Strange summer, and where did it go?

School has started. It’s been the wettest year on record in Austin. Everything is a bit out of sorts, and our odd summer is behind us.

The best news is how different life is after a year with the granddaughter. She’s happier, more confident, more fun and much more cooperative. We laugh more than we yell, for which I am grateful.

Chloe had a week of art camp at her school, then Girl Scout camp on Lake Travis, South Padre Island with relatives, and we took both grandchildren to north-central Arkansas.

For our 20th anniversary at the end of May we visited friends in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, then headed northeast to Hot Springs and Fayetteville, Arkansas. We “took the waters” in Hot Springs at the one bathhouse still open, Buckstaff, in the same manner as it was done 100 years ago: bubbly hot mineral water, hot-towel wrap, steam bath, sitz bath, needle shower, all the while drinking the natural mineral water the area is famous for. If I lived there I do it once a month.

Stained glass ceiling in Buckstaff Baths, Hot Springs

Stained glass ceiling in Buckstaff Baths, Hot Springs

We also discovered the most beautiful gardens near Hot Springs, Garvan Woodland Gardens, with a fairy garden, meditation spots, art installations and breathtaking blooming hydrangeas. It was a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary.

garden water fall

Meditation spots


Garvan beautiful


Garvan bell tower sunny

Fay Jones bell tower (He was the patron saint of Arkansas architecture, and is best known for his design of Thorncrowne Chapel, near Eureka Springs.)


Garvan hydrangeas





Garvan fairyland 3

Garvan fairyland 6


After a long, wet drive through the Ozark National Forest, we spent a couple of pleasant days in Fayetteville. The Botanic Garden of the Ozarks also boasted hydrangeas, as well as poppies, nasturtiums and whimsical sculptures.

Jill BGO

Me at lily pond in the Botanic Garden of the Ozarks

Lily pond

pink foxglove closeup


kids on bench sculpture

We had to ask a worker to remove his jacket from the bench to take the picture.

boy handstand sculpture



I love poppies

I love poppies

We visited the downtown Farmers’ Market, the bookstore that goes on forever (Dickson Street Bookshop), ate great Mediterranean food at Emelia’s Kitchen, walked around the U of A campus, and toured the very odd Terra Studios, with even more whimsical sculptures and art, plus the ubiquitous glass bluebirds of happiness, made on site, cranked out all day long by some poor glassblower.

U of A clock tower

U of A clock tower. The campus is in the heart of downtown Fayetteville.

Another work by Fay Jones, who established the school of architecture at the U of A.

Another work by Fay Jones, who established the school of architecture at the U of A.


Terra wall

Terra Studios

Terra sculpture wall

Terra entrance

Bluebirds of happiness

Glass bluebirds of happiness, which are sold by the gazillion and apparently what keep Terra Studios running.

Wanting a more woodsy getaway, we booked a cabin on the Little Buffalo River in July and took both grandchildren. The Ozarks are incredibly beautiful and we had some good hikes. We spent a morning touring Mystic Cave and Crystal Cave. (I learned after we returned, I did all this with a broken toe. On July 17, playing with Chloe in the condo pool, I kicked against her and hurt my toe. After we returned from Arkansas–two weeks later–I had it x-rayed and found out it was broken. With proper care it’s almost healed.)

Our "cabin," Arkansas House, in Jasper.

Our “cabin,” Arkansas House, in Jasper.


Exterior of the Museum of Junk in Jasper

Exterior of the Museum of Junk in Jasper


Beautiful Ozark woods

Beautiful Ozark woods


Gary, Chloe at swimming hole

Gary and Chloe at our swimming hole on the Little Buffalo River

Chloe in Jacuzzi

The kids discovered the combo of shampoo and a Jacuzzi in the cabin.

The kids discovered the combo of shampoo and a Jacuzzi in the cabin. (Chloe above, Bryan below)


Bryan's head above water

Bryan’s head above water


Standing in the drips at Natural Bridge cave.

Me standing in the drips after a hot hike to Natural Bridge cave.

Mystic cave pool

Mystic cave 10


Mystic and Crystal caves

Mystic and Crystal caves (the “squid.”)

Iconic Arkansas image, Hawksbill

Iconic Arkansas image, Hawksbill

Now we’re getting back into the rhythm of early rising, dog walks after taking Chloe to school, and dedicated art days for me. I have paintings and other projects that have been dormant all summer.

I’m also singing the Mozart Requiem Undead with Panoramic Voices and Room Full of Teeth. Performance is Friday, September 16 at Bass Concert Hall in Austin. So the next few weeks will be crunch time with lots of rehearsals. The world premiere was in April, 2014, and was spectacular. Tickets are going fast and it will probably sell out. Don’t miss it!



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