Mea Culpa

Like Fiona Apple sang in the 90s: I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

Well, okay, not THAT bad!  Not felonious or anything — not in a drown a basket of puppies kind of way — just in the “Oh wow, it’s mid-February and I haven’t posted on my blog since Thanksgiving!” kind of way.

Oops.

The end of the year kind of got away from me starting with a long weekend trip to Mexico for our friends’ wedding, followed shortly thereafter by a month long trip to France…which then led into me spending the rest of the month of January and into February playing catch up!  My News Year’s resolution to post on my blog weekly flew to the curb faster than the one to slow down on my dairy and bread intake.  (It’s FRANCE, y’all — how am I supposed to NOT eat fabulous baguette and excellent brie?  Seriously!)

So lemme post some pictures to assuage my guilt and follow it with a promise to do better from here on out.  That okay?

To start off, these are the Mayan ruins we visited at Tulum, Mexico.

Breathtaking, no?  And here is the beach:

We made friends with some of the locals…

And enjoyed this wonderful cenote just down the road at Xel-Ha, which we had completely to ourselves:

You can see why I was too preoccupied to spend much time in front of my computer, right?  And France proved to be no less distracting, though in a completely different way.  For instance, this is the absolutely charming city of Annecy:

Beautiful, isn’t it?  And then the lovely, untouched snow in the mountains at Chamrousse:

We encountered more snow and skiers at Correncon en Vercors:

We spent New Year’s Eve in Paris where I took this very sparkly shot of the Eiffel Tower with a full moon directly above it!

And finally, here is me with my husband posing along the Seine River in Paris with Notre Dame behind us:

Okay, enough travel porn for now, I guess.  But you can see why my focus was not really on my blog, can’t you — and forgive my neglect?  For I’m back at it now and ready to start knocking your socks off with some new and exciting material!  Or something like that.  So let me get caught up and just say happy President’s Day today to y’all…and a very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…and a happy MLK Day…and a Happy Ground Hog’s Day…and a Happy Chinese New Year…and an only slightly belated Happy Valentines Day

Oy, I was gone a long time… 😉

 

Thanksgiving at the Salvation Army

It has been our tradition at JB Goodwin Realtors for the last 22 years to volunteer serving Thanksgiving lunch at the Salvation Army, and this year for the first time I was honored to take part in it as a server.

Some of the JB Goodwin volunteers, with Major Kelley (center), head of the local Salvation Army

The  Salvation Army’s Downtown Austin shelter feeds and houses hundreds of folks in need every day.  In addition to that, at Thanksgiving they offer a sit-down holiday meal to their residents and to the homeless community at large, serving up some excellent home cooking from Chef Lynda Jones and her awesome kitchen staff.

Placemats were made by some of the residents

Seating was family-style at large round tables, which were dressed for the occasion with fall centerpieces and colorful placemats made by some of the shelter’s young residents.  Instead of standing in line for a plate, guests were waited on by a crew of volunteers, giving them a chance to take a load off and visit a little while enjoying some turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes (grown in a local community garden, these potatoes were the biggest I’ve ever seen — quite literally the size of a baby’s head!), roles and butter, cranberry sauce, and a wide variety of pies and cakes for dessert, plus all the sweet tea or punch a body could handle.

I think we served in excess of 600 meals and everyone was grateful for the feast.  I heard numerous compliments to the chef, and I have to say it all looked and smelled delicious!  I don’t think anybody went away hungry.

Chef Jones and helper with some of their amazing cooking

I truly enjoyed getting to serve and meet folks.  There were a few souls who didn’t seem up for a lot of conversation, which I can absolutely understand and respect, but most folks seemed to welcome a little chitchat along with their grub.  I was talking with one gal in particular who was sharing her concerns about her grown son, who has gotten into some trouble with the law but now seems to be on a good path.  Listening to her speak I had a few of those “there but for the grace of God” moments; I realized anew how blessed I am and how much I have to be thankful for in this life, but also how easily things can turn in the wrong direction.

This holiday season (or any time of year), if you’re looking for a place where your charitable donations will have the greatest impact, I’d like to make a plea for the Salvation Army.  You can donate your time, money or all kinds of stuff from their list of items they are in need of  and know that approximately 83% of the money they take in goes directly to benefit the  individuals and families they serve in Travis and Williamson counties, plus 100% of every dollar donated for disaster relief goes to help survivors and first responders.

Wishing y’all a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Earth Day 2017

Showing love to the planet

My Earth Day haiku:

Tiny tomatoes
Grown in earth, round like the Earth
So perfect with salt

My garden’s first harvest

Sheer pottery, no?

Happy Earth Day, y’all, from my garden to yours!  And remember: composting is our friend…  🙂

Nose Reacquainted With Grindstone / Happy New Year!

Where DID all the time go?

Was it just me, or did everybody’s 2016 year end come racing into 2017 like its feet were on fire and its pants were catching?!  All of of sudden, here it is the middle of January — what?!  Where did all the time go?

We had a wonderful if a bit frantic holiday here in Austin.  We had family in from Seattle and France for lengthy stays, and seemingly some sort of social event every other night!  It was fun and chaotic, with lots of friends and family around, great food, plenty of wine, Christmas lights, cookies galore, presents, curiously-stuffed stockings, and best of all, lots of laughter.

Oh, and my pretty tree!  We spent a few happy hours drinking eggnog and listening to French rap while decorating the tree.  Because, you know, nothing says Christmas like MC Solaar.

christmas-tree-16

But now that the holidays have passed, the tree is down and all the Christmas lights, associated decor and Christmas baking accouterments have been put away — and my husband’s and my own early-January birthdays have gone likewise by — it’s finally time to get back to work!  I’ve been particularly slow this year to ramp back up to full speed, but my grind is now firmly planted on the old nose-stone and it’s off to the races!

Happy New Year, y’all!

Veterans Day

Our humble thanks

November 11 is the day we honor the US armed forces for their military service.  Considering that we currently have about 1.4 million active service members serving in the five branches of the military — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard — out of a population of around 324.9 million (at this writing), I am especially grateful to the very small fraction of people who are shouldering the burden of our national security.

So… to all our military members, active or retired, let me share my heartfelt thanks to you for all that you do, and all that you sacrifice. (Also, a shout out to the military family members who have experienced or continue to live with the unique burdens of carrying on a quasi-normal life while your loved ones are off doing their duty.  I know that ain’t easy.)  We owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.

A few things for veterans around Austin, in no particular order:

Veterans Day Deals & Freebies

Austin Veterans Day Parade

Veterans Day Giving Back Programs

Veterans Services in Travis County

Also, not in Austin but a really cool place to check out even if only online:   the Veterans Memorial in Anthem, Arizona.  It features 5 staggered-size pillars with ellipses (representing the 5 military branches) which, at precisely 11:11 am each Veterans Day, the sun’s rays will pass through “to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.”  Cool, right?  It’s some amazing engineering, and quite lovely to behold!  You can watch a time lapse of it it here if you can’t get out to see it in person.

A final note, for any active or retired military who are considering buying a home and would like information on VA loans, please feel free contact me.  I work with an excellent team of folks at Premier Nationwide Lending; they are extremely knowledgeable and caring, and have programs designed for service personnel and their unique situations.  Together we’d love to work with you to get you and your family into a new home — or if nothing else, a chance to say thank you in person.

Happy Veterans Day!

thank-you-veterans

Democracy/Armageddon

“What’s that aboot, eh?”

So…finally…the ELECTION is TOMORROW!!

And depending on how it turns out, I’m expecting that at least some of you might just decide to make good on that threat to pack up and leave the country!

If you fall in that category and need to sell your home in a big fat hurry, no need to fret:  just call me, your friendly neighborhood Realtor.  We’ll get that thing on the market lickety-split and you can start packing your wooly socks and practice saying, “What’s that aboot, eh?”

🙂

i-voted