Thursday, July 23, 2009

July adds humidity to the heat

Institute finished up for good last week. One would think that free time would be in high supply but it seems as though there is always one more thing to get taken care of.  The staff put on a closing ceremonies presentation Thursday afternoon that was a tremendous waste of time. Poorly planned and poorly executed.  Fortunately it was not all that long. Thursday night Leah had to work so I relaxed at home and made a homemade hanging basket.  Our bougainvillea appeared to need some more root space and Marie just happened to have an extra pot. It doesn't look very good but when I look at it I see functionality and can thus see beyond its appearance.  Later that night I noticed storm clouds and so I wandered up to the top of our local parking deck. I was awarded with some great views.  Much better in person though.

The view of the Austin skyline from our local parking garage roof.

Friday we thought it would be fun to go to the zoo.  By the time we got there it was already about 100 degrees and we figured that the animals would be asleep.  The girl at the desk confirmed our suspicions so we left with hopes of returning on a cooler day in the future,  A huge draw for me is that the zoo has a mini-train that tours its grounds.  Very cool.  Friday evening we bought a super classy box of sangria to have with dinner and a movie. It was a perfectly enjoyable evening.  

Sometime the previous week I bought a new set of tires for my road bike and so was able to go for my customary Saturday morning ride. It was great as usual and when I got home Leah was awake! After some time at the pool we went to the store so that I could procure the ingredients for pizza.  Saturday night we had a couple of friends over from TTF.  It was nice and relaxed. We listened to music and talked and ate homemade pizza all night long.  

Sunday through Tuesday were pretty boring for me.  Leah had to work everyday so I was left to my own devices. Monday morning I had to attend the hiring meeting for Del Valle ISD. That was a good step to have out of the way.  It meant that I had a lot of reading to do and a bit of research on insurance and investment type stuff.  All mostly unknown to me, but surely a smart thing to start getting educated on. 

Tuesday was Leah's 23rd birthday.  We had a little celebration.  Marie and Ryan came over Tuesday night for some birthday carrot cake. 

I couldn't even get a photo of the lit candles she extinguished them so fast.

Wednesday we drove Marie down to San Antonio for her flight back north.  That was a super efficient trip but I think Marie was forced to pay for its efficiency by being delayed at the airport for around 5 hours.  Too bad.  As far as I know she is up in Wisconsin now and will be heading to Michigan on Sunday. Hopefully she has a great time and some great weather.

We're getting ready to head out for Colorado tomorrow.  We'll be there from July 24th through July 31st.  We arrive in Denver at 7:40 am and will be picked up by Chris at the airport.  The first couple of days will be spent in Denver and then Chris is going to drive us up to the mountains for the week.  The weather was supposed to be a refreshing change for us but it looks like it might be an extreme change. Whatever it is like we will make the most of it and enjoy ourselves thoroughly. 

That's it for now.  I am sure that we will have some photos and stories to share upon our return from Colorado.

As always, we appreciate any stories and/or photos from the north country.

Love Jay and Leah.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gettin' settled in

The 4th of July weekend finished without much ado.  I feel like we went to the pool here at our complex that Sunday the 5th for some serious relaxation.  Leah may or may not have gone into work.  Your guess is as good as mine.  I know for a fact that she worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Long days and nights at Chuy's Fine Tex-Mex. 

On Monday I had class and then went out to Home Depot for some wood and to get some wood cut. Our bougainvillea has been growing like a weed so I built a small lattice work to hang above it and facilitate it's growth.  So far so good. The cut wood was for a shoe rack per Leah's request.

Leah did finally get together with the art director from Latinworks. They had a meeting last Tuesday and it went very well.  Now we're sitting with our fingers crossed that something comes of it.  At the very least Leah will have made an excellent contact within her field.

At some point last week Leah went shopping to Pier 1 and Target.  She got a nice looking rug for our living room and a couple of lamps.  The first lamp is freestanding and highly

functional.  The second lamp is really just a lamp shade.  It requires a cord, a fixture and some sort of device to hang it from the ceiling...  As always, everything matches beautifully and our apartment looks more comfortable than ever. Every time that Leah makes some sort of improvement to our apartment I am completely satisfied with the state that it has been brought to.  I couldn't possibly think of any way to improve upon it. And then she brings something else home that improves it. 

Thursday just came back to me.  We went to the Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and to see the movie Public Enemies. It's a new movie about the life of John Dillinger.  The movie was good. It was really long but didn't feel like it, usually a good sign. The food was quite good as well.

Friday night the Teaching Fellows had a social event at the Salt Lick BBQ.  I was starting to feel bad about my less than stellar attendance at their gatherings so Leah and I made an appearance.  We ended up having a really good time.  All of our BBQ experiences up to that point had been so-so.  The places always seemed to have something good and other things that were no good. The Salt Lick was good all-round.  Their "meat-pride" wasn't so astronomical as to prevent them from providing BBQ sauce. And their sides were good as well.

Saturday morning I woke up stupidly early and found that my trusty road bike had a flat tire. Fortunately we live in a bi-bicycling paradise and I was able to take off on my mountain bike for a couple of hours.  I had my standard uphill crash.  I was once told by someone much more skilled than I that if you don't crash occasionally you are not pushing your own limits. I will take that and make myself feel better.  There are a number of obstacles on the trails here that really do make me push my limits and I feel like I've bettered my technical skills significantly. Saturday afternoon Leah and I went to look at a house. It was north of here up by Lake Travis. The neighborhood was great and the house was cool as well.  Very small and low maintenance.  We are not serious about it at this point.  However, we do expect to

be here for a few years and at some 
point will want to stop throwing our money away in an apartment. Perhaps a house or maybe a condo.  Lot's of things to consider and plenty of time to consider them.  And there are of course other things that need to get settled before we take a step like that.

Saturday night Marie came over for homemade pizza.  Marie was dog-sitting for one of her friends and so she brought "Coco" over for the evening. Coco was an absolute glutton for attention and occupied most of our time. Both Leah and I miss our dogs back home so it was nice to have a dog around for a while. 

Marie came over again on Sunday morning for breakfast.  The three of us had breakfast tacos and a nice relaxing morning. We accomplished a whole lot of nothing Sunday afternoon.  We actually tried to watch Jerry McGuire.  We decided that it must have been the most over-rated movie of the 90's and gave up.  That evening we went grocery shopping and I really upped the day's productivity. Once home I got to work sewing an arm rest.  In the previous blahg I mentioned that I was mulling over ways of making our desk more comfortable.  Well, I made up my mind and went with felt padding covered with a heavy piece of navy fabric. It fastens to the desk edge with velcro and is exceptionally comfortable and appropriate looking if I do say so myself.  

Our patio garden is still going strong.  Our Trumpet Creeper's seed pods are growing at an impressive rate.  I've never had an up-close view of the growth of a seed pod.  Apparently sometime last week one of it's flowers got pollinated and out shot a pod from the ovule receptacle.  Very cool. We're going to try and germinate the seeds and grow some baby vines! By the way those are fire ants crawling all over the pod.  That plant produces nectar in abundance.  

That's really everything now.  We hope that you are all doing well.  From what we've heard Michigan has been having some superb weather lately. Wish we could be there to enjoy it with you.  Soon we will be heading to the cooler climes of the Rocky Mountains for some sight seeing and respite from the heat.

Good night.

Love Leah and Jay.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

First full month in the books

It's gonna be tough to remember back as far as the last entry. I guess I'll just skip it and move on to Thursday. The new iMac came in the afternoon Thursday. Quite the event that was. Leah was very excited and it is indeed a beautiful machine. The desk that it is set up on needs a bit of work. I have been mulling over different ideas for edging and can't seem to make up my mind. I've narrowed it down to a traditional wooden trim strip and an unconventional piece of fabric with padding under it. The desks sole purpose is to be a computer work station:+fabric. The wooden strip would certainly be easier and probably look better:+wood. Any ideas?

Friday was a long and hot day during which we got new cell phones. I can't imagine a worse way to spend two hours. That must be the business to be in. They've got you right where it counts and they know it. My new "free" phone is definitely not better than my abused two year old "free" phone. Alas, we still have the ability to talk on the phone. Thank goodness... Also, I have a new number: 512-820-5884. The day's good news was that Leah went shopping and found some great new clothes that she is happy with.

On Saturday a friend of mine from MTU who now lives in Houston came over. Leah had to go to work so Will and I went to Barton Springs Pool and then got some dinner at the Green Mesquite BBQ. Very good place to eat and reasonably priced as well.

Sunday we tried to find good old fashioned diner food for breakfast and were disappointed. We went to a place called Kerbey Lane Cafe and it wasn't any good. Leah got pancakes that were straight out of a jiffy box and my biscuits and gravy tasted like peppered sawdust over wet cardboard. Too bad. People here just don't know greasy spoon diner food.

The week passed by without much ado. Leah worked a bunch and I finished up my "practice teaching". One significant improvement was that Leah got the AC fixed in her car. A negative for the week was that I got stung by some kind of Texan super bee while mountain biking. It hurt much worse than any bee sting that I've ever gotten. Then it turned black and blue and itched like crazy for four days.

Marie, Ryan, Leah and I all had Friday the 3rd off so we went on an adventure. We went down to Shiner, TX to go on a tour of the Shiner Brewery. Their beer is good and the tour is free and we all wanted to get out of Austin for a day, so off we went. Unfortunately when we got there, a sign was on the front of the building that said they were closed for the day. Great, two hour drive to the middle of absolutely nowhere, for this! We considered our options and decided that there really was nothing else to do in that town. On the way back we stopped in a town called Luling that is apparently the watermelon capital of somewhere. Their water tower was painted like a watermelon. No picture though. Our dinner plans were for a real Texas barbecue called Kreuz's in Lockhart, TX. It surely was a real TX BBQ. Lot's of big trucks in the lot and big people inside. Once inside you wait in a line to order your meat directly from the pit. There was an approximately ninety year old woman at the cash register working with a butcher that looked like Attila. The menu had about 8 items on it, of which we wanted two. Pork ribs and high fat beef brisket. They were out of pork ribs!! So we sat down with our brisket and a large pork chop. They don't use plates or forks so we ate with our hands off of paper. It was the real deal. They don't even use sauce. Just straight meat. The rest of Friday was spent in a meat 'coma. Leah and I watched a movie called The Constant Gardener that evening. It sounded promising and it wasn't terrible, just depressing and not great. That evening we also climbed a parking garage that is near to our apartment. Marie and I had gone up about a week earlier and enjoyed the views so Leah and I made the same trip.
Saturday I went for the usual road ride and had a great time. I've got a nice loop worked out with some good hills and not too much traffic. That afternoon Leah and I both agreed that we needed to find a place with some "normal" food. Off we went downtown in search of an Irish pub. BD Rileys was where we ended up and it was great. The interior was semi-dark, damp and smelled just right. We got potato skins and fish-n-chips. It was so very good.

Being the 4th of July we had to figure out a way to see some fireworks. There is a big show over Town Lake here. They close down one of the bridges for pedestrian traffic only and play music and everything. However, Marie, Ryan, Leah nor I wanted to go downtown in the late night heat to see the fireworks with 18 million other people. Luckily, the parking garage from which the previous photo of the downtown skyline was taken was open to the public. We climbed up there and were surprised to be joining about 200 other people for a great showing of the fireworks with the skyline as a backdrop. The showing was great. The sound was so faint that it was like we were watching them on TV.

It looks like were at the beginning of another week. This was certainly a different 4th of July weekend for us. We spent a lot of our time inside to stay cool. We're used to Michigan where the days are perfect and the nights are cool. Hopefully you all had a wonderful holiday weekend.

Love Leah and Jay.