Thursday, 12 April 2018

Snow, wind, rain, SUNSHINE!

This week has been action-packed. We made it to Ohio through a light snowy drive. The cold did not stop us from enjoying Yellow Springs, Ohio. We have now made our way to sunny St. Louis, MO. Is St. Louis known for its sunshine? It is now... It's funny how first impressions make or break a place, or at least create a lasting picture.
Macy might be exhausted. (Camp in TN)
Highlights by category.

Food:
Grillin' on the fire: Anne shines, as usual, as our dinner chef. We found pok loin medalions at the grocery store. She created amazing kabobs that we had over rice. Simple and absolutely delicious.

Simple breakfast at camp: Breakfast is my job. Sometimes we find avocado which makes a great simple avocado toast breakfast on bagels or English muffins. One morning we had enough avocado for half of our breakfast. The other half was peanut butter. One of us put the two sides together making an avocado peanut butter sandwhich. The other kept the two apart for two distinct flavors.
Who ate which one?!?
Sunrise Cafe, Yellow Springs, OH: This restaurant is worth a drive. The dishes are unique, well thought out, and prepared individually. This is a high quality, real food place with prices that are more affordable than the plate warrants. Sunrise also offers a wide variety of beers, wines and cocktails. All around, an absolutely lovely experience.
Young's Dairy, Yellow Springs, OH: Ice cream... This dairy allows visitors to hang out with the goats and cows, play mini-golf, eat a complete meal, and/or just eat ice cream! It was, sadly, too cold to play mini-golf. The goats were dog-like friendly, cows less interested, and the ice cream was deliecious.
The cold did not stop us from eating ice cream!
Calypso Grill and Smokehouse, Yellow Springs, OH: Brand new Caribbean restaurant by the same folks that own and opperate the Sunrise. The food was delicious, and they offer a flight of rum tasters which was fun to share.
Nick's in Xenia, OH: We drove by this place driving to and from our camp and Yellow Springs. It looks unassuming and like the sort of place that might be exclusively local. Turns out, it IS very local, but also very welcoming. Nick's is a very well established staple of this town, and the food and beer selection was great.

Breweries:
Flywheel Brewing, Elizabethtown, KY: We stopped on our journey from TN to OH right about noon which is often a slow time for breweries. We were served some great beer and joined in the silly conversation and soccer-game watching. Elizabethtown doesn't have much, but this brewery is a good start to the growing fun-side of this town.
Yellow Springs Brewery, OH: Anne has been drinking their Show Boat all over town. It has become a popular beer for them. They had nothing dark for me to try, but they offered a few other local beers on tap as well as soda and some wine for the non-beer folk.
Devil Wind Brewing, Xenia, OH: As we sat drinking our beers, we heard someone say that this place has only been open for a week and a half. We thought we must have mis-heard. Nope, it's that new. We enjoyed our beers enough to hang out for a second round. The staff was super friendly and enthusiastic. Best luck wishes go out to these guys!!

Terre Haute Brewing, IN: This was our midway stop between OH and MO. We had a grilled cheese with fries and barbacoa tacos. We shared our plates; everything was more delicious than we expected. We both enjoyed our beers. Recommended stop if you're ever in the area.
Schlafly Brewery, St. Louis, MO: We are staying within walking distance of this brewery. They have twelve bottle variety packs in stores which contain more beers than they serve at the brewery. The twelve pack of stouts is like a dozen dessert beers... we may need to rent a trailer to haul some home.

Hikes:
Caesar Creek State Park, OH: The spillway is an area where fossils can be found. This area is near the trailhead for the rope bridge and waterfalls. The falls are small, but the hike is lovely, fairly short and easy. It was really nice to just get out and breath the air.


The town of Yellow Springs, OH: This is a great town to "hike." The bookshop, toy store, hardware store, grocery store, second hand store... fun unique shops. Several shops include their own pets.
The Maplewood, MO neighborhood: I love neighborhoods that are walkable. This one (we're still here) is turning out to be a great find. Coffee shops, shopping, beer, food... My kind of casual city hiking.

Life is good! So good it's hard to keep up with it all!!

Friday, 6 April 2018

The First Leg...kind of nice, really.

Oh hell...oh!  Hi again and here we are, back on the road.  Me, slightly huddled on the tailgate of the truck soaking up the sun on my back through several layers of clothes, using the rest of the truck as protection from the wind.  Yes, we have made it back to cold.  After an amazing three days at Millwood lake in Arkansas, we mosied our way over to Tennessee to this here Natchez Trace State Park, before we make our way on to our next destination...over there yonder.  Abby, Macy and I have been practicing our accents and nuances to fit right in, wherever we are.  I have noticed Abby’s saying more often “God bless America” as an expletive, followed shortly behind by Macy’s “well just dig a hole and roll me in...I’ve seen it all…”.  Those two...
A beautiful night on an Arkansas lake (Millwood)

Despite, so far, being located next to nothing at our destinations, we have still had an abundance of gratitude.  Millwood Lake, is a haven for fisher-folks and anyone just wanting to sit around and be perfectly lazy.  I prefer the former, but practiced the later, having brought no fishing gear on this trip (not sure why not).  We prefer to hike a trail, but alas, due to heavy rains before our arrival, our trails were mostly washed out.  So I had to learn to just “be”.  Nearly impossible.  Abby relieved some of my pain by finally locating a brewery for us to visit.  Fantastic!  Except it put us BACK in Texas.  Pecan Point Brewing in Texarkana, promotes itself as brewery and gastropub.  While plenty enjoyable, these points are arguable, having (at the time) no in-house brews and my hamburger was well out performed by one a few days later at a bait shop within a mile of our campsite….still thinking about it….that was a damn good burger and can be found at ‘Hooked Up’ Bait and More in Ashdown, Arkansas if you ever, for any reason, which I can not think of other than fishing on Millwood Lake, find your way in that neck of the woods.  When we got home, Abby furthered my R&R experience by introducing me to a contraption called a “hammock”.  Lying in a hammock, in the sunshine, on the lake, with a cool breeze, watching people fish...ain’t a bad way to kill a few hours.  Education, absorbed.
camp at Millwood Lake, Ashdown, Arkasas

Now we are in Tennessee, experiencing Natchez Trace State Park.  I am freezing my butt off….but not really.  I know how to wrangle the sunshine like a dream catcher processes dreams.  We arrived in a storm last night.  The frogs calling out the discourse while we set up camp.  The storm escorted a cold front, which left our weather perfectly beautiful, but chilly about five hours later.  We still got a good hike in this morning and another planned for tomorrow.  Arriving in a storm was worth the couple of stops we made getting here.
Abby, sportin' an aqueduct on our hike

My first trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas was bountiful.  While it did not consist of any experience of hot springs (which I have enjoyed near our property in Colorado) or cigar smoking like a gangsta’, it did consist of a brewery renovated from one of the original bathhouses. Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery not only had a pleasant vibe which left me not really wanting to leave, but yet another introduction.  Abby ordered a giant pretzel that came with a horseradish sauce (“horsey sauce” we Walkers have always called it), a delicious grainy mustard and of course a beer induced cheese sauce that was not thick and gooey, but rather light and oh my gosh delicious.  How well did this snack of giant pretzel thingy go with my beer flight? Amazingly!  I could do that every day.  Out with high tea -  In with giant pretzel and good beer o’clock!  What a great break from the road trip to Tennessee from south-east Arkansas.  Arriving near our park in Tennessee, we stopped in Jackson, Tennessee for local brew and pizza from a place called ‘Rock'n Dough Pizza’ and Brewery. The beer was great (I had the “Strong Silent Type Blonde...well, just because) and the pizza was spot on..  We stopped off next door at the little local grocery store for salad makings tonight.  I am looking forward to it. Evening snack popcorn has already been popped….dinner of antipasto style salad and hot showers on the way… the book we’re reading in queue.  Looking forward to a peaceful night.
Superior Bathhouse Brewery, Hot Springs, Arkansas

We are a different style of camper… the kind that leaves plenty of room for gratitude, as we are likely going to go looking for it, rather than sitting around complaining.  No, we are not 3rd world travelers doing good works and not posh seekers of every amenity.  Just your average persons, reporting on the typical experience across America as we come to find it from one simple camp spot to the next, hoping to encourage others to get back into it also. The camping I remember from childhood, on steroids. How else do you get in touch with an owl up close and personal that is rehabbing from an injury?  Or learn about how our country developed through travel and colonization?
Antipasto Salad in the Eggcellence

That being said, I am now writing within the walls of the Jackson, Tennessee Public Library.  I have so much research to do from our simple travels so far, plus of course, publishing this blog.  We had a delightful meal last night of pork shish-kabob with lots of good grilled veggies and Abby turned the leftover grilled veggies into yet another amazing breakfast.  A rainy forecast for us the remainder of the day; tomorrow we head on to our next destination.  I am looking forward to my research this morning in this library.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Travel Prep

In the last few days we have done some pretty big things.

We have finished moving the garage into an entirely new and improved space. We took the old piece of junk container with its rusty roof and rotted floor, and we made it a beautifully organized garage with space left to be made into an outdoor kitchen when we get home.

Anne de-rust-ifying.
Gutted and ready to start over.
New deck floor.
Shelving unit for garage defines the space for the kitchen.
Garage gets a wee deck with bus-stop bench.
Garage completely organized and moved.
I took Stoli to Austin to stay with his Auntie Pat. Pat calls him her "time-share cat" because his stays are often very long. He'll be there the whole summer while we go to Alaska. He hates car rides but is completely fine as soon as he is there or here.

Prisoner transport.
Anne has pretty much turned this ten acre property into a park complete with trails and bird viewing sanctuaries. Photos don't do it justice. Neighbors have certainly noticed and make comments about how nice it looks. You'll just have to visit and see for yourself.
Backyard: Birdhouses, bird feeder, birdbath, and St. Francis to watch over them all.
Herb garden!
Vegetable garden with auto-watering.
Front yard: bird bath & feeder under my favorite trees.
New tree addition, Wally (a black walnut twig), and the trailhead is in this picture too.
Today, we are completing all the little things that it takes to actually leave home for a few weeks.


Stuff that is done because it can't wait until the day before:
  • Mow entire property.
  • Finish projects to a tidy state.
  • Pack clothes.
  • Pack toiletries.
  • Clean camper, truck, and all accessories.
  • Prep all bills that will be due while away.
  • Transport cat to his vacation home.
  • Shop for initial groceries and supplies.
  • Pack Macy's stuff.
Just before we leave:
  • Confirm with neighbors to check on the property.
  • Confirm with mail-lady about the mail hold.
  • Clean both cabins, bedding, all laundry, dishes, and porches.
  • Fill bird feeders.
  • Turn off all unnecessary water.
  • Turn off all unnecessary electricity at breaker box.
  • Don't forget the little things: phone charger, travel mugs, books, reading glasses, etc.
  • Eat all the ice cream.
We might have gone overboard.

And so, the day is busy. We leave soon. Anne gets to post next week with lots of fun travel stuff... or at least, that's what we hope!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Let's GO!

No, not trouble in paradise, just ANOTHER busy week.  Disclaimer: reading a book - Eats, Shoots and Leaves - on “punctuation” so this little ditty, is riddled for exercise…

Getting ready to go ANYWHERE is always the undoing of all my coolness.  I have wrestled the blog back from the Eggcellence, with only a few minor scrapes and bruises and a whole lot of pissing and moaning on its part, as well as a gesture that denoted “more selfies to come”.  Left to answer emails or "fan mail" as suggested.  Huh…

We depart for the trip that Abby characterized last week, soon.  The timing could not be more perfect as we are worn to the bones from all of our projects and the idea of “fleeing” for perspective seems apropo.  While the birds are enchantingly gay, the gardens are striving for one on one time with the sky and Abby’s symbiotic relationship with the container project is humming along at cruising altitude, the taxes are paid, vehicles registered, 'Wally', the little tree that could is, well, still believing it can. I am getting nervous.  We are going on to places I have never been, or have not been in a super long time.  No big deal, right?  This isn’t the big one... just the one before the big one with an itsy, bitsy, teensy, weensy break in between. Tiny.

Abby working her tail off...

My trail I cut while waiting for Abby to finish working her tail off...

little Wally, with a wonderful story..
 Oh...and we may have mentioned to Master Stoli that his time to vacay (*te the premises) is coming near.
Stoli's reaction to "we're leaving again"
My neurosis has me imagining all of the most emergency response type needs.  In my head, it sounds quite similar to the station weather alert.  I am pulling things apart and putting them back together.  Do I have enough shoes?  After inspection of my well worn travel shoes and the holes that opened like donuts after our last trip (except for a great pair of hiking boots; thanks N.T.!), I had to invest.  Shoes...check.  Underwear?  I like to pretend like we will never, ever, ever have the capacity to wash clothes, ever, at all, anywhere.  Therefore, one can never, ever, ever have enough underwear.  Oh yeah, need a new laundry bag.  Apparently last trip, I wasn’t expecting to have dirty laundry.  Toiletries; acckkk!!  Think, think, think...what went wrong/right last time… Which mosquito repellent works in the mid-Eastern states in the raging spring? Is hypo-allergenic really a thing??

The Eggcellence.  It’s true.  Abandoned in crime scene fashion, it feels almost ghostly (but not quite ghastly) in there.  Abby made some small situational type modifications after we got home.  Anything that grows on it’s own came out on arrival weeks ago; C’mon people, we’re not slobs!! I am just now getting in clean up mode.  It’s okay, everything will be extricated, washed and reloaded soon.  The Eggcellence will stop whining and I will stop hyperventilating at 3 AM.
Whaaat??  It's fine, just a little housekeeping needed...
FOOD!!  I hate to go hungry, so this is always my first panic.  What will we eat? Will we starve?  What did we do last time?  We usually grab a bite on our arrival night, if lucky at one of our sought out local breweries, then hit a store nearby for daily groceries.  Was that sentence too long [Lynne Truss]?  That is what we did.  With healthy eating in mind, we shop veggies, fruits and cheese, anything fresh, delicious and unusual is always fun.  This is the best part of travel, if you ask me.  I would tell some of my other food prep/travel secrets...but then we wouldn’t have anything to talk about at our next dinner party.

The truth is, we are always ready to go.  Abby and I work together so well as a team, we could outrun a tornado on a moments notice if warned by that blasted weather warning system that causes me angst, even on a sunny day when it wants me to “get outside!”.  As I finish this, she is outside sawing and hammering madly in preparation for a Lowe’s delivery tomorrow and I have just cleaned the kitchen from our ‘Hanger Steak Salad’ and roasting some nuts in the oven.  It was salad week.  We ate lots and lots of salads...and maybe a little ice cream.  I lost three pounds.  I am a professional, don’t try this at home...without supervision...and sustainable inner peace.  Just kidding.
does any of this stuff work?
 Anyway… let’s go already!!!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Spring is in the air

This Saturday is Saint Patrick's Day, the day when Irish musicians play their hearts out or we stay home. I have been a SOLO Irish musician for some ten years. On the few occasions that I was honored to play a gig with other awesome musicians on St. Patrick's Day, I had a blast and I will do that again anytime! Being solo on Saint Patrick's Day is like going to a Valentine's Day dance and being the only single person who shows up. There are so many reasons for Irish musicians, both solo and whole bands, to stay home.  Here are a few:
  1. Playing music in the corner of a bar for drunk people who are shouting louder than you can sing with a microphone turned to 11... gets really tiring.
  2. Singing over a bagpipe band literally ten feet away... gets really tiring.
  3. Hearing pickup lines that include something like, "you're probably not as crazy as my first through fifth wife,"... gets really tiring.
  4. Working your fingers, voice, and heart to death while everyone else parties... gets really tiring.
  5. Dragging all your gear from gig to gig while everyone asks if you'll be playing "Danny Boy" soon... gets really tiring. 
  6. Sleeping in the car after the gig because it's safer than driving through Drunk-town, USA... gets really tiring.
  7. Eating junk food between sets because you can't leave because you'll lose your parking spot (where you're storing gear between sets), and the bar is too busy to serve you... gets really tiring.
  8. Having to run around trying to find the busy manager who has my paycheck... gets really tiring.
  9. Having to create my own stage, pissing off the waitresses but doing what the owner said... gets really tiring.
  10. Free beer for the band.... oh, wait, THAT doesn't get tiring. 
All that said, if you go to a Saint Patrick's Day celebration, be kind to the band. Ask if they'd like some food. They'd probably rather you didn't touch their gear, but you could offer to hold the door. Every Irish musician I know loves, truly loves, the music they play. Let them know you appreciate the heart they bring to the celebration. You know it wouldn't be the same in silence!

The herb garden :-)
This year, I stayed home for an entirely different reason. We are less than two weeks away from our spring trip. We are madly taming the property as it comes alive this spring. Things are growing, and we'd like to come home to a home, not a jungle. Bird feeders are up, gardens are planted, and the big old junk-container is nearing a phase of usability.
Bird feeder I made! Here, birdie, birdie!
Old container - redoing the roof and floor.


We are looking forward to this itinerary:

  • Millwood State Park in Arkansas. 
  • Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee.
  • Caesar Creek State Park in Ohio.
  • St. Louis, Missouri with family.
  • Keystone State Park in Oklahoma.
  • Cedar Hill State Park in Texas.
You might notice the pattern of state parks. We like supporting state and national parks. We find that most are well maintained and loved with trails, and simple comforts like showers. However, not ALL have these! In our trip up to Alaska, we found several states that offer only rustic accommodations. I am planning an entire chapter (or more) in our book devoted to states' parks.

We have already looked up what breweries are in those areas. Breweries are another pattern of ours. We like the atmosphere and local flavor found in small passionate breweries. Anne is planning an entire chapter (or more) in our book devoted to the popularity and rise of small breweries, things we have discovered, and other factoids.

In the weeks to come, look forward to seeing some travel-filled posts. This will be our last "test-run" before the big trip to Alaska this summer. So much to look forward to, we can hardly stand it!!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Psssst...over here!!

my first selfie!!
Hiya … Eggcellence here, finally I get a shot at this blog.  There will be no picture as I don’t know how to do that part.  My comrades are selfish about giving me time, assuming I have little if anything to say.  This is completely wrong.  I have MUCH to say.  First thing I want to say is…”are we ever going anywhere again?”  I am sitting here collecting dust which looking at the cars in front of me and the amount of dust and debris they are collecting, DOES NOT GIVE ME HOPE!!”  I have been mindlessly moored in my spot, abandoned while not needed, ignored as if I had not been deemed a hero only six weeks ago.  Why should I even put up with this disregard??

we're all dirty here
The beings pass by me on the way to their “this task and that task”...putting in plants, building gardens and bird feeders, tending to that god forsaken ongoing fire pit that devours everything from giant brush to humble piles of leaves.  The dog has gotten locked inside I noticed and only the cat with the attitude visits me now under the giant structure that protects me only slightly from what looks like the scourge of oak pollen season arriving.  There is a great deal of new loud noise coming from the container project I have heard the beings refer to on occasion with some sort of vibe that feels a bit like fear and loathing.  It must be me that they loathe, sitting here lonesome and abandoned.

they don't look THAT bad, right?
Neglected are my insides that need to be unravelled like a fisherman's line.  There is turmoil that would cause any human a need for alka seltzer or that pink stuff in the bottle in one of my cabinets.  Yes, they tend to their own needs and disrest, but me, I am fortified apparently with the uncompromised ability to create my own sanctuary inside and out.  The sun is coming out more and shining in my eyes; the weather is changing.  The short human is changing color and getting darker with each day’s work,  while the one with the red hair hangs on to her whitish skin that takes on a red hue by the end of each day.  They take showers in their fancy outdoor shower house, then sit and eat dinner outside right in front of me.  Do they ever say “hello”?  Offer me a morsel?  They stood near me including me in their conversation somewhat this week...something about tires.  They looked at me, hands on hips, as if….I were important.  That was several days ago and not a glance since.  Will there ever be….WAIT!!!  There is motion.  They are coming towards me!  They want to talk! They are tickling my insides and moving things around.  It sounds like plans.  What?  More snow today in the direction we are heading next?  Nooooo…. Not snow!  We just came from snow.  Here is good.  I like it here!  We can just stay a little longer...can’t we??  We have three weeks exactly they said.  Three weeks to make it warm towards our next destination.  Three weeks I get to sit and relax while watching the humans work and hopefully they….ignore me.  If anyone wants to talk to me, I can be found at theeggcellence.com@gmail.com

The Eggcellence


I guess here ain't so bad a while longer...


Thursday, 1 March 2018

Thursday Post on Friday

The internet loves lists, and so do I! Here are 10 reasons my Thursday post was delayed to Friday.

10. We have been reading an absurd amount. We have five books going right now. They aren't just started and casually set aside, they are seriously ongoing. We have a dense Dickens novel that we read one chapter per night. The other evening book is a much lighter more contemporary read. There is a third bedside book. This one is ENORMOUS and written in a way that allows you to pick it up randomly for a taste of this or that (It's a food book, so, pun intended!). We have two morning books. One is a series of articles published in a San Antonio, TX newspaper. We thought this might inspire some of our morning writing assignments. We also have a grammar book. We are realizing that some of the things we want to do grammatically by our own intuition, while are not proper to American-English grammar, just happen to be proper in British-English grammar. Who knew?!?!
How many books will we read in a year?
9. Outdoor work has been strong and mighty lately. There have been many days of lovely spring weather inspiring us to clean up, clear up, and mow. Bird sanctuary areas are being placed throughout the property. Amidst all of this awesome progress, I got the riding lawnmower stuck in the mud. This sort of thing wears me out even though I know it will be ok in the end, it still feels like a big fat failure. We freed the lawnmower yesterday and I finished with the first grass-haircut of the year.
So much relaxing to do!
8. Springtime purging of the indoors areas has been strong and mighty. I begin to get antsy when clutter takes over. When grabbing a lid for a pot results in CLANG "It's OK" BANG "I got it" CRASH "No, really, it's all good" that's when I decide something must be done. I lightened the kitchen shelves a wee bit and rearranged the baking sheets, pans, and lids. Sigh, relief.

7. My pyromaniac skills have been employed to consume the leftover brush and tree clippings that Anne drags back from her park clearing. When one goes maniacal in any area of life, other things fall silently to the side.

6. Anne has been feeding me the most amazing foods. Each evening, she creates amazing dishes. Whatever is left over waits for the next morning. I create breakfast burritos out of those leftovers. Because I start with Anne's amazing foods, my creations are usually pretty darn tasty too. Being this well fed takes time, thought, and lots of oohing and aahing. I apologize for nothing!
Oooooooo.... Aaaaaaaahhhhhh.... Mmmmmmm
5. The dog that was sick last week is now insanely well. The creature thinks she is starving to death. She searches the property for compost scraps, and literally ANYTHING she thinks MIGHT be edible including the husks from the corn on the cob we ate yesterday. Following her around has become a new full time job.
Yard work plus dog babysitting equals SPOILED DOG!
4. I HAVE written blog posts for the book blog, so it's not like I've done NOTHING! We read a Patterson book, a dud book, a really good social-political book, and a book about the orphanage where my grandmother grew up since my last blog post here on the Eggcellence.

3. We've gone to the grocery store a couple of times this week. What? "That's not a big deal - who cares?!?" you say?? Around here, it's totally a big deal. Going "into town" is a big adventure or ordeal depending on the chores of the day. It pretty much takes a whole day. Day. Gone.

2. We have super finalized our Spring trip!! We have all of the camp reservations made for Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, and North Texas. Stoli has reservations confirmed with his Auntie Pat, and Macy promises not to get sick any more. We leave at the end of March!
Winter trip plus spring trip... so many more states!
1. The actual factual real reason this post was delayed: I honestly had no idea that yesterday was Thursday until Anne asked at 9PM, "What day is it?" This is not a joke. We have been so busy doing all the little things with no need for a calendar, we seriously did not know what day it was. I was disappointed in myself, but after writing this post, I don't feel so bad. Having such an awesome life that I don't even know what day it is? I'll take it!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Beers, Ears and Doggy Fears

Abby's much pleased with Fredericksburg brew


The past few weeks have been an adventure at home.  Wait, I have to look up “adventure”.  Yes, that is it, according to the online dictionary that states an adventure is …

1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
"her recent adventures in Italy"
synonyms:
exploit, escapade, deed, feat, experience
"her recent adventures in Italy"

Things never seem to sit still around here as the seasons change with the light, the actual sun rise and sun set, the temperature from the dryer cold that requires repeated applications of lotion to the balmy humidity that reminds me of the Galveston I grew up.  The days getting a tad bit longer indicated by the amount of time we are spending AFTER dinner by the fire pit, still burning the days collection of brush, mostly cedar and oak from my ongoing park creation.  The sense in everything we do, that we are part of an ever approaching, slowly creeping, spring cleaning project that comes with this time of year and the knowledge that we have things to get done before our next travel date…. But, we still keep our immediate priorities straight.
Before
After
 A quick jaunt to Fredericksburg for the matter of a little business, took care of our outing this past week that we have learned to fashion on the fly creating a daytrip out of a 3.5 hour drive.  There are many things to do in and around Fredericksburg and I am mostly disappointed in the number of people that go there and play tourist.  However, this past week, we indeed played tourist outside of our preordained responsibilities.  We took a morning walk that somewhere between Dooley’s Five and Dime and the Amish store became a mid morning stroll down Main street, transitioning into a quick duck into a taproom which happened to open before us at 11am, hoping for something unusual.  This was a bust.  It was our fault, we had set our goal too high.  Just the day before, we took the back roads of the Texas Hill Country from our home on through San Marcos, with an unplanned stop at a brewery called AquaBrew.  Abby was inexplicably hungry after a rather large breakfast and our schedule allowed for the stop having possible plans to be in Wimberly, possibly not.  It turned out not, as our hosts were tied up in Austin at an appointment.  No worries...we enjoyed AquaBrew a couple blocks from the square and the campus. Abby melded into a classic succulent grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combination along with her “breakfast stout” ( I think it was the Oatmeal Milk Stout), while I sipped on my delicious Swine Dive IPA.
Innovative growlers and REAL flowers at AquaBrew

Skipping our connection in Wimberly, we took a left turn and headed to Blanco to happen by the Real Ale Brewery, on purpose.  I feel I can say with unabashed certainty, that this stop was a huge disappointment, but for the sake of education, I can not call it a waste of time.  It furthers my continuous argument that the bigger the brewery, the greater chance of disappointment.  They have less work to do to sell the wares that already line the grocery store shelves and supply the taps at restaurants.  Therefore, much less hustle in their game and discouragement for us on the other side of the bar.  So in response, we stopped at one of my Hill Country favorites in Johnson City for renewed fortification.  The brewery is Pecan Street Brewing and I don’t stop in for the food, but rather some old standbys in the beer department that have never steered me wrong.   The highlight of Fredericksburg was the Fredericksburg brewing company which I had abandoned visiting many years ago, because it is a pain in the arse to get in and out, being smack in the middle of the Main Street drag.  On foot, Abby and I managed to sit at the bar like good F’burg tourists for the first time and were pleased with the experience and the beer.  I was happy to retie the knot of of Fredericksburg Brewery attachment.  Everything else in town was mostly a myriad of German beer taps and bottles, of course...It’s Fredericksburg.

By now in the abbreviated two day stay, we were falling apart as a team.  My purpose for being there was resulting in head banging and hitting the proverbial brick wall.  The pecan allergens that plague me so often in Fredericksburg were seeping into my body and an earache I have been battling since our return weeks ago was full on.  Additionally and more importantly something was tragically wrong with our mascot and comrade in tow, Macy.  She had not been feeling that great, but in the short time there, she had become much worse and feeling less that happy.  I will spare the gory details of a dog that doesn’t feel well, but it isn’t much different than when humans don’t feel well and things are not going in or coming out right.  With the dog nestled in deep sleep in the backseat, we made the best of our drive home, stopping at two up and coming, VERY hard working breweries in the back roads of the hill country; one just near Kendalia, called Rough Diamond Brewery.  This was a pleasant surprise and a MUST visit and revisit.  We efficiently delved into a beer flight which for the first time ever, I liked all of my beers.  Before we left, I tasted their bock.  Watch out Shiner; this beer made me happy.  Also, the staff was very hands on, informative, involved and energetic about their future as a brewery.  NICE!!  We also stopped briefly outside of Sequin at a brewery called BS Brewing Co. that seemed a little piecemeal at first but then I started to appreciate the variety of offerings in their beer selection, as well as the environment.  They also offered a blackberry mead.  Not a fan of mead, but I saw a place for it in this gatherum of brews.  To top it off, I had their award winning Pecan Ale, something I wouldn’t normally drink, but it went well with the fire outside, complete with cows looking for photo ops and a resident cat named...I forgot.  No, really… I forgot, but it was a very pleasant calico cat that seemed to handle all jobs from greeter to security.  On the way home, we stopped for a quick dinner at a mexican restaurant in Hallettsville I had not been,  el Vaquero, where I enjoyed an unusual carne guisada that I will most certainly do again in the future.  Thumbs up for this quirky Mexican restaurant on the Hallettsville square, that now serves alcohol if that was at all a reason for not checking it out before.
Macy recovering

Stoli (otherwise nemesis) has not left her side

UPDATE:  The weather has suspiciously gone back to what feels a bit like winter.  It is cold and raining and outside work is not happening the past two days, but I am anticipating a nice weekend.  Macy went to the vet and we are no closer to knowing what is wrong with her.  She had some not so good blood work, but a clean X-ray and good on a few tests run by the vet.  She was sent home in frustration of both parties with some anti nausea medicine and an antibiotic.  She isn’t moving much but we are hopeful that she needs another day to come out of whatever has her down and out.  Abby and I are reading as much as usual and I hope that anyone interested, is keeping up with Abby’s “book reports” on this blog.  Most of the books are anything but mainstream or even current.  We are always juggling good reads and surprisingly, it is not hard to keep up with them all. 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Valentine's Day

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. People love or hate or love to hate Valentine's Day. I've never been big on the holiday myself, but we had fun yesterday being ourselves and giving/getting gifts that fit us a little too well.

One day, Anne was watching me dispense my daily vitamins from a wee hardware container that I use because I can dose out 18 days and with the way we travel, it's important to have everything as organized and prepared as possible. I have the container rigged with a piece of paperboard to hold back the other 17 days. Anne joked, "There should be a dispenser that just drops the appropriate daily pills on demand." With this image, we both pondered for just a moment and realized something like this DOES exist! Anne quickly got online and found that while they are usually sold commercially, individuals can order them. We chose a size, color, and the type that would spit out the correct sized pods.

I was so excited I could hardly wait, but with this ingenious gift on its way, I had to come up with something that would cheer her in the same silly way, or at least, I had to try. I am crafty. Crafty silliness is one of my specialties. Just so happens that Anne likes Heath Bars. I decided I would make her a bouquet of Heath Bar roses. But I had to go to town to fetch them... Heath Bars don't just grow on trees. Wouldn't that be nice?

Anne's order arrived, or part of it did and it was magnificent! I couldn't wait for the second part... oh, the suspense!

Such a cold drizzly day, Stoli and Macy held down the couch all day. Can't you see the LOVE?!
I secretly bought a bag of Heath Bars, and on one of our drizzly cold days here at home, I set up craft-time in the container and went to work creating my masterpiece of roses and to decorate my new vitamin dispenser. I had never made roses out of tissue paper, skewers, and Heath Bars. It took some imagination, some styrofoam, and green ribbon. In a couple of hours, I had a dozen roses in a coffee can vase. Sounds pretty second grade level, doesn't it? Who can argue against the fact that ten year olds are often more sincere than adults? I stand by my sincerely made and silly crafty gift.

A dozen "roses" for my Anne.
Anne's face lit up with surprise when I presented my gift. She is impressed and/or amused by my craftiness which is an alien skill to her, or so she says.

Finally, part 2 of the vitamin dispenser showed up! I decorated it, and we tested its workings and it's AMAZING! Every morning I pay 50 cents to receive my batch of vitamins. It makes every morning fun, and that's exactly how life should be.
The ultimate vitamin dispenser keeping me healthy and strong.
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! Love those around you in the best way you know how... crafty, humor, seriousness... Whatever your style, love love love!