Tacos and toilets and costumes… oh my…

First things first – this picture was going to be a “Things I See” post.  Or maybe Roscoe says.  But it demands its story be told. 

My property management company, after months of plumbing issues in my rental, decided some fixtures needed replacing.  I came home after their scheduled work day to find this at my front doormail (723)

CLASSY. 

Unfortunately they were removed before I could spray paint them and use them as lawn décor.  Maybe next time.

 

 

It took me a couple of weeks to find my rhythm at my new job.  Now tickets roll off in a sometimes stupefying manner (for a newbie like me) and I handle them one at a time.  I have not had the line awkwardly waiting for me as of yet.  Working garmache  is more challenging than anyone who hasn’t done it can imagine.  Plating salads, beds for proteins and desserts may not be glamorous, but my work often has to be done in order for everyone else’s to go out the door. And when things are busy, trying to prep, restock, work the station and rush literally around everyone crowding my space I find a sort of order in the madness.  A spark inside that drives me to meet and outrun the demands of any moment on the clock.  It isn’t always perfect.  There’s a lot I don’t yet know.  But it is exactly the kind of challenge I’ve always found rewarding and fun.

 

So naturally, yesterday I left plating lovely salads behind and proceeded to Maria’s Taco Express – which I’d never visited but have always driven by, finding both my curiosity and amusement stimulated. 

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It is a funny little cantina of a place with lots to offer.  Indoor and outdoor seating.  Local beer and live music nights.  Restaurant cats on the patio. (Yes, that’s right. Cats.  Real ones). A rusty antique truck open on the upper deck for your children’s playtime enjoyment. I love it, and highly recommend the barbacoa.mail (721)

 

 

 

(Sidenote:  Upon departure, I was treated to a local gym billboard with this inspirational message – “New Glutes!”   Hmm…  the ability to buy this year’s model certainly has some appeal.  Ass stores should totally be a thing).

 

Otherwise, I’ve been trying to decide how to occupy myself for Halloween.  I am hoping to find some Hitchcock showings, at the very least.  I already have an 80s-centric costume lined up.  I may or may not blog on it next week, so no spoilers.  

Whatever you’re doing, don’t just sit there!  Get off your couch, out of your comfort zone, and do something ridiculous.  Halloween is NOT all about the kids.  It’s the one day those who need an excuse to be silly have one.  Tell me, what are you, your kids, neighbors, bffs and pets going to do and be this year?  Seriously, people, tell me!  Better yet, post pictures! 

Take on the weekend.

 

 

Gravity and Inertia, As They Pertain to My Week (Plus some other stuff)

2013-04-28 20.48.43I have, for as long as I remember, been an insomniac, while secondarily suffering from sleep inertia.  It takes a long time to fall asleep, but when I do, I am in the tight clutches of slumber to such an extent it is nearly impossible to disturb me.  In recent years, waking has been an earlier and earlier occurrence, but this week has found me a returning victim of dreaded bed gravity, wherein no escape seems possible.  

I have rushed out the door for class five days straight.  Time is a tricky thing, indeed.

 

School has moved us to the food of the Americas, and a more confident classroom. It’s interesting to have excuse to ponder the wide variances of cuisine across the U. S. alone. And, in my southern reversion, to be reminded how important the reign of food is over the demeanors of its consumers.  Every region has some good offerings, but some just can’t compete with the simple, grandma’s garden, or out of the boat meals I’m used to.

  I am spoiled, having grown up in a passionately food-centric part of the country, where nothing can happen that isn’t culinarily associative. Weddings, funerals, holidays, sure.  New neighbors? Make them a pie.  Fifth Sunday?  Potluck. Quitting your job? Let’s hit the local BBQ joint.  Your kid is potty trained?  I’ll drink to that!  And when we’re all stuffed to the gills, we’ll STILL be talking about food.

 

My excitement this week was attending the Lumineers concert at the new amphitheater in town. 

2013-04-26 19.22.13 Jack Wilson, an Austin native with serious 70s influence, and the Tumbleweeds – a swampy New Orleans based band complete with triangle, keg drum and mouth harp – opened the absolutely packed venue. Between the Tumbleweeds covering Woody Guthrie and the Lumineers paying homage to Bob Dylan, along with all their cool, simple, skillful originals, it was a flawless musical experience. 

Along the way, I sighted some mondo mustaches and fringed tshirts, circa 1986.  Dear cultural universe: It’s ok to let some things die.

It only took 2 hours to get out of the parking lot, after 1am, and the town still raged on.  This truly is a city that never sleeps.

 

One last thing –

I am not a tactless person, by any means, but somewhat unedited in my commentary and responses. For me, it is mostly because I don’t like not knowing where people stand, and I have no intention of leaving the question of my take for others on things affecting them.  (Also, it’s my defective internal monologue at work, with which a lot of you are familiar. I make no excuses). This week, someone commented to me that they had never been able to do that.  It led me to wonder, what would life be, if we all just said what we really meant? Manners exist in order to provide comfort in social situations, to be understood guidelines for conduct. Some are silly, outdated, baffling.  Some are useful. Still, I question whether so much self censorship is counterintuitive in some contexts. In others, it is not as well enforced as it needs to be. Those lines are drawn so differently in individual minds, in cultural practice, in private self rule.  It’s something I think on from time to time, but rarely does it dictate in me regret for my choices.  I am a believer in saying what needs to be said rather than what I think someone else wants me to say. Nevertheless, I am not deluded into thinking my opinions and feelings are the only valid ones. We all have our own inertia to weigh, our own gravity to consider.

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Tell me your thoughts.

 

 

 

Moon Over Austin

2013-04-03 17.44.53Perspective is a tricky thing.

I’ve been exploring art lately.

I think it is generally accepted (as far as society is concerned, for what it’s worth) an artist’s job is not only to reflect himself or herself through any given piece, but also to allow the viewers to see themselves, whether differently or in the familiar.  That is an artist’s gift to us, in part.

Given this, my questions crop:  What, in turn, do the pieces with which I identify say about me?

The ones I choose to display in my home or office?  The ones I don’t, because someone might get the “wrong impression”?  OK, you’re right. I don’t have any of those…  But other people do.

I’ve been weeding out prints that no longer fit my outlook or the home I wish to substantiate.  I’ve had some happy run ins with pieces and people which are aiding my artistic evolution. I’ve been more thoughtful about the things I display because I genuinely enjoy them.

How important is this?  I don’t really know.

 

On the school front ~    The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of steak, bourgonnione, veal piccata, sweetbreads, leg of lamb, farro, pork ribs, fish and shellfish.

Turns out I am a pro at slapping flesh in a pan and sautéing it appropriately.  Fish fileting by school standards…mmm… it’s hit or miss.  Gravlax brought a Green Eggs and Ham moment for me over salmon, which I have never loved.  Cured, I find it perfectly palatable.  Flounder was magical, but my favorite dish so far, with flavors of home:

 

 

Image( I made the mignonette and shucked some myself).

Friday was a challenge, leaving me wondering, once again, why it is I’ve chosen to pursue this line of education.  Some of us went out for beers, asses handed to us by a rough day in the kitchen, and I realized how much I appreciate being surrounded by people who love and think about food in so many of the ways I do. We have different experiences and approaches, different goals, but the value of being a part of this group isn’t lost on me.

 

Extracurriculars ~ I found a mediocre sports bar that promises to always broadcast the Braves for me.  With their record at 5-1 I want to see all I can!  The team is off to a dynamic start, and I for one haven’t missed a single trade or retiree.  (Wait, did I just say that?  YEAH I did).

 

I caught the Sons of Fathers appearance at Waterloo Records this week.  Their take on the roots movement is fresh, and I found some of their live performances more impressive than their recorded counterparts.  {We all know I bought the album}.  I also saw Liz Morphis’s jazz session at Evangeline. She sang exactly what she should have, and sang it simply and well.  What more could I ask?

 

Midweek I hit The Bakehouse just to get out of the house.  I love their small bar, which is constantly packed with regulars.  But can somebody please tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

 

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That’s right.   Highchairs.  In a bar.  It makes me chortle to myself every time… 

 

Side note ~  I had friends in for the weekend.  I subjected them to my cooking, but also took them down South Congress, and stayed up later than anyone should catching up on life. The only thing I have to relate from the weekend to you is, sometimes the moon just needs howling.

 

One last laugh ~ My first tax return in over a decade came in the mail this week:

 

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Now please, tell me all your thoughts on art, taxes, and howling at the crescent moon.

Road Humps Ahead

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First, let’s get this out of the way –

Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone.  Here’s hoping you’re looking sexy in your green attire while doing irresponsible things, just because you can.

Now, about those road humps.

There are signs around my residential area indicating the presence of said “humps” in the road. They are almost as long as I am tall, 4 across, wide and raised, but not in such a way as to cause violent upheaval to drivers.   Though I would not be likely to look at them and think, “Humps,” that is exactly what they are.  Still, the sign wording could be improved, somehow.  For now, I’ll continue to snicker like a junior high boy every time I see them.

Here’s how the week shaped up in my world:

Educationally, the most notable experience was chicken fabrication. Mine was missing a wing, but that didn’t stop me from hacking what I imagined as a peg-legged chicken hawk into grotesque slabs of flesh.  (The first breast I carved was actually really pretty, but it was all downhill from there.)  We progressed to producing a full meal menu per table, which feels much more legitimate.  Every week, I ask myself what it is I hope to gain from this experience. So far, it is the experience alone.  Because I can. 

My class schedule means I often visit places at odd hours, when no one else is around. Or when only one or two people are in sight.  I don’t mind, as it gives me the time I prefer to fully experience new venues, especially if they are food related. . I can chat up the staff because they aren’t as rushed.  I can observe the daily doings of a given establishment, and catalogue the useful bits.  I can sit and relax. Ponder. Revel.

This week I found a new coffee shop that is part of a small chain, but cooler and far superior to the Starbucks on every corner – in my opinion. Not only was the latte just what I needed, but the oatmeal bar- a big cube of caramel and chocolate chips lightly dusted with oatmeal crumbs – made me want to squeeze somebody. 

Galaxy Café won me over with their tasty sandwich, spicy herbal tea and Main Root beverages on tap.  Not to mention their support of Go Local Austin.   I sat by a window, watching the world rush on, a Galaxy employee delivering orders to outside tables in my periphery. A minute later, the same employee reemerged with a bowl of water for a customer’s dog.  That’s the kind of employee I want.  That’s what brings people, including me, back.

An evaluative moment in my week lead me to think about words. Mine specifically.  Others’ directed toward me.  Or not.  How and why we use words, the motivating choices we make about language.  I learn so much about someone not only from their stories but from the things they choose not to tell me.  Actions and motion are the stuff of life. But our utterances can spur them or damp them. Which combination of syllables will carry us over the next set of life’s road humps? It is in the doing we affect the world around us, but words prey on our insides. Whether or not we admit it, see it, like it, words matter.  And that, in the end, is why I blog.