Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hell is Cooler Than My Apartment

It is our 8th day of expected triple digits, with the last few days going between 104º and 108º. I was happy getting off work yesterday, knowing I'd be going home to a cool apartment since the maintenance guys called to say the a/c was repaired. Stepping through the doorway, my euphoria evaporated as I realized the maintenance guys were wrong. The temperature was above 90º, and stuffy. I called my boyfriend, on the verge of tears, and told him I was headed back to his condo, you know, the one with the fabulous air conditioning. I called my complex's office and reported that it was hotter than hell in my apartment. The manager took my call, and immediately lost her friendly, girl talk voice (I've lived there long enough to have a good rapport with the office staff) and took on the ultra professional tone. She ma'am'd me so much I thought my mother was in the room. I know she was worried that I would completely overheat and take it out on her. Despite the urge to do so, and ignoring the trickle of sweat down the small of my back, I politely asked if the maintenance men could fix my a/c and then double check that it was working before claiming that it is functional this time.

Since I was already sweaty and hot, I took the time to snap pics of the furniture in my garage. I'm selling an ancient bedroom set (vanity, chest of drawers, headboard & footboard) and an antique vanity that is a beautiful art deco styled solid wood piece. The difference between "ancient" and "antique"? The ancient set is antique, probably about 50-60 years old but so worn out and in need of repair that I'll be lucky to get $75 for the set. The antique vanity is very, very nice and I'm hoping for $250, although it's worth more. Art deco isn't quite the style these days, or I'd make more on that sale.

So here I am at work, in my office with no less than 3 a/c vents. I'm chilly and keep getting goose bumps but I'm not complaining at all. It's better than being hot. I had a good night's rest at Frank's home, which calmed me down and tempered my frustration. I'm waiting for an update on my a/c so I'll know if I'm going home or back to the condo tonight. Hope all of ya'll are staying cool. And as for my twin, in the 60º weather in St.'s a great place to visit. Besos!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ahhhh, the balmy days of fall in Central Texas!

We are expecting our sixth day of record heat in Austin. By record heat I mean triple digits. Yup, other states are enjoying cooler weather and leaves beginning to turn pretty colors while we are roasting at a high yesterday of 108º and watching our leaves are turning brown from lack of water. I worked at The Can yesterday, flipping burgers over a hot BBQ pit and didn't realize just how hot it had gotten until I was slightly delirious and my face was glowing red. After Gatorade, ice water, Sprite and a break from the grill I recovered and felt much better.

Once my shift at the bar was over, I headed home, anxious to get into a cool shower, clean up and relax. I fell asleep early but woke up at 2:30am wondering why I was so hot. My first thought was that I had gotten a sunburn but a quick inspection in the mirror confirmed that although I did have pink cheeks, I didn't have a significant burn. Experiencing a sinking feeling, I checked my a/c temps. Uh huh. My apartment was a toasty 85º even though the thermostat was set for ten degrees cooler. I turned it off for a bit, then back on. No luck. I tossed and turned under my ceiling fan for a while until finally having my one bright idea of the wee hours. Going to the fridge, I pulled cold packs out. The same cold packs that my leg muscles loved during training season saved me again. It felt heavenly sleeping on them. I woke up feeling fairly well-rested despite the fact that my apartment was now warmer than the outdoors. After another cool shower I headed to work, loving the fact that my car's a/c was so cold it was giving me goose bumps.

I dutifully notified my apartment complex and they're sending maintenance out. I'll call later to find out if it was fixed or if I'm facing another night of heat. Just in case, I packed a bag. There's no way I'm sleeping in a hot apartment another night, cold packs or not! Ooooh, now would be a fabulous time to find those red popsicles!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lovely Rita Meter Maid

Unlike the Beatles song, none of us in Texas are thinking Rita is anything but one ugly looking bitch. The hurricane hysteria hit Austin two days ago. Of course, this was when the predicted path of the storm was to hit Galveston and journey North to us. Now, we’ll be spared the brunt of it’s rain bands and nasty stormy weather. Austin City Limits Festival will go on as planned, as will Pecan Street Festival this weekend. It should be a good time for all the people wanting to hear live music in Austin, where we bill ourselves as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. Strange to think we'll be able to have a good weekend when only an hour's drive away will be torrential rain, wind and possible flooding.

The early reports cautioned us to buy bottled water, flashlights, batteries, nonperishable foods that don't need heating and other comfort items. I went to Whole Foods yesterday to buy peanut butter, bread, water and a few other things. I got one of the last tubs of their freshly ground peanut butter. The sign on the grinders said they were out of peanuts but a resourceful employee had made a caseful of the peanut, cashew and almond butters. I couldn't score any bottled water, as they were completely out. The only loaves of bread were two of rye and four of white. I passed up the white, thinking either the half loaf of 100% whole wheat that I have left will last us or I'll luck out at another grocery store. Hah! The picture is of one of our large HEB grocery stores' bread aisle. Even the tortillas are gone, with the exception being the boxed hard corn taco shells. I always find those funny since most Hispanics will make their own taco shells from fresh corn tortillas instead of going for the Taco Bell premade version. But my family also refers to store bought tortillas as "alien tortillas", too. At any rate, the bread, cereal, tuna, peanut butter and milk aisles of HEB all look the same: bare.

Hopefully Rita will hit land and immediately deflate. She'll definitely weaken, but I'm hoping for a huge, anti-climactic fizzling out of her fury.

And thank you, Frederick for letting me bogart your pic to use in my blog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


My life has been a whirlwind of activity lately and I haven't had a chance to blog. I'm finally finished battling it out with the Westlake raccoons. The homeowners are back from Italy and I am off to another petsitting job. This time, it's for a friend whose house I am totally at home in...from snuggling on her big comfy chair in front of the t.v. to digging in the fridge for dinner makings. Her pets are suspicious and keep sitting in front of the door waiting for Corrie to come home. I've assured them that she'll be home safe and sound on Wednesday. They are obviously concerned that they'll be stuck with me for life. I'm trying not to let my feelings be hurt. I'll have a week off at home until I start a two week stint housesitting for another friend, whose furry kids are easy peasy to take care of and like me enough to not worry when their mom is coming home. During that week at home I'll be cleaning my apartment, doing laundry and sorting through old clothing that needs to either be thrown out or donated. Fun times.

I have been chasing a childhood treat to no avail. When I was in elementary and junior high school in Monroe & West Monroe, Louisiana, our schools sold snacks at recess and/or concession break. One of those snacks was a red popsicle. This popsicle wasn't like the Popsicle brand kind that was grooved so you could break it in two. It was a straight, smooth cylindar of red frozen goodness on a stick. It came in a white wrapper and was, I'm certain, sold in bulk to the schools from some food supply company. I'm on a search in Austin to find this red popsicle. I've been to HEB and Randall's. Now I'll be looking at Albertson's and Fiesta. I won't be deterred until I've either found them or exhausted the possibility of finding them.

One treat I have been enjoying isn't an edible one. Corrie left Aveda products for me to use while I'm staying at her place. I love Aveda, although most of the time will opt for a less pricey brand of hair care products. I've enjoyed them so much this week that I've made a vow to buy some for my house. I remember the first time I had heard of Aveda. More than a decade ago, I was visiting my sister, who had moved to St. Louis, a much larger city than Austin. At the time, my sister was a bit of a wild one, living it up in the company of her two gay roomies. (Eric & Paul are both hotties, so I always enjoyed the indoor scenery when I visited.) Kim hugged me hello and I noticed how good her hair smelled. She was happy to tell me about her Aveda shampoo and conditioner, although now I can't remember which one she used. I thought it was such a hip, big city thing to use a shampoo that cost more than most of my meals at the time. I think it's time to splurge on myself and buy Aveda hair care products and some really, really good skin care items, too. Why not?

While I'm on the subject of pampering myself, I'll mention that I have regained my will to cook. I made a succulent roast chicken using an organic, free range first time paying more in an attempt to see if it really did make a difference. I salted & peppered the cavity, stuffing it with fresh Hatch green chili, onion and slices of garlic along with a bit of butter. I stuffed butter, onion slices and garlic under the skin of the breast before using a bit of EVOO on the bird and liberally seasoning with my holy trinity (sea salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder) and some onion powder. Then into the oven it went, for 15 minutes at 475º and then another hour at 350º. When it came out of the oven I was busy preparing steamed broccoli and baked polenta rounds topped with cheddar cheese. It was fabulous! The chicken was perfect, as was the rest of the meal down to the fresh sliced pineapple and green seedless grapes for dessert. Yum!

Now I just have to decide what to make for supper tonight. Suggestions?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ultimate Fighter

I almost forgot to mention one highlight of my weekend: watching the Ultimate Fighter 2 on Spike TV. Now I know this is not your usual chick flick fare. But if you're a woman who feigns interest in the Strongman competitions that your boyfriend or husband is enthusiastically into while secretly harboring a love for them, you'll enjoy the UF shows. It's street fighting at it's best, with all the erotic wrestling holds of the professional sport combined with face slapping hits, kidney punches and kicking. Frank tuned in and within minutes I was out of my couch potato reclining pose and literally on the edge of my seat cheering for my favorite, the 6' 7" Big Strong Man Whose Name Escapes Me. I saw more faces buried in crotches than imaginable. It was thrilling, hot and testosterone kinky, kind of what you'd expect if the WWF had an ecstasy problem as opposed to a steroid problem. Check it out on Spike TV tonight at 10pm CST/11pm EST. Where else can you hear commentary such as "He is really good with submissions" while you watch a burly man wrap his thighs around his opponent's neck? Ummm....on second thought, don't answer that! I can find the Chain Drive all on my own if I want to, thanks.

Fila Relays & Westlake Raccoons

I swear I didn't do much this weekend except nap on Frank's new couch and go to the Fila Relay at Zilker Park. I cheered for the Hang's Angels team: Hang, Frank, Mark Felger and Charles Sampson. Well, except Charles got called in so Jason, Hang's boyfriend, was tagged as a last minute substitute. Each member ran 2 laps totalling 2.5 miles each. The team did an awesome job! Hang averaged a 7:75 minute per mile pace. Frank ran a 7:92 minute per mile pace. Mark held an 8:22 min per mile run and Jason cleaned up with a 7:19 minute per mile! Hang and Frank, you can easily join the Green group of Austin Fit or, if you don't want to push yourselves so hard, go with the Yellow group. As for me, I was lonely on my 3 mile walk (with a tiny bit of running) on Saturday morning, so I've decided to hang with Austin Fit for the pep talk, stretching and lectures and then either go 3 miles with the walking group or strike out on my own on the trail. And I need a new shoe tag. Mine is so worn out that it keeps unsnapping and coming off my running shoe. It doesn't do any good in my purse, where it currently is living.

I'm petsitting in Westlake for two dogs and two cats. The pooches are terribly cute: a miniature pinscher that was debarked by the drug dealer she was rescued from and a chihuahua. Cupcake (the minpin) is a total sweetheart and Ellie gets so excited to see me that she almost jumps in circles. The two cats are pretty cool, too. Francis is still mostly ignoring me but Kitty meows at me and follows me around in the hopes I'll be generous with the petting (I am).

The most interesting thing about this petsitting job is the raccoons. Not that they are more fun than Cuppie, Ellie, Francis & Kitty, but these are some smart raccoons. Of course they are Westlake coons and have the advantage of a better funded school system, so I shouldn't be surprised. They have higher I.Q.'s than your average Central Texas raccoon. The cats have a new kitty door that gets locked at night when they come in. The lock is a sliding one at the bottom of the door and is does not slide easily. You really have to use a bit of force. The first time the raccoons got in, I rationalized it by saying maybe I just thought I'd locked it but didn't. the second time I made sure I had locked it and they still managed to undo it and come on in. The second time they even opened the drawer and got out the bag of cat food that I'd stowed in the small plastic cabinet after they'd chewed through it on the first visit. This morning I discovered the raccoons have now learned how to open the top of the plastic bin holding the cat food instead of messing around trying to find which drawer I'd hidden the bag in. So...tonight after I lock the cat door, I am going to booby trap the cat food. The owners have an ornamental metal set of bells, that look like an upside down candlelabra on the table by the cat food. I'm going to place the bells on top of the cat food bin and if nothing else, it may scare the bejeezus out of the raccoons when they knock it over getting into the grub. Hah! I'll admit to kind of feeling like Bill Murray chasing the elusive dancing gopher in Caddyshack.

Frank and I did take in a movie this weekend. We saw "The Transporter 2" with Jason Stratham, that yummy man. You have to love a man with a cool accent who looks awesome in a suit and likes to drive fast cars. Wait a sec, that's a description of James Bond. Ah well, love that type. The movie was entertaining. I'm waiting for the premiere of Brokeback Mountain, the story of two cowboys whose love affair spans a lifetime, with moments together stolen whenever possible. I read the novella by E. Annie Proulx, whose "The Shipping News" was turned into a pretty terrible movie (but the accents were spot on, according to my Newfie friend, Michelle). The novella was one that caught me in the first few pages and didn't let me go 'til I was on the last paragraph. Hopefully the hype for the movie will prove true and the film will do the book justice.

And how was your weekend??

Friday, September 09, 2005

It's just a phase, it's just a phase, please let it be just a phase!

I don't feel like cooking. For those of you who are strangers, reading that sentence probably seems like no big deal. For my friends, whose jaws have dropped or who may be just picking themselves up after falling off their desk chair,'s true. I haven't felt like cooking for several weeks. I still don't feel like it.

What is wrong with me? I am the woman who reads cookbooks for fun and inspiration. I walk down the grocery store aisles and formulate a spectacular dinner in my mind. I watch the Food Network as often as possible and search recipe sites for whatever grabs my attention. I read a recipe and know how it will taste. So why don't I feel like cooking??

Obviously this is just a phase. This is a slump. Maybe my cooking was falling into a rut and my subconscious has performed a system shut down. I need to be rebooted. This weekend I am going to visit Central Market and Whole Foods and wander around in the hopes of being inspired again. I'm going to dream up some yummy meals and then set out to make them. Right now I can't even be inspired enough to go get some hot water for my herbal tea. Something must be done!

I may need to fall back on some comfort food recipes from childhood to kick start my culinary life again. Maybe a nice pot of chicken & dumplings or crispy chalupas topped with refried beans, shredded cheese, guacamole, lettuce and tomato. Perhaps I need to make the cobbler recipe that's been in our family for generations. Or start working on my tortilla making skills, which are terribly rusty. I might have to roast a chicken, and serve it up with whipped sweet potatoes, dressing and giblet gravy. A thanksgiving for the return to the epicurean lifestyle.

What are your ideas? How can we "fix" me?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Frank & Hang Rock it Hard on Race Day!

"To give anything less than the best is to sacrifice the gift."
(Steve Prefontaine)

I had a terrific time at the Rock & Roll Half Marthon. The weather was outstanding, a high of 80 degrees with almost no humidity. Frank and Hang averaged a 9:20 minute per mile pace to finish the 13.1 miles in a PR of 2 hours and 2 minutes. Wooohoooo! Jason and I were good cheerleaders, seeing our runners off at the start, then at the 9 mile mark and finally meeting them at the finish. We enjoyed the after party on the beach for a while, listening to the live music and cooling our feet in the ocean...I played massage therapist and gave Frank's legs a rubdown in an effort to appease his loudly protesting hamstring before walking the 30 blocks back to the hotel. Yes, I got some exercise as well! Jason and I figured out that we walked 7 miles that day. Not bad. But our runners did their half marathon and then a 5k back to the hotel with us. Now that's a long cool down!

Virginia Beach was packed until Labor Day, when everyone cleared out. It was so nice to wake up and see the sunrise over the ocean, hear the surf crashing on the shore. We spent the majority of the weekend eating seafood and chilling out. We did visit the Marine Science Museum for 3 hours, learning about endangered sharks, turtles local to the area and more. They had a nifty harbor seal exhibit and another one with two Kemp's Ridley turtles, two loggerhead turtles and a green sea turtle. They were in a big tank with a huge grouper and other fish. The sharks were interesting, too. Some of the fish in their tank had bite marks.

Frank and I had the layovers from hell on our trip. Luckily, the first one was 3 hours in Orlando, where my sister Sherri joined us with her grandkids. Sherri and I caught up while the kiddos played with Frank. It was so great to see her! Coming home we had 3 hours in Baltimore. Neither of us knows anyone in Baltimore, so we used the time to eat lunch and stretch our legs before cramming ourselves into our seats on the packed flight home. I felt like a squished pretzel by the time we got off the plane in Austin.

The next trip is in October to El Paso...we're going for Elena's christening. Frank is her padrino (godfather), so there's no way I'm missing this trip. Besides, I have a hankering for green chili and cheese tamales from Lupita's, the best tamale place in the world. Mmmmm! I brought back both red and green (red chili and pork/green chili and chicken) tamales in August and shared with my workmates. They had been skeptical of my claim that these are the best in the world but after only a bite they were convinced. Lupita's are fabuloso!

How was your weekend? Anything fun, unusual or exciting in your world? Anyone want to run a half marathon or a full marathon in the spring? Frank will be doing the marathon again. There is more information on training groups at Austin Fit's website and it isn't too late to join.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Blogging For Relief Day

The devastation of New Orleans and the surrounding area, along with Mississippi and Alabama makes my heart ache. Luckily for me, my friends are safe and sound and accounted for since they evacuated before Katrina made landfall. The fury of Mother Nature is both terrifying and amazing. And now it's time to clean up. There are countless numbers of people needing to be rescued, in addition to the homeless who have evacuated with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing. Please donate to the Red Cross or another charity listed on FEMA's website.

As far as the reports we're getting on looters...if they aren't stealing food in order to stay alive prior to rescue or a pair of shoes necessary to slog their way out of the affected region without cutting up their feet on debris, then they need to be treated with the maximum force necessary to restore order. Looting after a disaster is pathetic and the worst kind of greed.

Spinning the hottest hits, all night long...

By request, here is a Top 15 Songs posting. It’s a lot harder to pick favorite songs than movies or books. After all, I hear probably close to a hundred songs a day, depending on how often the radio station I listen to rotates their lineup, but I watch only a few movies in a month and read about a book a week. So…I’ll give it a shot but include my usual disclaimer: Even with making it a top 15 list, I’m sure I’ve left some out. I didn't include any Led Zeppelin or Eagles or Stones or Cyndi Lauper or Madonna or Aerosmith or hell, even the entire "Thriller" album....

  1. "You May Be Right" (Billy Joel)
  2. "Come Together" (The Beatles)
  3. "Cold as Ice" (Foreignor)
  4. "Killer Queen" (Queen)
  5. "Fat Bottomed Girls" (Queen)
  6. "You Oughta Know" (Alanis Morissette)
  7. "Let's Go Crazy" (Prince)
  8. "Son of a Son of a Sailor" (Jimmy Buffett)
  9. "No Rain" (Blind Melon)
  10. "Santeria" (Sublime)
  11. "What's Up" (4 Non Blondes)
  12. "T'aint Nobody's Bizness if I Do" (Billie Holiday)
  13. "American Pie" (Don McLean)
  14. "Wonder" (Natalie Merchant)
  15. "Happy Together" (The Turtles)

Drop me a comment with your fav's and raves!