Leaning into it.

Help like this, I don't need.

It is not my intent to post lots of pictures of our bird, but I couldn’t help this one.  Keeto likes to walk around my desk, investigating everything.  He makes frequent trips to the keyboard to get his head scratched.  What a sweet bird 🙂

His cere is still a bit ambiguous – not quite all blue yet.  But he’s started vocalizing and mimicking, so my money is on male.

Ok, *now* bring on the Christmas Spirit!

Red & green.

With Thanksgiving safely in the record books, now I’m ready to look ahead to Christmas.  But it’s stunning how early all the retailers and television channels start to decorate for Christmas.  I saw Santa decorations out before Halloween this year.

As I was walking through the back the red berries and green leaves caught my eye.   I think this is a yaupon holly.  Very festive!

A Perfect 10.

My other beer goes to 11.

We had a crowd-sourced Thanksgiving meal today.  Monte and Tom provided 2 delicious grill roasted turkeys.  Kate and Glenn brought green bean casserole and Kate whipped up the best mashed potatoes (and peas!) that I’ve ever tasted.  Doray and Sandy made their sweet potato baked cup thingies.  Sue & Marty brought delicious, home-made cranberry sauce, squash, and irresistible bourbon balls.  I baked up some dinner roles,  made gravy from the drippings of the birds and whipped up a pink-jello-whip-cream-cottage-cheese-pineapple dish in honor of all our favorite aunts.  Everything was DELICIOUS!  Laura joined us after dinner, too.

The picture above is of one of the brews that Glenn opened.  He got it part way down before someone noticed the foam on the inside of the bottle formed a perfect number 10!   Pretty funny.   The poor guy wasn’t able to finish this beer for a while, for all the excitement it caused.   But it was a good omen for the day… it was perfect.

I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day.

Stopping to create posts on this blog every day (or so) has caused me to pause long enough to reflect on things in my day and life.   I have so much to be thankful for.

Got pie?

Smells so goooood!

Thanksgiving Eve preparations.  Tidy up the house.  Tidy up the yard.

We are having enough people over tomorrow that we needed a bigger table.   But, no folding card table for us!  Monte went into the shop and whipped up a free-standing shaker-style table the exact width and height of the dining room table, long enough to seat another couple of people.   🙂   After throwing on a tablecloth, it looks like one long table.

After dinner we whipped up some of the things that we could make ahead of time for dinner.   I made the traditional pies.    Here’s my recipe for apple pie:

Crust (makes 2: one for top and one for bottom)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
6-7 Tablespoons cold water

Mix flour & salt in food processor (w/ plastic blade, not knife).  Add butter cubes slowly while mixing.  Mixture should be dry with pea sized chunks.  Add water, 1 Tbsp at a time while mixing.  Dough should start to roll into one large ball.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 2.  Shape each ball into a hamburger shaped patty, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 mins.

Take out, let soften for a few minutes, and then roll each crust out.

Apple Pie filling:

6-8 tart apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
dash of nutmeg
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon butter

Peel and slice apples.  Mix together with cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and flour.   Place in pie crust.  Dot with butter.  Add top crust, seal and cut slits to let all the magic in.  You might want to put a cookie sheet under the pie while it’s cooking to catch drips.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.

Knockin’ things off my todo list.


Every day is a blessing.  But, to me, birthdays are extra special.   My day started with rain (yay!).   Followed by birthday coffee, birthday presents, and day 5 of vacation.

Having a birthday near (and sometimes on) Thanksgiving means that most of my childhood birthday cakes featured pilgrim candles.   For most of my adult years, I celebrate my birthday by taking the entire week of Thanksgiving off for vacation.   And I LOVE it.

I spent part of today shopping.  Yes, like a school girl 🙂   And I crossed off nearly everything on my list.

Then when I came home I set out to start (and complete) a project that has been on my Todo list for a while – Do-it-yourself Flaming Rock Bowls.   I saw these online a few months ago and wanted to give it a try.

I made 3.  1 broke.   So I have 2 left.   The shot above is of one of the bowls, curing.

I’ll light them up this Thanksgiving.   Stay tuned.

Most awesome adirondack chair.

Latest piece to come out of the workshop.

Over the years, monte has made some beautiful adirondack chairs.  He based the original pattern on a chair that his dad made.   The last 4 pretty much wore out.  Last year he made a variation on the adirondack chair out of cedar, more like a regular chair height, but with the features of an adirondack chair.   He made it to fit his height.  Which meant when I sat in it my feet pretty much stuck straight out.

This week, he started on a chair made just for me 🙂   Today, I joined him in the shop to work on the back slats and seat of the chair.   The picture above is a shot of the final product — cut so that my feet touch the ground when I sit on it.

I really enjoyed today – day 4 of vacation.   Monte and I spent months… no, years really… together in the shop working on Porter Belle, Cupholder, and many woodshop projects in between.  But, in the last few years we haven’t spent a lot of time making things together.   So, it was fun to be out there again today making sawdust.

I do enjoy and admire monte’s woodworking passion and skill.   And, I LOVE my new chair.   Thanks, sweetie!

Purified (or at least a bit renewed).

White hydrangea.

Today is Spa Day!!!  I spent the day with some friends at Milk & Honey Spa getting rubbed, polished and pampered.  Wow.  I really needed that.

Afterwards, a friend invited all the spa-warriors over for a late lunch.   She had a big vase of these white hydrangeas.   So pretty.   I feel as white and dainty as these look.   We’ll see how long that lasts 🙂

A day well spent.

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted something.  Things have been very busy lately.  So, i’ll take the liberty of a longer post today.

From the base of the Summit Trail.

We took today off, starting a much awaited and long overdue week or so of vacation.  The day was overcast and a tad chilly.  We set out into the Hill Country – destination Enchanted Rock.  This gigantic outcropping of granite rock was formed about a billion years ago.   It’s a stark contrast to the tree-covered, rough limestone hills that surround it.  The summit trail leads up the 425′ vertical climb to the top, which is 1825′ above sea level.  If you look at the picture above you can see a person approaching the top, and a few people along the way – which give a sense of the scale of the Rock.

Autumn in the Hill Country.

It was quite windy at the top.  But what great views!  We don’t get a lot of autumn color, so I really enjoyed seeing this patchwork of rust, gold and green from above.

The close up views were worth seeing as well.  The shot above is of the rust colored lichens that can be found covering the pink granite rocks.


On the way down I couldn’t resist taking this shot of a wind-beaten, twisted, dead oak tree against the sky.

Oh, deer.

After we made it back down we came across several deer, right on the edge of the parking lot.  This guy turned to say bye.

Barrel o fun!

On the way to the park we drove through Fredericksburg and stopped to walk through some of the shops.  We ate lunch at Der LindenBaum – home of awesome traditional German cooking.  On the way home, we couldn’t drive by Becker Vineyards without stopping in for a flight of wine tasting.

What a great day!

Keeto at about 10 weeks.

Little blue buddy.

We brought Keeto home a little over one month ago, at which time we estimate he was 6 weeks old.  He’s getting comfortable, growing a bit (I think).  We are trying to broaden his diet, which is working out ok so far.

He is a very sweet bird.  He looks a lot like Petey, but has a very different personality.  He’s quite the explorer – likes to run around the game room.  His wings are still clipped from when we picked him up, so he hasn’t mastered full flight yet.  He is hand trained, which was very easy from the beginning, and likes to have his head scratched.

We’re still not sure if he is a boy or girl.   After his first molt, which will be in the next couple months, his cere should change to blue or pink for good.   I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Flowers make me happy.

Pretty in pink.

For the last couple of weekends we have been tearing into the house – a bit like a top-to-bottom Spring Cleaning (only 6 months late).   I’m topping it off this morning with a getting all the windows cleaned.   Even if it only lasts for a few days, I love how clear the view is.  The morning sunlight seems 10 times brighter now.   I picked up these lovely lillies at the store this morning, to bask in the sunlight.

Monte’s neice, Amy Lee, is in Austin this weekend for an education session that is being held at the Capitol.   She’s staying with us tonight, heading home tomorrow.

It’s nice to get to spend time with her.  Hopefully next visit we’ll be able to catch up with her kiddos.



Happy Halloween!   This the season… to carve the pumpkin, don my jack-o-lantern earrings, and put a bowl of candy by the door.   It was five years ago today that we closed on our old house and officially moved into this house.   I was looking forward to living in a new neighborhood, and visions of hoards of trick-or-treaters danced in my head.

That first year, I was bummed that there was only one knock on the door all night.   Since then I’ve come to realize that the number of trick-or-treaters coming by a given house on Halloween is inversely proportional to the median age of the neighborhood, which, in our case, is about 70 (or thereabouts).  For tonight I bought one small treat bag of peanut M&Ms, just in case.  So, of course we got a bunch of kids — the M&Ms ran out before 8PM.   It seems that over the last five years we’re getting a bit of turnover in the neighborhood, more young families with kiddos.

So, watch out, Halloween 2012 will be BIG!

P.S.  this is my first blog post from my new Mac Book(!)

The waiting is the hardest part.


If you know me at all, you know that I take my time making up my mind about some things, but once I do, I’m committed (and very impatient).  Well, I’ve recently decided that I needed a new device.  Something that I can use for my personal computer things… internet browsing, apps, iTunes, photo editing, blogging, music editing, geneology research, data storage, etc.   So I embarked on a long period of researching my options – no impulse buying here.  So, I checked out the iPad.  Not really what I was looking for, it’s really more of a glorified client device that needs to sync to a PC (or now the iCloud).  I guess I need a traditional laptop kind of computer.   So I had to decide between PC and Mac.   I opted for Mac.  Mac Book Pro to be specific.   In researching it, and the OS underneath i was pleasantly surprised to learn about Mac OS X Lion and its features.

I decided on the 15″ Mac Book Pro.  But I wanted to add some custom features (8GB Mem, faster Hard Drive, anti-glare monitor, etc) that you cannot get by walking into the Apple Store.  Which meant that I had to order it online.

Soooo, i did.  And i’ve been (not) patiently waiting for it to be delivered for over a week.   The target delivery date was today.  The nice people at Apple sent me the tracking info so that I could watch the progress of my new toy make its way from China to my front door via FedEx.  That means with the click of a mouse I can go out to FedEx and see the status of my package delivery… which I’ve done about 10 times a day since last week!  The package was picked up by Fed Ex and then sat at the FedEx place in Shanghai for about 3 1/2 days… excruciating!… and then when it finally got to the continent, it sat in Anchorage for over a day.  Ugh!   Well, as of this morning it is in Austin, on a truck, out for delivery (YAY!).

You guys all drive careful out there, around those FedEx delivery trucks today, allright?!

More later.  (oh and here’s a youtube link to a song that comes to mind as I pen this post.)

Welcome to the Dam tour. I am your Dam guide.

Longhorn sailors.

Joe suggested a cruise down the lake to see the Dam.  It’s rare to see the basin when the lake is so low – at 627.85′ today.   It’s really not a basin anymore.  Sometimes Islands are all the way out of the water, and connected to land, so, islands no more.   The original river channel winds all the way around them.  Windy Point looks more like Windy Acres.  And many of the marinas have scooted out to what would normally be the middle of the lake, but is now the edge of the shore.

Monte and I joined Ken and Joe on Prelude for a sail.   It was a beautiful day.   We had nice breezes on the way down.    The closest mile marker to our marina is mile marker 14, and the Mansfield Dam is at, well, mile marker 0.  So, round trip was close to about 30 miles.

As we passed the Austin Yacht Club we got to see several of their regattas underway.  The shot above is of some of the University of Texas Sailing Team’s Flying Juniors fleet.   The 2012 Nationals will be in Austin.  So they’re working hard to get ready.  Good luck Longhorns!

Here’s a sight we don’t see very often…

MM 1.

And, finally, we snugged up as close as we could to Mansfield Dam.  They have a string of bouys in front to keep people from getting too close – which foiled my plan to get a shot of myself touching the dam.

Upstream side of Mansfield Dam.

Construction of the Mansfield Dam (originally called Marshall Ford Dam) began in 1937 and was completed in 1941.   Mansfield Dam and Lake Travis are the only structures in the Highland Lakes chain specifically designed to contain floodwaters in the lower Colorado River basin. The lake can store as much as 260 billion gallons of water.   Some other factoids from the Lower Colorado River Authority website:

Elevation when full: 681 feet above mean sea level (msl)
Volume when full: 1,135,000 acre-feet
Historic high: 710.4 feet above msl on Dec. 25, 1991
Historic low: 614.2 feet above msl on Aug. 14, 1951
Normal operating range: at or below 681 feet above msl
Spillway elevation: 714 feet above msl
Top of dam: 750 feet above msl

The floodgates are at the bottom of the dam and are used to generate electricity and for flood control.  The spillway openings are on the right end of the dam in the picture above.   Water will start to spill over them at 714′, but it’s never happened… yet.  The highest I have seen the lake was 701.5′, which was over the July 4th weekend of 2007.  Hard to believe there was ever that much water in the lake.

We had a really lovely sail.  A nice Sunday adventure.

I shake my tiny fist at this drought!

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