Saturday, March 27, 2010

Color My World

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” –Alice Walker

Springtime in Central Texas is such a magnificent season. As I drive by the same fields throughout the week, it feels and looks as though The Great Artist Himself has painted more and more brushstrokes, displaying His colorful genius. The breathtaking bluebonnets have begun popping up everywhere, delighting the eye and capturing the imagination. Why only yesterday, I told my husband that I would like to be photographed in a field full of bluebonnets with only my head showing. What an interesting picture that would be – my head emerging from a field chock full of bluebonnets.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.” –Marcus Aurelius

I feel so full of the joy and colors of spring. Therefore, my soul simply must be bluish-purple or at least a bright magenta. Being inspired by the beautiful Texas wildflowers and redbud trees that are dotting the landscape, my husband and I have decided it’s time to paint the inside of our house. No, that does not mean I’ve lost my mind and am painting our living room pink. It simply means it is finally time to add more color to our existence.

At first, I thought this might be a difficult task because my husband and I have such differing color preferences. When I first moved into Gene’s home, before unpacking my things, he mentioned that his least favorite color was red. Considering most of my accent colors are a deep, wine-colored red, pumpkin orange and golden yellow, I worried that Gene would want me to replace my favorite pillows, paintings and quilt hanging. However, devoted and loving husband that he is, Gene has adjusted and now seems to be comfortable with my choices in decorating.

The actual difficulty in selecting paint color is simply that there is no possible way to determine from one miniscule swatch of colored paper which color you are actually buying. I was elated to find out that several brands of paint now offer color samples. However, I may’ve already spent enough money on samples to have bought several gallons of paint at this point.

As we reviewed the paint brochures and color swatches at Home Depot, Gene instructed me on how to select a paint color. He told me the paint is always darker on the wall than the swatch. So, if you think ‘Custard’ is the color, pick the next lighter shade. Keeping that sage advice in mind, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted on our dining room walls. Glidden’s ‘Haystack’ was going to be the perfect color. I just knew it!

It stunk. The color was so light that I envisioned being blinded every morning, walking into our dining room. I’d taken Gene’s advice to the extreme, it seems. Darker, I was going darker next.

The very next morning, Gene and I hopped back into the car, returning to Home Depot, and marveled at the glorious, red Indian Paintbrush wildflowers and the Mexican plum trees covered in white blossoms. With new colors circled on our paint brochures, I felt armed for success as we headed straight for the paint section. I couldn’t go wrong with ‘Honey Beige’.

Arriving back home, I optimistically shook up the small container, which cost just under $3, and poured a small amount in a paper bowl. I studied ‘Honey Beige’, wondering if it was also too light, but after brushing a few strokes next to the other, lighter yellow, I was relieved to see how much better it looked. I tried another place on the wall, next to the door trim and stepped back to observe my selection. It was definitely a warmer color than the first and was toned down, which was good. My husband nodded his head in approval, and I felt victorious.

Gene and I walked into the living room and sat on the sofa, facing into the dining room. We talked about our color adventure and after about ten minutes, I confessed that I didn’t like the new yellow I’d selected. Gene gave a sigh of relief and agreed that he, too, had come to the same conclusion after studying the color from afar. It was back to the drawing board.

I felt like a woman obsessed. I had to find the right color now. My reputation was at stake! I like to think I have good taste in color palettes, what with all my quilting creations. But, doubt was beginning to sink in. I couldn’t stand it. I studied and studied and finally arrived at my newest choice – Martha Stewart’s ‘Cornbread’. I coerced my husband back into the car that same evening. We made our quick purchase at the Home Depot, and I couldn’t wait to get back home and slap that color on the wall.

Good grief! What was I thinking?! ‘Cornbread’ was hideous for my room! It was way too dark and too bright. Baby puke came to mind. I have begun to deplore yellow hues, observing they are sneaky colors by nature. I believe yellow should stick to flowers and brick roads instead of on walls!

Now, after a 24-hour reprieve, I have resigned myself to select a tan or more neutral shade for the dining room. I’ve concluded that the more brilliant colors in my world are better painted by The Glorious Great Artist above rather than by me. I think I will drive extra slow to Home Depot tomorrow morning and savor the view.

I’ll keep you posted on my painting progress.

May All Your Weeds Be Wildflowers, Y’all!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shuck 'N' Jive

To celebrate my son’s return home yesterday evening, we all agreed to a seafood feast at Quality Seafood Market, here in Austin. Much to our delight, Monday is Dixieland Jazz Night at Quality Seafood, where the oysters can’t be beat! I always order the same thing – the sizzling hot, fresh, half dozen fried oyster dinner. I tried ordering the 9-piece oyster dinner once, but I couldn’t eat them all. Those puppies are huge! Even with the 6-piece meal, I was so full I could only eat half my fried okra and had to pass on my salad.

Quality Seafood Market is just that – a seafood market and restaurant. In fact, Quality Seafood, which has been around since 1938, is an FDA-approved fish processor that buys the freshest catch right off the boats in the Gulf Coast. They even supply some of the local Austin restaurants with fish and seafood.

Gene and my son, Eric, both ordered the combo dinner with oysters, shrimp and cod or catfish. To make matters worse, we also ordered an appetizer of fried calamari! We did our best to devour what we could, and the table next to us accepted our offer of untouched French fries.

The band was great! Aunt Ruby’s Sweet Jazz Babies quartet featured Hot Jazz and Swing from the 1910 – 1940’s era. While they played, a group of young people danced the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug and Swing. I loved watching those dancers and listening to that wonderful toe-tapping music!

Quality Seafood was a great way to welcome my son home. And, Eric even commented, “Now I remember what I miss so much about Austin!” I hope some of what he missed was me. I sure do love my son!

“Son, you outgrew my lap, but never my heart.” ~Author Unknown

“If a man has been his mother's undisputed darling he retains throughout life the triumphant feeling, the confidence in success, which not seldom brings actual success along with it.” ~Sigmund Freud

Let The Sonshine In, Y’all!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stolen Sunshine

Something was seriously wrong this morning. The alarm went off, but it was still dark outside. My brain rebelled, “Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute! It was light outside last week when I woke up!” So, who stole my sunshine and an hour of my sleep?! I want to report a crime!!

Daylight Savings Time was originally suggested in 1895 as a way to save on use of incandescent lighting (light bulbs), which was the primary source of electricity at that time. The evildoer who thought up this preposterous practice was George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist. George worked for the post office and in his free time, collected and studied insects. His ideas about Daylight Savings Time grew out of his own personal desire to have more daylight hours in which to collect bugs.

I just lost an hour of sleep because some dead guy on the other side of the planet wanted to add as many bugs as possible to his collection over a century ago. What is wrong with this picture?!!

Scientific studies are often contradictory about the benefits of Daylight Savings Time with regards to energy usage, health, crime and traffic. What we do know, though, is the primary beneficiaries of Daylight Savings Time are sporting enthusiasts. In 1907, William Willet desired more daylight hours to complete his round of golf in the early evening hours and also independently proposed Daylight Savings Time. I wonder how many of our congressmen are golfers?

Besides confusing my brain and body, there are also occupations adversely affected by Daylight “Slaving” Time such as farming and evening entertainment. Timekeeping becomes complicated. Meetings are missed. Travel is affected.

Did you know that Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time? Maybe that’s where I will move – Arizona, a state where I can get my sleep!

Areas in ORANGE no longer observe Daylight Savings Time. Areas in RED were smart enough to never observe Daylight Savings Time. Areas in BLUE are the stupid areas that continue to observe Daylight Savings Time.

I estimate I have had over 12,000 hours of morning sunshine stolen from me. Let this serve as a record of my protest to such a scientifically unfounded, inconsistent and intrusive practice…Daylight Savings Time – the villainous thief of the morning sunshine!

I Want My Sunny Mornings Back, Y’all!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gotta Go?

A topic of paramount importance to most women I know is “Where’s a good public restroom?” A few months ago on ABC Nightly News, Charlie Gibson told me about a chain of gas stations in Texas that were purported to have the cleanest restrooms in the nation. Watch it for yourself.

I made a mental note, but thought nothing of it until our return roadtrip home from Gonzales, Texas. There, on the outskirts of town, sat one of the infamous Buc-ee’s. I pointed it out to Gene, who was not terribly impressed, and insisted we turn around and go back for a look-see.

The place was packed! There were vehicles of every type gassing up at the pumps and the parking area in front of the convenience store was full of cars. Lucky for us, we found a spot at the end of the lot and made our way inside. Trinkets, gourmet foods and unusual merchandise captured my attention immediately, as well as the constant buzzing of patrons.

There was Texas memorabilia of every sort imaginable, University of Texas Longhorn merchandise, jewelry, t-shirts, rugs, toys, hats….you name it, Buc-ee’s had it all. Gene and I wandered from section to section, taking it all in, and then came upon the largest assortment of jerky I’ve ever seen. There was beef jerky, seasoned every which-a-way, buffalo jerky, elk jerky, and more. The slogan on Buc-ee’s corporate website says, “Everything You Ever Needed. You Just Didn’t Know It.” That ain’t no lie!

I suddenly remembered my original purpose for wanting to check out this road traveler’s haven, and headed towards the restroom. As I rounded the corner of the Ladies Room entrance, the first thing I noticed was the nice artwork, which was unusual to see on a wall of a public restroom.

The next thing that struck me was no waiting line. With so many cars out front, I would’ve expected at least a few gals in line waiting to go. Instead, I saw two, long, gloriously amazing rows of stalls. Each one had nearly a full-length, honest-to-goodness door! I stepped up cautiously to the first open door and as I pushed open the door, I sucked in my breath. The cleanliness of the restroom was definitely something to take note of! Not to mention the lovely tile and design.

One of the issues I feel Buc-ee’s addresses spectacularly with their stall design is the ability to accommodate women of all sizes. A large-sized woman would feel quite comfortable in a
Buc-ee’s stall, as would a mother toting a child in a stroller. Last, but not least, each stall has a dispenser on the wall with hand sanitizer. Even a woman with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) has her needs met at Buc-ee’s.

Yessiree, Buc-ee’s seems to have thought of everything!

So, if you’re ever down in South Central Texas, be sure to hold it until you get to a Buc-ee’s! It’ll be worth your pain!

Hold It, Y’all!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Come and Take It!

The past three weekends, my husband and I have been driving to nearby towns to explore and shop the antique stores. The little town I absolutely fell in love with was Gonzales, Texas. Gonzales is a quaint historical town just about an hour south of Austin. Originally established in 1826, abandoned after Indian attacks and rebuilt in 1827, Gonzales was home of the first skirmish in the Texas Revolution. At the outbreak of the battle, a group of Mexican soldiers was sent from San Antonio to retrieve the cannon, previously left behind. On October 2, 1835, they were met by Texans under the command of John H. Moore. The Texans had fashioned a flag with the words "Come and Take It". Victoriously, the Texans resisted the federal troops in what became known as the Battle of Gonzales.

We arrived around lunch time and headed to the Gonzales Food Market to try the barbeque. The smoky aroma permeated the town square as we walked to the front door. Inside, the market looked like an older convenience store. However, as we continued to walk toward the center of the store, we could see a great deal of activity behind a large square counter. There was cookin’ goin’ on!

A cafeteria style setup arrayed the numerous types of barbequed meats – ribs, chicken, sausage, brisket – and the most side dishes I’ve seen in a long time. The choices ranged from homemade fried potatoes to homemade green beans to the traditional potato salad, pinto beans and slaw. The cole slaw was unusual, made with raisins, but quite tasty.

Gonzales Food Market certainly made us feel welcome. The staff was so friendly, asking if it was our first time to visit, and asked lots of questions about where we were from. The small town hospitality can’t be beat!

After lunch we stopped in at The Hearty Gourmet, a gourmet cookware store. There, I found a Jim Shore rooster salt & pepper shaker set. I adore Jim Shore Christmas ornaments, because on each ornament has a quilting pattern on it. The rooster salt & pepper shakers also had quilting patterns on them.

Next door was Laurel Ridge Antiques. As my husband entered, he said, “Uh oh.” He knows how much I love Christmas ornaments and this lovely store, set in a delightful old home, was full of ornaments. I’d hit the jackpot! Knowing how I could get carried away, I agreed to only buy two ornaments. I selected a hummingbird and a decorative egg, both by Old World Christmas ornaments.

After shopping, Gene started driving around the historical section of town. There was a self-guided driving tour of old, historical homes, which was accessed through an AM radio channel. Although it was difficult to hear, the commentary was interesting, explaining who built the house and in what year, as well as any significant historical events that happened in the house.

Suddenly, I could picture myself in one of those old homes, weeding my flower garden and repainting my white picket fence. I began taking pictures of the old homes and some of them had ‘For Sale’ signs out front. I started to salivate. Even if we moved, I surmised, I could continue to work for the same company since I’m a full-time telecommuter and work out of my house. My mind got very busy. I didn’t want to leave Gonzales, but on the other hand, I wanted to get back to Austin, so I could research the sales prices of some of the homes.

Below are pictures of some of our favorite historical homes in Gonzales.

This lovely yellow house was for sale for around $560,000.

The house below had my name written all over it. While it wasn’t located within the historical district, it was only a few streets away. Later, I found out the house was a bank repossession and was listed for $170,000….a mere pittance, I thought to myself. The indoor photos online showed a poor taste of paint color and a need for some sprucing up, but overall, it looked to be quite a buy.

Gene finally brought me back down to reality a few days later when he said, “Hon, we’re not really moving to Gonzales. You know that, don’t you?”

Did I? Okay, so our house here in Austin is paid off. So, Gene’s business is located in Austin. So, all our friends and family live in or near Austin. Yes, I succumbed to the idea that we weren’t really going to move to Gonzales, Texas. But, just in case, I checked the nearest LDS church building, doctors and dentists offices and average real estate taxes. You never know, one of these days, we might just ‘Come and Take It’!

Explore the Possibilities, Y’all!