(This picks up where the last snippet left off – Richard doing double duty as caterer and as Best Man for the Canadian Treasurer Xavier Gunnison-Penn at his wedding to Araceli’s academically-inclined cousin, Dr. Miranda Rodriguez-Gonzales.)

Now, Richard nodded to Araceli.

“I have the cake topper – it’s fragile, so I don’t trust anyone but myself to carry it. Andy is in the van – so summon the minions – or whatever minions we have available to unload the van. The wedding cake layers are in the big white pasteboard boxes. Be careful with them. Any minion who drops one of those boxes…”

“I know, the wrath of Chef,” Araceli replied. She took up a box, which contained the second layer of the cake – Richard was keen on on-site final assembly, as a prevention against horrible accidents – and led the way across the screened back porch and into the commodious and retro-style kitchen. (The box with the bottom layer would require two people, or perhaps a dolly to convey it safely into the kitchen) Only it wasn’t deliberately styled that way – the kitchen was as it had been for the last half a century. Tile counters, extensive cabinets … a lot of old-style pots and pans hanging from a rack over the stove, an enormous old-style enameled gas item, on which several massive pots simmered, pots sufficiently large enough to boil a baby or a small child.

“The sauces for the beef roast,” Araceli explained over her shoulder. “The borracho beans, and steaming the tamales … it’s what everyone expects, at a BBQ like this.”

Richard nodded. “I’m glad that the happy couple agreed with us – that we would supply a buffet of mostly cold or chilled sides, just as we did for the Boathouse opening. It saves a lot of trouble…”

The kitchen was crowded with women, most of them of the Gonzalez-Gonzales clan, of all ages and body types – but universally tending in the direction of olive complexions and dark hair, although some of the very youngest sported brilliant magenta, green, or purple locks. The very oldest of them – Abuelita Adeliza Gonzales-Gonzalez, the absolute ruler of the Gonzales branch of the clan and Araceli’s grandmother, beamed upon Richard most fondly, and called a welcome in Spanish across the crowded kitchen towards him. Of all the women in Luna City, Abuelita was his original and most influential local fan, even before his advent in Luna City. Abuelita never had watched much American television other than the Cooking Channel; it was Araceli’s opinion that Abuelita’s enduring fanship for the Bad Boy Chef was because of his resemblance to her late husband, Abuelo Jesus, who had been a cook in his Army draftee days, some seven decades previous. Richard smiled back; for himself, he would have been reluctant to admit that he was rather fond of the quite masterful old woman. Then he looked away from the younger crowd, already obeying Araceli and Abuelita’s barked commands regarding the stacks of boxes from the van. Richard deliberately looked away from the youngest set, at work in the old kitchen – too many of them reminded him of his eccentric junior chef, with his peacock-colored Mohawk crest and lavish facial piercings.

“You can do the final touches on the cake over there,” Araceli nudged him in the direction of a narrow archway giving access into another and much smaller room – windowless place entirely lined with shelves; obviously storage space for little-used dishes, pots, pans, covered casseroles and china place settings. A substantial butcher-block-topped table took up most of the center of that small room.  A sturdy bar cart sat next to it, already decked out in white draping and bunches of artificial lilies of the valley.  “Abuelita said that space was strictly reserved for you, and she will so do something awful to anyone among the ladies who intrudes.”

“I’ve always liked the cut of her jib,” Richard replied. “Although I can’t possibly imagine what awful thing that sweet old-age pensioner could possibly do to anyone …”

“You’d be surprised,” Araceli replied, darkly. “Not share with them her special heirloom recipe for rice pudding. Tell them in front of everyone that their pollo asado is garbage, fit only for stupid Anglo tourists; Abuelita has means, and some of them are very mean indeed. The vicious seventh-grade clique of popular girls has nothing on our Abuelita.”

“Glad to hear it … or not,” Richard replied, and paid no more mind. He had to focus and focus he would. The kitchen brigade, under the direction of Araceli and her formidable grandmother would take care of the rest of the wedding buffet, while Andy and his capable offspring would take care of the main course – the whole roast beef-onna-magnificent mechanical spit. Now his attention must be focused on the wedding cake; assembling those three magnificent layers on the wheeled cart. He had extra ganache, buttercream frosting, all his piping bags and specialty icing tips, a tray of fragile sugar flowers with sufficient extras to cover breakage – and the magnificent cake topper itself, replicating the fabulous Gonzaga Reliquary in gold-tinted sugar paste, molded sugar gems, and a central plaque replicating the painting under crystal of the Madonna and Child exiting Bethlehem riding on St. Gigibertus’ horse – a tooth of which was also replicated in tinted marzipan, contained in a column of clear melted sugar. The girls – such was his degree of concentration that he did not even notice the combined party who brought in the first layer, the massive one with the dowel supports already set into it. They unpacked the box and slid the bottom layer onto the foundation tray, already mounted on the cart. The other layers would be carefully maneuvered onto that initial layer; he would trim it out and set the sugar-jeweled topper onto it. Araceli had already taken pictures of the finished topper and uploaded it to the Café’s FB page. Richard had been astounded to discover that the Café possessed such a thing. Araceli had looked at him as if he were dimwitted. (“Seriously, Chef … Jess, Doc and Miss Letty authorized this simply ages ago. Where have you been?” “Blissfully unaware!” he had riposted. In any case, his cake genius had been recorded for the ages, and barring any accident … well, these things would happen.)

 He would trust Araceli and the other women in the kitchen brigade that they would manage to wheel the completely assembled and trimmed cake all the way out through the kitchen and down the ramp from the porch to the place of honor set aside for it. The temporary kitchen brigade bustled in, arraying the boxes with the other layers on the old table, and he set to work, losing himself to absolute concentration, stacking and securing the upper layers, and covering the inevitable joins and cracks with ganache, carefully smoothed to match, and then adorned with swirls and galloons of buttercream. Then the careful insertion of sugar flowers and leaves … he managed this without breaking very many of them, delicate things tinted in the various colors of native Texas wildflowers. All was ready for the crowning glory of the topper. Richard stepped back for a breath, wishing for steady hands and absolute concentration… 

Oh, confound it – what was the fuss now? It sounded like a woman crying. He so didn’t need this, not on a wedding day … It was not a good omen, especially if it were the bride.

“What’s going on? Who’s that crying!” Richard went to the door into the main kitchen and demanded of the nearest girl, the one arrayed in magenta-colored braids and a totally unattractive eyebrow piercing who cried in answer,

“I don’t know, Chef! Really, I don’t!” and fled before he could request enlightenment. He regretted unleashing the trademark scowl. But Araceli bustled in – yes, now in a formal gown, but her hair and makeup still in their natural and decidedly casual state, barefoot and carrying a pair of strappy little sandals in pastel hues to match her dress.

“It’s Mindy,” she replied, in somewhat of an unaccustomed fluster – definitely unaccustomed for Araceli, who had been rendered emotionally bomb-proof after two decades of front-house service in the Café. “She’s been getting all heck from Tio Jaime … it seems that …”

“I can’t deal with this,” Richard replied, through teeth griding so close that he might have to make an appointment with a dentist in Karnesville. He had to install the cake topper and oversee the delicate business of moving the whole edifice out to the venue in the back yard of the Rancho.

“You might have to,” Araceli replied, crisply. “You’re also the best man – here to support the groom. Take a deep breath. Mindy needs … “

“Six inches of good Canadian (redacted)” Richard suggested with a snarl, “Or maybe eight on the wedding night, if her good Xavie has indeed been generously blessed!”

“Really, Chef – you don’t need to be so crude!” Araceli snapped. “You have to do duty as best man – seriously.”

“Oh, Chr…” Richard exclaimed, and intercepted Araceli’s scowl. He was as near as dammit going to take the Lord’s name in vain, something to which Araceli particularly and frequently objected. “…Christmas! What do I need to do – and be specific, my attention needs to be focused on one … damned thing at a time.”

Araceli took a deep breath and then another.

“I think you need to fetch Mr. Penn for an emergency family conference in the parlor with Tio Jaimie. Mr. Penn will be in his trailer, getting ready for his and Mindy’s big day. The final assembly of the cake can wait on that for at least a few minutes. The problem is that … Tio Jaimie suddenly found out about what Mindy is about to do for her honeymoon. She’s going to nuke her career as an academic with tenure and follow her heart and her heart’s love … to work on one of his stupid and fruitless treasure quests! He thought that she was just going to use her sabbatical for this … now he has found out that she’s resigned from the university!”

“Oh, Christmas!” Richard exclaimed. Araceli nodded, in deep understanding.

“They can’t see each other on the wedding day. Until the ceremony. It’s one of those traditional customs, you know. Not until the bride comes down the aisle … but Tio Jaimie demands a straight answer from both of them, or he won’t escort her down the aisle … and the Bishop is due any moment to perform the wedding, and dedicate the chapel, and …” Araceli sighed in exasperation. “What shall we do, Ricardo? I’m all out of ideas, myself. Mindy is in her wedding dress.”

“Well,” and Richard took a deep breath. “They don’t have to look at each other, do they? Mindy can stay in the room, and her beloved Xavie can be in the hallway, just outside and out of sight while your Tio Jaimie gets his concerns off his chest. Honestly …” and Richard regarded Araceli with honest appeal. “This will not cancel the party entirely, if all goes ill?”

Araceli heaved a deep sigh. “I hope not, Chef. Tio Jaimie is horrified, as this is the first that he has heard of it. Has always taken such pride in Mindy’s career; she was a Gonzalez and proud Tejano and went on to advanced education and had such a respectable position in a high-class university … as things go around here,” she added hastily. “I know, nothing like those snotty Ivy league dumps. But please – go get Mr. Penn.”

Richard looked at his handiwork – yes, all but finished, only the ornate and sugar-jeweled topper to be applied.

“I’ll back with Mr. Penn in a tick, even if I have to drag him by his bow-tie,” he replied, and Araceli heaved another sigh.

“He won’t be wearing a tie,” she explained with an air of exaggerated patience that nearly sent Richard spare. “He’s wearing a guayabera for the ceremony … you know that sort of ornate short-sleeved shirt. It’s not all that formal an affair.”

“I wish that someone had said something to me!” Richard exclaimed, having spent a pittance at Sylvester Gonzalez’ favored second-hand outlet in San Antonio for a vintage and full white-tie ensemble which fitted him to a tee without even the necessity of being altered to his measurements. He had kind of expected to look like James Bond (the suave and gallant Sean Connery iteration) in the outfit.

“We did,” Araceli replied, indulgently. “But you were so looking forward to being best man … and I think you were planning to wear it when you and Katie tie the knot – you are still planning to marry our Katie, aren’t you? You didn’t pay any attention at all when I told you about Mindy and Mr. Penn. You were busy making sugar flowers for the cake.”

“Well, that explains it,” Richard snarled. “My mind was on higher things than your cousin’s academic career in a backwater public uni. All right – I’ll go fetch Mr. Penn. In the meantime, think of what you and I ought to be saying to your uncle. And I am still planning on marrying Kate – when she gets over this … whatever snit she developed upon discovering that I am applying for full citizenship! What is it with you Gonzalez women anyway? Did someone feed you all a crazy salad with your baby food?”

(Yes, I have been working on the next Luna City installment … wherein Dr. Mindy and Xavier Gunnison-Penn get married, Richard steels himself to propose to Katie … and things happen.)

The Chapel of Love

Richard did have to admit, as the trusty and battered refrigerated van from Pryor’s Meats and BBQ bumped around that last corner in erratically-paved country lane which led to the ancestral home ranch of the many-branched Gonzales/Gonzalez clan at Rancho Rincon de los Robles, that the whole place only appeared modestly stately – and a couple of degrees less so than other historic and presumably stately structures went in Luna City and environs. The winning point for the Rancho Rincon was due to age. The Rincon de los Robles manse outscored all local competition in that regard; the magnificent and pillared classical plantation sprawl of the Wyler HQ house (copied after a famous ruined grand house in Mississippi) dated only from the late 1870s, the Beaux-Arts late Victorian commercial splendors of Town Square from the decade following, and the modest stone-built McAllister House, firmly dated from 1854. (The McAllister House was dignified by a metal plaque on a pole by the side of Route 123 designating it as a Texas Historical Monument.) The Rincon de Los Robles headquarters house now held clear victory in the age competition, as Dr. Miranda Rodriguez-Gonzalez had proved to the satisfaction of the State of Texas authorities who sat in judgement of historical matters. The very oldest wing of the Rincon del Los Robles home ranch house (the thickest-walled, darkest, and most uncomfortable part, devoid of plumbing and electricity and used principally for storage) had been proved beyond a shadow of doubt to be of late 18th Century construction, a domestic establishment founded by two sons of the minor Spanish nobleman who had been granted a lavish property on the San Antonio River, a residence continuously lived in by their descendants thereafter. The property had been considerably shrunk by two centuries of subsequent wars’ alarms, and economic vicissitudes – but due to Mindy Rodriguez-Gonzalez’s tireless efforts, the Los Robles establishment had been awarded the suitable historical plaque which made note of all this.

The formal unveiling of said plaque had been the highlight of the civic and social calendar the previous month in Luna City. That it had been positioned on the verge of Route 123 adjacent to the lay-by and turn for the gate to Los Robles, with only small signs posted half a mile in either direction notifying motorists of the presence of a historical marker was a mere bagatelle. Doctor Mindy was satisfied with the official honor paid to her family. Besides, she had more urgent matters to attend; her wedding to the peripatetic treasure-seeker, Xavier Gunnison Penn, to all appearances now the love of Dr. Mindy’s hereto arid academic life. For this event, Richard had been recruited in a dual role; as best man for the treasure-hunting Canadian, and as head caterer for all the culinary offerings aside from the main course – a whole roasted beef on a massive outdoor spit set up over a cookfire of coals which seethed like the crater of a passive volcano.

This main course was the purview of the driver of the van.  In his weekday job Andy Pryor was a petroleum engineer employed by various concerns in the shale oil business, but in private the husband of the magnificently demi-royal Patricia Wyler Pryor, doyenne of what passed for a social set in Luna City, director, and president of the drama society… also rumored to be the heir of her irascible grandfather, Doc Stephen Wyler. The second-oldest resident of Luna City, owner of the largest ranch property in Karnes County, and of most anything going in the immediate vicinity. Fortunately for all, as had often been observed, the old man mostly used his considerable social and economic powers for good, as did his granddaughter. They ruled their demesne with a light and barely perceptible hand. Patricia and her husband, with the aid of their three strapping sons, ran a custom butchering and BBQ business from a nondescript building some distance from historic Town Square. Now, Richard and Andy Pryor were on their way to the Rancho, with the wedding cake, and the various side dishes for the wedding feast all stashed on racks in the back of the van. Andy and Patricia’s oldest son, Anson had been overseeing the whole-roast-beef-onna-outdoor-spit since the day before. Richard would otherwise have wanted to know how this could be accomplished – but he was simply too busy with the wedding cake and all the various sides. The Pryors were the experts in this regard, although Richard was looking forward to picking their various brains about the process. Meanwhile, Richard’s toque, white chef’s coat – with his formal black-tie tuxedo on another hanger, shrouded in a plastic suit bag hanging from a hook in the divider in the van, was more than willing to do his duty in both roles – as caterer and best man.

The ranch house sat in a small grove of ancient oak trees, with a few desultory plantings of shrubbery and some large-leaved thickets of tropical-looking plants. The thickest of those plantings clustered around a small two-tiered stone fountain in the graveled circle before the main front door. The front prospect of the Rancho Rincon de los Robles made an uninspired gesture in the direction of formal elegance, as if designed by someone who had an elegant Southern plantation house described to them, but who had never actually seen a picture of one. The place seemed to be entirely deserted, and Richard viewed the discouraged prospect with mild alarm.

“Did we come on the wrong day?” he asked, somewhat apprehensive, and Andy grinned sideways.

“No, Ricardo – it’s all on for today. But the party is around in back.”

Andy steered the van along a barely-graveled but adequate narrow drive, leading around the side of the house. Richard was immediately reassured – there was the life of the party; strings of lights and those intricately-cut and lace-like paper banners, all flown with abandon on wires strung all across the space in the back of the house, from porches to several ancient and venerable oak trees, to the outbuildings and back again. There was the modest front of the new chapel, at some distance across what looked like a kitchen garden, flanked by an extensive complex of stables, corral, and henhouse, a garage with several tractors and four-wheel-drive vehicles parked therein … and Gunnison Penn’s ancient RV, parked in front and already adorned with more balloons, paper lace flags, and a large banner which announced, “Just Married!” in two languages. The area in between the somewhat humbler back of the sprawling old farmstead was filled in also with folding tables and chairs, and even some ordinary dining-room chairs – drafted from within, standing awkward, naked and embarrassed in the out-of-doors … Richard thought that he recognized the folding stock from the Catholic parish hall, possibly filled in with loans from the Methodists … the tables now adorned with paper tablecloths and being arrayed with centerpieces of fake flowers and garlands of real ivy, as well as droves of candles in ornate holders. The largest and longest table obviously was meant for the buffet, as it sat under a wide pavilion raised on metal legs adjacent to the back door of the old Rancho HQ house. He breathed an interior sigh of relief. All was going for the wedding as was expected. He spotted Araceli in the pavilion, giving orders to several younger members of the clan, who were carrying trays loaded with cutlery. Ah, yes – the Café kitchen brigade had everything in hand. Or maybe it was the Gonzalez/Gonzales clan kitchen brigade… and there was his right-hand person in daily command of the Café, with a notebook in her hand and a pen in the other, instead of the carafes of freshly-brewed coffee and a pitcher of cream with which she usually appeared with, at the front of the house.

“Oh, good,” she remarked, as Richard appeared from the passenger side of the van, and Andy swung the double doors at the back of the van all the way open, revealing the shelves within, stacked high with bulk food containers and boxes. “Is the cake OK? Mindy is freaking out about the cake…”

“She shouldn’t be,” Richard answered. “The cake and the topper are perfectly fine. Now that we have arrived … I will assemble them in the appropriate space.”

“Be our guest, Chef,” Araceli managed a parody of a curtsy to royalty. “The kitchen is through here.  I’ll tell Andy that it’s probably best to wheel everything up the ramp, rather than carry it all up the steps. You might want to take it all to the old butler pantry. Mind you dodge the cousins on the way through the kitchen…”

“The sisters, and the cousins and the aunts… I know,” Richard replied, somewhat grumpily.

“All you need do is to scowl at them,” Araceli replied, smartly. “You’re Richard from the Café, you know. The finest classically trained French chef and the prize of the culinary scene in Luna City, if not in the entirety of Karnes County. They all know you …”

“That’s what I’m afraid of!” Richard unsheathed the trademarked scowl from his televised Bad Boy Chef days. It had no effect whatsoever on Araceli, inured as she was through extended exposure.

“And besides,” Araceli added. “Abuela Adeliza is in the kitchen, taking command, so I would best leave it in her hands. In a bit, I’ll have to leave everything and do my maid of honor duty in getting Mindy dressed and made up for the occasion. I think that Uncle Jaimie is rather overwhelmed today. He has never coped well with this social kind of thing. And no one seriously expected Cousin Mindy ever to marry …”

Richard had never quite grasped the degree of kinship between Dr. Miranda Rodriguez-Gonzalez and Araceli Gonzalez-Gonzales, much less how exactly Dr. Mindy was kin to the man he thought of as the native laird of the Rancho – granddaughter, or niece, he suspected without much evidence. Richard also knew full well that the combined ancestral trees of the Gonzales-Gonzalez clan rather more resembled an ultra-complicated Gordian knot, which had defied for at least a century any attempt by genealogists to map anything other than the direct father-to-son line of descent of the owners of the Rancho De Los Robles. It was a general understanding that Gonzales-with-a-z were thought to be in some way descended from the oldest legitimate son of the original Spanish land grantee, and Gonzales-with-an-s were descended from the younger son. Each of the original pair; the heir and the spare, sired eighteen to twenty legitimate and less-than-legitimate offspring. Following generations until the 20th century basically repeated the same pattern, with the same score of names – often recycling names upon the death of an infant or juvenile sibling for a subsequent child and being charmingly lax in the official records with regard to marital status and the name of the maternal parent … it all had driven dedicated genealogists to a frenzy of frustration.

“It’s a tangle, indeed,” allowed the magisterial Miss Letty McAllister, the oldest inhabitant of Luna City, president emeritus of the Luna City Historical Association, when Richard had mentioned his own puzzlement in the matter, about the second year of his residency in Luna City. “But in the long run, best to just conclude that any Gonzalez and Gonzales with a connection to Luna City are cousins, first, second, removed … or any variation thereof. It saves the historians sanity in the long run … not that sanity is an overrated quality among the truly obsessed, genealogically speaking. Honestly, Stephen is of the opinion that absolute specificity only matters if you are breeding cattle or race-horses.”

“I am certain you are right,” Richard replied, and only with an effort, refrained from adding “My Lady, Your Highness, or Your Honor,” to his reply. Miss Letty McAllister was that commanding a person.

(To be continued, of course. I’m aiming for Luna City X to be done and released to the wild by mid-summer.)

It’s not actually a new project; if I am recalling correctly, I talked with Mom about replicating the fabulously ornate family heirloom christening dress (which all of us: Dad, Grandpa Al, and Great-Aunt Nan wore on the occasion of being sworn by our adult guardians into various Episcopal or Lutheran congregations) sometime in the year after the house in Valley Center burned to the ground with all of it’s contents save a handful of small and portable items. The christening dress was an elaborate, Victorian item, with a matching slip and another, slightly less ornate baby dress of the same vintage but in slightly heavier cotton lawn/muslin materiel. They were gorgeous things, all hand-sewn, with panels of narrow tucks and featherstitching, simply foaming with delicate eyelet lace trim. And in the desperate hurry to get away, with the fire roaring up the canyon below the house, Mom forgot the box with the christening dress in it – and to be fair, a lot of other cherished family stuff as well. For ourselves at the time, we mourned the loss of the Christmas things, and the stockings that Granny Jessie had knitted all for us over the years, with our names worked into the tops. They were in several dusty cartons in the rafters of the garage, and who would think to retrieve them in an emergency, anyway? I sort-of-replicated them in felt, knitting not being one of my skills, in time for the next Christmas that the Daughter Unit and I spent in California … but there seemed to be no particular and urgent need to replicate the christening dress until this year, as there were no infant candidates in the family to be presented for the customary ceremony … until now.

So I have unearthed the Past Patterns envelope from the sewing closet, a pattern that I located and purchased fifteen years or so ago, as the design most nearly approximated the family christening dress. With a little searching through what was offered at a certain high-end fabric retailer, I found three and a half yards of very fine pima cotton lawn, which arrived today. As near as I can recollect, this has the same feel, weight, and texture as the fabric of which the lost christening gown was made. But now I am on a quest for embroidered eyelet lace of the same fine and ultra-high quality. I know that such is out there, as I bought some very fine stuff at a department store in Spain some decades ago, and I belong to a good few FB costume groups where this kind of item is frequently de-stashed by enthusiasts and offered to members. Still … can I get it and finish the gown before – say, the end of summer?

Stay tuned, sports fans. This is gonna be fun. Thrills, chills, vintage sewing techniques and antique lace.  

The hallway renovation project last year – replacing the hallways doors, papering and painting the ceiling, installing vinyl flooring and constructing a built-in bookshelf along one wall was such a resounding success that we are now engaged in doing the same in the front bedroom, which will also serve as the nursery when the Daughter Unit’s son is delivered, sometime in late May. Part of having the new windows installed also meant having a French door replacing the double window in that room – and that hasn’t happened yet, since the door itself is still somewhere out there. But in anticipation of the door being delivered and installed sometime in the next two months, we decided to go ahead and do much the same kind of bookshelf built in between the studs on either side of and above the window. It’s a smallish room, about 11.5 x 11.5, and the three inches of space behind the drywall … well, it’s saved space, especially when it comes to bookshelves, which need only be six to ten inches deep. In a small room, or a narrow space that extra depth is a bonus.

So, this week, while the Daughter Unit is between courses for her real estate agent’s license, we started in demolishing drywall along that wall. We really can’t make any plans for the size and arrangement of the shelves, or what kind of decorative trim or how to accommodate the electric wire until we actually took down the drywall and saw what was behind it, the position and spacing of the studs … and all that. The shelving will go from floor to ceiling, all around the French door. (Eventually the little space outside will be fenced off to create a small private patio.) So, we buckled down and did a good chunk of that this morning – and the usual messy work it was, too. Ugh – plaster dust and chunks of broken drywall all over, along with very decayed fiberglass insulation behind the drywall, and much evidence of past insect life having taken up residence within the wall space. The outside of the wall is all faced in brick, so we judged that replacing the insulation won’t really be necessary. Closely-spaced and stacked books themselves are quite insulating enough. In the next few weeks, I expect to be able to buy vinyl flooring for the room, and bead-board for the ceiling to cover the ghastly popcorn texture and have Roman the Neighborhood Handy Guy come in to do the heavy install work. The Daughter Unit and I had already painted the walls, the closet door, and the wooden trim around both closet and room doors – a very pleasant blue-gray and ice-white combination, so that bit is accomplished already. Pictures to follow, when it all looks a bit less like an earthquake had struck.

The Finished Hallway, from earlier this year.

14. February 2021 · Comments Off on The Cry of the Key-Bird… · Categories: Uncategorized

Yes, the cry of the native key-bird, which hops, shivering, from branch to branch crying, “Key-rist, it’s cold!” is being heard all over South Texas this weekend. So help me God, I am so thankful that the new windows were all installed a week ago Saturday, since it was mild, and breezy and fair, and the work crew got it all done in a day. And just in time, because the normal weather for the upper Midwest has come south for an unexpected visit to places which just are not administratively set up to handle it, and where most people are not terribly experienced when it comes to dressing, for walking on, or driving through severe winter conditions. I was myself once so accustomed to such – winters in Northern Japan, Greenland, northern Utah, and in South Korea where the winter winds came straight off Siberia, but am now quite out of practice, and the winter things are packed away, if they have not been nibbled to death by moths. The Daughter Unit and I consulted on Friday, when it was already quite chilly, and decided that we would run the shopping errands … and absolutely not leave the house save to walk the dogs until the cold front eased up, sometime on Tuesday.

We got the biggest wire crate out of the shed, put our surviving hen, Betty, into it with food and chicken feed and brought her into the house. The patio cats are going into the other wire crate, as it’s predicted to be in the twenties tonight. We walked this morning, and it was quite exhausting, as many stretches of sidewalk were already glazed with ice. Benjy-dog has a nice time slipping and sliding on one part of it, and the Daughter Unit slipped and fell, catching herself fortunately on one knee and both hands. No, we’re not going to walk the dogs tomorrow – not that either of them will want to go outside. Nemo abominates cold and wet, and tomorrow is guaranteed to have lashings of both conditions. The tender plants were already in the pop-up greenhouse, and the four poinsettias are sheltered in the garage – I am pretty certain that the cold and ice will pretty well cut a swath through the garden as it is. The nectarine and the two lemon trees in pots had already put out blooms and tentative small leaves, too – although the plum and peach, as well as the grape vines haven’t. We’ll see what survives, if anything.

Again – I am so glad that the windows were installed when they were. The inside of the house is tight and warm. A bit crowded, but cozy and warm.