Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Insomnia

I have been absolutely wide awake since about 2:30. In my mind I have designed a roof for the old rusty container that we are turning into an outdoor kitchen. I have also analyzed episodes of "That 70's Show" from who uses Wisconsin accents to the character development of Donna. I also mentally worked on how to get my water collection system going on the new container house.

It was a busy morning in my head. 3:15, I got up and checked our outside firepit, added a log, and continued my walk to the little girls' room. I crawled back into bed but stayed absolutely wide awake until about 4AM when I decided to try and lie down on the built in sofa on the other end of the container house from our bed. About 4:30, Anne came to see if I was OK and suggested I go ahead and go to the cabin and write or something. And so, I did. She sent me a text about 6AM to see if I wanted any coffee. I returned to our bed to enjoy our morning coffee and finished reading our latest book choice.

It's now almost 9AM and I beginning to feel tired, but I have things to do. Making breakfast is first on my agenda.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dog is better

Macy is all better. Actually, she is more like at 110% of what she was before the illness. She is ravenously running around the property looking for any scrap of anything to eat even though we are feeding her more dog food than she used to get before she was sick. She is chewing herself madly - she has always had "allergies" or more likely "self-destructive pay-attention-to-me-CONSTANTLY" syndrome which is funny because she is with us nearly 24/7. It's not exactly separation anxiety because she doesn't do it when we leave her in the camper, just at home when she isn't immediately in sight of us which is by her own choice... and sometimes when she is right beside one of us. She's half blind, half deaf, and completely nuts.

Hopefully, she will calm back down... It's not like we were giving her steroids, just antibiotics!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Privacy

I was raised with the idea that if you are inclined to conceal something, it must be wrong. If you aren't doing anything wrong or hiding anything, why put up a fight? To deny something was "to protest too much" thereby giving reason to believe you are guilty.

I have slowly over many many years realized that all of this is pretty much worthless thinking. You can deny something and often feel a need to defend yourself because things matter to you and the correctness matters. It matters that you are heard... even though, so often those who "hear" us use those defenses against you and therefore you felt even less heard than if you had kept all your thoughts to yourself.

I find myself feeling weird when someone is behind me while I type anything. It's not that I'm writing anything wrong or weird or unreadable. It's mine is all. It's personal and "private." And not in a secretive way, it just is. This post will be published to the world, but I don't want someone glancing or reading over my shoulder. This is my thought space for now. When I hit "publish," THEN it can be read.

I don't let others touch my computer. I made an exception about a year ago. Friend just needed to check her email online. You want to know what she did? She rearranged the icons on my desktop. Nothing was specifically damaged, but that's MY desktop! She said the icons distracted her... if the internet browser is open, you can hardly see the icons. You can drag the browser larger to cover the entire screen and leave my stuff alone.

I have a bigger purpose in this post, but having written this much, I find it hard to write about the important issues at hand. Perhaps this post will be continued on another braver day.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Taxes and Death

"It's stupid" is not a reason the IRS will accept for not taking care of legal requirements in taxes or any legal situation.

Get a ticket for speeding? I can promise you that "It's stupid" is not going to get you out of that ticket.

Likewise, "someone promised to change that law" will not get you out of trouble with a current law.

Got a ticket for speeding? "I saw on TV the city council said they intended to change that" will not get you out of the ticket.

It's that simple. Stuff is stupid. Stuff changes. It simply does not change your responsibility as a citizen of this stupid ever changing country. And the IRS does not bend unless you're Willie Nelson.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Mattress torture

I've always been the person that could sleep on a mattress approximately the softness of a slap of marble. As I've gotten older, my back is no longer happy with this... neither are my hips or shoulders or knees... or really any part of me. I flip, I toss... and eventually get up out of bed more because of the pain than really being ready to get moving.

I could solve my problem with a new foam mattress from Foam Factory for about $160. We have a platform bed and futon mattress or flat foam mattresses are the best for the platform I built. The main problem is, I'm cheap. I almost talked myself into ordering when I saw "Free shipping on orders over $75." Another problem is that I will have to figure out what to do with the old futon mattress. It's such a pain to either craigslist it and deal with all the messages or even to dispose of it if no one wants it... I hate disposing of things. The third problem is that I truly hate the over-consumerist mentality we've all become comfortable with. Don't like something for any reason, throw it out and go get a better one! It's our solution for everything creating waste and unnecessary expense. So, the question is, do I realllllly need this or am I just being a crazy over-consumer??

I put it in my head that I could buy myself this new mattress for 2019 when we will be home all year. We will be gone 6 months this year. It would be a reward, a comfort, a welcome home. We'll see how long I can stick to that.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Books

We are currently reading two books. One is Dickens' Oliver Twist and the other is a poorly written murder mystery. The contrast is humorous, but also a reminder of the same things I keep saying about writing. Characters have to be complete, descriptions of every nook and cranny and thought must be vivid. Oliver Twist might be one of my favorite classics. Dickens' use of sarcasm even after almost 200 years is readable, understandable, and clever. Often times, language becomes so different that it is difficult to read these old classics, but Dickens language usage is still very readable... It's really too bad that high school forced reading ruins so many of these books for people. The other book lacks description, lacks motivation for its characters, and totally lacks suspense. I don't like to criticize in our book blog, but to find lessons for my own writing at the very least. I may find it difficult to speak highly of this book. Who knows, maybe it will improve or maybe there is a surprise plot twist. We finish any book we start even if it's not very good because we want to grow as writers ourselves. Every chapter has a lesson or a reminder.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sick Dog

Macy was sick all night long with numerous plentiful vomiting. I was up with her in and out of the house from 2AM to 5AM and Anne took over from 5 to 8AM. The vet could get her in at 10:30. Having worked at veterinary clinics, I could pretty much predict what we were in for...  and knowing this country-vet atmosphere is generally more cost effective and sometimes a little more minimal, I knew they would treat us in a respectful way that matched our means and lives.

First, fecal just to eliminate any parasites which would be the quickest easiest cheapest problem to solve. No signs of parasites.

Next a blood draw. This might show any number of system failures or indicate infection or other problem. Her blood came back odd. Red blood cell counts were low but high on immature cells as if her body was trying to replace lost blood. Also, the blood had indications of poisoning. Could she have eaten rat poison or human medicines? We don't have animal poisons except for fire ant killer, but we visited Fredericksburg recently, but I don't remember seeing anything even vaguely resembling poisons. Still, she is independent and we KNOW we have caught her eating weird things on the property, so we can't say there's no way she didn't find something.

We went ahead and did xrays too just to rule out any visible tumors of intestinal blockage. These showed her bones and organs and intestines to all be sound and healthy.

The vet and we decided to treat symptomatically. Macy got a shot for nausea with some daily drugs to take each morning. We also brought home antibiotics.

We'll see how things go and hope for the best.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Call the Midwife

I listened to Jennifer Worth's book on my road trip to Houston for a Burns Night gig... and finished up the listening doing some chores around the property. It was a superb book and I completely understand why Call the Midwife was made into a show. The book was so descriptive that I don't think seeing a show would add anything to my experience. The episodes in the book leant themselves very well to becoming individual episodes on TV.

I'm logging the books that Anne and I read together on the Eggcellent Books blog. We've read some very random things, some good, some not so much. If you enjoy books, you might get a kick out of our commentary... might even find a new book to explore.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Anne's Park

Anne is clearing and creating a parklike space in about 1/6 of the property. It's the part with the pond and a swing in a tree (I put that up a few years ago) and on the corner that the whole world drives by every day. It was semi-cleared by the man who lived her before me, but alone, I found it nearly impossible to keep up with. Wild rose bushes started to over take and scraggly growth under the trees has grown ugly and out of control. I have been using the riding mower to go over the big area and remind the rose bushes who is boss. The roses are horrible mean things around here. I love roses and when they are in the peak of bloom for one week a year, they can almost be pretty until one snags your leg as you're walking along minding your own business. For 51 weeks a year, they just grow into monsters. Anne has systematically cleared around trees and around the pond. I've done my best to burn the brush as she goes and to keep up with the major mowing. It looks amazing. Any good weather we get right now, we tackle this project. Today is one of those days.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Homeward Beer

Yesterday evening with our pizza dinner, our host popped in an old VCR tape of Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester. They're German, hence the spelling. We watched the whole performance. Mr. Raabe is such a great performer and the orchestra was fantastic. Pretty sure I clapped after each song.

Today, we head toward home. We looked up a different route home in an effort to catch a couple small breweries. First is Rough Diamond. This might have been our favorite stop in our three day Hill-Country-Brewery tour. They are pretty much in the middle of no-where, but worth the stop if you're anywhere near. Everyone there was enthusiastic and friendly. The beer was very good and they are a brewery with an experimental flare. A couple of their small batch experiments were my favorites of the day. And they have more than one stout! Hooray! We shared a taster flight and could have stayed much longer, but it was already mid-day and we needed to get home.

Rough Diamond - yummy flight!
 Our second stop was at BS Brewing, an even more in-the-boonies brewery. We were initially greeted by a very friendly calico cat and then an equally friendly human behind the bar explained their beer choices and that they had a few from other very nearby breweries. Anne had a Pecan Ale by BS, and I had a Stout by Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing from just down the street - they do not have a bar. We sat at the bar until a larger group came in. In an effort to make room for them (not to avoid them), we ventured outside to the fire ring. BS has a nice start here, and an obvious love of what they are growing.
A & L Stout at BS Brewing
All three of the breweries linked on this post are so new and up-n-coming that their websites are merely front pages to be continued sometime soon maybe. We skipped going to a third brewery in favor of finding food and going home. We'll be back to Fredericksburg... this won't be our last beer tour!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fredericksburg, TX

Today, I report from Fredericksburg, TX where you can enjoy all things German and touristy. I am a high percent German, but the gene for German-food-tastebuds must have skipped over me. This includes German beers... so, honestly, I didn't have high hopes for my kind of beer around here.

We took a nice walk from our host home to the main street. We enjoyed a silly stroll thru Dooley's where we found a gigantic rubber ducky that our pond needs really badly... alas, we did not purchase the rubber ducky. Maybe next time. As we walked by Cultures, we saw a line of taps calling to us. We walked in and sat at the bar. No porters or stouts on tap, but I chose something they had in a bottle. The bartender was nice and he told us about a happy hour thing they offer: There is a glass boot that they fill with beer for some ridiculous cheap price. The boot holds 5 bottles of beer. Tempting if we were still in our twenties.

That was enough for our morning hike and home we went... until later. We desired another mid-day field trip, but drove this time. We parked behind Auslander and sat down at their tiny bar. It was another bottle beer for me as they only have a few taps and non of them are dark beers.

We wandered along the main street visiting the amazing Amish Market with all sorts things from food to furniture. We also visited the Peach Basket, a lovely natural foods market.

Grape Creek is quite the posh looking place.
We stopped in at Grape Creek Winery where we are members to pick up our February wines. The man who helped us never once looked me in the face and only sort of recited some things when I asked about the February wines. It was sort of as if he had dropped a heavy box on his foot an hour ago and was just trying to get through the day. Luckily for the winery, the staff that was doing wine tastings seemed to be truly enjoying their time with customers.

Finally, a dark beer on tap in this town!
Finally, we decided to try our luck at Fredericksburg Brewery (not really sure why I bothered linking to their website... it is incredibly un-informative!). Anne said she gave up trying to squeeze in here amongst the tourists years ago, but it's off season right now. Lo and behold!  They offer a fine porter they call Pioneer. Finally a dark beer in this town. This was a great finish for this little outing... and back to the house to make pizza for our host!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

To Fredericksburg

Today, we took a drive to Fredericksburg, Texas. About 30 minutes our side of San Marcos, I realized I was very hungry. I did what we always do and opened my Google-Maps-Ap and searched "breweries." Several popped up and one was opening at 11AM, about the time we should arrive in San Marcos.

AquaBrew: We parked on the street and left Macy in the car with the windows cracked, stepped inside, and found seats at the bar. Surprisingly, we weren't the first customers, and shortly after us came a few more patrons. The design of these small brew-pubs is becoming big business. This one is lovely, big and open with an obvious emphasis on trying to be a social place. There were no small tables, only large ten to twenty people tables. Hang out, chat with new people or bring lots of friends! I drank their Oatmeal Milk Stout because oatmeal is a perfectly reasonable breakfast. I also ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. I could have been just fine with half of what I was served, but I ate it all because it was delicious.
AquaBrew in San Marcos, TX
We had such a fantastic surprise experience at AquaBrew that I did the same search looking for potential stops along the rest of our route. We were surprised to find Real Ale along our route in Blanco. We have been drinking their beers via restaurants and grocery stores for a while... just didn't know where their brewery was.

Real Ale Brewery AND Distillery, Blanco, TX
Real Ale: They are not too difficult to find, but their parking lot is a wee bit confusing. We found a space in some trees that Macy could relax while we went up a full two flights of stairs up to the tasting room. The bar tender introduced the taps and the fact that there is also a distillery here. They have distill gin and whiskey. The big disappointment for me is that they had ZERO porters or stouts... nor imperial stouts available on tap. I chose an 8 oz pour of "Real Heavy" a Scotch Ale with a fairly high alcohol content. It was tasty, but sweeter than my usual choice of porters or stouts. Sadly, they do make a coffee porter which I have enjoyed via Trader Joe's, but it wasn't available on tap today. Anne tasted several and chose something but the tap ran out! In the meantime, she drank a taster size of a substitute along with 1 oz of their whiskey. I tasted the whiskey too and it had a close relation in sweetness to the beer I happened to be drinking which makes perfect sense, thank you, Scotch Ale.

We knew where the next stop would be. Anne has been driving to Fredericksburg for years from the Austin area taking her through Johnson City.

Pecan Street Brewing in Johnston City, TX
Pecan Street Brewing: Walked right in and sat at the bar. By this time, it was Anne who was hungry. Pecan Street offers 4oz tasters for $1.50. This is great for me - I ordered an 8oz pour of the Dark Sarcasm porter. At most breweries, that's all I want if I'm going to several in one day. Anne chose fried portobello mushrooms which were tasty but super super heavy. As we were wrapping things up we chatted with the bar tender who told us about the upstairs which has pool tables and other games. Next time, we will have to see who pays the tab by playing a game or three of pool.

We made it to Fredericksburg with time to chat before dinner... and an early bed time. Travel even with beer stops is tiring!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Vitamins

Today is Valentine's Day and it is our first Valentine's Day together. We are a couple with a sense of humor. We believe in silly things and making each other laugh.

I take vitamins every day and I have a system to make sure I don't miss my daily dose even if I'm traveling. It's a boring task with literally a bit of baggage which makes the whole system bulky and annoying. Anne decided I needed a lighter, more fun system.


She got me a toy dispensing vending machine. It drops two inch bubbles for fifty cents. I fill all the bubbles with my daily vitamins (no prescriptions). I got to decorate the machine. and each morning I turn the dial and receive my colorful bubble. We haven't decided where it should live permanently, but for now, it sits smiling at us on the kitchen counter.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Caught up!

I don't think filling in some dates later is exactly cheating, but it sure does feel good to be totally caught up in this blog.  I have a few posts that give me some very good ideas for topics I'd like to expand when we write the book... and during the travel days, most everything is documented so I don't forget any details. I'm horrible with dates and names of people and restaurants. It is extremely important for me to keep a log.

It's continued to be cold and dreary around here. That's just not normal for us and we are beginning to get a bit stir crazy. Anne needs her time outdoors working on trees and stuff. I need Anne to be happily working outside. I too end up outside, frequently. It's not "getting rid of her" outside, it's "Anne being happy" that is important.

Ummmm... Is the cat still there?
Stoli stayed in the cabin almost the entire day the last two days. In the cabin with us humans and THE DOG. They did relatively ok. There were stare downs and Macy tried to growl a few times but shut up when we told her she has to be nice to her brother.

I hope it warms up soon... and without the drizzle or rain. We need a thaw out day.

Monday, February 12, 2018

English is Weird

I recently replied to a wedding invitation letting them know I would not be able to attend. I wrote a quick note: Wishing you two years of love and happiness.

Luckily, I re-read it before stuffing it in the envelope and sending it. Of course, I meant a wish of love and happiness for you two people. What I potentially wrote was a two year wish of love and happiness for you.

Ha! I almost got the "rudest reply" award!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Craft Day

We expected this day to be cold and dreary. We've been watching the forecast for days and planned our indoor activities accordingly. Anne got my Valentine's Day present and I have already seen it. I love it. It's hilariously awesome. I won't tell you what it is until Valentine's Day.

Today, the cold dreary day, became craft day. The day I would create a gift for Anne. Originally, we had both decided that Valentine's Day was nothing to make a big deal out of. She went way overboard, but really it was more of a date coincidence. The idea too funny to pass up, and Valentine's Day just happened to be next week. Neither of us claim to be good at presents, so when one gets a brilliant and funny idea, you go for it! Now, I'm in the awkward position to try and create a present equally fabulous. I'm crafty. I set to work.

With the heaters on high just to keep the temperature at 63 degrees Fahrenheit, I got out a coffee can, valentine gift wrap, tissue paper, skewers, styrofoam, and a bag of tiny Heath Bars. The plan was to create a bouquet of a dozen Heath Bar roses.

First, I took 24 tiny Heath Bars and put the rest in the bottom of the coffee can. Next, I cut round pieces from a 2" thick styrofoam board that I happened to have from a shipment I recently received. I put one into the can over the Heath Bars and wrapped another piece with tissue paper and stuffed that into the coffee can as well letting fluffy tissue paper stick up out of the coffee can. I cut a piece of Valentine wrapping paper and glued that around the coffee can. Not I have a vase for my skewer roses to perch.

I cut a dozen pieces of tissue paper about 6"X6". I took one piece and stabbed the center with the skewer, twisted the paper and added a dab of glue to the non-pointy end of the skewer. I slid the bunched tissue paper to the glue end and held it in place for a moment. I taped two Heath Bar just below the tissue paper bunch on opposite sides of each other, ... then I tied a green bow around the two Heath Bars holding everything tightly together.

When all six "roses" were complete, I stabbed them into the styrofoam in my "vase." Then I couldn't wait to give it to her...  so I DID!


It's silly, and it was fun, and that's what Valentine's Day presents should be!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Spring Tour

Today we finalized all of our Spring tour camping. Reservations are made and paid. Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, Dallas area and back home. Woohoo!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Cold

It's cold here which means we are in the 40's. Taking a look at Facebook, it appears we are actually WARM today. There are icy road accidents reported, friends stuck in cities on their drives home, and truly frigid temperatures reported everywhere.

Perspective is funny. For south Texas, we are definitely cold. We changed our plans from working outside to doing a day's work indoors on our computers. We have taxes to do, writings to write, and things to bake when I get tired of the computer. Even the cat changed his plans. He is sitting in the kitchen chair next to me. He take personal offense to bad weather, and sits with his ears back letting you know that he holds you personally responsible for this cold drizzly weather.

A second pot of coffee has been made, half-caff this time. The three heaters alternate coming on warming the cabin as well as small electric heaters can. We wear our robes and fuzzy slippers and whine about the frigid outdoor world. Luckily we have the perfect leftovers waiting for us in the fridge: red beans and rice. Yum! All is not lost.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Morning

Our mornings usually go like this:
7:30 I press the button that starts the percolator coffee pot.
7:39 Abby pours half n half into my own coffee cup and pours two cups of coffee. I carefully pass the black coffee across Anne and set it on her shelf beside the bed.
8:00 We decide what to read and who will read it. The other person draws or colors a picture.
9:30 We gather our things including the percolator and take ourselves to the cabin where we have a fully functioning kitchen.
9:35 Eat breakfast - today I made avocado toast on sour dough bread with a little bit of crumbled goat cheese on top.
10:00 Anybody's guess!

This morning, we are writing, which feels great. The last couple of days, we have been trying to make some plans and reservations for our Alaska trip. That part of trip planning is exhausting to me. Some mornings, we take advantage of good weather and immediately go outside to trim trees, mow, burn brush, or some other outdoor project.

This morning, the dog is snoring on the couch, the cat is in his "homeless cat chair" on the front porch, I am at the kitchen table, and Anne is at her desk. Both humans typing away and occasionally getting up from our computers for a break, a hug, or a comment. Macy snores more and more these days. Stoli looks rejected and homeless curled up in his chair on the front porch. The morning is foggy with no promise of much sun. Writing is the perfect thing to do.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Perfect Sand Dollar

This is the Sand Dollar I found on the beach in San Diego. It's perfect! I wrapped it in a towel and wrapped tape around the towel hoping I would make it all the way home with my fragile treasure. And I did make it home with my treasure unharmed.

I don't usually collect things like this because, really, what do you do with it now? Set it on a shelf to collect dust? Hope the cat won't knock it off the shelf and break this treasure that you might forget where you even got it? Seems like a lot of trouble and work to care for shells and rocks that we humans gather on the trails in our travels... yet, every now and then, something so perfect presents itself, and I have to bring it home.

My precious is sitting on a high shelf with some of my other fragile trinkets from over the years.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Don't Feel Like It

There is a degree to which not-feeling-like-it is as good as an excuse as is needed. Want to go to the movies? Want to go out to dinner? Want to read a book? Sure, any friend should accept and you, yourself, should accept this as a perfectly acceptable reason not to do something.

Want to work on this project that we both agreed to do? Want to do the laundry? Want to feed the dog? Not-feeling-like-it is an okay thing to proclaim FOR A SHORT WHILE. At some point, the partner on the project is going to grow annoyed to hear the delay is only because you don't-feel-like-it. Eventually, the laundry is going to leave you with no underwear. After a while, the dog is going to eat your leg.

I tend toward the workaholic mentality because I'm self-employed and if I don't stay on top of things, it will get incredibly difficult to catch up and I'm the only one to blame. I believe in following the ebb and flow of your own workings. Do things when they feel the most right and inspired. But if you are repeatedly uninspired, at some point you simple HAVE TO sit down and do the thing! Or, if you simply can not, admit it and bow out entirely. Don't string the partner along. Buy new underwear. Give the dog a new home.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Burns Night

The night was a blast. There was loud bagpiping in a relatively small condo with wood floors... in other words LOUUUUUUUD! Haha! I sang many songs backed by whistle and fiddle and harmonizing vocals.

I sang Burns's Ae Fond Kiss, and many Irish songs as is my way.... Wild Mountain Thyme, Red is the Rose, Juice of the Barley, and Crúiscín Lán. I got to harmonize Scott's songs.

The hostess and her friends had a wonderful array of foods. The traditional haggis, fish and corn soup, and roast beef along with vegetables, salads and cheeses were available for the eating.

No one in the band brought our significant others, so there was no one there this year to take photos or videos.  Here's one from two years ago!  A Man's a Man for All That, one of Burns's most well known.
 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Rhubarb Shags

For those who think I have stopped doing any music at all, here is a post to let you know I'm singing and playing with lots of love and joy!

This is the second time I have played with Richard Kean, bagpiper, Scott Jernigan, fellow zouk playing singer, and Joachim Zwick, fiddler as "The Rhubarb Shags," a name that was thrown out with a laugh and stuck. We did this same Burns Supper a couple of years ago and were called on to perform again. From the sounds of things, likely to be called on next year too!

A Burns Supper of Burns Night is a celebration of Robert Burns' life as a prolific Scottish poet in the second half of the 1700's. He was a lady's man who fathered many children by several women and his poetry for many a woman shows a sincere adoration for all of them.

Today, we gathered to refresh our minds, make sure our notes on things were correct, and see if any adjustments should be made to the music or schedule. Things went well and we expect to have a grand time tomorrow at this fun gig.