Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Growth

The weather has been so beautiful lately, it's hard to keep from busting out in lyrics to the song from Carousel "June is Bustin' Out All Over" which celebrates the arrival of spring. Unfortunately, buy June, Austin's spring is long gone and has been replaced by the stifling summer heat during the day.

I am growing potato vines on a tomato cage trellis to create green towers in my back yard and the first one is making it's way up the wire cage nicely and the vine wrapping around the wire created a nice arrangement, so did what I've been doing alot of lately - grabbed the camera and took a picture of it against the perfect blue skies.


Just over a week ago one of my friends fulfilled a fantasy I think everyone has from time to time.
He ran away.
Packed up his car. Started driving.
Ended up in New York, New York.
I cannot decide if he lost his freakin’ mind or is the most amazing person I know right now.
Still, the idea is growing more appealing as this week progresses. The program audit is next week. Honestly, do I really need to be there? I guess since I am the program coordinator, I should be.
But the idea of running away certainly is enticing as the stress of the week builds. New friends. New identity. New direction. Ahh the fantasy.
Nevertheless, if I were to run away, what really would I do differently? My work is my passion. I am equally passionate about my volunteer work. I love and cherish my friends - would I really make better ones somewhere else?
Our minds run to strange places as the stress mounts, but the best places are where the heart is, so I do not plan to go anywhere soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Greenbelt Spring

The Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin does provide one of the greatest sanctuaries of any inner city hiking trail I know. The lush vegetation and depth of the valley quickly blot out any sounds of the surrounding metropolitan area and criss-crossing highways. Within minutes you can be lost from the hustle of the busy world and immersed in the outdoors.

Look closely and you can see the bird in the photo above. It took five minutes of listening closely and watching through the camera lens to finally catch the bird on a hop, but sure enough, there was the tiny wren, searching for bugs on the ground.

The well-worn trails make the hike easy, but the overhanging trees and bushes keep the intense sun from being too unbearable on hot and humid days. In a sort of labyrinthian way, the bends in the trail and the thick foliage create an adventure as one never knows what is around that turn or behind those bushes until one is upon them.

This shot down a smoothed granite gully to the creek has an almost rain forest or swampy feel to it - without the stifling humidity of either of those locations.

Better Living Through Chemistry

Next week at work, one of the programs I coordinate receives an audit from the state agency over such programs. I inherited the program AFTER the audit was announced, so I had nothing to do with anything that caused the audit; however, I’m the lucky person who gets to go through the audit process and resolve any remaining issues.

I’m also the lucky person who does not get to sleep in the couple of weeks leading up to the audit.
Most of the food I cook and eat is made from scratch, so I have little experience with prepared foods (other than what restaurants sneak out to me). Due to the schedule of the last few weeks, I have shopped for prepared meals that at least seemed somewhat healthy in content. Basically, I have found soups.
And the varieties of energy drinks and snacks. Going on a second week of 2.5 to 3 hours of sleep a night, energy drinks have become my fuel of choice. My documented addiction to caffeine does not suffice to keep me functioning at this point. 
Gotta go for the big guns!
I have been a fan of the Monster energy drinks for a while, but my latest kick is energy gummies! One package of them equals two energy drinks. They are much less filling so I can eat more of them!!!
Yes, currently the exclamation point is my favorite punctuation mark!
Energy drinks do that!
I have also lost eight of the twenty pounds I am trying to shed. This is probably unhealthy weight loss, so I’ve most likely just out-run those pounds and as soon as the energy drinks wear off, they will catch up with me.
Of course maybe I’ll have some kind of miracle lab-transformation of my DNA and this two week infusion of taurine, ginseng, and l-carnitine will permanently shift my metabolism back to where it was in my early twenties.
And the wishful thinking of a mid-forties male continues in my generation. Instead of the sports car, I go for weight loss. Instead of the trophy husband, I go for energy.
Better living through chemistry. Yes, it can be done!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Delayed Snow

Although two months have passed since the massive snowfall (hint: sarcasm) hit the Austin area, I keep being drawn to some of the photos I took that day. On the way home from work is an area of recent road construction, and due to the extreme heat and drought last year, the grass never took root, so the ground remains barren and has begun to show signs of erosion following the winter rains. I like the contrasts set up by the snow and the dirt as only certain high places collected any accumulation of snow and the washed out areas became even more exposed.

The photo above does not give a true sense of the steep incline of the hill from the vantage point of the photograph. It almost appears to be a flat or descending area, but in reality the hill has a greater than 30 degree slope upward.

The photo above shows some of the snow collected around a gully washed out alongside the road. This gully has been growing for years and it is actually composed of heavy clay, so the water does not just wash out new ruts each rain as it does with softer soils. Here again, the snow collected on some of the higher points and exaggerates the depth of the gully.


I am almost a little embarrassed to admit this, but I am totally hooked on RuPaul’s Drag Race. As the season finale drew close last night, my cable started freezing up every fifteen seconds. Every channel had the same problem, so I know it was not something specific to Logo.

I turned off the cable box.

I rebooted the cable box.

The picture and audio still kept freezing every fifteen seconds.

Logo does not put the shows online until the next day. I was going to have to live a life of isolation, not texting or taking texts from certain friends. There would be no blogging. There would be no Facebook.

Someone might tell me who won before I had the chance to get home and watch it for myself on Logo Online.

How is it possible that a television show has done this to me? I’m not a TV person unless it is a nature special. Then again - RuPaul’s drag race is kind of a nature special. Plumage. Disguise. Relationship. Drama. It’s all right there.

Fortunately, I tried unplugging the cable box and when it came back, it finally connected to the network and everything worked correctly. The show did not disappoint - it was drag drama all the way.

My gurl Raven did not win, but I can say that I’m ready for season 3!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Flowers

Texas is known for the fields of bluebonnets that pop up each spring and this year has been a particularly good year for them and the other wildflowers, so I am not posting any pictures of them because of the thousands of others who are.

I am not certain what the yellow flowers are exactly, but they are common in fields and even into woodlands. They attract all kinds of insects and looking closely on can see more than just butterflies on them.

Some of the trees, too, produce exquisite flowes. These almost orchid flowers stand out in the wooded areas. Unfortunately we do not have many native trees that produce beautiful flowers, so I am always attracted to the wild flowering trees I come across.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I'm Trying....

I'm not always the earliest adopter of technology, but I'm always
willing to give something new a shot. I registered for email poosting
some time ago, but never saw the urgency to use it. As I sit in the
airport today, waiting for my flight, I decided this time was as good
as any.

I started my Sunday School blog with audio uploads this past week, so
it take up the bulk (and more) of my writing time, so now is the time
to employ the email tool here.

I'll see how well it works when I land and have Internet access again.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Take Me To the Water

I am not entirely certain what it was about Easter Sunday this year that made it so unusually special as they go, but from the waking up until now almost bedtime, it has been one of those days touched by special moments that are memorable. The most memorable, of course is the special Easter service at church.

Every year we have a different routine on Easter Sunday with egg and scavenger hunts for the younger ones and a longer time to visit and socialize for the adults. Sprinkled in there is the breakfast provided by the deacons of the church and the normal church preparations of the day.

This year’s worship service also included the baptism of two adults with very moving testimonies read to the gathered congregation. One of the two gentlemen only has one leg, so I got the opportunity to be in the water to help support him as he stood to be baptized and help the preacher get him in and out of the water. Other than my own baptism over thirty years ago, I had never participated so closely in one. The whole experience gave me goosebumps.

And it was not just because the water was freezing.

Baptism in a Baptist church has always been a particularly moving experience even as a congregant observing the practice, but being a part of it took the whole thing to an entirely new level. I am going to have to think on it for a few days to understand the full scope of how much it meant to me, but I do know that I came out of the water feeling even more strongly about the power of baptism as not only a symbol of faith, but as a transformative even in a person’s life.

Our practice is for the choir to sing “Take Me To the Water” as the pastor gets situated in the baptistry to introduce the importance of baptism an all that it signifies. After observing the water first hand, that hymn will carry even more force the next time I hear it.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ahhh Spring 2010

Spring in Austin really is hard to beat. Today was one of the perfect examples with a comfortably cool morning with clear bright skies. The day morphed into a warm clear day, perfect for being outside. Coupled with all of this, the rain over the winter has all the local streams flowing nicely, so the trails along them are filled with the sounds of the stream rushing over rock.

I went with my friend, C., to walk the Greenbelt which has several popular gathering places at different rapids. With well marked trails and many people, it made for a relaxing afternoon sightseeing as we traversed the trails.

After our adventures along the trail ended, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up ingredients to make incredibly decadent burgers back at my place and continue to enjoy a perfect day outside. We made guacamole burgers with with sauteed bacon, mushroom, onion, and garlic. The burgers themselves were two patties with bleu cheese in between.

We tried to balance it out somewhat with grilled romaine lettuce topped with citrus salt and balsamic vinegar, but the decadence of cheese and bacon grease pretty much negated those valiant efforts.

Following dinner, we sat around the chiminea as we had small fire to take away the falling chill of the evening.

If only April could stay in Austin all year long.