Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Miz Birdie Hunts Her Own Shadow

Hmmm, I'm thirsty. I think I'll go in the bathroom to drink out of my special purple cup of water that Mom keeps in the corner for me. Doh-dee-doh-dee-doh. Oh, hey! Look at this puddle of bright white light. It's so beauuuutiful. I'm going to look inside it. Hmmm, what's that dark thing in the corner of the puddle?

Oh my gosh, it looks like me. Hello? Who are you? What's your name? What are you doing in my bathroom?

Helloooooo? Can you hear me? Why won't you talk to me? Hey! Where are you going?

Hey, Mr. Shadowpants, I'm talking to you! Come back here!

Hmph. Where did you go, Mr. Shadowpants? Are you under the bath mat? You can't fool me, I'll just keep on looking. I know you're in here somewhere!

Oh, Mom! Nothing. I mean, no. I mean, why, hello there. My, that's a fetching sweater vest you're wearing.

What do you mean, what am I up to. I was just leaving, is what. Sheesh. You're always asking questions.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Loco Parentis

Hello blog, this is Birdie. Cheasty wanted to write today, but she has too much work. Given that she takes such excellent and tender care of me, I thought that writing to you on her behalf was the least I could do. I'm not sure what else to say now, as I've used up most of my words. I still have a few left, such as: treat! Nap! Walk? Treat! TREAT! Rub my ears.


Friday, March 26, 2010


So here's the marketing scheme for any business in New Orleans. First, make a list of all the things people know and love about Louisiana and Cajun culture. Second, write down the name of your business. Third, pick a few of those words on your lists and smoosh them together. Presto: business name! This is the way (I can only assume) that you get places named "Jambalaya Guitar," "Cajun Nail 'n Hair," and "Zydeco Snack Bar."

But this is America folks, where more is better. So in my imagination, this is the way it happened: some clever dude must've sat up straight in bed one night, hand clapped to his forehead, and cried, "Eureka! Why stop at ONE traditional Louisiana thing? In fact, why add any single true identifier in the name at all?" And presto, before you knew it, businesses abounded that said nothing but the words: alligator, jazz, jambalaya, gumbo, cajun, creole, French, etc, all in combination with each other.

Like, for example, this:

I have no idea what this place of business does, or what "getting your tail bit" is euphemistic for (though I must confess, the mind reels at this world of possibilities), but this, my friends, is the trifecta of Louisiana-themed marketing plans for local businesses. Jazz. Gumbo. Alligator. Stand back and watch the money roll in.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Big Easy, II

Yesterday I talked about some of the fun things we did in New Orleans, but I completely neglected to tell you about Lubini, the Big Fuzz, and Little Cub, friends of mine from college we were visiting down there. Well, Cub isn't a friend of mine, he's the offspring of these friends of mine, and OH MY GOD, did he ever fall in love with Handsome. Fall in love as in, he wouldn't even hold my hand when we took him out to the park. All he would say is "Handsome, Handsome, Handsome, Handsome, Handsome, Handsome," and then he'd stare up at him with an adoring grin on his face. I briefly considered being insulted, but then I remembered behaving similarly when I first met Handsome, so I decided it was a perfectly natural reaction to his animal charisma, and let it go.

Lubini and Fuzz were working nights on the movie they're doing down there, so we didn't get to hang too much Thursday and Friday, but Saturday was a different story. Handsome and I did some walking and driving around the Garden District while they slept in the morning, and then that afternoon they awoke with great news. "Hey, Cheasty, we scored some free box seats to the NCAA tournament games this afternoon. Want to go?"

Ummmm... yes, please?

So off we went, silly grins in hand, to hobnob with the hoi polloi.

Folks, seriously. There's free food and beverage. Much beverage. And an uninterrupted view of the court. I'm not saying I'd want to see a Carolina game from way up here - in that case courtside, please - but for games I'm not passionate about, and with an active toddler in tow, this is the way to go.

Cub introduced himself to popcorn for the first time, and whoa, nelly. Let's just say he was double-fisting it.

So, yay, games. After that, we dropped Cub off with a babysitter and headed out for a late dinner at a divine tapas bar called Baru, which was the best meal we had all week. We had a little conversation, drank a little red wine, caught a little bit of those Cajun girls, dancing to Zydeco. (Are you humming along yet?) All in all, it was grand, but as with all good things, it was destined to come to an end. The next day we hugged our friends, said goodbye, and as Hansen and I headed home, Texas welcomed us back with a Lone Star sized sunset. It was good.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Big Easy

Howdy, blog, I'm back from the grandest long weekend in recent memory. How grand, you ask? Very grand. So grand, in fact, that I might have to break this up into a few posts. But I'll start with a quick summation: it rocked. Handsome and I, faced with a few days of Spring Break on my part, and an itch to get out of the office on his, decided to take off for the city with more nicknames than God: the Crescent City, Birthplace of Jazz, The Big Easy, Nawlins, NOLA, am I leaving something out? Oh yeah. New Orleans, Louisiana.

Somehow I had never been there before. I know, crazy. I couldn't believe it either, but it's true. We rocked up on Thursday night, and promptly dove head-first into an enormous plate of Cajun food. After, that is, we bought 20 oz. beers and walked around IN THE STREETS with them. Shocking! I felt so illicity! So yes. Gorgeous food, public alcohol consumption, and dandy music all about. Pretty much I felt like we'd landed in heaven.

These are the fun things we did:

When I asked my mother what we should do in New Orleans, it took her negative three point two seconds to scream BEIGNETS AND COFFEE at the top of her lungs. So okay. We went to the Cafe du Monde, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical on account of EVERYBODY IN NEW ORLEANS was there. Mass production for mass consumption? How good could they be.

Good. They were very good. Now I understand.

What else. Oh! Public transportation. Parking is CRAZY expensive in the French Quarter, so Handsome and I figured out the bus system, and it was so much fun. I know, I'm a nerd, and maybe totally crazy, but in my opinion, learning the public transportation networks in any city is just about the best thing ever. You can put down your tourist map and just saunter aboard. "Hello!" you can greet the driver. "Could you let me know when we get to Oopsie-Daisy Street?" And the driver will nod, and the doors will close, and you can sit there and stare out the window until you arrive. It's awesome.

We also talk a walking historical tour of the city from an older gentleman named Hal. We learned the difference between a gallery, a porch, and a balcony, we learned about the colonial-period yellow fever alert system, and we learned euphemisms for prostitute, courtesan, and concubine so exquisite that Handsome didn't at first realize what sort of "special relationship" Hal was describing. We saw examples of hilarious architecture (look, the marbles don't match!), and while Hal certainly told us that a woman named the Baroness Pontalba existed, thank God I'd stopped in the Cabildo museum earlier and knew this amazing story. Man, that lady was awesome. Ferociously ugly, but awesome. Her father-in-law shot her point blank with dueling pistols, blew off her fingers, and somehow she survived with bullets lodged permanently IN HER CHEST. I tried to wheedle some more salacious historical details out of Hal, but he wasn't having any of it because look - the Mississippi River!

Hal later redeemed himself for the mediocre tour, however, by taking a shine to Handsome and myself and calling in a favor to get us a table at his favorite French Quarter restaurant. Turns out they had one table left, up on the balcony (not the porch or gallery)...

White wine, shrimp etouffé, fried green tomatoes, coffee and creme bruleé. Good heavens. Half drunk and very full, we tottered off to a place whose name I kept mixing up. Eventually I settled on "Hall of Preservation Hall Jazz Hall" but I'm pretty sure I was needlessly complicating the issue. The Preservation Hall Jazz Masters play nightly in a teeny-tiny intimate setting - no mikes! - and it's awesome. They're having fun, we're having fun, it's just great old New Orleans Jazz music. I honestly expected Louis Armstrong to waltz on in the door at any moment.

Drunk on jazz, cajun food, and music, Handsome and I tottered back to the bus station that night, and... Not to leave you on tenterhooks, but I believe I'll continue this later. I've got work to do, people!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Hey everybody, sorry for the prolonged silence, but SPRING BREAK! So far, so groovy. Also, 30 Rock. Handsome's been sick for a good handful of days, during which time we realized we could watch all seasons of this magnificent show online through our Netflix, and sad though it is to admit it, we're completely immersed. We might or might not have watched 7 or 8 episodes in a row the other day, (blushes), a fact made even more outrageous by the glorious spring that has sprung all about us. This addiction is hideous and must come to an end, which it will in approximately 15 more episodes.

In other news, we are off this morning on a jaunty vacation over to New Orleans, a place I have never been. Huzzah! Updates later, cats. For now, we're totes outie (as the youngsters say).

Friday, March 12, 2010

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Now first off, I'd like to start by saying that I mean absolutely no offense to my charming little Elf Palace. Darling, you will always occupy a cozy little nook in my heart.


Blog, I'd like to introduce you to my newest love: Casita Sonrisa. Oh the joy, oh the utter dizzy delight of having space in which to walk around. Other rooms in which to go. FIVE WHOLE ROOMS, counting the bathroom! From 450 to 1400 square feet feels like an embarrassment of footage, a wealth of space in which to cavort. I am thrilled beyond belief. And not only that, but the house itself is lovely. 1930's craftsman-style architecture. In yesterday's post I rhapsodized about the glorious front porch, but look at this place. (Note: not done unpacking yet, and chaos still reigns - don't judge me!)

The kitchen is large and airy and has more counter space than I know what to do with. A dishwasher, which I have systematically forgotten to use, a full-sized refrigerator (!!), lovely original tile, and big glorious windows.

The bathroom inspires me to immoderate heights of enthusiasm. An old fashioned iron claw-foot tub! With a window! And a skylight! I've taken approximately 467,982 baths in the two weeks we've been here.

The bedroom: French doors leading out to the patio. I almost fainted the first time I saw it.

The living room. Skylights, windows, hard-wood floors, built-in bookshelves!

And last, but certainly not least, a window seat.

Even though we'll have to move out eventually, I'm going to love every minute of this.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Front Porch

It has always been one of my small ambitions in life to have a front porch. Nothing grand, just a small cozy front porch with a railing and some steps, and a roof, deep enough to put a few chairs and a table, or maybe a porch swing. In college I lived in a house during my senior year that had a porch, and it was grand. One of the many many gals who lived in that house was part of a bluegrass band, and sitting on the porch while she and the rest of the Steep Canyon Rangers practiced their tunes was one of life's enduring joys. Oh, the happy sunshiney toe-tappiness of it all - bliss! The Samurai Warrior lived in that house long before I made my move, and I remember sitting on the porch with beer in coozies, watching the people walk by. "Hey, you can't park there!" she would holler out to a man destined to get a parking ticket. And we'd giggle when, not five minutes after he gave us a dirty look and walked away, the traffic cop strolled by. Told ya! Tee hee! Front porches are fun.

Well, blog, I've finally done it. My new house has a front porch, and it is all I ever dreamed it would be. I haven't got a porch swing, or even anything more elegant than a set of $10 folding chairs to perch upon, but the other day when the sun came out and the weather warmed up, I rode my bike home from school, fixed myself a bowl of strawberries and blueberries, and plopped myself down on the front porch. After a few minutes I got nostalgic, so I called up the Samurai Warrior on the phone. "Hey, guess what I'm doing right now," I said. "What?" she asked. "I'm sitting on my front porch watching all the people go by." The Samurai laughed and said, "Hey, you can't park there!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Things I Learned This Weekend

You know what I love about life? It's that no matter where I am, or what I'm doing, I can still learn things. Sure, maybe I'm not memorizing the capitals of every African nation or Latin verb declensions, and I'm nowhere near understanding how to graph imaginary numbers on non-existent polar planes (the actual title of a chapter from my high school calculus textbook), but still. I'm learning. Like this weekend at the wedding. I learned so much cool stuff! Like, for example, the following short list.

1. Numero uno of the things I learned this weekend was that (and this is pretty much scientifically true) I have the smallest hands in the known universe. Concomitantly, my friend's husband has the largest. I mean, look at this. Are we even the same species?

2. Second, I learned that, no matter how stressful and difficult doing my PhD in History might feel, the training and work schedule of medical doctors is much much MUCH worse. Want to know how I learned this? My friend Raquelita (see pic below) is in her first year of residency, and hasn't had a day off in a LONG time. She pretty much works non-stop, and when she's on, people's lives are on the line. If I get confused or make a mistake, maybe someday a reviewer will write a withering evaluation of my scholarship. Ouch! If Raquelita gets sleepy and writes "legs" instead of "leg," well. You know.

Brave Raquelita soldiers on diligently, but this Thursday when she arrived in Austin for the wedding pretty much the first words out of her mouth were "beer" and "now." So we went over to the Samurai Warrior's house where tacos and beer were awaiting us in the back yard. I was over in the corner talking to another friend, when we happened to glance over and see that Raquelita was standing by a big cooler full of about a dozen different kinds of beer, and she was on the verge of crying. Actual real tears were in her eyes, and her lower lip was all aquiver. "Why Raquelita, what's wrong?!" we cried. A lone tear slipped over the edge, and with a waver in her voice, Raquelita said, "Oh, there's just s-s-s-s-so m-m-many wonderful beers, and I just c-c-can't drink them all, and I don't even know where to start!"

I mean, wow. To be so stressed that the sight of beer and the time in which to drink it brings you to tears? Not for me. Nonetheless, being the good friends we are, several of us bolstered her spirits by proposing that she drink all the beers, and worked out a nifty plan to do it in alphabetical order. As you can see, this helped relax her considerably, and in no time at all, Raquelita was swinging from the chandeliers.

3. I also learned that being a bride looks like a whole lot of fun. I don't know that I've ever seen the Samurai Warrior smile so much, or look so completely pleased with the world. That might have been the nicest part of the whole evening.

4. Lastly, I learned one very important take-away lesson. In spite of my advancing years, rapidly multiplying numbers of gray hairs, and spreading road map of sexy wrinkles... in spite of all that, I'VE STILL GOT IT. I don't know who took this picture, what we were doing at the time, or why it looks like I might be Shiva surrounded by my adoring minions, but this picture is going to the top of my short list of "Photos I Want Engraved On My Headstone." A list, by the way, that I had never thought of compiling until just this moment.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weddings! Guests! Crazy!

Still short on time, but before I forget, WOW WHAT AN AMAZING WEEKEND. I was a bridesmaid in my friend The Samurai Warrior's wedding, while Handsome and I played host to a few friends from ye olde rowing days in college - GREAT friends - who were also guests at the wedding. In short, the weekend was spectacular. I am now exhausted and in dire need of cleaning house and continuing the long process of unpacking our home, but hello out there. I'll be back tomorrow with pictures and tales of wonder.

Before I go, however, let me gift you with what is perhaps the funniest photo of the weekend. Yes, I'm on top of a human pyramid, no, I don't particularly remember getting up there, and who the heck is that photobomber. I have no idea.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Captain Chaos Strikes Again

Hey peeps, just a heads up to say hello. Handsome and I (and the Bird) have been moving this weekend into a fabulous new place, and are up to our ears in packing boxes. The internet guy is playing hard to get, so I'm posting from my super-stalker post in the way back of the back yard where I'm borrowing one bar of signal from an unsuspecting neighbor.

Thanks, Unsuspecting Neighbor!

All that is to say, more coming soon. Exciting adventures, scintillating gossip, and scandalous tales -- just think of all you have to look forward to!