Thursday, July 16, 2015

Contemplating cattle and country life

Here it is mid-July, and Texas pastures are still lush and green—unheard of for many years. I’ve spent the last two evenings sitting on a comfortable, breeze-blessed porch, wine in hand, and contemplating a herd of cattle—beautiful, fat Red Angus with heifers and steers still among them and one happy bull. Periodically they wander up to the water tank by the fence and fix us with long stares. Their occasional bellows are contented sounds. (I probably have made several errors in that description which belie me as the city girl I am.) But there is something so relaxing about the late afternoon experience. Birds nest at the top of the porch posts, with most babies trying their wings but a few stuck in the nest, not yet brave enough to venture out and complaining to the world about it.
I’ve been visiting my brother John and sister-in-law Cindy at their ranch outside Tolar, Texas. A lazy wonderful escape from my daily routine. I’ve slept late and napped long—it’s the country air my brother insists. I’ve eaten marvelously and too much—steak and twice-baked potatoes, homemade spaghetti. Not only does the spaghetti taste wonderful, but I am so impressed by someone whips up a batch in the afternoon for supper. Like much of their cooking, making spaghetti is a two-person affair in this household. I've also enjoyed long visits with both of them. Cindy and I talked about cooking and food, and John and I recalled our very different childhood experiences, explored a newly found scrapbook that had many people we knew as youngsters--yes, we did a bit of living in the past, one of us recalling what the other couldn't.
Two German shepherds wander in and out at will, as do two or three cats (they hide and I’m never sure how many there are). There’s a noisy parrot, presumed to be male for years but who recently laid two eggs. Outside, chickens and guinea hens wander the property. The guineas are a hoot, scolding one cat in clear terms when it dared into the yard. It’s a city girl’s country delight, with computer and reading time.

It is also, for two relatively quiet people, the noisiest household I can imagine. The washing machine runs much of the time; the dishwasher probably twice a day. The “magic oven,” a commercial one that cooks a succulent chicken in 25 minutes and a turkey in an hour and a half, makes a screeching noise every time it needs adjustment and otherwise contents itself with a loud exhaust. Today John vacuumed his office with an automatic vacuum that is not quiet. So many gadgets, so much noise. And yet when I wanted to nap, I closed my door and didn’t hear a thing.

I’m reluctantly glad to be home, with Sophie, back in my routine—hitting the door running but maybe these two days will carry me through in serenity for a while. We stopped for lunch at Café 1187—wonderful atmosphere and food.

Tonight, Betty and I went a day late for our weekly Wednesday dinner. As we frequently do, we chose the Tavern—split the deviled eggs appetizer and the vegetable plate with carrots, red cabbage, wild rice salad, and spinach. Even splitting it was too generous and she boxed some to take home. We got in the car—and the battery was dead. Calls to the insurance emergency service and her husband resulted—while waiting, we went back inside and had another glass of wine. Eventually the car started but it was shaky—no a/c, and the windows would not roll down or up. Always an adventure.
I’ll sleep well tonight.

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