Perks of Big City Life

It’s still a little bit of a culture shock living in a city like Dallas after 12 years on a very remote Alaska island with no traffic lights.  Yes, I have lived in other medium sized cities over the years but this is the largest I’ve ever called home.  It’s weird having to plan how long it will take to get somewhere, or still having to use my GPS because I have no idea where all the different parts of the city are located.  On the other hand, I love, love, love having access to so many cultural events and interesting experiences.  This past week, we got to hear Margaret Atwood interviewed about her new book The Testaments (follow up to The Handmaid’s Tale) on one of just a few stops on her book tour. She was so interesting, smart, clever and funny.  I was in awe of her and have already devoured the book, which does not disappoint if you are wondering what the future holds for Gilead.

Yesterday we managed to somehow get front row seats for $20 each to see the Dallas production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s earlier musical work “In the Heights.”  The cast was fabulous with lots of high energy singing and dancing, some really funny parts thrown in, and a lovely story that ended in a hopeful way.  We couldn’t take pix during the show, of course, but some of the actors came out afterwards and chatted/answered questions for a few minutes so I took a couple of photos then.  Having seen “Hamilton,” it was apparent that some of the themes of Miranda’s work are woven through both shows and some of the music seemed to tie the two productions together.  I’m so glad we got to see all of these wonderful performers of Latinx and Black heritage getting the recognition they’re due.

Alaska in the House

Tammy is one of my few good friends who are still in Unalaska.  She took her youngest daughter to start college in WA and spent some time with her other two grown kids in the Seattle area, then found a cheap ticket to Texas so we got to have a quick visit. We made the most of it and packed a lot of activities in! The first day we went to several thrift stores and quilt shops (she is a quilter and crafter…I was just along for the ride) and had lunch out. Came home and Rich made his famous fish tacos that Tammy had requested.  I told her the Texas State Fair was opening on Friday and we decided to give her the full Texas experience. The ladies at one quilt shop told us there would be a large, fabulous exhibit of quilts and other crafts at the fair so that kinda sealed the deal. We had breakfast at home and then left for the fair.  I wasn’t sure if opening day was the best day to go but it was our only opportunity. We sat for almost an hour in the car waiting to move along the road to get to the parking lot. OMG.  It was still morning when we got there but already really hot. I didn’t think we’d be outside that much; in my head I figured we’d find the building with the arts and crafts displays and then we’d be inside till we left. LOL  It was a long walk to the craft building so we were already sweating by the time we got there. We wandered the building and looked at everything but have to say we were somewhat disappointed. There were some very pretty quilts but they were hung very close to the ceiling so we couldn’t see them very well. Then the other handmade items were randomly displayed in various cases around the building without any rhyme or reason.  We were amused to see that there were lots of “winners” in the “hobby collection” categories…so you could win a ribbon just for bringing in your grandma’s silver tea set. We thought that was kinda weird…you get a ribbon for doing nothing?? 🙂

The much hyped butter sculptures were also housed in this room so we had to take a look, of course.  Tammy joked that there shouldn’t be a butter sculpture without a lot of homemade bread for us to try.  Of course the butter sculptures were in a temperature controlled case so we couldn’t get close enough to take a bite.

Then we decided we needed a drink so we left the building and started walking again. I remembered the days when there was always fresh squeezed lemonade at a fair but unfortunately now it’s all “Country Time.” Another disappointment!  I settled for a Dr Pepper!

While we had our drinks, we watched the opening day parade and then sat on some steps in the shade to listen to the Marine Corps Jazz Band for a little bit.  We found Big Tex and took pix, and bought some hamburgers for lunch.  Tammy was super impressed by all of the fried food offerings, from potato salad to sriracha to bread pudding and more. We searched for another “arts and crafts” area and couldn’t find it, asked a woman at an Information booth and she was very dismissive of us but pointed us in the right direction. When we finally arrived, we realized it was more like a flea market with various booths of people selling things, some handmade but many not.  By then we were “done” and started the long trek back to the parking lot. Tammy’s Fitbit said we eventually put in about 4 miles. We were very hot and worn out by the time we returned to the car!

Came home and we had tickets for a Food Fete at Central Market for the evening. We rested up a little and then the three of us went to the food tasting.  It was a lot of fun and we got to try appetizers, salad, beef, sushi, wine, breads and cheeses, and a bunch of desserts.  Then for good measure we went to Velvet Taco and each had a little more dinner. LOL

Saturday came quickly and we hung out at home till it was time to go to the airport. Of course we got in lots of talking and laughing and reminiscing, catching up on families and friends, and attempting to solve the world’s problems. Rich made us breakfast each morning, a Vietnamese salad the second night, and his gourmet margaritas. Tammy loved our back apartment and said she is coming again, bringing her husband, and staying for weeks!




Hey, September!

We returned from vacation and hit the ground running, back to the routine and busy as ever.  I rejoined my knitting group after missing all summer and finally finished a scarf to be donated. We cleared out our garden plot, getting ready to plant for fall.  I picked Jack up from school one day and he spent the night another night, requesting a trip to the thrift store. He’s my thrift store soulmate. We made another big haul and came home with lots of goodies, then I took him to meet some of his little buddies at a gym class. My friend Kathy and I went to see Alex Counts on a book tour–he was the founder of the Grameen Foundation and formerly worked for an organization called RESULTS with which I was also involved years ago in Abilene. I told him we were probably on some of the same conference calls.  🙂

Not pictured: visits with local kids and their parents, workshop with the Funky East Dallas Dems to begin work on 2020 elections, really fun dinner with friends, my usual volunteer work on Tuesdays, met with a trainer at the YMCA, working the Census, trying to keep up with chores! Happy September, everyone! What are you up to?

Road Tripping: Amarillo to Dallas TX

Rich didn’t want to get gas before we got to Bonnie’s, saying we’d get it the next morning. When we pulled into her driveway, it showed we had 10 miles left. When we left the next day, it suddenly dropped to 0. Yes, we enjoy living dangerously. LOL After paying high gas prices almost everywhere along the way, we were happy to see the cost at the Texas pump!

Driving back on Labor Day, we expected lots of traffic but were pleasantly surprised, even when we got to Dallas. I guess everyone was barbecuing right at the time we drove through. I don’t think I’ve ever seen I635 so empty! We were happy to arrive at home and see our kitties, who did fine with two different cat sitters and a neighbor checking in on them.

I wasn’t super enthused about a road trip because I feel like they get tedious after awhile and I am not that comfortable sitting in a car for hours on end.  But it really was much better than I anticipated and we had a great time everywhere we went.  In the final analysis, we drove 5,133 miles through 8 states, seeing 34 people in 21 days! We also laughingly calculated that we mooched approximately 17 meals off generous hosts.  🙂  Another fun vacation in the books! Thanks for coming along with me.

Road Tripping: Albuquerque NM to Amarillo TX

Of course we did not think about the fact that Albuquerque and Amarillo are in different time zones. We were going to get on the road around 9:30 AM to go to Bonnie and David’s for the night but as you can deduce, that made it 10:30 AM in Texas.  Even though it was a shortish drive compared to some, we were both getting road weary and a bit tired of being in the car. We took turns driving, stopped a couple of times, and got to Amarillo close to 4 PM.

Luke was with a friend for awhile but the girls ran out to greet us and wanted us to play games with them right away! My ex sister in law Lisa was in town (her daughter and family also live in Amarillo) so Bonnie invited her for dinner with us.  Unfortunately my niece and family were busy with her husband’s side so we didn’t get to see them this time.  Rich made chicken and roasted veggies and a Caesar salad and we had a great dinner and conversation with Lisa.  Hadn’t seen her in awhile so it was good to hear all of her family’s news.

While we were chatting, the kids were huddled up, talking, and Emery was writing things down on pieces of paper.  They put the slips of paper in a bowl and told us we had to pull one out and “do what it says.”  I asked, “charades?” and they said no, just read it out loud and do it. LOL  This was quite hilarious as we each took turns following directions like “drink water without using your hands,” “sing your favorite song,” “do a gymnastics move” and so on. I got one that said “act like a frog.”  Being a good sport, I got down on the floor on my hands and haunches to jump forward like a frog. Much to my surprise, I could not propel myself forward from that position. I was literally frozen in place and could not move. This was such a shock to me!  We were all laughing but I seriously couldn’t believe I couldn’t jump like that any more.  And now I am still wondering “WHEN DID I LOSE THAT SKILL??”  Getting older is not that much fun sometimes! After Lisa left, we read books with the kids and then Bonnie, David and I stayed up till 2 AM talking about life and issues. Love these two and their concern for their students and the world. I know they are making a difference in their classrooms!

Morning came too quickly after the late night but our journey was winding down and we had to get home. David made us breakfast and we “reviewed” the game Sushi Go with Emery because she’d only played it once and wanted to be refreshed. Gave hugs and kisses all around and got back in our car for one last leg.


Road Tripping: Kingman AZ to Albuquerque NM

We had a light breakfast at our cool hotel and got moving around 9 AM.  We tried listening to the Hamilton audiobook some more but it sure does make both of us sleepy, as noted before. We probably listened for an  hour and a half and then I told Rich if he’d find a place to get me some iced tea, I’d take over driving for awhile. I usually don’t do a lot of the driving, mainly because I think Rich prefers to drive unless he’s really tired, and I am a slower driver so he feels like we lose time when I’m behind the wheel. ha And I just can’t drive too long any more without feeling sleepy. But we stopped and got drinks and I ended up driving about two and a half hours, which is a lot for me. 🙂 We chatted part of the time and he took a few pix out the window and then he took a nap.

It was a little freaky to see a sign on the highway warning us of escaped prisoners! I looked online when we were parked and it sounded like they were a dangerous husband/wife couple who had murdered someone and then escaped by overpowering the guards who were bringing them to prison from out of state. As we drove throughout the day, we kept seeing the same electronic sign overhead so I am assuming they have not yet been caught.

I pulled off in Gallup, NM to get gas and give the wheel back to Rich. The first two gas stations had no gas when we stopped.  We only had about 19 miles left on our tank but thankfully the next place was in working order!

Then while I was checking Facebook in the car, I saw news of a shooting in the Midland/Odessa TX area. My ex brother in law and his family live in Odessa so I texted my ex sister in law to make sure they were okay.  She said she was out of town (in Amarillo, coincidentally), her older daughter and family were also out of town elsewhere, but her husband was sheltering in place at work.  So crazy. I am fed up with all of this violence but Texas is a big gun state and I don’t see things changing any time soon,  unfortunately.

Tonight we are in Albuquerque; went out for some good Mexican food and now we are stuffed and miserable. We didn’t really have time to see any sights or do anything fun. Basically just spending the night and heading on to Amarillo to my daughter Bonnie’s tomorrow. It will be fun to see all of them again, if a quick overnight once more. We need to get home on Monday!