Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Of Lone Stars and Longhorns

It was a great trip to Texas. It already seems very far away! Impressions and memories:

We spent the days doing car trips to quaint little neighboring towns. The first stop was Luckenbach, which is not really a town anymore, more like a music venue. We sat under the oaks with other tourists, drinking beer and listening to an acoustic guitarist. He was a very talented guy, and I suspect used us tourists, immobilized by the heat, to hone his comedic chops and/or amuse himself. He sang a song about farts, another with the refrain "keep your hands of my willie" as in Willie Nelson records, and another knee-slapping tune that followed a virile rooster as he got after not only the barren hens, but the dry cow (resulting in eggnog), dog (begetting bird dogs), and the non-budding marijuana plants (with chicken pot pie as the offspring of that flora-fauna union).

We also toured Gruene (pronounced "green"), Fredricksburg, and Wild Seed, not a town but an incredible nursery/garden complex. The towns had a very frontier-feel to the buildings, which put me in mind a little of Virginia City. But these were much more alive in the present. We had a great time poking around in the shops and sampling the local fare. I imbibed some excellent beer and perhaps the best onion rings ever, which is saying quite a bit.

It was unfortunately too hot to sit outdoors and admire the stock at Wild Seed, but I bought a packet of wild flower seeds to sow in the backyard this fall. M is actually pretty excited about it too. Anything to alleviate the expanse of weeds, which we usually describe as our "butterfly garden."

We did get a little outdoor time visiting with another couple who live a little way out of town. They have a lovely spread, though it sounds like a bit of a battle with the elements--as M pointed out, it's unsettled territory. They have two dogs and five cats, so I was able to experience a little kitty-happiness. It did make me a little melancholy, putting me in mind a bit of Veronica…

One of the best parts of the trip for me was being able to unplug from my routine. I left the laptop at home and checked email and Facebook from my iPhone. I slept in til 9:00 a.m. Three days in a row! Incredible. I can't remember the last time I was able to do that. It was so utterly pleasant and relaxing to start and end the day quietly and gradually, drinking coffee in the morning and wine at night, chatting with Dad, Ginny, and Felicia, thinking about the adventure we'd had that day and the one to come.

True to the party lifestyle, however, my sleeping lead was completely blown by our last night, which we spent in Austin. The day started very well, slowly as aforementioned. On the way to Austin we stopped at the mall at San Marcos, truly one of the most outstanding malls ever. Felicia and I thoroughly investigated the Bare Escentuals store there. We dined at The Oasis, a large and quirky restaurant with an equally quirky staff, with a spectacular view of Lake Travis. After dinner we headed back into Austin proper and boarded a boat tour along the river. Our guide was a charming young lady, studying biology, which seemed to come in handy for her narrative as we floated under the Congress Street bridge and watched the bats come out for their dinner. Austin is a great place! I enjoyed hearing a little about its history on the tour. Felicia mentioned wanted to move there several times.

That normally would have been the end of the evening activities for me under normal circumstances, but this was vacation! We knew the newly-21 niece would want to party a bit, so we all girded our loins and headed down the street party that is Sixth Street. It was a Friday night, I think the one before college was to start the following week, so it was pretty crowded, mostly with the youthful, under-clad variety. We walked into the first bar we found with live music and no cover, found a place at the back and settled in for some surprisingly good music. The beer was cheap, we could feel the breath of air conditioning, and so stayed for the whole set. When that ended, we found the next bar with live music and no cover and hung out again for more surprisingly good tunes. Around 1:00 a.m., a time when I normally would have been asleep for several hours, I realized that I didn't really feel very tired at all and had an epiphany: Work seriously gets in the way of fun. So that was a most excellent experience all around, and Felicia didn't seem to mind having her auntie and grandparents along for her first go at bar hopping (or bar hobbling as my friend at work quipped).

The only down sides to my trip were the loud young folk outside our motel who kept me up very late that last night and the heat. I had forgotten how much I take our cool Sonoma County nights for granted. The outside world was never really moderately temperatured, and though I was able to just relax into it for the most part, there were a few dripping-with-sweat moments that made me feel a little socially uncomfortable. Overall, I do need to spend more time in Texas. Just not in the summer. This was also the most live music I've experienced in a long time, and I do need to keep that momentum going.


M very kindly picked me up at SFO that Saturday evening. We drove into the City and over dinner at Il Cane Russo, he could no longer contain himself and shared that he had purchased a '97 Kawasaki Concourse, a large powerful motorcycle big enough for both of us large people. The "two" part was key to my support, which he was smart enough to realize. On Sunday morning we donned our leathers (I think I've worn my MC three times since moving from NY a dozen years ago, but now I'm glad I hung on to it) motored over to the Cycle Gear shop, and I picked out a new full-face helmet and gloves.

For our first ride together, we headed down to Petaluma for lunch, and after a little stress at the beginning, I relaxed and really enjoyed myself. M's been using it as his daily driver all week and has taken it on a few day trips since, so it was fairly smooth sailing out to Tomales Bay and another lunch on Sunday. He's looking for a backrest for me, and that will make a big difference in my comfort level.


Last weekend was more small victories for lifting myself out of Ye Olde Rut. I splurged for a pedicure on Saturday, which turned out to be more of a splurge than planned since I got my first parking ticket! It was just a space-cadet moment, I fed the wrong parking meter. M has advised me to try write and try to get it expunged, which I will do. Later that afternoon, inspired by Ginny, I baked a pineapple upside-down cake for a friend's tiki-themed birthday party. I tried very hard to have a good time and engage in conversation rather than flee as is my first thought with social situations where I don't know anyone and there is no central activity. And I think I succeeded fairly well. I need more practice!

(I also practiced my sociability in SFO, flying out to Texas. I started up a conversation with a woman in the waiting area and we spent a lovely hour chatting about her son in NYC supporting a young woman who doesn’t want to work nor have children, and, one of my favorite topics, Indian food. She gave me her card as we parted ways and I think I'll send her a note. Perhaps we'll stay in touch.)


I'm very eager for the weekend: M is coming with me to Washington, DC! We're doing the red-eye on Friday night, and so I'll have a free though probably groggy day to spend with him on Saturday and much of Sunday. He'll play while I work and we'll return Thursday afternoon. We often talked about him coming to conferences with me, but it's only happened once or twice in all the years I've had this job. So yay for more doing things differently!


At 5:56 AM, September 01, 2010, Blogger elm said...

Texas has never sounded so good.

At 6:39 AM, September 01, 2010, Blogger Sara said...

Now I want to go to Austin. have fun in DC.

At 2:45 PM, September 01, 2010, Blogger Ginny said...

Glad you enjoyed your visit. It was great fun having you and Felicia here. I'll agree with you about the temps...a little moderation would be nice. Miss those Delta breezes in Sacramento!


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