Thursday, January 29, 2009

I hereby approve Kitty X

If you haven't met this fellow blogger and all-around comedy genius at luxe overload, you are seriously missing out. Go. Read. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A guide to recognizing good music

The lovely Tex-pat tagged me to post my top-five rotation in video form. Here goes nothing...

"Highly Suspicious" by My Morning Jacket

"Black Umbrella" by Even

"You Are Invited" by The Dismemberment Plan

"All Things Ordinary" by The Anniversary

"Proofs" by Mates of State


Monday, January 26, 2009

Consquences seen and unforeseen

There are times where I feel very privileged to have known what Texas is supposed to look like. Texas is endless scenic deserts, sunsets that peek through epic pine trees, ice-cold rivers full of unafraid fish, a coast that never seems to end with coastal breezes that smell like salt and feel like silk, and of course there are small, small towns with friendly people that just want to keep Texas just like it was, just like it's supposed to be.

So, when I saw The Unforeseen and all of its cuts of Barton Springs and the lovely air of old Austin, I wept. Texas isn't like this anymore. The real cowboys lost.

Texas is now crammed with shitty little strip centers and over-stuffed suburbs. Mid-rise office buildings seem to reproduce like fucking rabbits, and I have yet to see one that doesn't have a "FREE RENT" or "NOW LEASING" banner on it. Our once gorgeous vistas are now pockmarked by construction sites and new highways.

And have you ever tried to fight any of this? It's like eating soup with a knife. I don't think anyone could make me understand why building huge subdivisions that repeat ever fifth house is more important than leaving a legacy of clean water and clear air.

I hope that our generation will learn that you cannot take it with you, that making a buck at someone else's expense will leave you ethically poor, and that the Girl Scouts have always been right: Leave camp better than you came upon it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Always on the lookout for teachable moments

I was kind of fired up yesterday. Sorry about that. I have a lot of pent up indignation, which I have to reserve because my job requires that I pin my bias to the doorframe.

You see, I am a conservationist. I love the very essence of the earth and everything for which we have been endowed to protect as humans. I have, for a long time, been very tired of the excuses some humans make for their behavior.

God asked you to be a good steward of his creation. Many humans of a certain political persuasion are making a massive fail of it.

And another thing: Before folks criticize the incoming political regime because it's not theirs, and they dare categorize those who are excited about their hope for the future as "bandwagoners," I hope you realize that both politcal parties have their good and bad sides, none of them is without contempt, and that if you attempt to throw a stone, make sure your house isn't made of glass.

(I also beseech Americans to refrain from making in-depth politcal decisions until they know the top three forms of domestic entitlements and have read all of the articles of the Constitution.)


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Who gives a twit about global warming?

I don't. I honestly don't. It's a theory, one that hasn't been entirely proven. I do agree with the idea of "climate change" which is different from "global warming" in that not all areas will get hotter, but that the climates in different ecosystems will change and many species will be adversely affected, and some even completely eliminated. Global warming? Not so much.

But that's not even the real issue here. Even if you disagree with climate change, perhaps you might feel differently about, say, clean air? Many of the same environmental pollutants that cause climate change are also the same particulates and gases that foul our air, cause cancer, ephysema, asthma and infant deaths.

So, even if you don't give a rats ass about global warming or climate change, how do you feel about getting cancer? How big of a tradeoff is sustainable living for your family's health and happiness? We're all dying to know.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Starting things off with a bang

I renewed my resolve this year to take the stairs up to my desk on the fourth floor of my building. Last Friday I was happily climbing the staircase, step by step, when the slick leather sole of my gorgeous, black Lucchese boots (thanks Dad!) gave way on the concrete stairs as I approached the fourth-floor landing.

In a fraction of a moment, I was flailing about, arms heavy with my computer, my coffee, my purse and my ID badge. I didn't want to crush my laptop screen, I didn't want to chuck coffee everywhere and I most certainly didn't want to drop my ID badge all the way back down to the first floor (that's a lot of stairs!).

So I let my face and my right knee break my fall.


My knee is still pretty black and blue, mostly due to the fact that when I fell I nailed the edge of the stairs dead on. My face was pretty red for most of the day, only partly due to embarassment, but mostly because I caught the railing with my cheekbone. I'm wincing just thinking about it.

I spent the next few hours at my desk, getting to know an ice pack and trying to read and write e-mail with one hand, which is much more difficult than over-30 Internet trolls make it seem.

I would post pictures of my awesome-looking bruise, but better judgment prevails.

I'll post soon about my awesome-faced three-day weekend.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I know far too much about Girl Scout cookies

Mostly because I was a Girl Scout for quite some time quite a while ago. This has not tempered my love of their cookies. Every year I scrape some dough together (see what I did there?) and buy one box of every flavor of Girl Scout cookies. I then stick 'em all in the freezer (did you know that, because of their fat content, Girl Scout cookies freeze exceptionally well?) and consume them gradually over the course of several months.

Now that I'm married, stretching the cookies out is really difficult.


We had my Bro-in-law over on Sunday, and he asked if we had anything sweet. Do we ever. I directed him to the multiple boxes of Girl Scout delicousness in the freezer. He obliged. And then, from the living room, after hearing him rustle through a couple boxes and then pull out one of them, I shouted, "Have any ones you want, EXCEPT THE PEANUTBUTTER TAGALONGS."

The freezer opened again and I heard more rustling.

You see, many people have a thing for Thin Mints. That's OK. No biggie. You eat your chocolate coated mint cookie. That's fine. But do not argue with me when I tell you that they do not hold a candle to the layers of fabulousness that is a Tagalong. Shortbread, peanut butter and then topping it off with a smooth chocolate coating ... your Thin Mints are no match.

P.S. The new Dulce de Leche flavor cookies are OK. Nothing to write home about.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What to expect when you're reflecting

So, lots of pregnancy surrounds me. My neighbors down the street are preggers, some of my childhood friends are either pregnant or just had babies, and a lot of my friends have children. My sister just had a baby not to long ago, too.

I think I've been in this situation before.

Oh doo doo.


So I've been thinking some, mostly about how friendships change and stuff when friends start having babies and doing the family thing. Mostly I think about how scary it must be to be responsible for someone's life that you love more than anything else, and how ridiculously unprepared most people are for this drastic change, even those people who think they've got it all figured out.

And I've been wondering if I'd change, and how much I'd change, if we decided to have kids. Would our marriage become easier or harder? Would we fight a lot? Would we drown in responsibility?

Makes me wonder why anyone really wants to have kids in the first place.


I just found out that a girl I went to school with like, for my childhood, was on Beauty and the Geek in the first season.


Yeah, she was in several of my accelerated classes, but was usually copying the work of several friends. She's now a lingerie model, but we once went to the same Baptist church.

I really am trying to be astonished, but it kinda seems more or less a likely progression.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Something's missing

It's nice and chilly in the mornings here. I relish those last few moments in bed, under the lofty down comforter, snuggling with Fitzgerald and Hornsby, and Mr. Orange if he isn't busy chowing down on kitty kibble. And then the alarm becomes too arresting to ignore, and I have to get up, slip on my fuzzy suede slippers and feed the chickens.

But most days I'd rather get up and feed the chickens and be met with a nice, quiet layer of snow. Something in the landscape that tells you "Hey! Yoo hoo! It's winter!" Something that gives you a darn good reason to drink up all the coffee.

If only Dallas had more than two seasons: Hot and less hot.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In which I feel fortunate to have had a very busy week ...

Hi y'all! Wow, I fell like I took an extended break and it's only been FOUR DAYS since I last blogged. (That feels a lot like what you might say in confession, doesn't it?)

Its been a pretty busy week for me. I've been knitting (Christmas stuff, of course, and the stray baby antennae hat!) but I've also been working a lot, trying to get my annual agenda together and catching up on all of the stuff that was cast aside so I could hurry up and get on out of the office for the holidays. Now that we're back in the swing of things I'm finally knitting something for myself! Yay!


This is the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery. The yarn is a fingering weight from Farmhouse Yarns called Bo Peep's Not Just For Socks, it's a wool/nylon blend. The best part, though, is the colorway. It's a fantastic mix of adobe/turquoise called Sedona.



It's already twice as long as the part you see here. Lace knitting is still totally new to me, so it's challenging, but I'm enjoying it. It's kind of addictive, really, though very slow going. I'm going to pick out one more lace project to do before I start on the February Lady Sweater. I really need to make a pair of flip-top mittens for myself, first, and then one for my sister in law. Oy.

I'm also in the midst of a simply watchcap for one of my half-dozen or so BILs. It's just 2 by 2 ribbing in a chunky weight yarn. Nothing interesting...


The highlight of this week, though, was a little fieldtrip I took through downtown on Wednesday. I took my camera with me on my lunch hour, and just strolled, took pictures, and contemplated...


I saw a guy filling holes in a historic building...


I saw a busy street that made downtown Dallas seem like a real city landscape...


And a busy DART station, too ...


And I hung around the neat architecture of Thanksgiving Square ...


And its very cool water features ...


At which I met a very curious pigeon ...


Who thought the water feature was pretty cool, too ...


And then we both looked up at Thanksgiving Chapel, which has one of the coolest stained glass windows on the planet ...


And surrounding the chapel are some old water features that have some neat texture ...



And a mosaic by Norman Rockwell ...


It's a good place to sit and contemplate, like this guy did ...


And watch the Akard DART Rail station ...


Or spy the historic structures that seem buried beneath the towering facades of modernity ...


And walking back from my field trip, some guys asked me to take their portrait, and I obliged ...


And I began to think about how old buildings can really talk, and they aren't too hung up on appearances ...


And how "modern" in the '60s is still in some ways considered "modern" today, though our conceptions of "modern" have obviously changed since then ...


But night after night, the globe of Reunion Tower lights up and shines patterns and signals to the Dallas landscape, even when a few bulbs are burnt out, but in the daylight it's all beautiful...


And sometimes you have to get outside of your comfort zone to find some truly amazing people, like this guy. I think his name was Randy. He has some kind of crippling disorder that keeps one of his legs from working and one of his hands from opening, and yet he kicked his wheelchair across an intersection to approach me while I was shooting.

"May I introduce myself?"
"Sure." I said.
"My name is [Randy]."
"Nice to meet you."
"May I pay you a compliment?"
"Depends on what my husband would think."
"Oh, I just wanted to tell you that I think you are exceptionally beautiful."
"Wow, why thank you, Randy. It was really nice to meet you."

And all this happened in a city I have yet to underestimate.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A wee one

So, my neighbors, who now know what happend that night this past summer, are about to have their first baby (isn't everyone?). Art and Lauren are fabulous, and we like them a ton, so I decided to knit them a quick baby hat last night.


Basic 2x2 rib baby hat in Bernat Softee Chunky. I added two little antennae just for kicks!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Getting there, going back

I hate turnaround trips. You really have to love someone to make a turnaround trip. I left Dallas at just after 8 a.m. on Saturday and arrived at my sister's salon just after 11:30 a.m. And then, on Sunday at 5:30 p.m., I did it again. Ugh.

I love my family a lot. In fact, I love them enough to not only make that turnaround trip, but to lose sleep in order to spend as much time with that lovable crowd as possible. Most notably, though, my brother-in-law's mother was in town. I totally love her, and I had to see her before she left for SCOTLAND, so the trip was completely reasonable when compared with her flight over the Atlantic. But you know what a bummer is, the fact that we didn't get a picture together! DAMMIT!

So, I'm driving from Dallas to Houston in the a.m., which I think is the perfect time to be on the road. The sun is still low and so is the traffic. Anyway, I think I've described this drive before, and this one wasn't much different, though, the reward of McKenzie's Barbecue wasn't the light at the end of the tunnel. But what I did notice, as I passed through long stretches of pastures populated only by cows and the occasional gas station, were these amazing trees. During the spring, the last time I made this trip in the full-fledged daylight, you couldn't tell, but they are the kind of trees that you see on the cover of young-adult thrillers: thick trunks that all the sudden split into the most amazing, complex structures. Full of crooks, twists, turns and tapering out into delicate webs. I wished so bad that I wasn't in a hurry, that I could stop on the side of the road and take a few shots.

I only stopped once on my way down, and that was in Fairfield. The entire service station smelled like urine, so I didn't hang around to stretch my legs.

I finally arrived at the salon, got my hair cut, and we picked up some lunch at a nearby deli. We went over to my sister's house, which has been a big labor of love for her and her boyfriend. They've put so much sweat and tears (didn't ask about blood!) and it is starting to really take shape! While we were there, I took a few shots:



And then I headed over to my other sister's house to visit with my niece and my BIL's mom (who is awesome!!!!). There, I took even more photos:


"Wow! Auntie Jo is so cool with that camera! I want to be like her someday!"


"This bottle is sooooo good, but I'm watching my waist, so I'll puke up some of it later."

My BIL has the most awesome salt water tank. It's great picture fodder! And, boy, are his fish grumpy!





And my BIL's mom showed me the most awesome knitted blanket I've ever seen:


Seriously, guys, that's a lot of lace.


So much detail!


I can't believe that this thing is all handknitted! So many awesomely executed k3togs, and that's just an unbelievable number of stitches!

So, we went back to my other sister's house and she said that Dorothy had brought a few holiday treats for us all:


Mince pies and Christmas pudding

And then we took silly portraits of one another, and of the bell pepper-shaped cookie jar that needed a brownie:


And of a cool glass that my grand mother made. She would pick up wine bottles off the side of the road and cut off the tops:


And then we decided to have banana splits for dinner and watch "The Dark Knight," which I highly recommend. SO AWESOME! At first, I didn't think I would like Heath Ledger as the joker, but it was fabulous. Too bad about him. Fine actor.

I went to bed early, and woke up the next morning a little later than I would like. I made coffee, drank it up quickly and wrote a few things down in my Moleskine:

1/04/2009, 11 a.m.

I was just thinking over a conversation I had with my sister about her new digital camera. She rarely used a 35mm SLR, and most likely never had a chance to really learn about film.

So we were talking about her new DSLR, and she asked me about what, exactly, ISO is, and what does it do? On the inside, I laughed a little. We've so embraced technology when it comes to photography, and yet, the business of pictures is still spoken in the language of film.

I got dressed in a hurry and headed over to my parents place. Now, on my way down to Houston, I called my mom to tell her I was on my way, and she said she had news for me:

"You know what happened this week?" she asked.
"I got my first deer!"
"That's fantastic!"
"You know what happened after that?"
"I got my second!"

So, my mom got 2 deer this season, and so did my father, and my brother got one. That's so much meat that they had to run out and get a chest freezer!

So, I arrive at my parents' house, and my dad is in good spirits and my mom is processing deer in the kitchen sink.



And my dad says that, come to think of it, I look a lot like my great-grandmother now that I'm older and wiser. I'm cool with that, mostly because she was good lookin'.


So, we eat some ham with warm mustard (awesome!) and everyone sort of converges on my parents' house and we hang out, and I go outside to take pictures of random things:

The rusty door of the barbecue pit.

The misplaced lawn toilet.

Some old trailer tires.

Some wildflowers.

Some weeds.

Some veggies in their garden.

And a huge aloe plant.

And then, I packed up the car and turned around. It was a long, lonely trip back. I miss them all already.