24 October 2010

Epic Meats

Got a call from a friend on Saturday that something epic was afoot at the aforementioned Ice House. Boy, was it.

That, for the record, is a burger skewered on sausages and wrapped in a woven cloak of bacon, waiting patiently for space on the grill. One of many, many, many meat treats at the, get ready, Montrose Beer & Gun Club Annual Cookoff & Music Extravaganza, a benefit for, also get ready, kids who wish things were better. You pay five dollars at the door and then eat as much as you possibly can from the 20-30 little stands set up on the grounds at the ice house. Beer is for sale, like always, but mostly, there's just a crazy amount of food. Things get made in waves, the offerings change as the day wears on, but we saw lots of chili, six kinds of beans, tenderloin on the grill, a roasted pig head, tamales, tacos, chicken, quail, rabbit, everything. And each with some kind of sauce, tenderly drizzled over top. I got to eat some stuff here and there, but yeah, mostly I just watched.

That there? That's a candied jalapeno. Momentarily sweet but really just hugely spicy, for the record.

21 October 2010

Sweet Spots

I should confess, I still have a suitcase on the floor of my room full of clothes. It's not exactly still packed, but the stuff in it is that sort of in between clothing that you don't want to devote one of your three precious drawers to, but also, that you actually wear. I believe its a medley of athletic clothing and old t-shirts that are really only suitable for sleeping in, when you've run out of otherwise more suitable pajamas and shorts or ruffled bloomers I wear under dresses while bicycling and enormously bulky Russian socks and long underwear and the odd pair of sweatpants. They are things I don't need right now, but might need someday and the whole mix leaves me really uncertain about myself. Let alone what kind of storage solution I require.

So, yes, I haven't documented the state of things here, as they are still very much in progress. Sorry. I really need a dining table and I think all other negligence in my apartment sort of orbits around that main issue. And in my defense, I am almost never actually here. So never here, that my neighbor was shocked to see me in the daylight the other day. I actually startled him.

But there are some little spots where in between brewing coffee or reading or brushing my teeth, I've put down little roots and hung up the things I love. Sometimes, I've just used the nail that was already in the wall. But even the little wispy bitty roots we put down, they do help to hold things up.

I've always been really attached to my house. (Nester, obviously.) But here in Houston especially, I realized that the things I've held onto, through all the moves and all the shakes, are the things that will always remind me of some very specific moment or person. And all these silly little things, tacked to the walls of this little apartment, is a way of surrounding myself with all of the moments and with all of the people with whom I've known love and felt life. To linger over them in the minutes between the usual, ho-hum everyday? Well, it just, it really helps.

20 October 2010

Can't Be All

I daresay, if you can manage to make a perfect peach pie and drink some nice whiskey with a friend once in a great while, it can't be all bad.

That half that's missing we ate to celebrate the end of our first review and one quarter pie each was well-deserved.

19 October 2010

West Alabama Ice House

I am not ashamed to say that I have managed to locate for myself, a bar. Arguably, for a grad student and a fan of fun, this is the most important thing to nail down in a new city. This one, it hits all the notes.

Pool table, outdoor seating, cheap beer, old timers, taco truck, huge white dog, check.

23 August 2010

Change Scene

Savoring my last few moments in bed this morning, before I pick out my clothes and get ready for my first day of school. It has been a long time since I've had this nervous, pent up, excited feeling over finding out what will make tomorrow so different from yesterday.

Fingers crossed no drowning will be involved. I'm a little scared, but also ready to have routine and obligation. I'm not very good at floating around, you might say. I get lazy.

22 August 2010

21 August 2010

And Houston

I've been in this Texas town now for about a week. I know my way around, I've done some exploring. Some things are still in boxes and others are right at home on shelves and in drawers. I've located iced coffee and thrift stores and Indian food. I'd been telling people for so long that this is where I was going and all of a sudden, I'm actually here. It still seems a bit surreal to say, I live in Houston, but mostly because now it feels really true.

This place has a few things in common with Oakland, California. Abundant Mexican food, for one. Perhaps more obviously, it's really different. It's harder to settle in here on a budget, I'm finding. There's nowhere to mine for salvaged hardware or cool but shabby furniture. No produce market to write home about. No amazing soccer pub around the corner from my house. I know, these things will take some time to unearth. For now, I'm fairly content with the light that comes into this little apartment around 6 o'clock in the afternoon. Certainly, no substitute for the particularly handsome boy I sent back to California on Tuesday morning, but I find it such a comfort.

More soon! Promise.

11 July 2010

Ok, Ok.

We were celebrating and I have a million or so photos, but then we were relaxing and then, you know, one thing leads to another and three months go by and here I am excusing myself, yet again to you.

We were celebrating Emily & Ryan's wedding in Delaware. Here they are, wife and husband:

Helping your best friends get married is so much fun. So much fun, in fact, that we spent two weeks recovering after we got back. Going to bed at 9:30 for a week is actually pretty epic, in its own, underrated sort of way. A more complete recap is in order, but not just yet.

06 May 2010

Some sun.

Why, hello summer. I didn't realize you'd be stopping by so soon.

Houston and a Warm Quinoa Salad

To start, I want to whisper to you about this new favorite of mine. It's a food. I got these new small size blue pyrex bowls a few weeks ago, and I can't seem to stop filling them up with warm quinoa salad with pinenuts & feta and spinach and raisins and in this case, caramelized leeks and avocados. Oh, and a fried egg plopped on top. Bloop.

It's been quite awhile since I could justify taking the time to cook myself a meal. For months now, we've scaled back on making things from scratch, opting for fast and easy and non perishable groceries instead of bulk grains and fresh vegetables. It's been really nice getting re-acquainted with the kitchen and with real food and with slowness.

I mentioned last week that I'm headed to Houston in the fall to start the Master of Architecture program at Rice University. And surrounding this news, I've been re-acquainting myself with some other feelings, a bit more distant, more unfamiliar than lazy cooking. The feeling of making a decision for myself and by myself, the feeling of moving to a new city, a new life, a new livelihood and the feeling of knowing and not at all knowing what my future will look like. This is a little vague, but that's sort of how I feel about this newly acquired life plan I have. I know the plot, but not the language and I've just taken the book off the shelf. It's not an unfamiliar feeling, this feeling of beginning, but it's been a long time. When I'm not terrified, I am really really excited about it.

It'll be hard to leave this city, of course, and the people who have helped it feel so very homey over the last year. But I am excited for the challenge of Houston. I'm excited to live in a place less likable, less saturated with people so similar to me. I'm excited to live in the middle again for a while, excited to experience again what most of this country is like. I'm especially excited to do so, while studying the way we organize ourselves through architecture. I really agonized, to be honest. Before I saw Rice for myself, I was so uncomfortable picking up again within two years of arriving here, to move my life again. As you know, I am instinctively a nester. Our move to the west coast was so much harder than I thought it would be. But at the same time, I feel like I'm about to commence such a terrific adventure. That feeling, for now anyway, has completely taken hold.

It has been a long time since I saw what I wanted, and had it.

24 April 2010


So much to say, really. I will start with this house I saw last weekend in Alameda. Sometimes reality feels thoroughly indistinguishable from make-believe. I can hardly believe this kind of thing has managed to outsmart time itself.

Speaking of reality, I am in fact moving to Houston, Texas. And, what's more, I am stoked. More to follow.

09 March 2010

Hardworking, that Ryan

Thanks for being so patient. As I foreshadowed last week, I have some photos to show you of a fun project I did recently for one of our very best friends, Ryan. He asked me to make him a holster to wear at work back when he and Emily visited us in November. November was a while ago! I've been busy, as you well know.

Ryan is a server at the bustling South Philly Cantina and he wanted something to carry a check presenter, an iPhone, a pen and a pencil and his chapstick, with possibly a secret pocket thrown in for good measure and belt loops to attach to his belt. My schedule had a tiny window in it two weeks back and I headed to this year's legendary White Elephant Sale (a great source for fabric and raw material for crafting projects) on the hunt for interesting plaids and inspiration.

I decided to make him two. One for business and one for pleasure, you might say. One classic red and black plaid with brown leather accents and one crazier one, featuring vintage/awesome hand screened canvas in a neon green and yellow and purple pattern. That way, if Ryan is feeling fruitier one day and lumberjacked the next, he need not sacrifice self-expression while working.

In the end each included designated pockets for each of his aforementioned necessities, plus a few extra, with two reinforced belt loops of leather or seatbelt, two secret pockets for small things in back and a stitch-suggested pocket for chapstick.

It was so nice to be sewing again. So nice.

**John's modeling here, as Ryan lives in Philadelphia.