Monday, April 20, 2015

Art, horsemanship, and other poorly photographed things

 I feel like I haven't been taking as many pictures lately, or not any good ones, but I've decided that shouldn't stop me from blogging. There's a particularly photogenic part of my last couple of weeks, that I don't think I'll ever be able to capture. I've been taking horseback riding lessons (well really just a four week class) at these stables a 15-minute drive south of us. (As a side note: one of the things I love about Austin is that I can drive 15 minutes one direction and be in the heart of downtown and 15 minutes another and be in the middle of the country). The drive down is pretty unremarkable until you turn off onto a narrow gravel road that leads down to the stables. You have to drive 10 miles an hour for most of it as horses roam freely in the area. To one side there's a random emu farm which currently has the cutest little emu chicks, or more like adolescent emus, running around. Past that there's a beautiful field of wildflowers. Perhaps I've belabored this point too much already, but the wildflowers are really killing it this year. Due to driving, I'm unable to photograph any of this. I did however manage this poorly captured image while trying to take a photo of the horse way in the background bathed in light:

So you can't actually see the horse I was trying to photograph, but he's back there. 
In other mostly un-photographed moments from the weekend, I met a friend at a gallery show on Saturday night. The theme of the show was "bees" in that all the work was made with encaustic (beeswax based paint) and also featured bees in the images. They also had some lives bees there on display. I wasn't so impressed with the works themselves, but I did feel like I learned a bit about bees. Also, it was a fun night because it turned out that gallery was part of a little nest of galleries, so we were able to do a little gallery hopping. One of the openings had a person mixing very nice, fancy cocktails, which was a nice step up from the usual wine in plastic cups at these things.

This was a bunch of flowers hanging between the galleries, that I thought looked cool. Now I'm not so sure.
In other art news, Sam and I ventured downtown to check out Austin's Contemporary Art Museum. I wasn't terribly impressed. It has quite a small exhibit space and no permanent collection. I think it goes down with PS1 in Long Island City as one of those museums where the building is much cooler than the art inside it.
Contemporary art, such as it is. 
I feel this post is a bit meandering. I also still feel like if I'd taken better photos that that might have saved things. Perhaps that's something I'll work on this week, or perhaps I'll just write something more interesting.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

In remembrance

Yesterday, we had a wonderful celebration for the life of my 97-year-old grandfather. It was sad, yes, but also nice to hear stories about him and his parents, some of which I knew, and some which I had never heard before. I don't really have that much to say about the service, but I wanted to post these wonderful photos, so that I'll always know where to find them. 

You were loved and will be missed by many, Gordon Teague. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

On peafowl and pressing on

This past week was not a very good one. In fact, I think it would be fair to say it was a shitty one. A series of unfortunate events---some frustrating, some angering, and some just incredibly sad--combined to make me especially happy to see Friday roll around. The one bright spot is that the weekend was lovely and the wildflowers are blowing up. We're trying to save money right now (to pay for the more frustrating/anger-inducing things), so we committed to finding some free things to do. It helped that some friends were hosting an Easter BBQ on Sunday (well not so much an Easter BBQ as a BBQ with no religious significance that happened to be on Easter, but there were marshmallow Peeps present, at least). 

It further helped, that this weekend was Bank of American's Museum's on Us weekend. I feel it's an important public service announcement to make that Bank of America offers free admission to a number of museums all over the country on the first weekend of every month. I don't think it's a perk they advertise very well, and very few of the museums I've ever gone to under this promotion have had any signage about it. (Just when they tell you how much admission is, you have to sheepishly ask "Is it Bank of America free weekend?"). So yes, if you, like me, support corporate greed by keeping your money in giant faceless Bank of American instead of a local credit union, then you should definitely enjoy going on a few art outings when the first weekend rolls around.

Museum's on Us covers four museums in Austin, but the one we decided to check out was the Laguna Gloria. It's the sculpture park off shoot of the Contemporary Museum of Austin. Instead of being downtown, it's out of the way a little along Lake Austin and surrounded by some beautiful scenery. Since the weather was perfect, that was the main reason we chose it. I thought the sculptures themselves were sort of hit or miss, but the grounds were lovely. While we there, they were setting up for a wedding. I could definitely see it as a lovely place to get married. It was full of those long twisty-armed oaks and fields of bluebonnets along a long path that winds through the grounds.
Sam mocks this poor crying bunny fountain. 

This one doesn't look that cool, but if you're up close you can see it's made of very beautiful polished wood. 
On the way back, and because it was right next door to the Laguna Gloria, we spontaneously decided to go for a quick walk in the Mayfield Nature Preserve. The area is a 21-acre park with a number of trails, but the entrance to the preserve is perhaps the most fun part. It's a park with a couple dozen peacocks (or rather a combination of peafowl: both peacocks and the less showy peahens). They're quite accustomed to people and especially to young children running amongst them. Other than one bird that was screeching most of the time we were there, they seem quite content to sun themselves in the trees of the park.
I wish I could have seen how they get up there. 

I call this one "Peafowls in Love"

So yes, it was a very good weekend, and I hope it sets the tenor for the week and month to come. I'm looking forward to seeing many family members in the next couple of days. Even though it's for a sad reason, it is still always nice to see loved ones.