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

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