Thursday, April 30, 2009

They're on the Move

For the past couple of days, I've been managing my husband's blog while he's out of town.

Yesterday I posted a short one on the numerous turtles I've been seeing on the roads around here. I wanted to know whether you're supposed to stop and help one across. And if you are (without causing a wreck), is it good luck? Or is it bad luck to just straddle the turtle and go on your way?

Some of the responses we've had are quite interesting. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Before the Storm

For a piece of fiction I'm writing, I've been trying to re-enter the frame of mind within which one functions as a hurricane hovers out in the Gulf, targeting us. In the story, it is hurricane Ike, an uncomfortable week during which one haunted the television and computer screen, looking for a change of direction from the track that took a bead on Galveston. Now it's obvious that the track was remarkably dead on.

My character is afraid of storms, though. Every gust of wind buffets her as well as the leaves above her. How to convey this? How many days in advance did one feel the advance belts of rain, gusts of wind?

The information available on the internet has been digested, with most of the juices extracted.

My memory of the event has been similarly dessicated. The third threatening storm in quick succession--it seemed almost unreal that this could happen. A Cat 2, how-bad-could-it-be, mentality seemed to govern, so a great many people did not evacuate.

The winds and belts of rain in the days that lead up to a storm rachet up the tension of the communities to be affected, but never until the last minute are some people sure enough to leave their homes, their things, and head for higher ground.

Any suggestions of blog posts about this would be most welcome.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


In central Texas this Easter morning, it is raining. Slowly, in fits and starts, but with luxurious quantity.

After the drought of the past few years, we open to rain in the way a resurrection plant from West Texas does.

We lie dormant, brown, dessicated--and then the slow rain falls and we fill with moisture; we swell, become plump again with greenness. We ready ourselves to receive sunlight once more and grow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Slow Words

How many of us are familiar with the Slow Food Movement? That's slow food, as contrasted with fast food--Burger King, MacDonald's,the Colonel, et al. The idea is that by taking care with the preparation of food, and giving ourselves time to eat it in the company of family and friends, we enrich our lives--and improve our digestion, BTW.

I think that communication has undergone a similar transformation--to fast words: These are words that move from our transient whim to the cyber-verse in a split second. Think Facebook status update, or Twitter: Bam! You've spoken. You blink and your blink is seen by people you really don't know very well, if at all. How tasty and satisfying is that, after you've gotten over the initial intoxication?

(I grant that a blog might seem like a strange place to be commenting on this, but most bloggers take time to reflect before posting.)

I think that the current obsession with speed speaks to a fundamental emptiness in our culture. I think we have a greed for ease in every area of our lives. It has driven the rise of convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and much of the cell phone universe, as well as providing all the wonderful machines that have made women's lives in particular less burdensome.

But it's like we've responded by being always in a hurry, and the more mod-cons (modern conveniences) we get, the faster we whirl. Why? Why do we need an eight minute lunch? What awaits us that's so urgent? It can't be work, since so many people spend so much office time on Twitter and FB, fighting boredom.

Why do we need constantly updated news? Why do we need instantaneous books? What are we afraid that we're missing?

So I'm advocating a change. Try Slow Words for a start. Don't buy a book on Amazon if there's a bookstore within reach as you follow your daily routine. Call the store and order the book you want; pick it up next week. Savor it under a tree, in the bath, at the swimming pool, in your living room (with the TV turned off). A book is the longest lasting, least expensive form of escape and entertainment there is.

Instead of momentary diversion with fast words, followed by emptiness, take time for Slow Words. They taste good and leave you feeling full of fine feelings accompanied by deep and satisfying thought.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Oh, darn,darn. All day we've been watching as the weather site forecasts 37 degrees overnight which is close to a frost, but barely misses it for us. And then, just before bedtime, we check again and suddently they've surrounded us with promises of 31 to 33 degrees--as in a freeze.

It's nice and still outside right now, moonlit, crisp and dry, lots of stars--beautiful and the worst possible weather for plants in a freeze. All I can think of is our heirloom tomato plants, lined up so green and healthy and waiting for the nice warm growing weather they'll have tomorrow afternoon. If they're still alive by then.

I hate freezes in April. It's plumb unnatural.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Calming Down

That big wind that's blowing today across central Texas is the result of area shop and restaurant owners letting out a long breath of relief. Antique fortnight is over. That is, the spring version is over; the whole thing happens again in October.

It was a busy final Saturday, though.

The Winedale Historical Center had its spring symposium, focusing this year on Early Texas Furniture. (For the disbelieving non-Texans who might be reading this, the furniture in question is not made of rustic logs.)

Central Texas enjoyed a large influx of German immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century, and they included a surprising number of accomplished cabinetmakers. The seminal book on this subject by Lonn Taylor and David Warren came out in 1975, and now sells for a surprising amount of money in rare book stores. (I did 1/3 of the photos in that book with a 2 1/4 Rolleiflex, a fascinating experience as we had to shoot the furniture, often quite large, in the owners' houses or front yards.)

The authors are currently in the process of updating it with many new discoveries, hence the content of their presentation yesterday. (The photo below of the mockingbird was taken on the grounds of the center.)

Also, the DYD Club of Round Top concluded its "fair on the square". DYD stands for Do Your Duty. (The pix of the sparkling whatevers and of the girl in her new cowboy boots were taken within a few feet of each other in the midst of that event.)

On the way home the back way via Hackemack Road we spotted a blue barn with bluebonnets that epitomized for me the serenity that will return to our neighborhood tomorrow. The bluebonnets are at their peak, and joined now in fields and verges with stands of Indian Paintbrush (red), pale Pink Evening Primrose, magenta verbena, and vivid yellow daisy-like flowers, too small to be rudbeckia. With any rain at all, the flower show, at least, should last a while longer.