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

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

BBQ Joints By Region

1 2M Smokehouse*

South San Antonio feels closer the 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*
3 City Market
4 Cooper’s OLD TIME PIT

It must be the ambience.

5 Franklin Barbecue

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.

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

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
11 La Barbecue (Austin)  

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 actually 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 the whole SNOW'S 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

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 the whole BBQ thing starts here ... 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*
The meat was "too moist" for me but the sides ... wow!

14 Miller’s Smokehouse
15 Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak*
16 Rio Grande Grill BBQ*
17 The Smoking Oak*
18 Smolik’s Smokehouse*

19 Snow’s BBQ 

Easy to taste why they are TMTOP50BBQ joints Numero Uno
They're within a easy drive from us, but open only on Saturday. I really enjoy 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
Stiles Switch - has to be a top ten for me.

21 Terry Black’s Barbecue*
22 Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ*
23 Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que*

24 4-T’s Bar-BQ*
25 BBQ on the Brazos*
26 Bodacious Bar-B-Q*
Did not "love".  Food was okay. Ambience felt awkward. 

27 Cattleack Barbeque*
28 Flores Barbecue*
29 Harris Bar-b-que*
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
32 Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue
33 Lockhart Smokehouse
34 Pecan Lodge
35 Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ

36 Top 5 BBQ*

37 Blue Moon BBQ*

38 CorkScrew BBQ
39 Fargo’s Pit BBQ
40 Gatlin’s BBQ
41 Killen’s Barbecue*
42 Pinkerton’s Barbecue*
43 The Pit Room*
44 Roegels Barbecue co.*
45 Tejas Chocolate Craftory*
46 Truth Barbeque*

47 Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque*
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*
50 Tyler’s Barbeque
* new to list this time 'round

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fedex truck slides down icy interstate I-80 during snowstorm

a beautifully written (by a high end trucker) story which touches on hazards like this among other thingsTo get his disabled truck out of traffic A Federal Express truck driver masterfully handled his truck while carefully sliding it down a very slick interstate incline near Truckee California.

Monday, November 6, 2017

recent Colorado and New Mexico pics from my phone camera -

Best seat on the train!

Fall color was already blown to the four corners ...
We awoke to a very blustery day and missed the leaves.
This train ride is in Georgetown, Colorado.

L and D

how grey my hair is becoming
easy to see the inspiration for a lot of the Santa Fe art

sunrise painting the mountains purple and orange

North of Taos after the mountains gave way to the plains.
That dark line below the mountains in the middle of the fields is a tree covered
homestead/ranch buildings
we saw lots of places in the middle of nowhere

Southbound - Colorado sunrise
I am surprised to find that I didn't take very many pictures with my phone while in Colorado - checking the real camera later today to see what we captured!  Maybe more to come.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

 Sunday morning and I'm missing church today because I said I'd take my son to the airport.  He has vacation days which must be used (or lost) and he wants to powwow about which trails we loved, the downlow on what to do & what to miss in the Boulder area.  I really love visiting in Boulder.  The pictures from our most recent trip up there to share some time with III have not been transferred from my phone to the laptop yet - maybe today.

These are the last few pictures I found already on PHOTOS.

The first one, a collage, was taken at Austin's Stiles Switch BBQ.  Texas Monthly puts together a TOP 50 BBQ list and reposts as they see fit to.  Remember in 2014 L and I started collecting TOP 50 stops?  Well, this year (2017) they updated their list, dropping a few, adding a few, and to make serious matters even more amusing, they have collaborated with YETI offering BBQ games with serious party favors.  For example, when you collect a "sticker" from each of the four corners of Texas (Pecos, Amarillo, Jefferson, Brownsville (the one with the cow eyeballs)), you qualify to win a YETI Hopper, which having been to all four of those places I'll assert, you need the Hopper before  making that jaunt. Anyway, we are revisiting to collect our passport stamps/stickers and enjoying some fine brisket along the way.  Next - same deal - 'kept, Tyler and Stanley's (also has about 50 different Bourbon's, but that for a different day).

The trees in our back yard. The trees are absolutely a gift.  This is the smallest lot we have lived on.  It's been so long since I heard traffic noise that it still grabs my ear when I'm outside ... but the trees, scare over much of Texas, the trees make the backyard wonderful.  Filter - PRISMA/mosiac.  

The sanctuary at our church.  This year we are visiting Sunday school classes - yeah, there are that many!  I know I'd already be plugged in some where, but my husband likes to make well informed and duly considered choices.  

We'll skip that next one and move on to those solid bronze doors.  $6,500.00 for the pair.  They are beautiful and you can pick them up at Southern Accents in Cullman, Alabama.  They are amazingly well crafted.  

One of the great things about our new house is it has a pass through room from the garage to the main house.  There's also an outside side entrance to the side yard. The room measures about 20'x12'.  The washer and dryer are in there but the rest is shelving and counter space.  I think it's the coolest room ever missing from our other homes.  So that picture is of the stemware racks I just installed in a repurposed IKEA wardrobe/armoire.  There are three in there and I love them for organizing my kitchen things.  I have recently noticed that knowing where stuff belongs/can be found is a huge deal to me.  It makes me feel like I am home which to me feels awesome.  (I almost never use that word.)

That chair.  I hesitate to say it because it's so much money, but that chair is the exact "right" chair that I really really want.  We need four.  I sure would love to find good "generously" sized chairs for much less! (Can you believe it's just setting outside in the boneyard at the outlet warehouse/showroom for Southern Classics ?!)

Next up - the crumbs and jagged pieces from the bottom of a couple of cracker boxes and a bunch of yummy stuff = a quick dinner.

That last pic is layers and layers of paint on doors again at Southern Accents.  L was giving a professional talk and I went along to just play in and around B'ham.  We rented a car and put around five thousand miles on in driving from Austin to B'ham and back, then down to Edinburg where a friend needed a little emotional support as she tends to her aging parents ... it was actually tamale therapy ... back up to Austin then over to Santa Fe via Pecos (BBQ) on to Boulder for  a few days then home again (with two rock strikes from 18 wheelers - replacement cost added to our total bill).  We finish a book on tape (Michener's TEXAS) and started another one (BIG RICH - about Texas Oilmen).  I love books on tape.

Did I mention that all five of our kids will be in for Christmas this year?  I am so happy about that.  Today we decided to cook really amazing Mexican food from our two new cookbooks for the big Christmas feast.  Today we, Five and I, cooked an amarillo mole, three salsas and a big batch of tamales.  The house smells so good that I don't want to open the doors!

Colorado pics asap... .

I think I mentioned a doctor's visit ... maybe something about my thyroid which turns out to be fine.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

It’s blacker out than a Halloween cat as I sit shotgun on the road that leads to Pecos, Texas. That’s the destination for the first stop on our way to Boulder via Sante Fe. The Pecos stop is all about clicking off Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joints. We started that for fun back in 2014 but “it” got real this year when TM magazine, partnering with Yeti, created a passport booklet to be stamped at each stop. The list has been updated since we began our little BBQ adventure too. I have noticed that two of our memorably least favorite places didn’t make the 2017 list while a place way down in Brownsville that serves cow eyeballs 😳 with their Barbacoa has been added. Sunday and Monday of this week found us in South Texas tending to some important stuff and we intended to eat at at least one of the three places sprinkled with Top 50 marketing magic but by 3:00pm on Sunday both places within striking distance were cerado. Instead, we made it to Delia’s for her amazing tamales (I declined the menudo). It must be a Rio Grande Valley thing, even they were mopping the floors in anticipation of closing before we had finished dinner. “Why do y’all think they close at six?” My husbanded wondered. And other than because they can I thought maybe everyone wants to make it to Sunday Mass before starting it all over again on Monday morning. Delia began by peddling tamales door to door and now has several locations and a flourishing shipping business to boot. deliastamales Every good thing you may want to know about tamales can be discovered at that link.

We have put over 2000 miles on this little rental car in the 9 days we have been driving it. While in the Valley we loaded up with three palms, a lovely dark stemmed elephant ear, a banana tree that’s about three foot tall right now, and probably ten cockroaches or more. We are gathering plants for our landscaping project at our home. Next week we’ll be busy getting things into the ground and tweaking the drainage (which presented an unexpected challenge).

I’m excited about spending tomorrow walking around Sante Fe before traveling on to visit our son in Colorado. He said it is absolutely beautiful up there right now.  Pictures to follow.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


When I was still in High School I participated in a class at the local University which was an intro to oil painting.  A friend's mom wanted me to join her errant daughter and her for that time of "bonding" presumably because I was considered a "good influence". The family I grew up in couldn't have spared oil paint supply money from the grocery budget so I never made it past intro to oil/ bring your own canvas everything else provided.  

Canvases were fifty off at Hobby Lobby last week and after painting almost the entire house flat pure white I was yearning to dip a brush in to some color.  I picked out a large canvas and a box full of tubes of paint so neatly lined up in assorted colors.  It was exciting and I opened the packaging as soon as I got in the car.  Oils.  My husband must have seen my joy cloud over a bit because he asked,"Do we need to go back in for something else?"  And I, remembering my earlier regret, said no.  "No, I think this may be exactly the right thing."

What a treat to come to a day in one's life when a box full of every color to make every other color finds it's way to your lap.

So, I painted the Milky Way.  The way I see it.

It was really amazing to lay on a cot in a net topped tent at the beach of my childhood memories and see the stars spilling out across the vast unknown.  I love it.  Their light travels to me devouring time and distance and I think I see them as they are ... but what I see is the manifestation of a thousand ... countless yesterdays.  Exactly as we are.  I am that high school kid who accepted  we can't as a matter of fact never once wishing that someday a serendipitous we can would land in my very fortunate lap.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

crepuscular rays
Fuzzy, I know, the car was moving @80mph.  The sliver of moon didn't fare well either, but
sunsets on an open horizon are spectacular.
It's so good to be home.
I playfully speculate that the "crown" is over Albuquerque, New Mexico.

These two pictures are from the first good walk I've made time for in a while.  Walking some makes me want to walk more. I'm missing those two hour walks!  The little bird house, placed along the trail by a child I imagined, has attracted many tokens.  You can walk for miles and see no sign of mankind, well, excepting the trail itself which at times seems nothing more than a bunny trail. And the rock totems which arise out in the nowhere, just like a surprise.

Last night at choir practice the conductor said,  "let your voice lead you".  I thought that was interesting.  He was offering encouragement as we "picked through", sightread, an unfamiliar piece ... Bach ... lotsa little 16th note runs.  I made a mental note to take his precise words out of context later because I like the idea of voice, as in unique to you, your voice.  And not your singing or speaking voice exactly, more the idea of voice as uniquely yours, or more so - you.  So ... in the way I am thinking about it, one might manifest their "voice" by the way they fly an airplane (if they are have flown enough to have developed their way (and you can really only see that if you also have a flying voice I think).  Sure you can hear their actual voice as they speak, or sing, but I'm talking about how one expresses qualities that are subtle, and uniquely their own.  I think when you are able to "hear" someone very well who is expressing themselves at a higher level you may extrapolate "their voice" across a spectrum of activities.

I have one kid who also paints.  She could walk in to a room and select my five very different canvas out of 95 others because she understands me. Maybe it's how I hold the brush, the knife, whatever implement, maybe it is the color choices I most prefer, or the way I move around the canvas.  Whatever it is, it's telling.  I don't think my other four kids could do that particular thing, because none of them paint.  They haven't developed "an ear" for those "voices".

Back to that - "let your voice lead you" - 
I think we can and do develop observable and predictable "ways" of approaching life.  If you know me, you will accurately imagine what my kitchen drawers look like.  I bet.

I think that's the crux of why moving is such an interesting challenge for me.  I am, at my core, an everything has a place sort of person.  I'm like that.  

When the kids were at home, during their growing up years, I shifted to accommodate them ... towels weren't folded just so, canned goods weren't exactly where I would put them, mating all those socks became an impossible chore ... lol (sock therapy probably is a thing).  All that was no big deal.  Honestly, I think my husband is more comfortable in what I think of as  chaos.  His interpersonal boundaries are a lot more rigid and plentiful than mine but he seems unfazed by chaos.  I am his opposite.  He has a room that I simply don't enter.  It is his room.  Most of the time I don't even think about what he might be doing in there. 

Guess what?  This house is big enough for me to have a room of my own.  I hadn't thought of that until just now.  I wonder what I will make of it.

~ change of subject ~ 

I have gained an average of two pounds a month these past twelve months.  That sounds a lot better (to me) than saying, this year I gained 25 pounds.  It sounds better than saying I am no longer an 8-10.  I can think of worse ways to say it, but I will spare myself.

Earlier this year my internist referred me to an endocrinologist.  I didn't prioritize the visit because I wasn't feeling sick.  Getting on the scale has recently made me feel sickish so I made the appointment.  Yesterday a lab tech imperviously (I think it's the gloves that make them seem so disconnected) drew three big vials of blood.  Even as I thought I could spare it, it seemed a little creepy to watch it flow into glass tubes that were then barcoded and casually laid aside.  I left the lab with two plastic jugs and instructions on what to write with a Sharpie on their sides ... and what to put in them over the next 24 hours.  The lab tech asked me if I need one or two jugs and I said I have no idea what volume of peepee (I should have said urine, but I didn't) I might be able to produce during a 24 hour period. Anyway.  
Now it's time to deliver my results back to the lab.  I'll hear back in October.  I think my thyroid has glitched.  

As we (especially I *see above) sort through and settle in to our new home, many trips are being made to Salvation Army (etc.) with good items no longer needed here.  My husband has said several times (as he sees me filling boxes to go), don't get rid of your cute (smaller) clothing just yet.  He thinks I will lose the weight and want to wear some of my things again.  I think he is right about that.

All right - off to deliver my, the urine.  (I think it's kinda funny.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


One Amazon order too late this last box of "where's my..." was found.
Moving has been (and continues to be) a challenge. When we moved back to Texas after a 22 year absence we moved in stages. By that I mean, several trips over from Auburn, with unpacking (and organizing) in between.  I thought this move would be lots easier.  There is a 15 minute drive time between the houses.  I was wrong. It has been "trying".

I didn't know this, but I iron for comfort.  I thought I just didn't like wrinkles.  The iron had been missing since mid July.  Wrinkles were the least of my worries though.

The house we bought was what I would euphemistically call a mid flip.  There are several things to fix in the house, for example, none of the bathroom electrical outlets works.  The little reset lights are green, but there's not enough juice flowing to power a water pic much less a blow dryer.

My biggest concern about the house was it was painted the exact shade of rotten meat.  That disgusting grayish brown.  Every wall and ceiling in the house was that color.  It takes a lot of white paint to cover putrid brown.  I'm actually still working at it and while I paint, little else gets done!  That's not really fair to myself.  While it is true that the kitchen is the only room in the house that is functioning up to par, it is also true that we are making excellent progress.  It's also true that we've made several small vacation type trips since dumping, piling boxes everywhere.

Today I will completely finish painting the living room.  I have about a ten foot section of that ceiling beam to do.  That's it!  Then the air vent and electrical covers can go on.  It is my goal to get the living room "comfortable" this week.  I would also like to get the foyer painted and the light fixtures in there situated.  The door bell doesn't work ... all the weather stripping around the current door has to be replaced (not my job, and neither is the door bell ... yesterday we discovered that the wiring for the doorbell was pulled out and that became a bigger project than I can do) ... my job is to patch, and paint.  I'm glad I can paint.  I'm grateful that we can afford to paint over new paint that is unappealing.  That paint was never going to show wear because it was the very color of dirty.

(this is a picture of a door exactly
 like the one we are getting ready to install -
I haven't settled on a color yet -
soon though because it is bare wood right now)

This side of the living room is completed now.  We might have left the beam unpainted, but there was no removing the paint to make that choice.  The caulking up there is super hanky too.  Pure flat white covers a multitude of sins. 
part of today's to do

The kitchen cabinets are still that unfortunate color, but they will have to wait for their new paint.  I'm going to do them with Annie Sloan's light grey chalk paint.  The hinges, which were also painted by the flipper will have to be replaced and they're on order.  I really do love having a home to work in.

I am "guest" posting on my blog today.  I don't have the access figured out, but via my phone which was still connected to Blogger, I have invited myself.  It's not a complete work around because I'm limited to posting only with no dashboard access.

All of this house stuff has gotten me to wondering ... if I were a house, what would I look like.  I asked my husband that ... what would he look like ... he said he would be a massive concrete structure, contemporary, but like Wright's Falling Water.  I've toured some of the Wright structures and they are indeed quirky.  I think L intuitively chose a perfect representation.  I would be a tiny white house, with soft wooden floors and a wrap around porch with a swing.  I would have lots of windows which could be flung open ... and the house of me would smell like sunshine and mowed grass and gardenias. 

well - work time 

Btw - another thing I'd been looking for was that ice cream maker
we had a dessert of

piping hot apple pie
cinnamon ice cream
bubbly rum butter

while we were in Birmingham recently and it was the bomb!
It's on my list to perfect for Thanksgiving and I hope it takes plenty of tries!