Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses

Now that I think Pickle and Vlassic are over their foam-eating issues, I can return to other topics. One that has especially interested me is how people in and around Cameron feel about the customer service mentality in the area. I may have mentioned that a couple days ago, Lee wrote a blog post about why Cameron has such a hard time keeping restaurants open.

Lee’s photo of the former Sonic, now up for sale.

Usually, our blog posts and Facebook business page posts get between 100-200 views/hits each. Not this one. The Facebook one has 2500 views and 14 shares. Mandi said the one on her page also got lots of shares. The website stats look hilarious. There were 1500 hits that day, which made the previous week look totally flat.

So, yeah, Lee’s thoughts on this topic struck a nerve. I’ve been hanging around Cameron for just nine years now, but I’ve seen so many places open and close right up. One has done it at least four times (I’m not naming names, just noting facts). When I talked to a former cafe owner, she said people would just walk off their jobs or not show up because they didn’t feel like it. Turnover was huge. Just a week or two ago we went to a local place where only the cashier had showed up, so she was trying to wait tables. It didn’t go well.

Continue reading “Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses”

Recipe: Farro and Beans

One of our readers asked for the recipe for the one-pot whole grain dish I made last night. It’s based on a package Anita bought at Central Market in Austin.

An ancient Roman grain!

Hooray. You can get it on Amazon. Farro is a type of whole grain dried wheat. It is apparently a much healthier option than rice. It’s also really tasty.

All you need to know about this stuff.

So, I made the recipe on the package (above) but added a can of white beans with the liquid. That added a hearty flavor. I also added a cup of carrots that were in the fridge. That added more nutrition and color. I added a little freeze dried onion and fancy pepper from Penzey’s. You could use red pepper or anything a little spicy. (If I had it, I would have used diced onion.)

The bean liquid added to the water in the instructions was enough to make the liquid cook down in just a couple minutes more than in the instructions.

This is the finished dish, as I showed this morning.

It was so good, and we had leftovers. I enjoy taking interesting things Anita finds at the hipster store and making them MINE.

There. I posted a recipe. By the way, one of our new succulents bloomed.

Weird, huh?

Other Habits to Change: Food and Drug Edition

TW: This is about medications and managing the types of food I eat.

The doctor I’d been going to since I moved to Texas retired recently (and somehow I missed being informed of that…guessing it went to some old email). She was a really nice, calm woman who never got excited about anything. She’d say we could try this, we could try that…what do you feel most comfortable with?

I’d been to other doctors in that practice, and all were fine, but since I have moved closer to another affiliated clinic, I decided to try one closer to home. Argh. Changing primary care physicians is NOT easy, since so few of them are taking new patients. I finally found a couple who didn’t have horrible reviews and chose the woman, just because, I guess.

My “Drug Habit”

I don’t like to take pills. Only if absolutely necessary. Photo credit @erimar via Twenty20

Yesterday at 7 am, minutes after I woke up, her office called to brightly ask what medications I need refilled and to inform me that “the doctor doesn’t do refills of alprazolam, just so you’ll know.” Well, huh. That drug is Xanax, which I’ve had as an “emergency backup” for decades. I generally take about 6 a year, maybe fewer, especially now that my panic attack issue is much better. So, I was interested in finding out more about that, perhaps when I was more awake. At least she didn’t say they were taking away my fluoxetine (Prozac), which makes me feel like a stereotype, but also makes me able to cope with stuff like a pro.

Continue reading “Other Habits to Change: Food and Drug Edition”

How’s the Weather? Active!

Yowee! Did we ever get a variety of weather yesterday! After a muggy morning, clouds began to build up, but rain kept going all around us (which often happens, at least in our perception. I guess severe weather is just going to be the norm as “global heating” continues.

Scary sky and dog looking for a toad (see next blog post)

The wind got whippier and whippier, though, and by the time we were getting Father’s Day dinner ready, it became quite breezy on the porch, where we spent a lot of time watching clouds make interesting formations.

Fresh vegetables and organic meat loaf. Farm living.

After eating our harvested squash, fresh beans, most delicious little roasted potatoes, and yum yum, a great meat loaf by Sara, we realized the wind was really, really hard and it was much cooler.

Continue reading “How’s the Weather? Active!”

Late Spring Bounty, Plus Drama, of Course

As the days grow longer and longer here in Texas, our harvest starts arriving. It’s lots earlier than in other parts of the US, where nothing’s ready until August, but hey, it gets hot here early.

Some Good News

This has been a great year, too, with the rain continuing to fall much later than usual. It’s raining now, in fact, and it’s only 79 degrees (too bad it was up to 93 at the end of our horseback ride this morning).

My shadow and the garden. Beans are to the right. Giant squash is in my shadow.

I think I’ve mentioned that our neighbor Tyler started a vegetable garden this year. Yesterday, as I was looking for chickens, I peeked in and saw a really, really big yellow squash. And Tyler is out of town.

So, this morning after putting up the horses and Fiona (who went with us on our whole ride and caused no trouble), Sara and I went in and harvested the giant squash and zucchini that were lying under the large, healthy vines. We have to hand it to Tyler, his fencing and netting combination have worked great to keep meddling animals, birds, and others out of his crops. We left him plenty of small squash to harvest for himself once he gets home.

Our buckets did not hold all the hugs squash, so I got creative. (photo by Sara Faivre)
Continue reading “Late Spring Bounty, Plus Drama, of Course”

Working on Community

When we first moved to the ranch, I was worried that it would be isolating living so far out here. That’s what Lee, the hermit, wanted. I wanted to have a community to enjoy life with, as well as some peace and quiet. I’m happy to report we are well on our way to a real community out here.

We missed the storms that hit Austin last night, but got cool clouds.

We were relieved to find a place near our friends Sara and Ralph, who warmly welcomed us when we first got here and really helped us set things up. And what would I do without my horse riding companion? Life would not be the same without these folks. We’ve also been lucky to make friends with Cathy, who lived at the cabin when we first arrived, and Tyler, who lives there now and does my snake handling.

When we added Mandi and her family over at Rattlesnake, wow, we could have been happier. They are so helpful in so many ways. One son cares for the horses and hens when I’m in Austin, and another has been helping Ralph with his mowing. Grateful for them.

Continue reading “Working on Community”

Self Aware Means Self Care

Last week I was in a mental vortex, tizzy, or something. I’m so glad I was aware that something was amiss, and that the only person who could do anything about it was ME.

So, what kind of self care can I do? Can you do it, too?

Exercise

This guy could use some yoga!

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t done any yoga in over two weeks, maybe three. Between work getting hectic and taking a week off, I was feeling sluggish and stiff.

I’ve gone to the class at work twice this week, and I can really tell it, both physically and mentally. I’m a lot more centered and my muscles feel well used, but good.

Continue reading “Self Aware Means Self Care”

Grumpy? Not Us!

The intrepid travelers are heading back to Texas, so most of yesterday involved driving and looking out the window. And making sure to talk frequently so Lee wouldn’t sigh loudly and turn music on, because we were too silent. There’s not a lot to say about trees and more trees. I guess he thought we were choosing Facebook over him, but we were reading (Anita) or playing Wordscapes (me), something easy to interrupt. Other than that, not too much grumpiness occurred.

Patriotism at the courthouse (through a window)

Speaking of grumpiness, we decided to head off the beaten path and go into the small town of Madison, Florida for lunch. There we found Grumpy’s Restaurant. It was a hit with all of us.

Grumpy’s! Because when you’re hungry, you’re grumpy.

Every menu item was interesting and had a twist. My grilled cheese had a jalapeño sauce and homemade jelly on it. Sound bad? Well, nope, it was fantastic. In fact, Lee ordered one after his own meal!

Continue reading “Grumpy? Not Us!”

Brain Overload

Today we were in San Marcos, which is south of Austin. Why? Lee and Kathleen are starting a new business, which I’ll go into another time, so we went to a continuing education on how home health care providers can screw up when they are being inspected.

We were in a building so dull I forgot to take a picture. But the class was interesting once I translated some acronyms. Goes to show you all kinds of businesses are fun to study. This one has a LOT of regulations, but that’s good, because it keeps people safe.

Highlight of the state office building’s bathroom. Lots of stinky women must work here.

It seems to be a woman-dominated business. Lee was the only man. We were the only white folks, too. We learned a lot from the more experienced people, and had some fun conversations in breaks (lots about our fingernails). Kathleen has experience, too, so we will have lots of mentors.

Our brains are very, very full.

The funny part

When we were done, Lee and I went outside and saw Kathleen standing by my car. Only, it wasn’t my car. It’s not often that two cars of this model are parked near each other my British Racing Green car looked black in the gloom of the day. Easy mistake!

My key just wouldn’t work in this car.

Also fun

The previous night, we stayed at a nice hotel and ate at the elegant Olive Garden of San Marcos. The food was good, and Kathleen and I enjoyed judging the light fixtures, which I wrote about on the Hermit Haus blog.

They insisted I show my nails, which hid the wine.

We also made a point to get wine to match my new devotion to pink. Perhaps the hotel happy hour wine we had earlier made this seem like such a good idea.

A Bubbly Question

So, I know there are a lot of words for fizzy beverages that many people drink (my favorite is sparkling water, so don’t lecture me).

But I just thought it was redundant to label this occasional treat beverage as “sparkling flavored soda.” Isn’t all soda sparkling?

The word “sparkling” is hard to read. Do the Fresca people feel sort of bad about it?

Just wondering.

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