Tuesday, 16 April 2013


It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Red Dirt Girl and I share some laughs over shoes. Her blog, the one I first read, posted pictures of the shoes and boots she liked, along with the poetry she loves. She had, just before my arrival, taken possession of a pair of extremely neat red lace-ups, which I admire greatly.

It would not be an inexactitude to suggest I was a just a tiny wee bit jealous of her for having such cool footwear.........
I had always wanted a pair of shoes with toes in them, so I threw common-sense to the wind, and went ahead and bought some Vibram Five Fingers. They're silly, but comfortable, and allow me to hang upside-down like a fruit-bat, using my prehensile toes.

Okay. I lied. I can't hang upside down using my toes, but I can leave strange footprints in the mud.

Not to be outdone, the Red Dirt Girl's youngest son (12) just came home from school with  this cool footwear made out of duct-tape over socks, by his schoolfriend. Kelyn.

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We stayed, on our travels, in an old ranch-house

We stayed, on our travels, in an old ranch-house, built here in 1859, when Texas was a very different place. Sam Houston became Governor in that year, and far to the north-east, John Brown led a raid on the federal armoury at Harper's Ferry, sparking what is often held to be the genesis of the civil war. Two  years later, against Houston's strong counsel, Texas became one of the five states that seceded from the Union.
Also, in this year, Juan Cortina spoke out against the mistreatment of mexicans within Texas by the incoming settlers, and led a short-lived uprising centred on Brownsville.
Just a few miles away to the north-west, the U.S. army was sending an expedition to map the way west, men, camels, and mules, faltering and dying of thirst on the way.

I say this because I sometimes joke, unfairly, that Texas' history started only last thursday; -coming from a place where I can see evidences of the sweep of history pretty much forever back into the past, iron-age, bronze age, celts, vikings, romans, it amuses me to see what in my world would be unremarkable buildings revered because they were built in 1920, and thus are 'Historic'....
I pass a building every day here, built in a.d. 1150.
A few miles away, I can find 4000 year-old stone carvings on the moor tops.

Staying in this cabin, travelling through the Texas hill-country, I was very aware that the people who settled this land were truly pioneers of the unknown. This was the frontier, the edge of the known world. Yes, California and the west coast were being settled, but for the most part, the lands to the north and west of here remained unmapped and mysterious. Life was precarious and uncertain. 

Now, in the current era, life is not so bad, and the Gruene Homestead Inn (New Braunfels, handy for San Antonio and Austin,) is a very good choice as a place to stay. More about it later, maybe. One of the pleasures here is breakfast, held in the main house, a rather grander affair, moved bodily across the street and planted here a few years back. This is the only place I've ever seen fruit salad with strawberries teamed with hard-boiled eggs and cheese.

(Very tasty, I must say. Especially after a good dose of bacon and scrambled egg).
"How", you might ask,  "do they shell all those eggs?"

They have a machine to do it, of course!

At the Gruene Homestead Inn, this sight intrigues me, the old well and water tank. Wind pumps are a common sight in the vistas of Texas, in so much of the country, the water's deep below the surface. But here, the hard edges of the steel are tempered and softened by the twining wisteria, who sees the  opportunity, in her embrace, to climb above the surrounding countryside, turning the steelwork into a frame for her blue flowers and soft green foliage.
We stayed here a year ago. Another post from this place can be found here.

Sometimes I see this as a metaphor for us, RDG and me. Each partakes of the other's qualities, and each gains in the exchange. Over the years, like the windpump and wisteria, we've grown together, and entwined.

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