Friday, October 30

would you trust this man to watch your brownies?

sure, rick steves looks all square and respectable now, in his homogeneous oxford/khaki uniform, but here he is then. yes officer, that's the guy who tried to sell us pot. the one with the giant clown wig.

a hippie. to the core.

I mean, just look at what he has to say about scandinavian paternity leave! commie.

the rick steves' europe fall travel newsletter just arrived in the mail, and I truly hope another one comes prior to the big clog-wearing-bike-riding-cheese-eating trip of may 2010!


Thursday, October 29

gordoughs donut birthday

yesterday, for deb's birthday, we orchestrated a surprise. of course it helped that her running group had not been up lamar very recently, and that our destination was a very new addition to the "culinary" scene. among deb's favorite things in the world are donuts and ... well, donuts (though she won't hear me on donut cakes being perfectly appropriate at fun, hip weddings the blogosphere over). the valuable tip came from savvy austin eavesdropper, who posted the gordoughs menu and a few pics. so off we went, our crew packed into multiple vehicles (deb driving her own, following blindly as I turned into the wrong lot: it's the old location of holland photo, btw). since few reviews exist at the moment, we were unsure of the seating arrangements/ground-cover situation. fearing a snobeach cop-a-squat-type deal, we packed picnic blankets. on a wednesday, for lunch, they were completely unnecessary. the lot is shared with perfect partner, brevita coffee, and between the two there are eight or nine tables and plenty of chairs. weekend mid-mornings (they've added three hours to the morning side of their listed hours) may be a different situation, but our blankets were superfluous.

so firstly, go there. purely because the folks we met were so pleasantly cool. no douchebaggery whatsoever. when someone overheard the triumphant birthday girl, he inquired, saying "I wish we had some birthday candles!" I wish I had gotten his name, because a little later a hot funky monkey was delivered to our table, covered in candles. either the candles were fabricated from twine and fryer grease, or there was a little special treatment involved. perhaps it didn't hurt that that deb is a cutie.

secondly, donuts are the new cupcakes (see: voodoo donuts-portland, and donut plant-nyc). $3.25 might seem a little crazy for a standard-issue blob of fried dough, but these are some crazy donuts. these are all-four-food-groups, foundation-for-full-meal, hope-this-plastic-fork-holds-up donuts. I'd like to meet the guy capable of sitting down with an entire dozen.

consider the porkey's: on a base of cake donut, cream cheese (dairy), jalapeno jelly (veg) and canadian bacon (protein). ::grin:: okay, so they're a stoner's dream. but aside from my personal greasy-food/heartburn baggage, they were really good, if fairly rich. the mother clucker is very similar to chicken and waffles, if waffles were, you know, fried. a classic flavor combo. the fork part is key to the experience, as they are fairly substantial meals, at that. of the friends who started with a savory combo before the birthday dessert arrived, none could enjoy more than a few bites of the delicious dessert donut. one friend who began with the blackout, had trouble finishing his own, before digging into a few bites of the banana b-day "cake."

{the mother clucker}


{funky monkey}

{black out}

they're beautiful in a special, utilitarian way (like an aardvark or an armadillo). it's all out there, with not much obscured but the freshly fried cake donut. please don't expect an amuse bouche before service, nor a michelin star. but if you're up for a little gustatory adventure, and supportive of the campaign to keep austin as cool at portland, this is the place to go.


Monday, October 26

weekend piccys

{a mysterious, unannounced celebration, but everyone except that dog enjoyed it}

{but all was forgotten the next morning with mention of the p.a.r.k.}

{where fall is in full swing ~ not much color in a central texas fall}

{just a little}

{and a little bit of spring, too}

{texas coral vine}

{elderflower liquor made it almost like the sin fairy was still in town}

{a quiet sunday}

{with lots and lots of beauty migrating through}


Sunday, October 25

johnny tomatoseed

this weekend was marked by unexpected failures and surprising successes.

I'll elaborate: rental-house appliances suck. out of three attempts for the weekend, two were pretty decisive fails. the simple no-oil apple cherry cake? burnt on the outside, gooey inside. still tasty, given 20 seconds in the micro to firm up, but no beauty on the plate. that perfect, no-fail beef burgundy recipe from the perfect recipe? after a second day in the oven (which probably should have been skipped, using the crock pot instead) it was great. but it took — let's see — four hours friday evening plus another four or five today (carry the one)...way too freaking long. so I got out the trusty electronic thermometer and anchored the probe-thingy under the pizza stone, and it seems my oven either runs right on the mark, or it might be approximately 30 degrees below correct for 30 minutes or so...or it might just hang out at 60 degrees higher. hmm. well no wonder. so what's a gal to do? it seems illogical to give up baking entirely. but it seems just as unreasonable buying a better oven for a rental house.

so that just brings us to the happy surprise of the weekend: after mourning the loss of our crispy, blackened victory garden (did you wonder where the garden pics had gone, 'round about june?), the rains returned with such regularity that we hadn't had a chance to keep up with the mowing.
while the front yard remained respectably shabby, the back forty went completely wild. sasquatch wild. that dog would not even venture into the boonies to get his business done, instead skirting the high grass that might conceal trip-wires, tiger traps, or perhaps a pygmy civilization.

so this afternoon we doused ourselves in deet, fired up the (heh. hippie electric) mower and b began to push back into the high grass, horse herb, and saplings that had sprung up in the last few weeks. have I mentioned yet that it's rained a lot? as b's overtaking small sequoias and I'm following behind with the extension cord, stepping over the fire ant mounds now disturbed, I begin noticing the two-foot plants making up the prairie around us. among the grass and creeping horse that...millet? could be.

{brown-top millet}

that plant under the protective canopy of the fig tree? uh huh, a chile pequin. entirely new to our garden.

{chile pequin}

and that unmistakable scent filling the air...seems like it's been absent for it?? wait, what's that b is struggling to push the mower over? my. god. the tomatoes have come home!

{volunteer tomatoes among the two-foot weeds}

{already blooming}

let it never be said that blackland prairie is barren. the only question left is whether (according to b's theory) the birds have developed agriculture, become self-sustaining, and will soon overthrow us.

{staked and ready for more rain}


Friday, October 23

burying the lead's friday again? how did that happen???

ohyeah, between travel, swan-diving back into the deluge of work (shooting an event, plus organizing two program events for next week), rehearsal schedule (with necessary extra rehearsals worked in), social life (a lovely, unexpected friend dropped in from p-ville wednesday night), and coming down with another headcold (that's 2 in three weeks), there's been absolutely no time for reflection, much less writing or cooking. b's eaten sandwiches or pizza for just about every meal this week. I had a balancebar for dinner tuesday, on the 15 minute drive to rehearsal. yeah, it's been one of those weeks.

but here are a few high points:

a little bonus-time avec mom, before heading back to texas. mostly spent erranding, but even a trip to target is kind of awesome when our usual conversing is done via cell-phone, with at&t dropping the call every 3.5 minutes. we found a neat little restaurant on sacramento's v street, called june's cafe. if you're ever nearby, join the regulars there. but not on furlough fridays -- california's jacked-up economy affects everyone therein -- they're closed the first three fridays of the month. it's an odd little spot where the regulars sit with a copy of the sacbee at the bar, and order authentic midcentury-japanese-american specialties like weenie royale with sides of miso soup and macaroni salad. it may sound really strange, but this place was a gem. as were june and her husband, who casually ribbed us like family ("no, no sukiyaki on mondays...recommendations? the sukiyaki is good!"). photos to be posted soon (transl. I left that memory card at work).

terry gross sat down with tracy (it's so hard keeping his and the character's names straight) and she was blown away. I was too -- holy crap. but almost more surprising than morgan's teary, cathartic discussion of his childhood, was the sound of ever-poised terry gross rendered speechless. even if you don't have time to listen to the interview in its entirety, take it to about 13 minutes in (the fifteen minute mark is awkward, pathos gold), and let it roll a while.
mr. morgan: well, you're the first person ever interviewed me in retrospect.
gross: is that true?
mr. morgan: now you see the other side.
gross: oh, okay.
mr. morgan: now you're seeing the other side because you was interested.
gross: it just, like, completely - it's, like, 180 degrees from the over-the-top comic side. It's like whoa. ha ha. it's like…
mr. morgan: I love you for that, terry. I love you for that, just caring, just being interested. I love you just for that.
gross: (hesitant) ...aaalright.
mr. morgan: you know? and I feel good. I feel good.
gross: being that emotional.
mr. morgan: it's emotional. it's emotional for me. it is, and I've got to be honest with thyself. I'm funny. I still turn the funny on. the funnybuster's still sitting downstairs. yeah, the funnybuster - I've got a whole truckload of funny downstairs.
gross: okay. (nervous laughter) (pause) I just think people are going to be kind of stunned, like whoa, this is, like, not what I was expecting. it's like he's got a tissue and…
mr. morgan: well, you think they're going to say I had a meltdown on the air…
gross: no, no, but I…
mr. morgan: people cry. people have emotion.
gross: no no no, I know. I know. I know...
mr. morgan: I feel. yeah, I feel...
tracy morgan is a nut fo sho, certainly hilarious, but I have a sincere respect for him, knowing a little more about his past. wow.

this local blog rocks, and I'm not sure how it was under my radar until now.
photo: austin eavesdropper

and finally...I met dan rather!

{with wife, jean ~ aren't they sweet?}

{dumbly taking pics of him with other people ~ didn't even occur to me to step into the viewfinder, myself}

eep! may I please say that again? I met dan rather!! and he was so unimposing and kind! it shouldn't be that major; he keeps an apartment downtown — but he keeps a very low profile. he wears hats and keeps his head down. mr. rather spoke at an event last night, then attended an award dinner I shot for work. topic: the crisis of corporate-owned journalism reflecting on the state of democracy as a whole. it's not a new theme (molly ivins had choice words to contribute a few years ago, for the very same lecture series), but it's just so damned important. as long as journalists must play by big-business rules, increasing profits quarterly and cutting staff and resources accordingly, democracy is pretty well (excuse me) fucked. that may seem apocalyptic, but it was not for nothing the founding fathers saw freedom of the press right up there with the freedoms of speech and religion. the system is busted, and most don't miss it as long as there's something juicy on the tmz or a kid (incidentally — not) in a balloon. rather implored the audience to make their opinions heard by mainstream media, and to focus attention (and financial support) on outlets still nurturing real capital-j journalism. anyhoo, he was a politically- charged speaker (police escort provided), at a pretty liberal school, and he was clearly (at least in my case) preaching to the choir, but I loved him for calling the press “the red beating heart of freedom and democracy.” my own heart broke a little when he choked up during the response to a student q on "making it" in journalism. the answer: talent and luck can only get so far. persevere and success will be yours.

another question, from a funny lady with a quirky voice (likely suspect: mary gordon spence — since it's near time for her semi-annual npr pledge-week eklectikos appearance — see approximation of her vocal timbre here, in iris dement) commented on the recent flood of deaths covered by the media, adding that she is "just tired of people dying."
rather asks, "um, is there a question there?"
question: "what do you think about the coverage, or over-coverage of death in the media lately...I'm becoming cynical."
rather: "don't become jaded; it's against the historical character of america. optimism is part of our spirit. don't lose that."

Tuesday, October 20

weekend piccys ~ california wedding edition

{early rising for a trip to the barn ~ no photoshopping required}

{in the still-dewy morning}

{I wasn't the only one surprised to see me there so early ~ java}

{feeding snowman ~ morning chores for us}

{but playtime for somebody}


{leash required for harry}

{then across mare island to the wedding}

{in perfect wedding weather}

{thoughtful details ~ card stands = corks}

{a vineyard-side ceremony ~ arista winery made a gorgeous setting}

{where it was still a little muddy}

{a nervous groom}

{a beautiful setting}

{and such a gorgeous, ecstatic bride ~ congratulations from 'that texan'}

{see? ~ post-ceremony, and her perfect shoes seem never to have touched the soggy ground}

{a dateless duo, 'that texan' enjoys b's dinner}

{then whitegirl dancing 'till the wee hours...}

{...or ten o'clock, when the last shuttle headed back to the hotel}

{break in the weather now passed, the foggy damp returns for a morning stroll through the vineyard}

{any guesses on what kind of wine this will be when it grows up?}

{hopefully it's a variety that likes rain}

{then back across the wetlands toward home}


Friday, October 16

weekend wedding

this week has been filled with wedding-talk, between deb's fun march plans and elise & matty's destination event in may (for which we've secured an awesome weekend flat at a pretty great rate). now we just need tickets...euros...wooden shoes...

but for the I'll go, home to nor-cal, to see my gorgeous cousin marry her terrific (and tall) guy! the party takes place tomorrow at arista winery, outside santa rosa. there is no doubt in my mind it will be a beautiful event, with jen's exquisite taste and experience in the hospitality industry. the winery itself looks idyllic, yes?

{photo: arista winery}

I don't yet know whether there will be time for visiting bodega bay (of hitchcock fame) in a rented '54 aston martin db2/4 drophead coupe. ::grin:: maybe we'll just settle for a few winery tastings and some well-appreciated time with family. sans beloved neck-monkeys, this trip. my bro and p3 have visions of uninterrupted sleep.

though the weekend has not panned out exactly as planned -- and it pretty well suck-diddley-ucks that b's colleagues' all conspired to catch h1n1 together (to throw a wild swineflu party, no doubt) -- the weather promises to be perfect in santa rosa. small blessings where strapless dresses are involved.

I'll take tons of photos in cali, for idea-sharing and such. there can be no promises made of cake surviving the trip back.