January 18, 2003
afternoon at the Mollberg's

Another cold morning. It froze down to 25 last night, which isn't entirely unusual for winter here, but still something to talk about. On the way to the gym this morning, Bernie noticed that a fountain in the park had frozen over. We stopped to take some pictures of the icicles hanging off the steel lone star before the day warmed up and melted them away.

The plan for the day was to drive out east into the hill country to visit the Mollbergs - my dad's sister Kathleen, her husband Bernard, and my cousins Nick, Alex, and Laura. We drove out about 30 miles, through Wimberly - showing great restraint as we passed near the Salt Lick - and stopped by aunt Kathy's nursery, the Silverleaf. We caught Alex out back planting fruit trees, and Laura inside tending the store. Alex took us on a tour of the place, showing us the greenhouse, the chickens, his personal cactus patch, the piles of turkey shit fertilizer. We hung out and jawed for a piece, then headed on down the road to the Mollberg homestead.

Man, is it cool.

They've got more than a hundred acres out on a mesa west of Wimberly, with gorgeous views all around. Bernard says that you can look across five counties from up there, and if you stand in the right place, you can pee into any of three watersheds on either side of the divide. They pretty much cleared the land and built up the property themselves, and all the buildings are pretty green. They're pretty close to being totally off the grid - they've got rainwater collecting into a 35,000+ gallon cistern, filtered and pumped into the house through a solar heating setup, and the main house is mostly rammed earth and cedar, with wood stove heat and a lot of thermal mass. There's a urinal in the bathroom, ostensibly to save water. I think the plan is to get some photovoltaics or wind power up there, and snip the wires for good. Again, the views from the house, especially from the deck around the upper floor, are amazing.

Kathy's got a pretty big garden out there, with chickens and dogs scattered here and there. Griswald, the irish wolfhound, is about the size of a pony, but very friendly. Bernie didn't believe the tales told of the great beast that thought he was a sweet little lap dog, but I reckon she does now. Bernard took us out to see his piano restoration workshop, too, which is also a sight to see. There's a dozen or more grand pianos in various stages of repair in the shop; some of them take a year or so to get into shape.

After a bit more exploring and visiting and drinking of the rainwater, Bernie and I made our way back to the bustling metropolis of Austin. There are a couple of banjo-related events coming up in the city next month, so I've really got to move "not sucking so much" a little higher on the to do list. There's a set of performances from noon to midnight on the first, I think, and then some sort of workshop deal after that. Bernard's been playing bluegrass and the like with bands here and there for some time now - he plunked some out at the family christmas gathering, and I thought it was great - and I think I've got an open offer to get some help from him on that, when I get around to getting my lazy ass around to it.

So, back home, a bit tired from the exertion of going outside and everything. We both got a bit of sun out there, which was actually good for a change. Now, it's pizza and movies and root beer, then bed.

(January 18, 2003 08:14 PM)
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