DECK THE HALLS III
Posted to Seasonality 12/14/07
It's odd, but when I first found out that John had to go back to Houston from Dallas, to work a few more days, I almost decided to go with him. I was afraid I might be bored here in Wimberley without him. Then I decided it might be a good time to work on my year-end summary for work, start a garden design, get caught up on bookkeeping, etc., so I loaded one whole suitcase with the notebooks and materials I would need for all these projects, and hauled them to Wimberley with me. Well, I've been here for four days now, John and Austin are coming in this afternoon, and so far, I haven't done doodley on any of those projects!
On Monday Lex had a day off from work, so we decided to do a girls-day-out in Austin. Most people in the rest of the country know Austin only as the capitol of Texas, and probably picture it as a somewhat stately place full of politicians. Others may know of it as the home of the University of Texas, and picture it full of Longhorn football fans. I chose to go to school there primarily because, back in the seventies, the hippies outnumbered the sororities and fraternities, and that suited me just fine. Since I was working my way through school, I couldn't have afforded a sorority even if I'd wanted one, so it's a good thing I didn't. Anywho, somewhere along the way, the people of Austin were smart enough to realize that having so many neat funky shops, hotels and restaurants, as opposed to the homogenous national chains populating most other metropolitan areas, made Austin more interesting, and somewhat unique. They decided to promote and encourage this by coming up with the "Keep Austin Weird (support local businesses)" slogan that you will see plastered on many a bumper hereabouts.
We started our day off at the new Whole Foods Market corporate headquarters that opened recently. Oh-My-Gosh, talk about foodie heaven! I think I like it even better than Central Market, which always makes me feel kinda like a rat in a maze. This store has normal back-and-forth rows in the center, which are fairly easy to navigate, but around the perimeter are what I can only describe as satellites of decadence. In the seafood section, I could have sworn I had been transported to Fisherman's Wharf. The counter was quadruple the size of any I had seen in a grocery store, was raised on a dais, and the fish mongers were all clad in those orange rubberized overalls with suspenders, like you see on fishing boats. I expected them to begin tossing huge fish carcasses through the air to one another at any moment. In addition to the extensive selection of fresh seafood, which looked as if it had leaped straight from the water onto those trays of ice, there was a separate kiosk filled with every possible variety of prepared seafood dish, ready to eat or take home with you. The meat section was equally as impressive, but what really sent us over the edge were the chocolatier and the bakery sections (I have a notorious sweet tooth, while Alexis is a fresh bread junkie). We thought we had died and gone to Europe! Then there were the mini-restaurants scattered throughout the store, where you could belly up to the bar and watch as they prepared the sushi, pizza, stir-fry, or whatever it was you were craving for lunch. To top it all off, they have their own parking garage underneath the store, complete with a moving sidewalk to carry your cart down, or you can opt for grocery valet service, if you prefer. It's a good thing I don't live in Austin. I could drop a butt-load of money in that place.
Next we went over to S. congress Ave., to stroll through all the funky shops that I missed on my last go-around. I found another piece of Bauer pottery that I could actually afford, and an old paperweight for John that had a picture of a covered wagon in it and said "Midland, Texas", which is where we lived for many years. I took Alexis to lunch at the little Italian bistro I had enjoyed so much last time, picked up a fresh baguette at Texas French Bakery to go with our dinner, then we went home and spent the evening pouring over a great new book I had found at Uncommon Objects, which describes hundreds more interesting shops and restaurants in Austin that I didn't even know about!
Tuesday was spent running errands, shopping for groceries, and leaving phone messages for excavation contractors. We have decided that having our driveway resurfaced will be our Christmas present to one another this year. Unfortunately, we can't seem to get anyone to come out, or even return our calls. One guy did come out several weeks ago, but then he never got back to us with an estimate. I was quite excited when one of these guys actually returned my call first thing the next day, and even more so when he proceeded to set up an appointment with me for that same day (this has to be a good sign!). Since he wasn't due here until 11:00, and I knew better than to expect a contractor to be punctual, I decided to do some picking up around the house while I waited. As I was doing that, it suddenly occurred to me that my Christmas tablecloths were hanging in the coat closet, so at least I could get to those without too much difficulty. Then, as I was spreading them on the dining room table (a small red fringed one layered diagonally over a large green plaid cloth), I happened to glance up at the corner curio cabinet where I keep my teapot collection. Was it possible that my Christmas teapots were stored in the cabinet down below? YES! Hallelujah! I pulled out a few to place on the table, put one on the sideboard, and a couple on the mantle. Then I decided to light my piney-smelling candle, and next thing you know, I'm singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."!
I was even more impressed with this contractor when he showed up for our appointment precisely on time, but my happy little bubble burst when he handed me his estimate. Apparently we can either spend $5,000 every couple of years to regrade the driveway and add new gravel, or we can bite the bullet and have it paved with asphalt, which should last 20 years or more if we just reseal it on a regular basis. When I told Alexis how much that would cost, her reaction was "Shit! I could buy a car for that!" After he left, I was feeling kind of blue, so I decided I really needed to head over to Juan Henry's for a mini mushroom quesadilla and a diet coke with fresh lime slices in it. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, a quesadilla is the Tex-Mex version of a grilled cheese sandwich - several varieties of grated cheese sandwiched between two flour tortillas and sauteed in butter until crispy on the outside, oozey on the inside.) That did a lot to cheer me up. Next I decided to explore the local library, which was surprisingly good for such a small town. I got myself a library card and checked out a couple of books about Wimberley history, plus one about Christmas in Texas that described all the different cultures that settled here, and how they celebrated the holidays. By the time I got back to my recently decluttered and bedecked house, I was feeling quite jovial again. I spent the afternoon cooking up a big pot of chicken gumbo, then read my books all evening, and now, here I sit on Thursday morning saying "My, how time flies!"
to be continued...