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May 26, 2018

Move the mountain, made from 100% Obtanium

 With all the construction going on around us, I noticed a boulder had been unearthed. I spent a week slowly rolling it up hill bit by bit. Then by dark of night, I used my ratcheting straps and a new Harbor Freight moving dolly to get it across the street. Wheel barrel was applied to go up the hill in the back yard.

obtanium boulder  

I may have pulled a muscle, suffered a few cuts on my hands, but I eventually got it all the way up the hill.

The sun came up and I placed it...

rock garden 78746 

harbor freight 7.99 moving dolly 

This was the first use from the $7.99 dolly. It suffered some damage, but survived.

upper garden west lake hills tx 

Kat's U.G. (Upper Garden) has been doing well, but the plants are already starting to wilt during the hotter part of the day. We will achieve triple digit temps this week. She asked for a shade cloth frame.

upper garden 78746 tx westlake 

May 21, 2018

Balls, and Beers... I have so many pictures of these things

People love to share cooking videos. I'm not talking about a cooking show that has a complete recipe and features most of the method. There is a trend for people to share videos that are oversimplified and compressed. Where you can watch somebody make several meals in a matter of a couple minutes. I believe most of the people that share these on social media have no experience in actually making it themselves. It's what you could call "food porn", the satisfaction of watching somebody else do it. If you haven't seen these, click here for an example.

Kat found a Chinese version of these videos. One featured all sorts of edibles made in a Takoyaki machine. She was inspired! She spent the time to pause, and make notes. She compiled a list and set out in a methodical manner to replicate the beauty displayed on that video. She and I went out to acquire all the ingredients, and settled in for a long night of Balls! Balls! and more BALLS! I'll share a few of the ball pictures.  

takoyaki machine balls

Here we see rice, scrambled egg, scallion and a bit of crispy bacon was added at the end.  

takoyaki ball machine  

Wonton wrappers (really eggroll wraps cut down as HEB was out of wonton wraps) filled with a variety of things including scallop, or salmon (two of the kids dislike scallop).  

mushroom balls takoyaki device 

Mushroom cap balls...  

takoyaki machine meatballs 

Meatballs.... We had so many balls Saturday night...


Sunday morning I typically get up and make a hot breakfast for everybody. Usually home fries, omelette, or we run to get kolaches, or bagels. Kat got up this Sunday and continued on her ball frenzy. MORE BALLS! Balls are a time consuming task. I tried to make myself available in a supporting role, I keep up with loading the dishwasher and scrubbing pots and pans. Soon after our second meal in orb form, she forged on with PIE! She worked most of the day in the kitchen. By the time the pie was complete, she was spent. We have yet to enjoy it.

I've also enjoyed a few new beers this week. Would you like to see? I took a few photos just for you...

Other Half 570NM DIPA

I love Other Half (Brooklyn) beer. However, this was a bit too thick, too sweet. I enjoyed it none the less. I have one more.   

Pinthouse Pizza Brewery Austin IPA Hazy  

Our weekly Friday afternoon pilgrimage to the local Pinthouse.  

Strangeland Brewing Austin 78746 gose and ipa 

We concluded our ball ingredient shopping excursion with a stop at a brewery that is literally down the road from us. This place will be an easy bike ride from our home, once construction along Bee Cave Rd is complete. It's been years since we've been. We greatly enjoyed the Margarita Gose, this will be a great summer beer. They now have an IPA as well, it was good enough. I inquired if they had plans to attempt a NEIPA, "YES, later this year"... well how 'bout that? it's an amazing time to be alive.  

strangeland brewing west lake hills 78746 flamingo  

psuedo sue from Toppling Goliath Iowa DIPA 

Much of the beer featured in my beer portraiture series is not available here. I have a network of friends, and partners to help acquire rare, or limited release libations. Toppling Goliath Psuedo Sue from Iowa, by way of Chicago.


summer lumberjack camp west lake hills tx 78746 

While she is on summer break, I have a chore for her each week day. She never complains and puts in a good effort. We worked with cedar and other weed trees this week.

cedar chopper camp texas 78746 

May 14, 2018

A (nearly) decade long musical career comes to conclusion

#1 son started private musical instruction in 2009. He now plays five instruments. We had a long term plan that he would be able to join the Westlake High School Jazz Band, but that didn't work out. He does not plan to rejoin Orchestra. It was bittersweet to attend his final performance with the Westlake Chamber Orchestra.

westlake high school chamber orchestra spring 2018 eanes 

let's zoom in, shall we?


westlake high school orchestra final performance 

again, let's have a close look...

annoyed son doesn't like having picture taken orchestra 

It's like he was sending me his thoughts telepathically. I almost heard his voice in my head, "I don't like having my picture taken!".

I will conclude with the performance, and some highlights of the past.



"That's just the way she goes".

Caged the garden, for the Mother

west lake hills deer protection gardening

Kat's garden box had to be relocated due to the new pool project. It's now at the back of the house, still close, but not visible from inside. I cut up, and reassembled the deer fencing as well. That involved a lot of tiny welds.  After planting new plants, she spent most of Mother's day pulling weeds, and filling bags of sticks and twigs.  

sago palm recovery 78746 spring 

All our sago palms have made a nice recovery from the winter freeze. Each spring we take a survey of what has survived drought, heat, deer and the occasional winter freeze. We double down on the surviving variety. Weekends in spring include at least one trip to a local gardening center, digging of holes, hauling of dirt. Landscaping back in Santa Cruz was much easier. The holes were easier to dig and the mild climate was friendly to so many bright and wonderful flowering plants.

I feel like we are over the hump with our central Texas landscaping project for 2018.

Each morning I go survey what the deer have ripped out of the ground and replant. Our yard is like a giant buffet. They stroll along nibbling and tasting. The new plantings are easily plucked from the Earth before they have their roots established. Morning routine often involves replanting and moving a few rocks for protection against future pluckings.

deer and draought resistant santalina 78746 gardening 

I've made a lot of progress on creating a network of paths.  

paul schuster sculptor garden 78746 austin westlake  

I have a few clearings along the paths where I like to hide surprises. A really good trail or path has to lead to something of interest.  

sour beer portraiture jester king austin texas hill country brewery 

Kat enjoyed the solitude of gardening most of Mother's Day, I eventually tempted her inside with the sour beer she had recently purchased at Jester King. Definitely sour, fermented with lemon and lime zest.

Beer is a cooperative model. It doesn't complain when I want to take its picture, I can adjust the lighting level and angles. It never once says "are we almost done?" or issue a series of exasperated sighs.

But the clock is still ticking. Eventually the head dissipates.  The beer stirs desire for consumption, and I too cooperate and yield. It was a good beer portrait session.

jester king sour beer portrait austin tx 

Then! Kat was ready to claim her free Mother's Day chicken wings.  

mother's eat free austin hooters 

The wings were good! 

May 07, 2018

Busy, busy bee

Temps are warming and the manual labor has been great. I have worked a lumberjacking job in Lost Creek, dug holes and mixed/poured concrete here (for Kat's new garden).

I installed a new sculpture at the back of the property, along one of the new paths I've made. 

piston tree sculpture paul schuster westlake austin 

Piston Tree Surprise! 

pool layout 78746 west lake hills austin  

The pool company came to do a layout. Have I mentioned we are supposedly getting a new (larger) pool? It will be quite awesome. But their plan had some errors in it that needed to be corrected. They said this would require a "new contract". While we have already signed a contract and agreed on price... I will not easily be convinced to sign a new one, if the price has changed.  

chad wadsworth at wexel gallery  

Our friend Chad Wadsworth had a gallery showing of his photography. It was great fun to get together with some many friends we don't see as often as we'd like.  Chad and I mostly talked about Porsche cars as I've been tempted again....

wexel design chad wadsworth photographer 

Lovely colors!