Monday, June 25, 2007

My 8th Grade Heart's Desire

I only lived in the tiny town of Cross Lanes, West Virginia for a little less than two years. While there, I attended 7th & 8th grade at Andrew Jackson Junior High. I loved living in Cross Lanes despite, or maybe because of, the tiny size of the place. I could tell you the name of every kid in my grade, and maybe even every kid in the school.

When Cross Lanes didn't have what I needed, I would take the public transportation bus into the thriving metropolis / state's capital city of Charleston to go to the mall with my BFF, Angie Hindle. I liked the historic buildings in Charleston. There was a cool, huge library in the city that smelled bookish. There was a movie theater downtown where I spent many weekends.

When I think about it, Austin is kind of like Charleston: abundant in natural beauty with a river through the center, a small-ish city that serves as the state capital, with a quirky and friendly populace, and a good arts scene with a low barrier to entry. Maybe I liked Austin so much when I moved here for college because it reminded me of the super-happy times I had in Charleston.

In 8th grade, a beautiful, exotic-looking boy caught my eye at school. He was a year older than me. The rumor was that he had been expelled from Charleston Catholic School, which gave him a dangerous allure. He had the perfect skater-boy hair and the skateboard to go with it. His name was Virgil Sadorra. Virgil and I had an on-again / off-again flirtation over the years (yes, even after I moved away to the very different town of Plano, Texas) that never amounted to anything. The last time we spoke was the summer before my sophomore year at the University of Texas. He was about to go to culinary school, having discovered a great affinity for cooking. He sent me a little troll doll in a chef's jacket, which was just the cutest gesture. He even talked about driving down to Austin to visit me, but he wanted to stay in my dorm room with me, and that was just way too scandalous to consider, so the visit never happened.

Friday Virgil's name came up when I was asked about old crushes. I googled him today. He owns three (!) hot restaurants in Charleston now: Cilantros - a tex-mex place, Delish - popular lunch spot and Vandalia Lounge - yum, mojitos. I grabbed this photo of Virgil with his son from Charleston photographer, Rick Lee's, blog. Awwww, so cute!

I'm really happy for Virgil. He did good. I'm also really happy with my life in Austin and really happy to have my sweet husband, Chad. Chad and I joke that we wouldn't have liked each other if we met back in grade school, so the timing was good that we met at college.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thanks, Hillary (Bergman; not Clinton)

I was having a rotten day. So very rotten was my mood, that I thought I was going to start crying while driving home from the gym, when usually the gym makes me feel happy and high on endorphins. I'll spare you the stupid details of why I was feeling so low.

I got home and read the email pasted below from my awesome massage therapist, Hillary Bergman. It lifted my mood and actually made me laugh out loud and count myself lucky to have three cute, sweet, weird kitties.

To All Pet Owners

To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door - nose height.

Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, and try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years -- canine or feline attendance is not required.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:

1 They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"nature.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.

Remember: In many ways, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:

1. Eat less
2. Don't ask for money all the time
3. Are easier to train
4. Normally come when called
5. Never ask to drive the car
6. Don't hang out with drug-using friends
7. Don't smoke or drink
8. Don't have to buy the latest fashions
9. Don't want to wear your clothes
10. Don't need a "gazillion" dollars for college.

And finally,

11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Insomnia Leads to Lawn Improvement

During a bout of insomnia last week, I watched a gardening show at 5:00 in the morning, and got a bee in my bonnet. I measured and bought my project supplies. I informed Chad that I'd be spending the weekend crawling under the deck and that I could use his muscles for digging holes (those muscles shouldn't be just for show.)

I put down 288 square feet of weed black-out fabric using 74 earth staples (giant staples that hold the fabric down to the dirt) and covered it with 11 bags of mulch. I used the leftover paver-stones from our driveway for the edging. Chad helped me dig holes for 9 aztec grass plants along the sides of the deck and I put out 6 coneflower plants along the front of the deck. I moved the glow-in-the-dark gazing ball over, and tah-dah! The deck area looks better!

Oh yeah, I found 3 huge snails and one tiny grass snake in the plants from the nursery. All were relocated to the far corner of the backyard. None were harmed. I just need to find a St. Francis of Assisi statue that I like...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Wrestling: Soap Opera / Pot: Kettle

While watching a recorded TV show, my thumb was a tad slow to hit the fast-forward button when the commercials started. I saw a promo for the latest installment of the World Wrestling Entertainment show, and was transfixed by a limousine explosion! I watched the whole commercial which reported that Mr. McMahon, the chairman of WWE, was in the limo at the time of the explosion, but that WWE would soldier on with their wrestling matches. Purely from an anthropological standpoint, I decided I needed to go to the WWE website for more information. The site reported the "presumed death" of McMahon and built quite a story around the "presumed" incident. An exploding limo, federal investigation, no body, questions surrounding "presumed" victim's psychological condition, a possible conspiracy... sounds like a soap opera plot. Who wants to start the betting pool on when Mr. McMahon will rise from his "presumed" flaming death much like a mythical phoenix rising from the ashes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nancy Drew Was a Great Role Model

My mom came to town last week so she could finally see the house all finished. She oooooh-ed and aaaaah-ed over all the hard work Chad and I did on this house, saying she hardly recognized it. Yay! She also harped on her and my dad's initial impression of our house purchase, that we were crazy and might get divorced over the very bad decision to buy and fix-up such an old house in need of so much love. Boooo... Have a little faith in me, lady. I know what I'm doing most of the time, and I know when to call in the pros to help me.

Mom shared a ride to Shreveport with Chad and me so we could attend Grandpa Regan's memorial service. It was a lovely service despite the Shriner (yep, the dudes with the funny hats who help raise money for burn victims) tradition to play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. It was hard to see my dad's family again for another funeral so soon (six and a half months) after Dad's funeral. I got sick for a few days, as if that physical sensation of grief came back for a little visit. I'm feeling better now.

Mom also brought my old Nancy Drew books to me! I can't wait to re-read them. I wish I had the whole collection of the original 56 novels, but will make due with the 13 that I saved from childhood. When I was in elementary school, I would take my allowance every week to the Parisian's department store in Birmingham and buy another hardback book from the Nancy Drew series. I also borrowed a lot of the books from the local library, which explains why I only own 13 of them. I was flipping through the books and found an old Garfield bookmark. Memories of being a precocious little bookworm flooded back. I loved to read the mysteries in which teenage Nancy was so empowered and fearless in her quest to solve the case. In an age before the term "girl-power" was in popular use, Nancy Drew embodied girl-power! I eventually graduated to reading Agatha Christie mysteries in middle school. By then my family was living in Cross Lanes, West Virginia. I would take the bus into Charleston to the mall and buy my mysteries at the dreary Walden Books, which was not nearly as posh as the Parisian's department store.

If I hadn't had Nancy Drew as a role model at such an important developmental phase, would I have dared to buy this old house and work so hard to make it our home? Who knows. Maybe watching too many episodes of Trading Spaces back in its heyday had a little something to do with it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

My Perfume? It's Lake Water

Chad and I went kayaking by moonlight on Town Lake last night. We both loved it. The scenery was beautiful along the tree-lined banks with the city skyline to the east and the huge, stunning homes of Westlake to the southwest. We journeyed from the rowing docks on Stratford to Red Bud Island, pausing for a lecture on the history of Austin lakes and dams and the moonlight towers before rowing back. As we got further away from the MoPac bridge with its traffic noise, the night was quiet with a nice breeze that made a few waves on the lake.

I'm signing up for next month's moonlight cruise too. Come with us! Sign up through UT Informal Classes.

Here's the course description from the Active Life category:
"Moonlight Kayak Trip on Town Lake -- Experience Town Lake like you haven't before: by the light of the full moon. Our guides will take revelers on a journey in hopes of seeing all kinds of wild night life and moon beams dancing on natural springs. You will feel a million miles away from Austin's hustle and bustle as you take pleasure in Town Lake at its most mysterious, by the light of the silvery moon. Our trip will be at a relaxed pace so both beginner and advanced paddlers alike will enjoy it. Show up 15 minutes early for a quick kayak lesson by Rowing Dock instructors."

It's appropriate that I would be out on the lake last night. My grandfather (Dad's dad) passed away yesterday morning. He was 94, so I have a real peace that it was his time to go. Grandpa Regan lived on Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana. I learned to water ski and slalom with him on that lake. I loved going out in the boat. I was terrified of the snapping turtles and water moccasin snakes that I saw on many occasions, but braved the waters anyway. That's kind of like life. There's some scary stuff out there, but you brave it anyway and have some great experiences.