Texas SouthWind Winery’s tasting room.
An up-close view of it’s awesome door.
A Texas native, this white-tailed deer watches over proceedings in the tasting room.
This winery’s won just one or two awards.
Miles and miles of Texas… grapes.
The lovely outdoor tasting area.
Wine tasting for two?
Early spring is when Texas wildflowers throw their most extravagant gala. But these sunflowers, black-eyed susans, and other blooms of my childhood are making a respectable showing.
A grill–a necessary accessory for every Texas home.
Me and this guy I’m SO blessed to call “bro.” Though I don’t think I can accurately call him “little” brother anymore.
Bye-bye, blueberry wine. You were delicious.
There’s that gorgeous Texas sky.
Perfect spot for a swing.
And no Texas institution would be complete without at least one pickup truck.
At a party this weekend, a dear friend (another American diplomatic spouse) and I were chatting about our home states. She’s a California/Colorado girl, and I’m Lone Star State born and bred.
“But you aren’t one of those annoyingly proud Texans,” she said, reassuringly.
I felt obligated to come clean. “Oh, no, I totally am. I just try to keep it at least a little bottled up, for the sake of my Indiana husband.”
And that’s the absolute truth. As proof, here’s Exhibit A: Today’s coffee cup, last night’s wine glass, our welcome mat, a piece of decor in our living room:
Given all this, it likely comes as no surprise that some of my favorite wines are also Texas born and bred. Continue reading “Wine Not? When in Texas….”
This week marks the 10th year of my husband and me as a couple–of him and me, being “us.”
Obviously, there are lots of couples out there who can claim much lengthier track records. My wonderful parents and my lovely in-laws both have 30ish years of marriage under their respective belts. There are couples of our own, late-twenties generation who’ve been together longer, as well: couples who were high school rather than college sweethearts like my husband and me.
But for me, this 10 year mark offers a moment for reflection–reflection and an overwhelming sense of my own good fortune. (Of course, this could also be the biproduct of all the Thanksgiving-y vibes in the air.)
In some ways, it seems almost impossible that so much time could’ve passed. As a teenager, I had this notion that life after marriage was, well, a bit dull. Sure, dating was exciting. Engagement was probably pretty thrilling, too. But once you were married, weren’t you just a bit “settled?” Boring? Static, perhaps? Didn’t it just get a little mundane? Continue reading “10 Years of Romance & Writing… & a Whole Lot More”
While poking around on Gloria Chao’s blog, I found the following quote in a writing-journey-related guest post by Meredith Ireland:
“My first thank you is to my husband for putting up with my bathrobe clad, coffee mug holding, writer self. His faith in me never wavered even when mine did.”
I wish the picture Ireland paints here was an exaggeration. But given the fact that I didn’t brush my teeth on Saturday until 2 PM because I was too busy writing, I can’t protest too loudly.
So instead, I’ll underline and boldface that “thank you.” I know living with someone who talks to characters like they’re real, and
sometimes frequently constantly frets about whether she’s talented enough to make this whole “writing thing” work (no matter how many publication credits I’ve accumulated) can’t be fun. But Baby, you handle it with panache.
Today (way too early this AM) my husband and I leave for our new post (and home!) in South America. Our Home Leave has been full and wonderful, colored by visits with all the family and friends who make our lives textured and whole.
As always, saying goodbye feels a lot like having my heart tugged out of my chest. But I count myself incredibly blessed to have something (and someones) so beautiful, that it’s hard to leave it/them behind. (That’s my version of a paraphrased quote often misattributed to A. A. Milne.)
There’s no embarking on a new adventure without saying goodbye to your old normal. So here’s to our next step on this Foreign Service odyssey. And here’s to our lovely family and friends, sending us onward on a warm tide of well wishes.
Au revoir, America!
*Featured image is property of Wind & Wave Watersports (Peltier surf shop of choice).
Jonagold Apple tree reaching toward a beautifully blue sky.
My first apple picking experience.
One of many orchard rows.
Jonathan Apple tree.
The pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
More apple goodies.
Runaway apples, escaping into the car’s nooks and crannies on our drive home. My book forms a helpful dam in checking their progress.
Yesterday marked my first ever experience with apple picking.
For many Americans, this is a yearly tradition. But I’m South Texas Gulf Coast girl, so annual orchard visits have never been part of my experience.
But thanks to my lovely Indiana-based in-laws, I’ve now been introduced to this charming autumnal experience. With light-hearted midwestern snobbery, my husband teased me about my naive amazement, confirming that “Yes, Lauren, this is the kind of place all those fruits and vegetables in the grocery store come from.” Continue reading “Indiana Apple Picking”
View from the cable car to the top of the Wall.
Autumn at the Great Wall–a do!
Great Wall in Autumn.
Hey, hey, the gang’s all here.
Misty mountains for miles.
The view from the top of guard tower 21.
Prayer ribbons beside guard tower 23.
A clear division where the refurbishing stops.
Great Wall, au naturel.
Husband and me, atop authentic Great Wall.
A less “manicured” guard tower.
Guard tower 24, the last on our tour.
The view from one of the steeper sections. Note the crenelated wall is nearly vertical.
Because I just couldn’t help myself.
According to China’s late Chairman Mao, “Bù dào cháng chéng fēi hǎo hàn.”
Or, in our own tongue:
“He who has not been to the Great Wall is not a true man.”
This sentiment is one of a few about which Mr. Mao and I disagree. But I will give the man this: The Great Wall (aka: cháng chéng) truly is one of China’s must-see sites.
Believe it or not, this was actually a point of debate a few months back. As I worked with my parents to plan their 10-day trip to visit my husband and me in China, it became quickly apparent that we wouldn’t be able to pay homage to all China’s premier tourist locales. Since both my dad and I are surfers, we seriously considered jettisoning Beijing in favor of Hainan Island, the Hawaii of China:
But in the end, we went the traditional China route. And I’m so glad we did. Continue reading “Great Wall, Great Experience”
Today’s post is an ode to my brothers. How lucky am I to have two brothers that I not just tolerate, not just like okay, but whom I really, genuinely enjoy?
Unfortunately, I don’t know many people who can say the same.
When my husband and I are off capering about overseas, I miss my brothers something fierce. Because they’re AWESOME. They’re both witty and kind, fun and adventurous, intelligent and chill.
Despite being twins, they’re actually pretty different from one another. Which is spectacular for me, because when I’m hanging out with them one on one, I get to savor doing different things with each.
Jared is always game to go shooting or attend a Texas Country Music concert.
Hunter is my surf buddy. Continue reading “Surfing & Sagacity”