Friday, June 22, 2007

Dallas, Part Two

(I'm totally back dating these posts. We were in Dallas last week. Actually, the events that follow occurred exactly one week ago. Though now I've changed the date on the post, so sometime in the future we might wonder "Was it one week before June 22?" No, indeed, this was written June 29, even though it's dated June 22. This is more complicated than an episode of Star Trek where they mess with the space-time continuum.)

Our second full day in Texas, we visited Fort Worth. I've been told this should never, ever be written as "Ft. Worth." We had a nice leisurely morning around the house, and arrived in Fort Worth in time for lunch.

Now the whole time I've known Nathan, he's been, well, I'll just say it, a bit snobbish about the Mexican food available in California. And all this time, I've sort of thought that he was, essentially, wrong about this. That his complaints about Californian Mexican food were just an expression of his fondness for Texas, rather than an actual difference in the quality of the food.

Then we went to lunch at Joe T. Garcias. Heavens to Betsy the food was good. The rice was great, the tortillas were incredible. Even the Dr. Pepper was outstanding. It was, quite simply, the best Mexican restaurant I've ever been to. I'd eat there every day, if I happened to live closer. I. Stand. Corrected.

Joe T. Garcias has a spectacular garden out back. It keeps going and going, they could seat hundreds of people out there. I'm sure they do on warm summer evenings. The place was full at 2 p.m. on a Friday, I'm sure it's stuffed at more traditional eating times.

After gorging at Joe T. Garcias, we went to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It's a small little place, with some cool stuff for kids. Outside (I can't believe they were outside in the heat, but kids are crazy this way) there was a giant sand pit where you could dig for dinosaur bones. The main attraction for us, however, was an exhibit of Star Wars stuff. For me, not quite as thrilling at the Lord of the Rings exhibit in Wellington, but still pretty darn cool. There were the models they'd used in filming, costumes, little movies about how they'd done special effects. Also cool, all sorts of "check out the science of Star Wars" stations. You could make a little ship that levitated magnetically. I spent a heck of a long time trying to figure out how to get a pair of robot legs to walk three feet. (Walking, way more complicated than you might think.) And Jean, this picture is for you: they had a display about robots in our lives today, and proud in the center was the Roomba. For the best shots of the Star Wars stuff, I'll have to link you to Nathan's photos. He was working some magic with the wide angle lens.

Here's Nathan, taking a picture of an At-At (right? that's what these thingers are?) with R2D2 in the background.

We had tickets for an IMAX movie that wasn't scheduled to start for a bit, so we wandered next door to the Cowgirl Museum. Sadly, I have no pictures of the Cowgirl Museum, since they don't let you take pictures in there. Which is too bad, really. It's sort of a small museum, at this point, as it's fairly new. But it's really beautiful. They've got a lovely new building, and the displays are bright and shiny. We learned a lot about The Cowgirl Spirit. It's important to note that one does not need to be associated with classic cowgirl pastimes to display The Cowgirl Spirit. I think one need only be plucky. Or spunky. I *do* think it helps to be female. Gives you a leg up, if you know what I mean.

Back over at the Museum of Science and History, we enjoyed the IMAX movie about Special Effects. It was fun to be in a large, planetarium like theater as well. We all discussed the last time we'd been in such a place. Good times, good times. After the movie we headed home for delicious ribs and shrimp left overs, plus....sooooo goood, left over apple pie.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dallas, Part One

Not too much to report about our first evening in Dallas. We arrived late evening, and Cheryl and Lou met us at the airport. We went out to eat, what would be the first of five days of fantastic meals. Our waiter "y'all"'ed us more than my friends the Indigo Girls. I had ribs and shrimp and baked sweet potato......soooooo good. Lou and I had leftovers, and we started to scheme over how we could eat them without assistance from our spouses.

We had our first tour of the lovely Smith residence. We were set up in the "Lou Wing" of the house, in the "Map Room." Should anyone be debating what theme to develop for their guest bedrooms, I would recommend a "Map Room" theme. For one, you get to put cool framed maps up all over the walls. For two, for visitors who've never been to your state (like me in this instance) the maps are most helpful in demonstrating the geography of the state. Nathan had already helpfully pointed out that the state flag of Texas did not have a bear on it. I pretended to be shocked by this fact.

Thursday morning we got up for our walk. We had decided that we would walk every morning on California time, so in Texas, we walked at 7:45. Which seemed very decadently late. Of course what the walk lacked in earliness, it made up in humidity. It was downright damp out there!! Texas has gotten some weather lately, towns an hour north of Dallas have been flooded. We'd had just a few showers, but the sky was overcast, and, did I mention the humidity? Cheryl and Lou live in on a golf course, with a house that backs up to water feature. A very pretty neighborhood. Swarming with BUNNIES!! I didn't count the bunnies the first day, but we ended up seeing two or three dozen rabbits per walk. We toured the neighborhood making only right turns, until we hit our half way point. Then we turned around and came home, making only left turns.

Our plan for the day was to see some of downtown Dallas, and then take a driving tour of the area. First, though, Cheryl showed me how to feed the turtles off the back porch. Turtles came swimming over from all directions when she stood out there and waved a cup of cat food around. You don't often think of the phrase "feeding frenzy" in connection with turtles, but trust me, I've seen it. Cheryl also whipped up a big batch of muffins for a brunch on Sunday, which led to another kind of feeding frenzy. I'm not sure you'll be able to make it out in the photo, but that muffin cup has Power Rangers on it.

Our first stop was the Sixth Floor Museum, more commonly known as the Texas Book Repository, or the window from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired on President Kennedy. Perhaps a slightly grim introduction to a city, but an interesting place all the same. Got me thinking a bit about how quickly "history" happens in this modern age. Or even what was the modern age forty years ago. The museum had a centerpiece from one of the tables at the luncheon JFK was scheduled to attend that day. In the craziness of that day, someone thought to grab a centerpiece, because it was, suddenly, "historic." What artifacts will come out of the woodwork when someone puts together a Diana Museum, or the 9/11 museum? Will there ever be a shortage of artifacts for either of those events? Anyway, a good museum, and I'd recommend it to anyone visiting Dallas. Also, for the graphic artists in the crowd, they have an intriguingly simple logo. I liked it.

After wandering around the Grassy Knoll briefly (it was really hot and humid) we got back into the car for some lunch, and a drive. We toured the towns around Dallas that were significant to the family: Plano, Lucas, Princeton, McKinney, in one big loop. We finished up with a little shopping at Tom Thumb (always fun to see supermarkets in other towns). There's a play center in the same complex as the grocery store called "Wiggly Play Land" or some such. We never went in there. Kids today get way more cool stuff than when we were kids. You'd be lucky to get to ride around and around in a circle on a horse outside the store, IF you'd been good the whole time inside. No magical Wiggly Play Land for us.

Cheryl cooked us a fantastic salmon dinner with crusty parmesan cheese on top. And there was Apple Pie from Willie Mae's Bakery. Sooooo goooooddddd. We rolled off to bed, completely full and exhausted.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No More Plastic!

Now, I've known for a long time that as a responsible shopper (heck, a responsible human being) I should really be taking my own reusable bags out with me whenever I shop. I do okay when I go to Trader Joes. I don't usually take reusable bags, but I've been using the same 7 to 12 paper bags for at least six months now, and they are holding up quite nicely. At TJs, if you bring your own bags, you get to enter a drawing for a gift card, and I know, that any day now, they will be calling to announce that I've won.

And a few weeks ago, while at another of my favorite places, IKEA, I discovered they are now charging patrons for plastic bags. They will sell you their huge, beautiful blue bags for use and reuse for .49 each, or they'll sell you their less durable version for .05 each. I've been hauling stuff around in the blue bags for over a year now. They are my laundry bags, I hauled wedding supplies in them, Nathan and I packed in them when we went to Yosemite. I even gave some to my mom for her birthday. They are awesome. I asked the check out lady if they'd noticed a decrease in the number of folks using the "disposable" plastic bags, and she said there'd been quite a decrease. Nobody was grumbling in line. And you know that if I use the words "line" and "IKEA" we're talking about a fairly large sample size.

The place that's caused me the most guilt has always been Target. I love shopping at Target. I'm the best little capitalist I can be at Target. And the Target workers are quite possibly the worst baggers in the world. More than once, I've seen them toss two bottles of soda in a bag, put that bag in another bag, then set the whole thing aside as though it couldn't possibly hold even the toothpaste I'd purchased. I have more Target bags than is decent. I should have been taking my own bags to Target, I know. But, I haven't been.

Until now. Yesterday, while finishing up a marathon Target run, I noticed they had a modest display of their own reusable shopping bags. The grocery bag sized cloth numbers, that are darn near impossible to destroy. These are Target red, with a lovely little tree motif on them. They also have a version that cleverly zips up around itself to form a packet about the size of a checkbook. I happily purchased two grocery sized bags and one checkbook sized bag. The clerk let me pack my own items into these bags, assuring I didn't get ANY of those plastic kind.

A manager-esque person walked by and said "Thank you for buying our bags!" I said, again, with what might have been more enthusiasm than one might expect, "Thank YOU for selling them! You have no idea how happy I am to not be getting plastic bags at Target."

I got home and unpacked them, and folded them right up, and found a special spot for them in the Celt-Mobile (II). I'm sooooo ready to shop now! Look out world!! And look out, plastic bag drawer in Jenn's kitchen! There are some lean times ahead!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Tale of Outstanding Dorkiness

Several days ago, I had stopped by the Reference Desk on my way to the staff areas of the library, to chat with a Library Friend. My new supervisor was also there, chatting. In the midst of our conversation, I gasped, because I noticed the library's copy of "The Children of Hurin" had arrived. My Library Friend, who is the cataloger said, "How about I get that in the catalog, and then you can process it." I happily agreed, and then had a short discussion with My New Supervisor about the LOTR movies. He claims they ruined the books for him. Briefly I thought this would put a serious hurdle to our relationship. But, I've reminded myself that purists are purists. Some people don't even like chunks of stuff in their ice cream. I lovingly processed the book, wrapping it in it's cover, putting on the labels (as straight as I possibly could), giving it a book pocket, stamping it with our library stamp.

Fast forward several days to our library staff meeting. The Assistant Director says, "We were supposed to get our copy of Tolkien's new book -- how someone who is dead can release a new book is beyond me! -- "The Children of Hurin," but it's not in our catalog." My Library Friend and I exchanged looks....of course it was in our catalog. I announced that I had processed that book, I was sure it was here. My Library Friend went over to a catalog station to hunt for it.

Do you know, my dear friends, why it didn't come up? OHHHHH, it's *such* a good one. It makes me giddy just to think of it.

People were doing a title search for "The Children of Hurin." Reasonable.

BUT! When My Library Friend had imported the record into our catalog....oh, it's so great, I can't wait for you to read what happened....THE RECORD HAD THE TITLE IN SINDARIN!!! A hunt for the author "Tolkien" turned up "Narn I Hin Hurin." Everyone else in the room was stumped. But I joyfully shouted out "That's SINDARIN! ELVISH, people, ELVISH!!"

Oh, but there is more dorkiness to unfold, best beloveds. Indeed.

I then shared with the group a fun fact I'd learned only the day before. A parent had come to the Kids Desk, wanting to know which book comes after "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe." I had to go to Wikipedia, because I know there is some controversy on this point. See for yourself. After I talked her through it, I was browsing the article and saw that some people postulate that Narnia got it's name from the Sindarin word for "poem," namely "narn," as in "Narn I Hin Hurin." I guess C.S. Lewis denies that he was inspired by his buddy J.R.R.T. but I am going to continue to not only believe this rumor but spread it.

Is that not the most beautiful thing you've ever heard about a staff meeting?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Heteo back on West Coast

This is old news now, but it's old news with new pictures. Two Saturdays ago, H was here! And we took pictures!!

Usually when you hang out with Heteo, you have the opportunity to draw a daily Angel Card, from a deck of oh, gosh, lots of cards. The angel card has a word on it that gives you a glimpse of something you might want to think about on that particular day. When H had been here for almost an hour, and we were getting ready to leave, and Nathan still hadn't been offered an Angel Card, he asked what was up. H didn't have them with her, but NEVER FEAR!! You can draw a Virtual Angel Card ONLINE!! H found the page, and then bookmarked it on Nathan's computer. Much to his chagrin. It was great!

I've also recently (since Yosemite) become quite a fan of the reach-out-and-take-a-picture shot, taken with the wide angle lens. Hence:

After the Angel Cards, H and I went over the hill to Santa Cruz. H showed me a new place with great burritos (really great burritos) and we took a walk on West Cliff. It was a bit cold and breezy, and I made the classic blunder (well, the third classic blunder, I didn't get involved in a land war in Asia). I got a sunburn. It didn't feel hot, so I didn't think about sun protection. Argh. Anyways, I've now reformed, and in addition to the daily exercise, and the daily flossing, I'm applying sunscreen daily. I swear I'll be immortal soon. A truck could hit me, and it would just bounce off the flossed teeth, applied sunscreen, and exercised cardiovascular system. I digress.

Anyway, it was great to see Heteo, and walk on West Cliff and stroll down Pacific Garden Mall. Really, we should all live in the same place.