Pixie Dust


Sabbatical Companion


Sabbatical Companion

Originally uploaded by pixielove

Yesterday was my first real day on sabbatical and boy, did I have grand plans:

  • Get up early with Pancho and exercise
  • Change name at social security administration
  • Enjoy grand park adventure with dogs
  • Frame paintings purchased on honeymoon over a year ago
  • Rid house of kim-chi and bulgalbi cookout smells
  • Overachieve on songwriting class homework
  • Write best one-line book summary ever
  • Rock out on guitar
  • Make most delicious homemade bread

What was I thinking? Pancho wakes up at the crack of dawn.

Here’s my real day:

  • Wake up at 7:30am and Facebook for one hour
  • Try to take the dogs for a walk only to discover Pancho took leashes to work
  • Maintain safe driving to Red Bud Island while Jack the Beagle stands on back of seat and pants in ear
  • Try to pay the housekeeper only to discover Pancho absconded with cash
  • Pick up Pancho for lunch at Mooyah
  • Drop off paintings and return Pancho to work
  • Go back to Pancho’s work to pick up cash I forgot
  • Eavesdrop on domestic squabble between birds squatting in Purple Martin house
  • Photograph Max Cat, my dear sabbatical companion who sleeps in the dirty laundry basket as I write.

Not what I’d planned, but wonderfully free.

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All We Ever Do Is Eat

Midway through the weekend, I realized that all we do when people come to town is eat. Well, that’s not true. Apparently we drink a lot too.

This weekend, we entertained the multigenerational troika of my sister (Booh), my mom (Crazy Mamasita), and my niece (Surfer Girl).

Back when she was married, Booh used to hate Austin and all of my “hippie hole in the wall dives.” Now that she’s free again she loves all the hidden dark places of Austin and comes to visit all the time. Strike that; she comes to visit all the time because her new non-beaufriend is located here…but we’ll let that slide for now.

Crazy Mamasita usually pulls into town with a truck full of groceries and random gifts, which once included an oversized book about kittens. She’s nearing 70-years-old and can barely sip a margarita before she’s dancing with shovels and telling dirty jokes.

Seven years ago, Surfer Girl visited Texas and we took her to play miniature golf. She was ten. Now she’s all growed up and works in a surf shop in Hawaii…and sharing a glass of wine with her mom on high school graduation day suggested that Surfer Girl liked to get her drink on. What?

The booze pushing started Friday evening at Maria Maria, where Crazy Mamasita pushed her margarita to Surfer Girl saying, “you drinky” and then freaked out when I told her she would go to jail for boozing up a minor. We didn’t last for the live music that evening; Booh and Non-Beaufriend stopped for whiskey and cigarettes on the way home and Surfer Girl and I caught the end of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Crazy Mamasita passed out on the couch.

Pancho and I vowed that Saturday would be a better day of entertainment for Surfer Girl. Auditorium Shores was blazing hot and our guests had never heard of Stevie Ray Vaughn, so I took them on a drive-by tour of UT campus on our way to the Korean grocery store. ‘Cuz what every teenage girl wants to see in a new town is how well-stocked the Korean grocery is, right?

After two sips of her hibiscus margarita at Vivo, Crazy Mamasita went to work preparing a full Korean feast…bulgalbi, bi bim bap, and fresh kimchi. Oh my. My house still smells of charred bulgalbi (Korean BBQ ribs) and kimchi.

Sunday was our day of redemption. A quick jaunt to Lockhart for Smitty’s BBQ gave Surfer Girl the true Texas BBQ experience…and a send-off celebration with big-as-your-face cupcakes on SoCo ended the weekend just right.



Mau Mau and the Missing Tree
August 8, 2008, 11:03 pm
Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Today’s word of the day was “mau-mau” which means to intimidate by hostile confrontation or threats. I feel like I’ve been mau-maued today.

This morning, Pancho left for work about 20 minutes ahead of me. Nothing out of the ordinary.

When I walked out on my way to work, there was a strange orange zippy car parked in front of the house. Inside my head, I noted how rude the neighbors were.

As I turned the corner toward the driveway, I noticed my husband’s car still parked next to mine. Strange since he’d left quite a while back.

As I walked past his car, I noticed his briefcase on the ground next to the rear tire. Hmm.Things were not looking good.

I called his cell to see what was going on; I heard it ringing nearby and panicked. My husband had been kidnapped!

And then he answered. From the backyard. Where he was standing with the city arborist who owned the orange zippy car.

They were discussing the imminent removal of my dear old red oak tree. Conspirators.

If I hadn’t caught them scheming in the backyard, I would have come home to a giant hole in my skyline where my glorious old red oak tree sheltered countless birds and squirrels. A girl needs some warning about these things!

The red oak died of oak wilt within the last year, so I knew the day was coming. We were holding out to allow the baby squirrels and birds to leave it. I suppose that time has come.

I will miss the red headed woodpecker that dines on the red oak’s insect inhabitants every morning. And the expansive canopy of branches, even though it’s final leaves fell last fall.

Farewell, my lovely tree.

(If you look carefully, you’ll see the woodpecker on the middle trunk of the tree next to a knot where he likes to feast.)



Grupo Groupie
July 27, 2008, 3:14 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: , , , , , ,

I love Grupo Fantasma. I loved them in the Brian Ramos days when their first few albums came out…I loved them when Prince discovered and adopted them as his favorite house band…and I love them now as they seem to be stepping out into the big-time.

Pancho and I caught them last night at Antone’s for one of their two hometown shows before they head out to Europe again, and left with the same mixed feelings that we have about our beloved city of Austin. We miss the way things felt in the early days, when both our city and the band were being discovered and there was a passionate camaraderie among people who knew about something new and exciting that we wanted to share with anyone who would listen. And at the same time, we love that we were right; that people listened to what we had to say and agreed with us…even though it means that the growing popularity of the things we love means that they’ll never be what they were when we first fell in love with them.

For a long time, I missed Brian Ramos. His distinctive voice was so much of what I loved about the band in the early days and after he left I worried about how long my love for Grupo could last. But listening to Grupo last night helped me recognized that I love Grupo today even more than I did back then…they’ve become so much more than the ensemble of incredibly talented individuals they were in those days–they’re a single organism of incredible energy and precision delivering a cohesive flow of entertainment from the moment they step onto the stage until well after they have left. It’s an amazing and powerful experience to see eleven musicians live on stage performing with the same perfection and unity that so many others can achieve only through a carefully produced recorded album.

If you’ve never heard them, check them out: http://www.grupofantasma.com/.  And while last night they were the ones with the feeling of homecoming, I look forward to a show 20 years from now where we all feel like we’re returning home in some way–to a time when our city and our band were on the verge of discovery and our souls were moved to dance.



Hellboy II

Advance screening at the Alamo Drafthouse…AWESOME.



Bus Date
May 4, 2008, 9:41 pm
Filed under: life, music | Tags: , , , , , , ,

We’ve been talking about taking the bus downtown since we moved into this house…and this weekend, we finally did it.

It’s not that I’m averse to public transportation; in fact, I really like taking public transit when I’m traveling in other cities. I just don’t at home. Until now.

Bus people are an interesting crowd, especially on a Saturday when your regular work-week commuters are absent. We encountered the Trippy Angster, who flailed his arms about and talked a LOT to invisible friends. He looked about twenty and wreaked of angst…hence the name.

Then there was the Rebel Trio…two got on at one stop, including a girl with a tiny little puppy…and one got on at the next stop. They talked about the wild party from the previous night where one of the guys hooked up with a girl whose name he couldn’t remember, and then they left…leaving behind a red Sharpie marker. What do you do on a bus with a red Sharpie marker, I wonder?

Once at our destination, we made a bee-line for the Mrs. Baird’s Bread Stage where our favorite Latin band was playing–Grupo Fantasma. We caught the end of The Lemurs as Pancho hit up the taco stand for carne guisada tacos and I cleaned out Kebabalicious and boy, it was.

Pancho and I got our groove on and swayed the night away…and then we joined the night bus people on the adventure home.



I Do: The Bridal Portraits

I never thought I’d be the kind of bride to take bridal portraits. So formal and stuffy and weird…like a glamour shot in a wedding dress that captures you so full of hope and anticipation of your big day. I may vomit just thinking about it.

We postponed these a few times because I somehow picked the rainiest days of the year to try for my bridal glamour shots…and we finally got them done two days before the wedding. Like I said in my earlier post–we waited until the very last minute for just about everything. And just like everything else, this turned into a great adventure for all.

Fifteen minutes before we’re supposed to meet the photographer, my mom calls to say she has to make an emergency visit to the pharmacy. Not sure what that means, since she was completely fine one hour before when she left to check into the hotel. No stress.

Mom eventually shows up and gets into the Ford F350 with Pancho’s mom to drive to the Broken Spoke. If you’ve ever seen a Ford F350, you know that there couldn’t possibly be a larger truck on the road than this behemoth. Pancho’s parents drive it when they pull their fifth-wheel trailer on their travels. And we’re driving on the narrow city streets during rush hour traffic, making as many left turns as possible. Fun times.

I hop in the car with my friend the dress designer (we’ll call her Fairy Godmother) to head to the Broken Spoke for our first location shoot with the photographer and realize as we pull into the parking lot that I’ve left my nose ring at home. Well, that’s what moms are for…right?

I send the moms up the street to the nearest body piercing shop with instructions on what jewelry to buy; they look at me in disbelief and turn the behemoth back onto the streets to complete their mission. We’re talking about two grandmas in their 60s whose total body piercing experience has probably been at Claire’s in the mall. I’m not sure how this will turn out, but I’m desperate.

Fairy Godmother and I wander to the dance hall in the Spoke, where Dale Watson and his band have already set up for their show that night. I love Dale. We shoot for a while and the moms arrive with the nose ring; with that mission accomplished they go to work as sentries to tell us if anyone heads our way while we photograph on the stage where we ought not be. Poor moms…so many new, unexpected experiences all within the first hour.

We do the stage, the Wurlitzer, the God Bless America sign, the Lone Star bus…the one where my veil is blowing in the wind along the side of the bus is the shot we used for the 16×20 mega-portrait at the reception. So much for the stuffy glamour shot, right?

At this point, Sharona arrives fresh from the airport and Fairy Godmother takes off…and the group piles back into cars to head to the Texas Capitol.

It turns out the Capitol isn’t as perfect a fit for me as the Spoke was…shocking, I know. We got a few great shots outside on the lawn…Mary (the photographer) climbed up a ladder to photograph me through the tree branches and got several great shots straight down my cleavage. Boog loves those. We did get one fantastic shot with a branch covering the scandalous spot…I really like that one.

At the end of it all, here’s what I have to say about this experience:

1) Hire Mary Sledd to take photos. She is awesome and her work is incredible.
2) Thank you Broken Spoke and Dale Watson for providing an awesome backdrop for my photos.
3) If you’re a bride, get the portraits done. Just be creative and make them reflect who you are.