Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Water Loop-Lake Georgetown

There is only a small window of time in the fall and spring where the weather is comfortable enough to hike. Otherwise the weather is too hot or too cold. In the Summer there is very little shade to help shield you from the Texas sun and in the Winter though the temps are relatively mild, the winds and openness of the land can make the temps feel 20 degrees or less than what they are.

So now is one of the times of year I like to work in one of my favorite pastimes-hiking. I guess it's not so much the hiking I enjoy but the being outdoors in nature. Walking and the outdoors is my personal form of meditation. You will probably never catch me sitting around with my legs crossed, eyes closed, and my index and thumb fingers pinched together chanting ohhhmmmmmm.

So, back a few months ago as I was scouring my Austin Hiking guides I came across the 16 1/2 mile Good water Loop Trail in Georgetown, Texas. It was listed as one of the Austin areas most overlooked trails. I like hole in the wall type places so this one intrigued me.

Our goal was to reach the Crockett Garden and Falls located on the trail loop.

We only managed to hike about 4 miles of the rocky trail. Hiking over rocks and hills is a bit different and more gruelling than a flat path. Aside from some blister issues in the last mile from Summer and me doing more sightseeing than keeping my eye on the path where a huge rock step jumped in front of me and threw me to the ground we had a great day. Of course the two men, Toby and Bo, trudged on without even wincing even though I'm sure Bo's paws were raw from the rocks and Toby..well, I don't know because he's always pretty tough until the ride home where he promptly falls asleep after every hike we go on.

Most the trails we hike are open but the the first couple of miles of this trail are shady...oh, and if you have the pesky Cedar tree allergies that Austinites swear you will have when you move here, this trail would not be the one to hike. Cedar trees line the whole trail. By the way, we are going on our 4th year of being here and have never experienced the allergy...or any allergy for that matter....

About a mile down the trail you get a birds eye view of Lake Georgetown...

For another mile the trail takes you along a bluff on the edge of the lake...

The trail was very rocky indeed...

We finally got to the head of the falls and the old homestead site. Summer checking out the rocks in the stream....

Here are the remains of the old homestead that once stood....

We could hear the falls as we came upon them. We were excited about seeing them but what we saw was not exactly what we expected to walk all that way for. In their defense I had this feeling that they were probably more impressive when there is a little more rainfall....

On the way out of the falls area I came across this tree with a cool diagonal pattern. Summer also found a small cave....

We tied Bo up to a tree for some rest and we sat down in front of the falls and ate our lunch. Peaceful...

Some misc. pics from our day...

Needless to say I got my hiking itch filled for the week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Summer!

Although tomorrow is technically Summer's birthday, we had her party today. Birthday parties are always an iffy kind of thing for us. You never know how many kids will show even if you add in a R.S.V.P on the invitation. I usually just play it by ear. It's not like we have a large circle of friends anyway.

I don't believe people need to have a lot of friends. Friends are like kids, the the less you have the more individual attention you can devote therefore building a stronger personal relationship. That's just my doesn't necessarily make it the right view.

I think every year Summer strives to have the typical birthday party. Ya know, lots of kids, presents, party hats and streamers. She has always loved parties. When she was younger she would make up her own party invitations, plan games, and make a menu. She would then go around to the neighbors and tell them about her "party". Imagine my surprise when neighbors would show up with gifts and expectations of a party.

No matter, her birthday parties have always been on a smaller scale which always makes her sensory challenged mother very happy anyway. I do have to say that I ended up spending 7 hours in a place that I ended up feeling like I needed to visit a bar room before I went home. Gotta love kids.

Here are some highlights of her 10th Birthday Party at Austin's Park and Pizza....

Friday, March 25, 2011


I don't have time to watch much T.V...actually T.V. is not my favorite pastime even if I had an extra 12 hours in my day. Just so happens though that my afternoon lull is usually around the time that Dr. Phil and Oprah or on. As I fold laundry or create my grocery list I catch snippets of each show.

I love Oprah. I only watch Dr. Phil out of curiosity. I wonder who in the hell would ever call the Dr. Phil show to air their dirty laundry to a man that only wants to exploit them to promote himself and an audience who only loves the drama of it all (I guess since I watch him I could be considered a drama craved audience member myself)

Even though I'm not a big fan of Dr. Phil, every so often I will hear something that catches my "ear".

One of them is..."Only boring people get bored." I can believe that one. I never get bored. I may get "bored" of doing the same thing over and over again like housework or taking care of family members, but I never bore. I can ALWAYS find something to entertain myself if left to my own devices.

I have also heard him say..."The same sex parent has the biggest influence on the child of the same sex." From experience I believe this to be true.

This quote was brought to my attention today as I watched Summer and one of her friends. I noticed that her friend, although the same age as Sum, acts much more "mature". She flips her hair and has a saunter to her walk. She carries herself in a way that says..."take me I'm yours". Summer is doing good if she brushes her hair and teeth everyday and doesn't seem to give a flip about physically impressing the opposite sex.

Watching Sum's little friend made me think about ole' Dr. Phil and his quote. I thought about all the female children I knew and their mothers. For the most part the female children I know do model their mothers in their behaviors.

For example, Summer is only slightly focused on her looks but maintains a very bossy, bitchy manner. Her little friend has a mother that is focused on her looks and the impression she leaves on the men in her life. Summer has a mother that tends to...well...not really care what men think of her and can boss and bitch at an expert level.

Every time my son comes to visit he points out how Summer acts like me. He doesn't bring it up in a way that makes me feel proud

Toby got lucky. If our daughter turns out to be less than desirable the blame won't fall on him.

Monday, March 21, 2011


If you can stand another dog post read on. If not, catch me later on one of my more controversial or destination topics.

Read on:

We have now had our adopted shelter dog Bilbo a.k.a Bo for 3 months. In the past 3 months I have learned more about patience, persistence, leadership, restraint, and dog pack behavior than I could ever imagine would ever be on my plate.

I don't say this in a positive way....or at least it didn't seem very positive in the beginning. In the beginning the dog wore me down, cramped my style, made me paranoidly alert, and made me cry in frustration on many occasions. Having him brings me back to the first few months of my daughter's infancy. Not a pretty sight.

When we first got him I mostly spent my time feeling sorry for him because I didn't love him the way I knew I should. After all, I allowed him to be a part of our lives and committed to his care. I should love him...but I didn't.

But something about his eyes told me that he had been sent by the Universe to help me learn a few things about myself...shake me up from my comfort zone a bit. I didn't want to play the game that I was slowly but surely being forced to play. The game of change can be very scary even if you are expecting it and even more scary when it's arrives out of the blue.

No, I can't say that if I had known how difficult Bo would be he would be a part of our family. Now that we are over the hump I can say YES, he is turning out to be the kind of companion that any dog loving family would love to have.

Bo is a mixed American Bulldog. He's a bully breed which makes him a bit on the physically strong and dominant side. If you could have seen him the first few weeks in our household you would know why we had to hire an animal behaviorist to HELP!!!

Yes, many times I wanted him to disappear. I thought many times about taking him back from whence he came. But what would that have taught my very impressionable daughter? So many times I have taken the easy way out. I don't want to be that person anymore. I want to learn to love unconditionally, judgement and expectation free. In the past, that would have been, not so much.

So anyway, a co-worker of Toby's recommended a local dog behaviorist/trainer Training by Tara. She has been the dog GOD to us. In our first initial consult we learned things we never knew about dogs....things most dog owners don't know about dog behavior.

For example, in all the years of owning a dog I thought when my dog followed me around, leaned against me, or pawed at me it was because he loved me. NOT!!

When he jumped up on me when I walked in the door he was happy to see me. NOT!

When he snuggled in the bed or on the sofa with me he was showing love. NOT!

When he sat beside me while I ate he is just wanting to share a meal with me. NOT!

We humans, namely Americans tend to treat and respond to dogs in a human way. Bad mistake for folks who own 65lb adolescent male dominant dogs. Sure, you can get away with babying a smaller or less dominant breed which is probably what I would be happily doing if I had chosen a different breed.

I didn't just take our behaviorist Tara's word for this. I took it upon myself to study dog pack behavior on my own. I guess you learn something new every day. Dogs do have their own language and social status behavior. No, they aren't even close to being human or having human thoughts. I guess that's why Tara is one of the best behaviorist/trainers in Austin. After just a couple of session with her I respect her opinion and adhere to all her "rules".

Thanks to Tara we have gone from an out of control rambuncious, mouthing, jumping, unpredictable, leash pulling dog to a calm, submissive, respectful big bulldog.

It has been an amazing journey. In teaching my dog control and patience I have learned control and patience. He is forcing me to be a strong, stable leader. I find that his presence in our household has forced me to take a step back and internally observe my emotions before I act on them. I can now say that yes, I LOVE MY BULLDOG.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lost Memories

Recently my brother over at Buddy Newell's Daily Blog posted an entry about Hobbies. This particular post rang very true to me because lately I have been also feeling a strong urge for the creative aspect of myself. Growing up both my brother and I used to do a good bit of drawing. After all, back in our day entertainment options were limited and basic.

Matter of fact, one of the most memorable times of my childhood is when my mom signed me and my brother up for basic art lessons at the local community center one summer. I really enjoyed the lessons. I remember the instructor telling me I had photogenic eyes and a classical nose...whatever that meant. As much as I enjoyed it, these art lessons would be the first and only lessons I have ever had.....

Nowadays, one of the ways I enjoy expressing my creativity is through my photos. It's been a while since I have been able to use my camera creatively and my brothers post got me pumped. If you would like to check out some of his pics you can view them here. I am super proud of not only his photographic and writing abilities but his accomplishments in general.

Anyway, we woke up to a beautiful morning today and decided to take a trip to nearby McKinney Falls State Park. I was looking forward to making use of my camera and I took many pictures while we were hiking. I was so excited because my usually sour puss camera shy daughter was actually posing and asking me take pics of her up against the falls, against rocks, and offering many other poses.

I couldn't wait to get home and download them. That's the highlight to me after a trip where I have taken many pictures. Memories caught in time. I take memories very seriously.

Sadly, I made a major screw up by thinking my pics were transferred properly so I immediately deleted them from my camera. I do this because I hate it when I forget to delete them off my camera and end up with a ton of "trash" on my camera when I go to download again.

You guessed it....I lost every single picture that I took today. Memories down the drain. I can't even describe the disappointment but I sucked it up and tried to not think about all the wonderful pics I took that will remain a memory only in my mind until the end of time.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Sometimes I get caught up in what's not going the way I want it to or what I'm NOT doing that I want to do. I know this is a big NO NO but somehow I always let myself get caught up in the pitiful me mode.

This is one of the things I strongly dislike about myself. I don't go with the flow well. I have an agenda and I like to keep true to it. I get very agitated and cranky if I'm not able to do the things I want to do when I want to do them.

In all honestly, I probably have more faults than the average person. I have to work really hard on changing my attitude about things that happen around me that I can't change all while keeping my chin up and a smile on my face.

Recently I have found that it helps when I get out and about by myself every so often even if it's just to the grocery store. I am a solitary person by nature and enjoy being by myself...sort of odd for a person that doesn't really like herself...maybe I like myself more than I think...

I used to have a friend that hated to be by herself. She always sought out human companionship even if they weren't the best company. Her motto was better to be with someone bad than nobody at all.

I think that's one of the things that Toby and I have most in common. Even when we first dated and newly in love we would spend time separated and didn't mind it.There were times that we would be together in the same house content with being in separate rooms doing our own thing without feeling the need to be with each other. I think that may be the reason why we get along so well now. Neither one of us are needy. We enjoy each other's company but we aren't insecure without each other. I think that same concept spills over into my kids. As much as I love having them around, I don't feel out of sorts when they aren't around.

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy the company of friends and family when they are around and I do seek out companionship with them, but I also don't mind being alone and prefer being by myself rather than with people.

Why do some people feel the need to be social? Take Sum for example. She loves being with people anytime or anyplace, whether it be her friends, or me and Toby. Her goal each day is to find social outlets whether it be chatting online or having friends over to play. Even my dog seems to follow suite with the social thing. He follows us from room to room and freaks out if we leave him alone.

So my question is is sociability something that is inborn or are introverts created by some outward experience/s??? Why do some people prefer solitude and others feel the need to be around other people???

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Sometimes things that happen are just plain odd. Technically I guess you would call them coincidence, synchronicity, or ironic.

For me, these things happen only every so often....or maybe I just notice them when they are blatantly obvious.

Here is what happened last night. Sum had a 4-H meeting. During the meeting my son called me. I cut the call short and asked him if I could call him back when I got home from the meeting.

By the time I got home with all the late night commotion that comes from coming in late I forgot to call him back.

I made a mental note to call him back the next day after he got settled from his 10 hour long work day.

As my day went on I checked the clock periodically so I could call him back at a time that would be convenient for both of us. Once again my day got away from me and late evening set in.

I went about doing my usual evening computer ritual of checking my e-mail and my blog/blogs. As I was reading one of my favorites JUST A BALD MAN's blog post, Suicide, for whatever reason it reminded me I needed to call my son back. I immediately stopped before I even finished the post to make the return call to my son.

When my son answered his phone we made our usual greetings. Next he informed me that his first cousin, (his father's brothers son) had committed suicide. After the shock of hearing about this little boy that we had spent so much time with growing up sunk in I thought about the blog post about suicide that I had just been reading a few short minutes ago.

Then I thought about this boy's mother who not only had been my sister-in-law for many years but also my best friend. I felt for her, I felt the pain she must be in to hear the news that her only child...her son, had ended his life.

Suicide is a delicate subject. In my lifetime I have known a few people that have committed suicide. Right off hand I can count of them being someone I had a two year relationship with after me and my first husband separated. Emotional issues attract emotional issues I presume...

I have often heard that suicide is a cowardly thing to do. In my opinion it takes more guts to end your life than most people have. And yes, in my troublesome teen years I thought about suicide many times. Looking back, I guess it was the one time in my life that I should be grateful for my religious upbringing. Our religion taught us to believe that if someone committed suicide they were going to hell...period. The fear of going somewhere where there was an ugly red man with a pointed tail and pitchfork chucking folks into a lake of fire was enough to make me think twice about my situation.

I still had raw emotions and low self-worth that had to be dealt with though so instead of suicide I did stupid things like slice big gashes on my stomach and down my legs with scissors or other sharp objects. I hated myself and it was the only self-infliction that I felt I wouldn't get in trouble was also easy to hide. I didn't know it then but now I know that I was a cutter. It was easy to explain away scratches and even easier to hide them.

I don't think I did the cutting very long before I found another self-destructive outlet...drugs and alcohol.

Nowadays life is much better for me but it was a long, hard road to get me where I am today...which isn't all that far but in comparison to where I was I'd say I'm doing pretty good.

I guess it all boils down to one thing in the end. None of us come out of this life unscathed in one way or another. Some of us decide to hang out till the end and others don't. It's called "free will".

“Life is like a movie, if you've sat through more than half of it and its sucked every second so far, it probably isn't gonna get great right at the end and make it all worthwhile. None should blame you for walking out early.”