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A Year in Tight Shoes

Going through difficult times is a bit like wearing uncomfortable shoes: you don’t realize how bad they feel until you take them off.

Nearly a year into our new home venture, it feels like we’re emerging from a tunnel. There have been many challenges, surprises, upsets and a lot of really great stuff.

On March 18, 2017, we chose our new home and began the moving process. Three months prior, my husband had had back surgery to correct a bulging disc that impinged on the sciatic nerve. He was doing well. We had discussed leaving Austin for a smaller town and decided Kerrville filled our needs.

After the move in early June, the back problem re-emerged–no doubt, at least in part, related to packing, lifting, painting, cleaning and everything else associated with moving, even with movers. And it was a nightmare move, mostly because of the movers, who were incompetent and surly. (One large item, a Japanese stone lantern, did not find its way home until fall, when I literally went and got it from the warehouse in Round Rock. Other items, including a favorite framed still shot from the movie “Casablanca,” remains missing.)

The wayward lantern forms part of the entrance to the work-in-progress meditation garden.  The “garden” part will be mostly rocks. It needs a Buddha gate.

Anyway, we accomplished a lot over the summer and ensuing months despite husband’s back problems:  balancing and correcting water quality in a neglected swimming pool; acquiring a hot-tub (balm for aching muscles); setting up composting; hiring lawn care; decorating and hanging art; going all-out with Christmas trees and decorating, hosting two holiday parties! We’ve made an effort to meet like-minded people. I go to a weekly knitting group; we have joined a church; we have become involved with local liberal/progressive politics (futile as that might be in this red-meat part of a blood-red state.)

Our granddaughter turned 11 in November. She is doing well in school, but a pre-teen pubescent girl can be a handful under the best of circumstances, and she has presented a whole lot of challenges on top of the normal ones.

As we approach our first anniversary in the new home, I celebrate the following:

  • My husband had another back surgery last month and is pain-free and moving toward full functionality.
  • We are slowly the turning the battleship of the granddaughter’s challenges.
  • We have a community of friends, good neighbors and an active social life.
  • We go to art shows, concerts and plays.
  • We’ve traveled a bit, mostly around the gorgeous Texas Hill Country, and we’re near a Unitarian-Universalist retreat center, where we can re-charge and appreciate incredible dark starry skies.
  • I’m digging a garden, which I find surprisingly satisfying, especially yanking out that devil’s spawn, crabgrass. I’m looking forward to bringing in more soil and planting herbs, carrots, radishes, peppers, greens and tomatoes (a “salad” garden).

Who knew this would be fun?

I’m thinking about changing my name to “Diggins.”

Granddaughter’s tomato plant, started in school, already has several tiny green tomatoes.

Patio succulents and fairy garden.

  • I have a nearly perfect studio space, where granddaughter and I paint and I make my “kindness” postcards, along with another blog to show my art.
  • We got through the winter without flu. All of us, including the four-year-old rescue dog, are healthy. (Sadly, one guinea pig died, and I would love to re-home his cage-mate.)
  • Regular acupuncture treatments are keeping my sinus headaches and allergies under control, and my other chronic ailments are well-managed. I’m an exceptionally vigorous and healthy 70+-year-old!
  • I have developed a spiritual practice that helps me stay calmer and more grounded than I otherwise might be. (I intend to expand on my spiritual growth in a future post.)

My primary spiritual practice is constant gratitude. I get up very early (5:18, to be exact) to have quiet solitude before getting the child off to school, and I miss that best retirement perk, sleeping in. But as my feet hit the floor I am grateful for another day I can keep doing this. I nap most days.



… not these.


Releasing my Inner Outdoor Girl

I love yanking crabgrass. This surprises me. I’ve never been much of a gardener or yard-work person, and 18 years in a condo seemed to prove that. But now that we have a big yard, I find it deeply satisfying to pull up great lengths of nasty crabgrass, and it’s great exercise, too, while I toss tennis balls for the dog.

My crabgrass harvest in less than a month. That is a full-size trash can.

Today I hung hummingbird feeders near the pool. (Some previous owner was really into wrought iron, and there are places to hang things all over the property, some not suitable for plants because of the difficulty of watering them.)

Clear hummingbird feeders. Most recipes recommend not adding food color, and there are tiny red flowers on the feeders. I’ve already seen hummingbirds around here before I put these up.

I also planted red flowers for the entry to match (kind of) the red front door. (When we first looked at this house, that door was a good sign.) I checked to make sure deer don’t like them. Front yards are a midnight grazing ground here.

It’s called Pentas, and deer supposedly don’t like it.

My gardening gloves smell like the rosemary. The only rosemary I had at the condo was a sad little potted one that never thrived, so I appreciate this giant.

One of my first purchases at Gibson’s, Kerrville’s go-to store for all things outdoor, plus a lot more.


My middle name is Rosemary.

Next project is the corner of the yard behind the pool. It’s weedy and bare, and I want a meditation garden in that space. I know it needs seating, a table, flowers, maybe a wind chime. I welcome ideas and suggestions.


The Mexican pottery bird bath is the only decor so far, and the tree stump makes a handy stand.

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