Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Update

Well, things have been pretty busy, but have also been going well.
On Friday night we didn't do a whole lot.  I had a seminar for work that ran a little late, so we were both a little worn out.  We had dinner and mostly hung out around the house, I guess.
Saturday we did some shopping, ran some errands, got some exercise, and did some chores. 
In the afternoon I went over to a Thweatt/Connell family cookout.  I got to catch up with Aleda, Charlie, Joe, Janette, Lee, and Sarah, and hang out with their spouses and kiddos (although Lee and Sarah's boys were at camp).  It was really great to see all of them and catch up, as well as eat some really good food and meet the family members to whom I hadn't yet been introduced.  Amy didn't make it to the barbecue because she was getting ready for her mom to come into town the next day, but hopefully next time. 

("Hey, mister!  Would you buy us some beer?")
On Sunday we got up and ate breakfast and ran another errand or two, and then we went to the airport to pick up Jean!  Jean has been staying with us since Sunday, and we've been enjoying having her in town!  She and Amy have been running around shopping, hanging around the house, and just doing some fun mother-daughter stuff.  We've got a new cover for the futon, and yesterday we got a new lamp shade, so they're making little changes and improvements around the house.

(Amy schools Jean in proper South Austin livin')
 
We also went out to dinner with my parents on Monday night at Chuy's, and last night Amy made a delicious salmon dish with a sort of tomato and onion topping (she served it with rice, asparagus, and tasty beet salad, as well bread and herb butter).  Yum!


So that's been mostly about it.  Work's been busy. 

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well!  It's been fun having Jean with us!

Peace.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Update

Hey!  Hi!  Hello!

Our weekend was pretty darn good- mostly.
On Friday night we went to Zach Theatre to see The Who's Tommy.  We had a really good time.  The music was well performed and got better and better throughout the show.  In the first act, the performers seemed just slightly timid in their performances and perhaps just a little bit self conscious.  By the second act, though, they were belting out the songs, and the band was rocking and rolling their way through the music.  For those who don't know the Tommy story, the plot of the thing can make for a weird experience.  In short, it's about a boy who goes through some harrowing, traumatic experiences (i.e., abuse) and loses his ability to speak and interact with the world.  Eventually, as an adult, he reconnects with the world and gains a sort of guru-celebrity status, in large part through his outstanding ability to play pinball.  In the end, he really just wants to be able to feel like a normal person.
The story is strange and bizarre and unsettling and ultimately uplifting.  It deals with some uncomfortable subject matter, but views it through a lens of absurdity and ridiculousness.  Ultimately it's a story about overcoming obstacles and rediscovering oneself.
The music, originally written by Pete Townshend for a rock opera concert album, is pretty great stuff.  Adapted for the stage, the songs manage to steer the musical away from the collection of ballads that typically constitute the tunes for a lot of musical theatre.
Anyway, we had a nice time.  It was our first time to The Topfer Theatre, Zach's new performance space, and it's a nice facility.  Not a bad seat in the house.
Afterward we got an ice cream at Sonic and watched as at least 3 policemen, 2 firefighters, and 2 EMS personnel eventually loaded a homeless guy into an ambulance because of he had a hurt leg.  It was quite a spectacle.  If the first cop on scene had helped hop the guy  over to his patrol cruiser and driven him to the hospital, he probably woulda saved the city at least $20,000.

On Saturday Amy went over to her friend Shelly's place to do some crafting.  They were making planters, and I expect one or two of them to show up at our house later in the week.
While Amy was being creative, I went for a bike ride and then I went with our friends Chad and Mary to go watch Gimme Shelter at the Alamo Ritz.  Gimme Shelter is, of course, one of the best concert documentaries ever made.  Watching it, you can sort of feel the innocence/naivete of the 60's caving in on itself.  I'd seen parts of the movie before on cable, but I'd never seen the whole thing from beginning to end.  Being a Rolling Stones fan will enhance your enjoyment, but it's not really necessary.  It's a really powerful movie. 
So it was good to see the movie and hang out with Mary and Chad.  Chad got us the tickets, so thanks to him for being all on top of that!

On Saturday evening we went and had Chinese food at Din Ho with Shelly and Kit.  It was good.  Good food, good company, and a sort of entertaining waitstaff (they're pretty quick to warn the white folks when they're ordering out of their depth). 
Afterward we went back to their house and watched an episode of Naked and Afraid.  It's a crazy show where they drop these "survivalists" (some apparently deserve that title more than others) off in the middle of nowhere, buck naked, and make them fend for themselves for 21 days.  The episode that we watched involved the Amazonian rainforests.  From the comfort of Shelly and Kit's living room we watched people get eaten alive by mosquitoes, practically starve (they did eat an electric eel!), and generally go kind of crazy.  People will do anything to be on TV.

On Sunday we went out to breakfast.  We did a few chores, and then we watched the World Cup championship game between Germany and Argentina.  It was a good game, but there was a lot of play in the midfield as both sides fought to control it.  Consequently, I think Amy got a little impatient.  Not enough shots on goal.  When the game moved into overtime, still tied at zero-zero, there was some groaning.  When Germany finally scored, I celebrated, and Amy loudly proclaimed, "Finally!  It's about time!"
My wife don't have no patience for teams that dink around without charging the goal!!

After the World Cup, while Amy was working out, our air conditioner conked out.
My parents are out of town, and after a little conversation and planning, we fled to their house out in Steiner Ranch.  We took Cassidy with us.

This morning we had a repair guy come out, but our old AC unit is dead.  We need a new one.  He's coming back out tomorrow to install a new air conditioner for us.  Keep your fingers crossed and send us good vibes.  No one can last long during July in Texas without air conditioning (we're not cut out to be on Naked and Afraid, obviously).

Other from that, we had a good weekend.

Hope you guys are doing well.

Monday, July 07, 2014

4th of July Weekend

Our weekend went well!
Did I mention that I love three day holiday weekends?  Well, I do.  It was really cool having the 4th fall on a Friday this year.
On Thursday night we went went to Esther's Follie's with my parents, Don, Judy, Sarah, Marlene, and Tom.  I've seen different shows at Esther's Follies a number of times over the years.
I liked the show.  The vaudeville-style performance is a lot of things- by turns silly, witty, farcical, satirical, and wacky.  It involves everything from biting political satire to magic acts.  I think Amy was a little bit overwhelmed by the loud, hyperkinetic nature of the show (she didn't know what she was getting into, and we were sitting right down front under the PA speaker), but I'm glad she got to experience it.  If I ever get her back out there again we're going to sit a little bit farther back...

On Friday we went down to San Marcos to Dick's house (Jamie's dad) with Ryan, Jamie, Nicole, Matt, and Juan to celebrate Independence Day.  We had a really nice time.  Ryan grilled up some hamburgers and hot dogs, and we had potato salad and bean salad and chips and beer.  Amy made a dessert pizza, and Dick made an apple crisp.  We had a good time.  Despite getting a little rain (which was quite welcome), we got to spend some time sitting outside.  In the spirit of true American patriotism, we spent some time complaining about politics and discussing TV shows.
I challenge you to point out something in this picture that doesn't
represent 'Murica!

Matt praying that Ryan and Juan will stop talking.
The drive home from San Marcos was kind of crazy.  The radio was tuned to a classical station that was playing Sousa tunes and patriotic movie soundtracks, and we were night driving up a moderately busy I35 while lots and lots of fireworks went off both close to and far from the highway.  It seemed like it went on all the way back into town.  I think we probably hit the timing just right to see fireworks displays in San Marcos, Kyle, and Buda, as well as some pretty impressive private fireworks displays.
Anyway, it was a cool drive, and a little surreal.

On Saturday we did some grocery shopping and exercised.  I did a little bit of yard work.  We went to Home Depot and bought new light fixtures/sconces for the front of the house.  Amy helped me hang them up.  Mounting them turned out to be a little bit more complicated than I first imagined, so it took longer than I thought it would.
It got a little bit warm out there, but we got it done.  Couldn't have pulled it off without Amy.

Saturday evening we took it easy.  Had some fish, and watched Orange is the New Black.

On Sunday we went out for breakfast, and then I went for a bike ride.  It hit my 2000th mile on my bike during my ride.  I documented it with a picture of my odometer and a picture of my location at the time that the odometer flipped to 2000 (which was on Buffalo Pass, on my way home from my "South Austin Loop").  The weather was nice, and it was pleasant, ride.  Just a little over 12 miles.




I'm not trying to boast or brag about the 2000 mile thing (I have friends who probably have actually ridden ten times that far or farther), but I think it's okay to have some pride in things that require a little effort, right?
I wish I'd hit the 2000 mark a little sooner (I've definitely been slacking lately on the cycling), but it was good, anyway.  Now to see if I can get to 3000 a little more quickly...

After the bike ride I went to the pool with Amy.  It was strangely pleasant outside for July in Texas.
 

We had a nice time at the pool, had some sandwiches and watermelon for lunch, and then I had band practice in the evening.  Remarkably, all five of us made it to band practice. 
That was cool.  We played some new stuff and some old stuff.  Somehow we pulled off a pretty decent impromptu version of Gimme Shelter, despite never having played it before or having practiced it.

And that was basically it.
Amy made some really tasty green chicken enchiladas for dinner.  I tried to watch an episode of 24: Live Another Day, but I'm having a hard time getting through it.  I used to really like 24, but now it all seems very contrived and forced, with some really bad acting thrown in (William Devane just manages to remind me how silly the show is every time he delivers a line). 
I finally gave up and read articles on my iPad instead.

So that was the weekend.  It was very nice.  Even though it was three days long, it went by really fast...


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Update

It's been a while since I had a chance to write a post.  Amy and I went on a trip to Arizona last week, and then this week I've just been extremely busy with work and stuff.

Our trip to Arizona didn't really go as planned, but it turned out pretty well in the end.
We had initially planned to go and stay in a cabin that Amy's family owns up in Munds Park near Flagstaff, but Amy wasn't feeling great, so we were with the entire family for only a couple of days before we ended up heading back "down the hill" to Amy's parents house in Peoria.  So it was a quieter trip than we had originally planned, but we ended up having some time to relax and visit with Amy's parents.  Life's been busy lately, so it was good to have some time to go for some walks, go to the pool a bit, and decompress.
I'd like to send our thanks out once again to Jean and Greg for being such gracious hosts.

On Thursday night after I got back I went to dinner with my parents and some family friends, the Blood family, and my cousin Susan and her daughter, Ciara.  It was Ciara's birthday, so it was good to see her and hang out a little bit.  We went to Rudy's and had some barbecue.

Last weekend we went to a party over at Ryan and Jamie's house.  It was a fun time.  We chatted with a few folks, ate some food, and had a couple of drinks.  I got to meet Ryan's boss, Debra, as well as some of his other coworkers, and catch up with a few other friends.  My parents were there, so we chatted with them.

On Sunday I got together with Reed, and we played some music, songs collected between the two of us under the nom de guerre for our two man configuration, Wastewood.  We had a good time, released a lot of energy, and made a lot of noise.

Other from that, I've been working.  I watched all of the U.S. games for World Cup.  It was a really fun ride.  I'm sorry that we got eliminated by Belgium, but I was just proud of us for getting that far, and, to be honest, Belgium was the better team in that game, so there was no shame in losing by one goal in overtime.  Our goalkeeper, Tim Howard, put in an amazing performance, but the onslaught was just too much.

That's about it.

Hope everyone's doing okay!  Have a happy 4th of July.

Thinking of you tonight, Jeff Wilson.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day; Update

We had a good weekend, but it was pretty busy, and once again, it felt pretty short.
On Thursday night we had dinner with Jamie.  Ryan was still on a work trip to Helsinki, Finland (crazy, right?), so on Friday we picked Jamie up and took her to Thai Passion for dinner.  We had a really nice time.  Jamie had her brother, Doug, in town with her after Ryan left, so we got to catch up a little bit and hear about what they had been up to.

Saturday we went shopping and did some chores and took care of a lot of stuff.  We got a little yard work done.  We each got in a little workout, and then Amy and I watched the second half of the England-Italy World Cup match in the afternoon.   
Saturday evening we had out friends Shelly and Kit over to play Settler's of Catan.  Amy made some queso, and Shelly brought brownies.  We had a really fun time hanging out with them.  We've owned Settlers of Catan for a while now, but this was our first time to actually play it.  Maybe it was because we were figuring the game out or whatever (we were also just talking a lot), but it took like 3 hours to play, when the description on the box tells you the game is supposed to take about an hour.  I think we finally got it down, though, by the end.  We need to play again soon before I forget whatever limited amount of strategy I had managed to glean by the end of the game.
Anyway, we had a really good time.

On Sunday we walked over to Central Market for breakfast.   Amy bought a few grocery items for cooking.  Sunday afternoon we did some chores, and I went for a bike ride.  After the bike ride and a couple of chores, I had a rest in the new hammock that Amy bought for the house.  Even though it was a little warm out, the combination of the breeze and the shade made for a very pleasant experience.  I actually fell asleep for a little bit.


Post bike ride hammock selfie
Sunday evening my family dropped by for a Father's Day cookout.  It was really nice to have everyone over.  Ryan was freshly back from Finland, so we weren't sure whether he and Jamie would make it.  It was a pleasant surprise to have them! 
We had chicken and chicken-veggie kabobs (Amy has a tasty Asian marinade for the kabobs) and macaroni salad and regular salad and fruit and a sort of pickled cucumber sort of dish.  The food was all very good.  For dessert, Amy made German chocolate brownies that were also very excellent.
It was a really nice way to spend Father's Day.  Good to have the family together and have a chance to catch up with everyone.
It seemed like Dad had a good time.  I hope he did.  He definitely deserved a nice Father's Day.

And that's about it!
Hope everyone has a good week!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Update

Okay...
Quick rundown of the weekend.  On Friday night we ate a quick dinner and headed over to Zilker Park to catch the Austin Civic Orchestra's free summer concert.  Their theme was "That '70s Show", and they played a lot of music from... the 1970's.  Tunes included The Star Wars theme, "Pinball Wizard" by The Who, "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas, selections from Jesus Christ Superstar, Abba songs from Mama Mia, a Led Zeppelin medley, and some Barry Manilow songs.  It was a fun evening.  Our friend Laura plays clarinet in the orchestra, so she initially got us started on going to see the civic orchestra, but now we just go because they're fun.  This is our second time to attend the free summer concert (plus we've been to other performances), and it's really pleasant to sit on the grass, listen to music and watch kids break out plastic lightsabers and launch into battle once the Star Wars theme begins (they also seem to really enjoy dancing to Abba's "Dancing Queen", but who doesn't?).

(see Laura in there playing clarinet?)
 
 
On Saturday we exercised and then headed over to Barton Springs.  Initially we were a little grumbly when we got there.  The back parking lot was closed, and when we got into the springs, they had almost three quarters of the grassy areas closed off to work on the lawn.  The admission was free, though (probably due to the inconveniences), and once we found ourselves a spot and plopped down, we had a nice time relaxing in the sun and enjoying the water.  We fled before it got too crowded, and we had a nice time.
 
(Me?!  Excited about summer?  Mayyybe...)
 
So we had a good time at the pool, and then we went home and ate sandwiches and went to the store and ran errands.  Amy made some sort of pineapple frozen thing in the ice cream maker which was really good (not really ice cream, not really frozen yogurt, so I'm not sure what to call it.  A little icier than creamy).
Saturday night we went to a birthday party for our friend, Jason.  We met some new people and played Cards Against Humanity (which, as Amy, the tactician, pointed out, is really more of an activity than a game).  I drank a couple of beers.  Pleasant evening.
Sunday we got up and went to Curra's for breakfast (hooray for migas!).  We had some thoughts of going swimming again on Sunday, but it was sort of rainy and muggy and cloudy.  Despite the weird weather, we got some chores done around the house and ran some errands.  Eventually I went for bike ride, which was okay, but not great because of aforementioned humidity.
For dinner, Amy made mushroom spinach enchiladas with tomatillo sauce.  (I really like them and had asked her to make them, and she did, and it was awesome).
After dinner we watched Game of Thrones.  Big battle at The Wall.  Pretty cool, but all of the other plotlines on the show (and there are a lot of them) were put on hold for this battle.  Still, we got snow giants and oversized mammoths, and that was pretty darn cool.

Okay, that was it.
Nice weekend.
Hope everyone else has been doing well.
My brother, Ryan, is in Finland this week on a work trip.  Very cool for him.  My mom's parents were Finnish, so he's making the trip to the homeland.  Someday I'd like to see it.  Hope he has a good time.

Have a good week!!

Monday, June 02, 2014

Update

The weekend was good, but it went by so very, very fast.

On Friday we just sort of relaxed.  We watched some a British movie called In the Loop, which was pretty good.  It was basically a sort of comedy about a bunch of politicians in the lead up to the Iraq War.  We watched the beginning of the movie on Thursday, and I wasn't really feeling it.  I was a little tired, and the characters seemed a little ridiculous.  On Friday night, though, once we were more than half an hour in, I started to realize that the whole movie was a biting satire of the political process which led up to the quagmire of the Iraq War.  I started to enjoy the movie a lot more.  Maybe I was just in a better mood and not quite as tired.  I don't know.
Anyway, good flick.  Funny performances.  I'm looking forward to having Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor Who.  I hope they can find some writers to put together some decent scripts for him.
We also watched an episode of Cowboy Bebop.  Amy recently watched Princess Mononoke, so I guess she was still a little hungry for some more anime.  I've seen most of the Cowboy Bebop episodes before, but it's been a long time, so I didn't remember them that well.  Anyway, we enjoyed it.

On Saturday we went to the grocery store, ran some errands, and did some chores.  It was a little bit hot and muggy out, but I went for a bike ride, anyway.  The ride was a little tough, but I felt good afterwards.
Saturday night we went over to a birthday party for Matt over at Matt and Nicole's house.
We had a good time!  They had lots of good food, the company was entertaining and pleasant, and it was nice to finally get a chance to see Matt and Nicole's house.  We'd been hearing about it for some time.

(Matt contemplates the flickering candles atop the edible
symbol of his own mortality- a delicious carrot cake)

(a heapin' helpin' of liquor infused 'splainin')
On Sunday I went to church with Amy.  After church I sat in on a meeting of the Central Presbyterian Green Team.  The Green Team, headed up by our friend Jessie, is trying to plan and implement ways to make the Central Presbyterian congregation more environmentally conscious.  I know that Amy and Jessie are both excited about the group's potential, so it'll be fun to see how it shapes up.  On Sunday afternoon we went to Walmart for some trash cans (wheeee!) and had lunch and got some exercise.  Sunday evening I went to band practice over at Reed's house.  We had a nice rehearsal, even though I think we all agreed that we were a little tired.
Sunday night Amy made really delicious chicken tikka masala.  Really excellent.
After I did the dishes I did a little bit of stuff for work, and we went to bed.

That was it.  Pretty good weekend, but too short.  Hope you guys had a good one!