going home

Most things about this move have been wonderful. The one major black fly in my chardonnay is being so far away from my peeps. So a week ago, I went home to visit my family. James stayed here and held down the fort (that being the dogs, since we’re incapable of putting them in a GD kennel for a few days). I didn’t make it to Houston on this trip, but I still managed to eat queso four times (not kidding).

I flew from San Francisco to Austin. If we’d managed to work in a layover in Portland, it would have been the most hipster flight ever. My plane was diverted to San Antonio because the Austin airport was closed due to bad weather, and we didn’t have enough gas to circle waiting for it to reopen. Didn’t get upset because a) what can you do and b) my parents, brother and Tex-Mex were waiting for me once I actually made it to Austin, only 1.5 hours late.

We spent our visit talking, laughing, eating, drinking and chilling on the back porch watching it rain. It was perfect.

An adorable two year old was seated two rows in front of me. He was incredibly well-behaved, entertaining those of us in the back of the bus the whole flight. He didn’t fuss when we unexpectedly landed in San Antonio or when we took off (again) for Austin. As we began our descent into Austin, for real this time, he Exorcist-puked–all over himself, his father, his father’s backpack, the aisle–and started wailing. Since we were back in the baby section (yay), the parents of the 15 other crying babies started passing the father wet wipes and towels. Interesting fact for us non-parents: the smell of baby puke is fairly indistinguishable from the smell of a fat hairy biker’s puke on 10-cent wing night. Once we landed, a flight attendant came out in a face shield and hazmat suit to clean things up. It was all very dramatic, but since I was traveling alone there was no one to receive my eye rolls. Unacknowledged eye rolls are the saddest eye rolls.
We took evening rides on my parents' mule (not to be confused with the animals two shots above) and were treated to deer, rabbits, raccoons, raptors and lightning bugs.
Each evening, we took a Mule ride (the four-wheeler, not the four-legged conveyance) on the back roads and were treated to deer, rabbits, raccoons, raptors and lightning bugs. Lightning bugs! I hadn’t seen those since I was a kid and thought they had gone the way of the dodo.
It took me maybe 100 shots, but I managed to capture an image of one in my parents’ back 40. See center of picture.
The front of my parents’ house at night. It’s not blurry in reality. Ends up, I don’t make a very good tripod.
Mom downstairs at the job site. Dad and Tohner (Artisan Builders) are building a 10,000 square foot house.
We checked out a couple of Dad and Tohner’s (Artisan Builders) projects. This house is the biggest mofo house I’ve ever seen. Literally 12 of the house I live in could fit inside.
A close-up of one of Tohner’s art pieces. Who knew Martinelli’s apple juice bottles would make for such cool light fixtures? This piece has four. At night, the ridges on the bottom of the bottles make cool designs on the wall.
While Rowan just wanted to drive.
Rowan, ready to drive. We talked about Star Wars. He asked how old I was when the first movie came out (a year older than he is now). He hasn’t seen the first one yet–when he does, I want to know how the scene in the bar holds up for today’s six or seven year old. It was always my favorite part.
But it was still a good idea to check for cars in the rearview mirror. Molly was mostly checking out how awesome she looks in sunglasses.
Molly was supposed to use the mirror to check for cars, but she mostly used it to check out how awesome she looks in sunglasses.
Folks in Brenham are astir about the Blue Bell ice cream shut down.
To say Blue Bell Creameries is a major employer in Brenham would be an understatement. These signs are in practically every fourth or fifth yard.
I turn to her and say: Texas. She says: What?
I said: Texas. She says: What.
They've got big long roads out there.
They’ve got big long roads out there.
And donkeys.
And donkeys. Or maybe burros.
And wee rabbits.
And wee rabbits.
Last meal in Texas. Surprisingly decent queso at Bergstrom Airport's fancy Earl Campbell's Sports Bar.
Oh, and queso. Liquid gold. Texas cheese. This fine specimen came from Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar in the Austin airport. The chips were straight out of a Tostitos bag, but the queso was surprisingly good. Or maybe it’s just that there’s no more legit queso until the next trip home. Some day I shall crack the code of restaurant queso (the special ingredient is plastic!), and the West Coast will be mine.

6 thoughts on “going home

  1. Love your work. I live in Dallas and visit Monterey pretty often. I’ll be your first customer when you get your queso truck licensed. 😊

    1. Thanks, Linda! The people out here don’t know what they’re missing. My other idea is to befriend the owner of a local Mexican restaurant and talk them into putting queso on the menu. There would be a line out the door–full of, if nothing else, Texas expats.

  2. So much to comment on, locks my brain up!! Firefly’s. My Mother’s dad lived in Iowa and as a kid we visited two times and I still remember the fascination with those bugs. Amazing! I saw them again this last summer when I was in Missouri for the Katy trail ride. At 58 years old I am still in wonder and amazement by them. Never have seen one in Colorado.
    The big house thing……I am in the business of selling the lumber to build them but I am also a bit turned off by the excess those humongous statements of “look at me” bring. We just finished supplying a 12,000 sq.ft. box for two people. Re-donkculous!!
    Finally…..I wonder if Queso is a chick thing. My wife and daughter-in-law and daughter love it. The boys and I prefer the nacho thing with salsa and the real melted cheese. Probably another half-baked theory of mine.
    Be well!!

    1. Jim, do you have queso in Colorado? I’d come to the conclusion that it was strictly a Tex-Mex item. Maybe that’s not the case. And I don’t know if it’s a chick thing or not–I know some pretty strapping men who love the stuff too!

      The lightning bugs/fireflies were such a delight to encounter. I was surprised that their glow was so yellow, at least at dusk. Later in the night we saw some that had a white light. Not sure if they were different types of bug or if their color changes for some reason. There’s something very magical about seeing their twinkling lights floating a few feet off the ground. Wish we had them here–better than TV.

      1. Oh yeah, tex-mex queso here in Colorado. You know that 1/3 of Colorado is Texans with summer homes here, 1/3 is Californians who moved here to cash in their real estate gains and the other 1/3 of us are the natives with the stupid bumper stickers telling everybody that we are real natives!!

        1. Ha! I already have Colorado on my must-visit list, and the presence of queso just bumped it up a notch or two.

          I remember when I worked for non-profits in Houston that a lot of the big donors had places in Colorado. So many, in fact, some Houston organizations actually have annual fundraisers in Aspen.

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