And Tomball is cute.  I think these guys have a lock on destination BBQ, I know I'm ready to make the trip down there again this morning!  I'm already thinking about a girls day out with my oldest friends which will start and end with Tejas yumminess. I want to share the fun!

46 Truth Barbeque* (TM#10)
Top Notch BBQ!  I love this place.  They asked us what our favorite place so far has been and my husband was quick to offer Mueller's in Taylor.  The young man with the beard said it's his favorite place to eat too.  He added, Wayne is about the nicest, most unassuming person he has meet in the world of Texas BBQ.  What a nice thing for him to say.  The brisket here was sublime, and that's the truth!  They're definitely one of my top ten. 

Seven stops in Houston today.  We did a rise and shine at the usual dark30 ... I pressed my morning coffee as per the daily ritual  ... then we hopped in the car for a drive to Houston and a day full of (excruciatingly well planned) Top50BBQ stops.  Mr. Roegel, the proprietor at our first stop, warned us to call ahead to the others as our day wore on less we be disappointed by SOLD OUT signs on arrival at the later stops.  Good and kindly advice! That's a LAT-LONG graph devised by my husband.  The YETI challenge ends in four years ... 2021 ... we were going to do this leisurely, savoring the dining experiences, reveling in the joy of all things TEXAS BBQ at it's best.  Then we started comparing notes with some kids while waiting in line at Snow's.  Guess what.  People are blasting through the list!  A guy at Truth told me that he is on his second passport having already completed the first one completing all the challenges and stopping up tons of wonderful YETI must haves!  What?!?!  Yesterday I saw a post on #TXBBQPASSPORT which said "we've done 35 stops" this WEEK!  Wow.  I've already missed out on two of the most prized prizes!  So ... we have shifted gears.  We have accepted the reality of the challenge.  Seven stops in one day down in Houston ... Dallas and Jefferson next week (We've actually eaten at all of the Dallas area stops prior to the 2017 list coming out).  After that there's only North Texas left for us (and one in Ft. Worth which is along the way).  We'll click those off in route to a visit we have planned in Colorado ... Colorado via Tyler's.  
The real prize here has been having the opportunity to drive around stopping at wonderful places, visiting with wonderful people both in lines and at the counter.  But ... I'd like to get a Yeti 45 before they run out ... my kayak was designed to fit it as an alternative seat!

47 Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque* (TM#8)

I mean. it was really good brisket.  The sides weren't memorable - I took maybe two bites of the cheese grits. This is one of the top ten places and honestly, probably the top twenty-five are just as good as each other.  Probably the feel of the place and the experience come in to play when a place is breaking into the top ten.  There were maybe three other tables of people there when we dined in and the staff was definitely in re-set mode.  If you're in Pecos and want BBQ, Evie Mae's is worth the drive, if you're in Austin, stay home.

48 Pody’s BBQ

I believe there must be better brisket on all those drilling sites out around Pecos. Or maybe I wasn't in the mood to be charmed by anything including the dust on the way out of town - two separate glass breaking windshield hits during our briefest of brief stay in Pecos! 

49 Stillwater Barbeque*

another truly great spot for BBQ - Abilene is too far for just food and I don't know what else is happening there, but Stillwater has free cerveza and it seemed like a decent selection to me. 
This is by far the cutest meat cutter in the whole place and she was wearing a TRUTH hat.  These guys all get together for various events around the state so a lot of them know each other.  

50 Tyler’s Barbecue

 This is one of our favorite places - we always plan a stop here when we road trip far north.  The food is great and Tyler and his crew are just really good people.  Took this brisket to go because we left the house at 4:00am and it was around 6:00pm when we pulled into their parking lot. 

Because they stamped my number fifty spot in the passport  - last one - 
they treated me to some BBQ Swag.  I gotta figure out where to wear a trucker hat!
* new to list this time 'round