Friday, August 26, 2011

RummyKub and Rockford Files

As much as I am enjoying Texas, the hardest part of the move for me is trying to meet people. I had hoped to have some involvement with a few local schools but it's taking more time to get my stylishly sandled feet through their doors than I'd expected.

So while I am waiting for the volunteer paperwork to go through in the local districts, and for the Texas teaching certificate to be awarded, and the tens of students who would like the assistance of my tutoring skills to swarm me with e-mails, I decided to find a friend.

That sounds so easy doesn't's like when our moms used to tell us to go outside and find some friends because "Rockford Files" was about to come on and we were chasing siblings or pets around the house squealing and clanging anything that would make loud noises... And, like magic, when we went outside, there were actually kids to play with. 

As an adult, and one without a gig or kids, it's just not that easy anymore. Thank goodness for happenstance.

I walked over to the management office one afternoon and chit-chatted with the staff for a few minutes while I was picking up a package. As we were talking the subject of the heat came up - it's like rain in Seattle, always a part of the conversation. There was a shared concern for some of the elderly residents' health on these scorching days. I volunteered to be available to check in on folks they might be worried about, but couldn't get to.

Not wanting to just say "Me too! I'm lonely!" I said instead, "I am around. All day. I can help. Just call. Please." Desperation is difficult to camouflage.

Ms. A, a delightfully sweet southern lady who works in the office ponders the offer for a moment. " that you mention it, we do have a resident who I worry about. She's lonely and I think she'd just like some company every now and then. Can I give her your number?" 

The next afternoon I had a date to meet with Ms. M. We get together a few times a week and gab or play rummykub. She's an exquisite needle point artist so I imagine one day we'll knit and stitch together. We eat wafer cookies and one-up each other with stories about our grand-kids...

Wait, I don't have grandkids...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flier and Red Visit DFW

This past week I've had an extra bounce in my step as we've looked forward to some good friends visiting from the PNW.

I can hear you asking, "Visit Dallas in August?! With Children!! Are they CRAZY?!"

Nope - (well, maybe, in all the right ways) they are headed to the Caribbean for a week of vacation in blue skies over bluer waters and were kind enough to extend their layover here for a few days, and we are so glad they did! It was so great to lay eyes on their smiling faces and spend such quality time together.

We filled the days with lots of pool time.

Tex, the ultimate cabana boy, fixed up sandwiches and snacks and delicious beverages for us all to enjoy while staying cool in the water. The boys were so fun to hang out with as they splashed and swam and played until they grew gills. We chased torpedoes, practiced "pop-up" breathing, and laughed and laughed and laughed. One of the bunnies that lives on the property came over to check us out - making a special appearance for the boys.

In the evenings the kiddos had a sitter and we big kids went out and played. Red and Flier have been some of our favorite dinner companions for more than a decade and we were so excited to share with them a few of our favorite finds in Texas so far.

Thursday night was pizza at Urban Crust in Plano. We started with cocktails and blue cheese fries at the ice-bar on the third floor. Take that literally - the counter of the bar is covered in ice, making it a popular destination.

Then we moved downstairs and ordered everything! Mussels in a spicy broth, a meat-meat- cheese pizza for the guys and a veggie construction for Red and I. So delicious! As we ate, we caught up on life and family and friends back home and planned our adventures for Friday evening.

Originally, we'd thought it would be fun to take the kiddos to the Dallas World Aquarium and Zoo downtown Dallas, get some more pool time, and then head out for our 6:30 reservation at Nick and Sam's Steakhouse. We realized pretty quickly that we'd take the relax entirely out of the day if we tried to do it all. The kiddos were pretty clear that pool time was their priority. So back to the pool we went, lounging, playing, taking up rays and retreating to shade in the cool blue water. Tex once again treating us with delightful drinks and lunch.

Dinner at Nick and Sam's was awesome. We'd been once before and had an amazing time, but dinner with friends is so much more special. Our conversation leaned more toward the future over this meal. Where we all want to be, what we want to be doing...whimsical about everything except the idea that there will come a time when we will reside near-by each other again. And then we hugged good-bye, how quickly the time goes!

Tex and I savored the weekend, appreciating each conversation, the companionship of our guests, their friendship, our marriage, and this adventure.

Fire and Friends!

As much as the Starship Enterprise is a character in Star Trek, or Baltimore is a character in The Wire, the scorching heat is a character in our Texas experience.

It's been 55 days at temps at or above 100 degrees with one wonderful respite of rain last weekend. That Saturday morning we woke up to the sound of rain steadily tapping the window panes, the tree leaves, the thirsty grass, and the concrete. The world felt cooler, relieved, peaceful.

A barbecue was planned with friends we are getting to know down here. He's a former co-worker of Tex and she's his lovely bride, a native Texan. The phone rang - a quick call to make sure the precipitation wasn't impeding our plans. Tex assured them that he had a lot of practice making fire for the grill in the rain. Two racks of ribs, one bacon-chicken that doesn't actually have bacon, a crack-cornbread/pudding dish made by our guests, slaw, and fresh peach strudel all made for a festive feast. We ate, talked, ate some more, and watched the pilot of Firefly together.

A space western and a Texan bbq with new friends on a rainy summer Saturday equals perfection.

First Impressions

This post is a double dip of something I wrote about for a restaurant review site. As some of you know, my first trip to Dallas was under the dark cloud of Tex's dad falling ill. We decided to get out for a day, ride the DART downtown and do some sight seeing. We were told the Loon was a must, and so off we went, mindful of the present and trying to get a grasp of the future. 


We were walking past the Magnolia and Sweet Husband gestures across Lemmon and says, "See that awning? That's where we're headed."

I followed his gaze through the bright sunshine, to which my own irises had not yet adjusted. Confused I reply, "The one that says Dentistry?"  

"No, no. The green awning, to the left of that one."

"Ohhhhhh." I see it now.

 "Oh," My concern is audible.

 ".... Are you sure?"

As we pull the heavy wood door toward us I try to imagine what we will find on the other side. I conjure up images of dense smoke, mullets, and lots of empties strewn about. Not bad things, mind you, when that's the vibe you're looking for - but it wasn't, not this day, anyway.

My eyes adjusted to the dark, relieved, both as a result of a respite from the sun and surprise in discovering what appeared to be more of pub than a bar notorious for it's stiff drinks and dedicated drinkers.

We cozied up to the counter, which had a few patrons spread around it. The mid-afternoon crowd had us as the youngest by ten, maybe twenty years. No mullets.

The bartender, a chipper and attractive twenty something, welcomed us, asking what we'll have to drink. It's the middle of a hot spring afternoon and I didn't know any better so I ordered a gimlet and called the booze. Sweet husband shakes his head and smiles. The bartender laughs with her eyes and I realize I have made a rooky mistake.

This is a drinkers bar. Not the place for a drink that requires glassware with a stem.

She skillfully shakes the gin as she explains that no one has ordered a gimlet in all the time she's worked at the Loon. I'm lucky, she says, that she also works another joint on Knox/Henderson. The beverage is refreshing and perfect and I appreciate that we can chalk this up to a learning experience.

We get to chatting. I tell her it's my first day in Big D; I'm here visiting my Mister who's already relocated for his new gig. The Loon was recommended by friends who relocated here before us.

After checking out the specials board, which includes full dinners that would sound quite good if I were hungrier, we order a club sandwich to share and a side of fries. Both were tasty. I was surprised at the amount of non-fried options on the menu and tucked that tid-bit aside for a future visit.

She gives us a virtual tour of hot spots, dives, and the various neighborhoods that make up the area. She asks what I do for work and offered some tips on where to look when I move down.

We finish our food, thank the amiable wait-staff and make our way back outside.  

"I think I'm going to like it here," I say. We hold hands and greet the sun.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"July: In like a lion, and out like a lion on fire!"

Happy Seafair Day!!

The heat seems to have idled our blogging fingers. However, this article was on the front page of the Dallas Morning News today. We stole the tag line for this post from it's writer, who made us wish we'd thought of that. It's clever and fun and we thought it was worth sharing. Tex is promising a post soon - I told him that I'd tell you he'd post today, so feel free to put a little pressure on in the comments section.
Click this link to read more great writing with references to Icarus, marching band, and plasma centers!