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While enjoying a glass of wine on the back porch last evening we were joined by Bianca and her new beau. It’s amazing how the fallow deer are so unafraid of close encounters with humans. We were chatting and listening to music yet they came up within about 25 yards or less, sampled the leaves from a couple of potted plants, took note of us without much concern and eventually galloped away. The native whitetail deer or even the axis deer would never be so bold.

I’m sure that these two are making notes on the new crepe myrtles and will be oh so delighted to graze on the tender new leaves as soon as they emerge in a couple of weeks. I have a solution called “Deer Off” that I will spray on the new leaves to try and deter them. It may work or the deer may just consider it salad dressing. We’ll see.



On Valentine’s Day morning just after dawn a small herd of white tail deer emerged from the cedar break out back and proceeded to stroll across the yard. I figured that it was the usual group of does that pass through a couple times a week. Their schedule is so regular that we refer to them as “the ladies who lunch”.

As the five deer walked into the open area I could see clearly that every one of them had antlers. All bucks and not a doe in sight! I had never seen more than two bucks, maybe three in any herd and they were always accompanied by a number of does. A local friend informed me that this behavior is not unusual after the mating season. Seems that all of the does are now pregnant and the boys just want to hang out together. They were probably fighting each other over mates a month ago but now it’s time for some buck bonding.


The landscaping crew just completed construction of a new bocce ball court out from the barbeque area. It should provide good entertainment when company visits as bocce ball is quite compatible with drinking wine and taking in the views.





As part of the landscaping project seventeen new trees are now lining the driveway approach to the house. Alternating Basham crepe myrtle with Mexican sycamore we should soon have a wall of canopy providing privacy for the front area of the house. Fortunately, they are all in close proximity to the well so any water used to get them established will not come from the rainwater cistern.

The crew is also removing some of the larger rock debris from an area where the stone masons cut rock for the outside of the house during construction. As a result the wild grasses should fill in more evenly and perhaps cedars will eventually come up in the area.

With cloudy, misty mornings and slowly warming temperatures I hope the new native grass seed that I am working into some of the bare areas near the house will take root and get established this summer. It looks a bit like a moonscape in some areas now but soon it should blend in with the grasses on the rest of the hill as the season turns.



There are a couple of caves in the ravine with very round openings. When I was down there shooting before pics for the clean out project I happened to frame one that when put into grey scale looked remarkably like a giant eye and eyebrow. From the stern look I think that the god of the ravine may have been displeased at having been photographed. I’ll be more respectful in the future. Incidentally, this is the same cave that a wild boar emerged from to challenge my neighbor when he was scouting out the project. Fortunately, he escaped without injury. The enchantment of the central Texas hill country…


We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – ts eliot

Two fallow deer, Henrietta and Bianca, enjoy fine dining on the tender emerging grasses near the back of our house. The ladies are regular visitors both morning and evening on some days. They are not shy. One afternoon during a light rain they were up for some sport and ran at a full sprint right passed where we sat on the porch not twenty feet away, the sound of hooves pounding the dirt like the home stretch of the Kentucky Derby.

Henrietta and Bianca are most likely siblings and appear to be quite young but no longer fawns. We noticed them for the first time the day our furniture arrived at the house. They are the first fallow deer I’ve seen. Fallow deer are similar to but are a different species from the axis deer that roam all over the area.

As one who appreciates a healthy dose of myth and symbolism to counterbalance the materialistic worldview I employ(ed) to survive 21st century American corporate life, the timing of their arrival and their ongoing visitations seem to call me to the next stage of the journey. About four years ago I adopted Artemis, the goddess of the wild animals, as a symbol for the property. It seems that she has now bestowed a housewarming gift. I will accept it with gratitude and know that this gift, beautiful as it is, is not merely for decoration.



A Place to Walkabout

I discovered that my commercial grade weed whacker was perfect for cutting short the native grasses and weeds with greater efficiency than I imagined. Last Saturday I managed to trim back about a half acre in short order. Now, one is able to pad about the grounds without fear of unwittingly challenging a rattlesnake for territory. I am considering scaling back the xeriscape to a more limited area near the house and letting the look below hold sway for the rest of the hill top.

The hot tub is now full of well water and awaits a final blessing from the electrician. Perhaps next weekend I can try it out.

Inside the house, the final punch out items are being addressed. Metal railings are the last items to be installed as there is a back log at the powder coating shop and they may not make it before this weekend. Final cleaning service is scheduled for Friday, along with our final walk through.


Closing in on completion

We are pretty much down to the finishing touches inside the house. Window motors, activating the water system, metal railings, installing door stops and work on the A/V system remain. The rest is outside. This week should see the completion of the well house, barbeque area and patio. Then, cleanup time for the house and property. The month of June is largely punchout and fine tuning. The movers come in early July. I am more than ready for that day.

April was all about flooring

The tile contractor and to some extent the painter had the house to themselves most of April. The entire floor coverage in the house is ceramic tile and it took a looong time to install and grout it. It’s all done now, though and May has kicked off with a flurry of activity from many trades.

Last weekend Carolyn laid out the tile patterns for the backsplashes and the island kick wall. The exercise involved laying the tiles out and orienting them correctly, then drawing out a grid on paper and numbering each tile on the back according to the grid. For the island kick wall, there were 192 tiles. It took a while.

If all goes according to schedule, the next two weeks will see the house mostly completed. The trim carpenters are installing baseboard and great room beams, plumbing fixtures, hardware and lighting are being installed. The water filter and pump system will be installed and activated.

Outside, the action is picking up as well. Site cleanup and prep for the patio and barbeque are in progress. The cement drive apron and the larger driveway work is scheduled for late May. It will be very good to have that steep portion of the driveway cemented. With all of the rain and abuse from construction vehicles over the past year, four wheel drive is almost a requirement to get up to the house these days.

The end of the project is in sight.


As a side note, the rainwater cistern is now 100% full. The spring rains have been kind in that regard. Last weekend the sun was shining, though and some magic light came our way as we sat in a porch swing at our cabin.



Floors and Doors

The eight foot, five panel doors turned out to be a good selection as well. The modernist touch pulls back the reigns on the Tuscan thing a bit. I think they work particularly well as exterior doors in the front where they are solid mahogany finished with several coats of tung oil. Matching interior passage doors are painted in taupe as shown below.

The flooring is being installed now. Wood plank look ceramic tile is the only way to go for our lifestyle. I have destroyed too much wood flooring over the past 30 odd years to go with anything else. It should take the rest of March to get it all installed and finished.