Monotony is only monotonous if the routine too rarely gets broken.  When the morning chores go from scanning the mellow hills and surging with a breathe of gratitude to streaming tears because the hose has burst again, it’s really a strong sign that a large slice of novelty is in order.

Against the odds and with the trust of a disciple I took the first step to answering that call.  I NEED a house/pet/flock sitter, please Universe! I toss a penny into the fountain: I pick the very first service that pops up on Google.

I write a blurb, post some pics, cross my fingers, then look at the finer print.  This global site has only 2,000 subscribers?  And the bulk of them seem to come from Australia?  There’s no chance in Tasmania I’m going to find someone to come to rural East Texas in a week for an undisclosed period, to a cottage on a dirt road with no cable.

But the very next morning an angel appears, via email.  A retired man, eager and flexible, living just 2 hours away, and willing to come for free.  That’s right, I didn’t stutter.

Still I was nervous!  A stranger in my house?  Who works for free?  Is he a psychopath, a pet strangler, CIA?!

I decided to trust the Universe, against a powerful wave of what sometimes felt like “better judgment” and other times was clearly globules of logic whipped to soft-peaks with a cherry-topped, culturally-induced sprinkling of paranoia.

When the heart speaks loudly enough, no amount of logic or even paranoia can silence it.  In this space, a 3-hour cave tour can feel like an extended trip to a tropical oasis.

Tuscany in Texas they call the Hill Country.  Thank heavens a whole lot of folks realized we could use one of those around here!  Austin is fun, beautiful, inspiring, exciting and I’m grateful to have had a generous friend host and companion me ideally.

As for the Hill Country, it reminds me less of Tuscany than of exploring New Orleans–times, places, peoples infuse insistently, unabashedly, with immediacy, in a New World assumption stretched over Old World wisdom– releasing just the breathe of novelty required to fill the doctor’s orders.  I’m quite sure another dose will be required regularly.

A few days raining and cool in mid-July, it hardly felt like Texas!

A few days raining and cool in mid-July, it hardly felt like Texas!

Downtown viewDowntown view from the Botanical Gardens

I'll call it Corncob Fern

I'll call it Corncob Fern--look closely

No local peaches at all because of the late frosts :(

No peaches, boo! No local peaches at all because of the late frosts :(

oldhomestead2Once upon a time in the Hill Country

Would love to try this at home!

Must try this at home!

The garden welcoming me home.

The garden welcoming me home.

A stray herd to welcome me too!

A stray herd to welcome me too!