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April 27, 2020

Things that go bump in the night.

I was looking out the window, into the back yard, as I'm doing a lot more often lately. I see what appears to be a German Shepherd, maybe a year old and 45lbs or so... But I know it's not a dog. It must be a coyote.

I figured this must be a good time to get a game cam, and survey the nocturnal traffic.

coyote west lake hills tx 78746 

I find that most of the subjects are in a hurry to get somewhere. I had to composite two pics to get the full view of the coyote.

The deer and armadillo were the only subjects that stopped and sniffed around. Birds, I also got so many pictures of birds... 

fox 78746 west lake hills 



the mastermind of west lake hills austin 78746 

The MASTERMIND! He showed up a couple times, but always on the move. I know he's up to something.

deer westlake austin 

So many pics of deer, 

opossum west lake hills 78746 

Opossum (above), and skunk (below), 

skunk austin 78746 


birds galore, 


coyote of westlake 78746 austin 

Last night was good to sit in the lower back yard and think. That's just what I was doing... sitting still, and quiet... just thinking. Then I saw the coyote, just about fifteen feet from me. He didn't notice me. His attention was toward the house, hoping nobody from in there would see him. I tried to get a pic with my phone. He paused ever so slightly, and disappeared into the dark. Just this morning, I was enjoying my coffee, about 7AM in kitchen. I looked out the window to see coyote just standing there. He looked at me, looking at him, then he turned and dipped back onto the brush. Let's see what we can get this week.  


April 20, 2020

She packed up and left....

 Austin has seen a great deal of change in the last decade. As the area has thrived, traffic and property values have increased. Texas has no income tax, so property tax rates are higher than most other states. This often results in property tax increases outpacing income. Many long time residents are forced to sell (cash-out) and move someplace more affordable.

goodbye nana/Mom 

My Mom finally made the difficult decision to sell, and move back to Nebraska. Her home was on the market for just a few days before she had multiple offers. She's now packed up and left. It all happened pretty quickly, and during a difficult time for saying goodbye.

vintage teardop trailer travel 

She's currently in Oklahoma, heading into Kansas with her teardrop trailer packed with furniture and the cat enjoying "calming treats" as copilot. They should reach Nebraska around 5PM.

subaru teardrop trailer camper small tiny home 


saying goodbye to oreo the cat 

All these changes have not been easy for #2 son. With the sudden closure of school and my Mom leaving, it's a lot to absorb. She's lived here for as long as he can remember. He usually spends Friday night at her house. She makes him blueberry pancakes before their bike ride each Saturday morning. They often catch a movie in the afternoon. He made one last stop by her house to say goodbye to her cat, Oreo.

That reminds me, the internet loves cat pics, not sad goodbye stories during a pandemic. 

fat cat tuxedo light sensetive sleeping in the day 

Kay-so is light sensitive, like me. She still sleeps during the day by shielding her eyes with a paw. 

fresh food day for the cats 

Cat food gets stale. They know when we bring a fresh bag in the house. We have to put it up high, or they will scratch through the bag to get at the fresh food. The day finally came to open the new bag. I always allow her some time to eat fresh food straight from the big food bin. She gets so excited. 

letter from vermont penpal 

A letter from Vermont! This was a bright spot in the week.  


His friend next door in Vermont sent a hand written letter, complete with a  custom envelope. We are still unsure of how and when we will actually get there. Vermont officially opens for tourists on June 15th.  

asian crawfish  

Asian style crawfish was good. We have tried to have a carryout food night at least once a week to help the local restaurant economy. Three times it has resulted in frustration and hassle. Each time, the order has had some problems. It seems everything is a struggle. 


While we lost my Mom, we gained her refrigerator. The new owners didn't want it. I cleared a space in the garage (not an easy task). We now have a dedicated beer fridge! A trip to the craft beer store (east 1st grocery on Cesar Chavez) and it's looking good. Our local HEB also restocked, and the beer fairy left me something at the front door last night. Look at all those choices! 

stocked up beer fridge 

paul schuster sculpture 

For my metal arts class, I created a mount for a sculpture I made last year. The ground here is solid limestone once you get an inch past the poor quality soil. I used my hammer drill and a long masonry bit to get it installed.  

culture clash sculpture married with children 

moose the daschund has a double ipa

Moose and his driver did come visit in the back yard on a pleasant weather day. He loves that hazy IPA.

April 13, 2020

Kreamer is OK with this situation.... I'm struggling.

kreamer the cat snowshoe siamese bandit

People being home all the time, gives Kreamer more opportunity to show his appreciation. 

kreamer the feral siamese snowshoe cat of austin 


To turn in something for my Metal Arts college class, I assembled a few spare parts we had laying around. I'd just recently knocked the sugar bowl off the counter. The stainless steel ring was the base from that porcelain bowl.... it's not been a good week. Anyhow.... back to trying to be creative and productive...


I made a base from an old section of bed frame and plumbing pipe.  


It was too bright, I've since fitted it with a dimmer.  

cassoulet assembly

I had to put in a big effort to find the ingredients for a third cassoulet. If you want to get good at something, do it often. The prep on this started on Sunday, with the salting of the duck for confit, we consumed on Thursday. Kat had requested more duck than the last one. So this third featured six duck confit leg/thigh sections.

That's ducking it up real good! 

cassoulet number three for 2020 and I'm done

I reduce an entire baguette to bread crumbs. As it bakes, I add more duck stock to the bread crumb crust until it's a thick ducky layer with a good bit of crunch to it. So I'm going to walk away from cassoulet for a while... except all the leftovers we have for lunches.  

more dots jester king easter sour beer 

Easter was mostly a non event. We completely let it sneak up on us. We tried to get some groceries on Sunday, but all the stores were closed. I tried to make the best of it with what we had on hand. I selected More Dots from Jester King. It's a barrel aged black currant beer. The dots and garnet color sure seemed appropriate.  

sponge bob with hat ears and beard 

I put on a pair of jeans and found a folded up paper in the back pocket. I unfolded it, and it hit me pretty hard. It was from my last day at work.  

Did I mention that I received "Your service is no longer required" from my job? The daughter did as well. I recognize that I wasn't making a lot of money. But I did feel like I was doing something worthwhile and I was surely appreciated by staff and students alike. I had been working with a handicapped girl a lot right before I was let go. I can't share many of the details. But she really bonded with me and hugged me at the end of each day "I love you Mr. Schuster". The day that schools closed, I was supposed to go on a field trip with her and she was SO excited about it, I was too. But I don't even get a chance to say goodbye to all those kids, teachers and staff I spent nearly a year with. I realize there are plenty of other people dealing with greater hardship. But it's not been a good week and it looks like we are in for a lot more of the same.


April 06, 2020

Stuck here with not much to do...

 I'm giving myself a C in Mental Health. The day is mostly about "what is for dinner?". Then 6PM (5PM Saturday and Sunday) are all about "what can I drink?". 

virus eating metal yard dog 

My college Metal Art class no longer meets. I don't have access to the school metal shop. I have my own mig welder so I email in assignments. This was my creation for the week. It eats any virus found in the yard.

virus eating sculpture 

I've set it free. 

miso ginger glazed cod loin with fennel bulb and orange

One of the nightly dinners. Cod loin with a miso and ginger glaze, fennel bulb and orange juice, roasted beets with black Hawaiian Sea Salt, asparagus with parm cheese.  We also did a blind tasting of three different Rose' wines.


My Mom sold her house. She's moving back to Nebraska. Her belongings are already gone, but she's still here until her house up there is ready.

The best part of this past week..... PIE!

strawberry rhubarb pie 

The Daughter made TWO strawberry rhubarb pies. I taught the kids how to make real whipped cream, so quick and easy.