Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Friends, family, and the importance of reliable public transportation

Over Memorial Day weekend, Sam and I journeyed to his former homeland and our old stomping grounds in New Jersey, New York, and yes, even Astoria. Our trip was even a little longer I think than when I was there at Christmas, but the time seemed to fly by. I also found myself missing New York more than during that December visit. I guess because it was cold then and this time we were blessed with beautiful weather constantly. Also, last time many friends were traveling, so while I got longer quality visits with those folks that were in town, there were fewer people to see. Riding the subway from Astoria into the city to meet friends, even though the train was unreasonably slow (the rumors are true: the MTA service is definitely suffering), I was nostalgic for riding that same path however many hundreds of times before.

Sam was supposed to be taking a picture of the adorable Fiat that was our transportation for the weekend. It's basically a vespa masquerading as a car. 
 For some reason rather than plan one group meet up, I arranged to meet friends from different groups in rapid succession. This allowed for more quality one-on-one time, but shorter meet-ups in general. Since we met four groups of friends for drinks one after another over the course of the evening, it also led to our getting very drunk. (Which reminds me, another thing I'm nostalgic for: the not-worrying-about-driving-home-end-of-the-night-two-martini-special).

Drinking and chatting took priority over taking photos with friends, but I do have some from earlier in the day at Central Park. This was a cool art piece. All the cable spools have colored roped representing the length of different paths through the park. 

The site of some of our engagement photos years ago. The angel from the Bethesda fountain looks like it's coming out of my head, but otherwise this is totally on par with the professional pics. 
After spending the night with friend in Astoria, we headed back to New Jersey for a BBQ at Sam's parents house. Friends, kids, dogs, and good food were all in attendance. The next door neighbors were also having a big party complete with what we can only assume was the Spotify playlist "Lesser Known Songs by 1990s One Hit Wonders" which provided a nice background ambiance to our own festivities.
BBQ party people!
The whole crew! Except whoever is taking the picture, I guess. 

Actually the above picture was a lie because it didn't include the gracious host and hostess of the party. 

 We had a devil of a time getting back to Austin on Memorial Day due to the massive rainstorms and flooding. After an unplanned 7 hour diversion to Houston, we finally made it back to find our house un-flooded and our cat only mildly perturbed. The tri-state area has some wonderful things and, more importantly, some wonderful people, but it is always nice to be home. That said, I'm still bummed about missing Shakespeare in the Park with Sam Waterston. I mean, it's Sam Waterston!

One final shot. From Madison Square Park and their summer art piece. Always may favorite public art piece in the city. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

A visible representation of life lately

I've been a rather terrible blogger lately. Some deadlines are all coming at the same time at work, so my writing energy has been focused over there. And truth be told, that's still true, so this won't be much of a post either. Still, to tide you over until I'm back in blogging shape, here's a few photos from my phone over the last few weeks. A window into my life, as it were, without all the unnecessary paragraphs of text.
Got a zoodler for turning zucchini and other vegetables into noodles. Turned out awesome. with a pork Bolognese  (the secret is a quarter pound of pancetta…)

It finally stopped raining enough for us to start demo on the porch. Goodbye sweet porch, we barely knew ye!

Shakespeare in the Park at Zilker. Production wasn't quite on par with Central Park's, but it was a smidge easier to get in to and they didn't care if you took pictures of the set. I can see why Taming of the Shrew isn't performed in modern productions that often though. 
Did one of those drink-a-bunch-of-wine-and-paint lady's night classes. Our painting was of bats on the South Congress bridge…in case you couldn't tell. 
Got my hair cut and the guy did some cool styling with expensive products. Alas, left to my own devices, my hair will never look this good again. 

From a couple of weeks ago at the O Henry Museum Pun-Off. This is Sam's "listening to puns" face, I guess. 

Will return soon with more writing and more pictures and, who know, maybe hugely important life lessons. At the very least, I'll have more progress photos for that porch demolition. I think this might be the only time I've had a photo dump post without any photos of Dinah in it. Don't worry, she continues to thrive. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spirit of St Louis

This past weekend and a bit of last week I had the privilege of spending time in the toasted ravioli capital of the Midwest: St Louis. I wasn't going to visit the city, so much as to visit friends who live there, but having never been, it was still fun to check things out.

As it turns out St Louis has a lot of city pride. They have their own style of pizza (which is not likely to ever be heard outside of St Louis), rabid Cardinal fandom, and an insistence on calling Panera's "St Louis Bread Co." Pizza aside, there's a lot to be proud of. Turns out St Louis has a number of wonderful free museums including a pretty awesome zoo. They also have the City Museum which is not free, but totally worth the price of admission.

Here are a few photos of my trip. I realized Sam isn't in any of them, but you'll have to trust that he was there some of the time too.
Friends on the zoo train. It went through some bizarrely long and narrow tunnels, but other than that a good time was had by all. 

I didn't take many pictures of the animals, but I did get a nice one of these two adorable woodland creatures. 
 I feel like before the series of photos on the City Museum, it needs some sort of explanation. It was the one thing I had heard about St Louis before going that I knew I wanted to do. I knew it had a large series of outside tunnels you could crawl through, but what I didn't realize was that the entire museum was like that on the inside as well. Basically the entire multi-floor structure is one big jungle gym for kids of all ages with everything from slides to fish tanks. The whole place actually seems like a liability law suit waiting to happen with very few safety measures and kids running every which way (and weirdly, I mean that in a good way). If I was going to get shin bruises anywhere, this would be the place. And really the only time I almost wiped out (as I wore completely inadequate footwear for the event) was just walking down the stairs to the food court, and that could just as easily happen at a less fun place, like a courthouse or a multi-floored dentist office.

The City Museum!

This is representative of one of the tunnels I didn't really climb through. Heights I can do, but not tight spaces. 

With friends at the bottom of the 10-story slide. Turns out the downside of a 10-story slide is mostly the walk to get to the top of it. 

Outside the St Louis Museum of Art
All in all, I would recommend a trip to St Louis, but especially if you have some good friends there. Thanks for hosting us! We'll have to come back someday to do that arch.