Friday, August 17, 2007

Texan the East Coast

Yes, the travels have begun. But first things first: congratulations to Marvin and Shanthi, who got married on August 12, 2007!Marvin is a former co-worker of mine and the wedding was a great reason to go back to Maryland for a little fun after leaving a few weeks before. You know, one last chance to say hello and goodbye. I stayed with Shelley and Don, two people who have more talent than you can shake a stick at:
And Mark and Jean: (No, Mark, I have not gone to the Big Texan Steak Ranch yet!)

Chandler, my arch-nemesis from down the hall: (Ha! I win! I'm back in Texas!)Daryl and Johannie, who came all the way from England for the wedding:And lots of other people...

I had flown out of Dallas (which meant driving down from Amarillo, about five and half hours) so that my mom and I could go to a concert last Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, we went car shopping, but didn't find anything of serious interest:

Yes, I realize they're wrecked. This is how we do it in my family! :)

And if you're ever south of Clarendon, Texas, watch out for cows in the road - we came upon a Charolais-cross steer who was rather intent on seeing what was on the other side of the road. But they do have a really neat rest stop out that way:

And the rest stop has free wi-fi, courtesy of the Texas Department of Transportation:Yep, my tax dollars at work. :) So that's my little adventure on the East Coast and in Dallas. Next stop: Albuquerque and Santa Fe!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bye, bye baby...

Before I left Maryland, I had to take care of one last important task: selling my 1929 Steinert baby grand piano. There were a number of reasons I chose to do this - and while some people might say "I could never get rid of mine!" so far, I have no regrets.

But let's take a little walk down memory lane. I never thought I'd own a baby grand. New ones are prohibitively expensive. And old ones often come with their own set of problems. After I bought the piano, it wasn't long before I had thoughts of refinishing it. This may be sacrelidge to some, but I decided to forge ahead. Beneath the dark (almost black) crackled stain was a beautiful mahogany. So the old finish came off:

Eventually, the piano looked like this:

And I had almost 7 years of living the dream, baby! Yes, and when I moved to Maryland there was me, my piano, and all my other stuff in a 750 sq. foot apartment. This was not a dream for the "needs to have copious amounts of open space" or "wants more room for potted plants" kind of a person.

Like I said, I decided to sell it for various reasons. And maybe someday I'll buy a nice little upright. In the meantime, though, my fingers can still feel those ivory keys...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Yankee Doodle, Don't Call Me That!

Someone called me a Yankee this week.

For the uninitiated, this is NOT a compliment. I'd pulled out my Maryland driver's license to show ID, and that's when it popped out: "Oh, you're a Yankee!" Half-jest, half-accusation. It's a good thing I was born in Texas! Still, it stung a little. I mean, I'm the person who maintained a "Texas corner" in my office:
There was a Texas flag, Texas bumper sticker, cast iron Texas hot plate, a picture of sunrise over the Palo Duro Canyon, and even a picture of a restaurant in London called the Texas Embassy, among other things. I was an ambassador of all things Texan during my exile on the east coast....

Anyhoo, I got over the Yankee bit. But I thought I'd share a few things that make me smile in Texas:

1. Southern gentlemen: Now Texas men may be a bit different than "deep South" men. But I still love having doors held open or being called "ma'am" by the tattooed guy at the gas station. I've seen 4 year-olds being instructed in this art by their fathers, and the roots run deep. The other night, I went to a free classical guitar concert at the studios of the local public radio station. The room was packed - more people came than they were expecting - and there were still people standing out in the hall. I happened to be sitting near the sound engineer. Everything about this guy screamed "musician" - the clothes, the highlighted hair hanging in his face. But I also overheard him saying to a co-worker "In a situation like this, I was raised that the men should give their chairs to the women and stand at the back of the room..."

2. Small-town charm: Last night, the neighbors a few doors down were stopping at everyone's house, handing out boxes of fresh produce from their garden - and not just cast-off zucchini! I love waving to people as I'm taking a walk. I even love the local news, where you get to see the brand-new broadcasters hone their skills on the Saturday night news. And where else would you see a newly married couple being taken from the church to the reception (about a 4-blocks away) by mule-drawn carriage? Hey, Sunray, Texas can do it up right!

3. Texas hospitality: This may be more about my family's home church in Hereford, Texas. If you ever stop by on a Sabbath, stay for potluck:

That spread happens every Sabbath - and the thing is, 25 people is a crowd for that church, so there's more than enough to go around!

4. Oh, and one little family legend: See the lady in the black jacket, looking toward the camera? That's my Aunt Myrtle Ellen, the oldest of six. This morning, she killed two rattlesnakes. Killed them with a garden hoe. Scarily enough, this is not an abnormal occurrence out on her farm. I can only hope my aim is that good when I'm 88 years old! :)