Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What a Cool Birthday Gift!

Those who know me well know that I was married on my birthday, so I celebrate my birthaversary each year. Or whatever you want to call it.

This year, for our 20th anniversary, hubby and I celebrated by going to Hawaii. I had wanted to go to Europe, but our friends were headed to Maui and offered us a room in the house they were renting. With arm-twisting like that, who were we to say no?

Since that was a couple of months early, I kind of wondered if we might have some sort of smaller local celebration. As the time approached, nothing really presented itself. No big deal, really. I'm not the kind of girl to kick and scream. I mentally shrugged and went on about my business.

On Saturday night, we went to see one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Terry Taylor. Terry is the front man for Daniel Amos, a Christian alternative band, and the Swirling Eddies, a humorous offshoot. He also plays with the Lost Dogs, a band comprised of front men from other bands. On his current tour, Terry is playing with his son Andrew for the first time, which is fun to see. He's also being accompanied by Steve Hindalong, a recent addition to the Lost Dogs and drummer and songwriter for The Choir, another band I've followed for more years than I care to count. You, dear reader, would know Steve best for his songwriting credits... perhaps not my favorite ("Beautiful Scandalous Night") but probably his most famous ("God of Wonders").

Saturday's show was fun: great musicianship, to be sure, but also wonderful comraderie between three men who clearly were having a genuinely good time playing music together. I had my camera with me, but the pictures were abysmal, so I shall not burden you with them.

Cut to Sunday. I get an email from my friend Angela, forwarded from Terry's manager. Seems there has been a cancellation, and they'd like to schedule a house concert anywhere between San Antonio and Dallas on Monday night. Angela is an apartment dweller, but my house is perfect for such a thing. Angela's birthday is Sunday, and she knows mine is Tuesday. We're both huge fans; what a great gift to both of us! I book the show, knowing I have about 30 hours to pull together a crowd for it.

I invite everyone I know on Facebook who lives in Austin, regardless of whether they might have heard of Terry. One of the people I invite is the sister-in-law of the promoter from the Saturday show. She gets him involved, and he adds another hundred people to the invite. Suddenly, we're talking about a potential real crowd here!

Forty people come to the show. Andrew (Terry's son) tells hubby it's the second biggest crowd they've seen at a house concert. He's impressed we've managed to publicize this well given a little over 24 hours for a Monday night show. So am I.

The crowd is appreciative. Many know all the songs; a few aren't familiar with Terry but come because of friends or because of other reasons. We don't charge admission, but the tip jar fills nicely, and the band sells some merchandise.

Most of the pictures don't turn out, but a few do, so I'll share those. First up: a shot of the band from the back of the room, showing part of the crowd. I counted about forty people, including kids. Not bad.

The guys jamming. From L-R, Andrew Taylor, Terry Taylor, Steve Hindalong.

During one song, Steve shows off his lasso skills: risky business in Texas. It's the only time I use a flash during the show.

After the show, hubby insisted I get a pic with the band. From L-R, it's Andrew Taylor, Terry Taylor, me, and Steve Hindalong.

It's not often you get to spend an evening with people you've admired for so long. The talent and poetry that flows through these gentlemen is hard to describe to the uninitiated.

I asked them each to sign something that would be meaningful to me. Terry signed my copy of the first Daniel Amos CD that I fell in love with. It's from the '80s, and I can't say it's aged best of all his music, but I still love it. Steve signed the first recording of "Beautiful Scandalous Night." He wrote, "On the hillside you will be delivered," which is a lyric from the song.

What did Terry, ever the jokester, write on the Daniel Amos CD? "Don't listen to this."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I *HATE* Fire Ants

I've always been allergic to the little buggies, tracing back to my days at Texas A&M.

Being from Lubbock, I had wondered why no one ever walked through the lush grass on campus. Not the grass at the MSC -- I knew that was a memorial -- but the grass around the dorms and academic buildings. I soon found out why, when I got two fire ant bites on my ankle, which quickly swelled to the size of a cantaloupe.

After a trip to the affectionately named Quack Shack and a few Benadryl, my ankle was back to normal size within a day or two. I've rarely had such a violent reaction to fire ants since.

Until yesterday.

Sing with me: One of these feet is not like the other... one of these feet just doesn't belong!

(And the toenails need to be repainted, but that's an entirely different song...)

We went to dinner at the home of some friends last night. I was blowing bubbles just off their back porch, standing in the grass, when I felt that dreaded bite between my third and fourth toes. I killed the ant responsible for my misery, but the damage was done.

I took two Benadryl before bed last night, but it's even more swollen this morning. I joked that my doctor would have to amputate, but it was no joke how alarmed her staff was at the appearance of my foot. More than one of them commented with alarm in her voice, "That's an ant bite, really?" Um, yeah. Really. Apparently I have a small allergy problem.

My doc is also allergic to the little beasties -- even more than I am -- and was bitten badly enough once for an anaphalactic reaction. Pretty alarming. She gave me a steroid shot in the hip, told me to pick up some Zyrtec rather than Benadryl, and sent me on my merry little way.

She did check for streaks along my legs, since everything hurts all the way up to my hip today, and she asked if I had a headache, which I do.

So if anyone knows of the magical bomb to kill all fire ants worldwide, I'm on board. Lemme have it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Tale of Two Shoes

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

With (major) apologies to Dickens, this is the story of my love affair with a pair of shoes that apparently was not meant to be.

When my hubby and I went to Hawaii, we spent our last night on Oahu, on Waikiki. We weren't so wild about the crowds on Waikiki, but we loved our hotel. If the tourist scene is your thing, I highly recommend the Hotel Renew. We weren't the only ones who thought it was fantastic.

While we were there, we wandered around in a few shops, including the Crocs store. I know what you're thinking: they're ugly, they're clunky, they're so three years ago. And then I saw these (cue the angel choir, please):

And I put them on my feet, and lo, they were cute and comfortable and sassy!

Unfortunately, our luggage was full to the bursting point, so hubby and I had a confab. He was confident enough in his packing abilities that he gave me the go-ahead to buy the cute shoes. (Have I mentioned how I love my man?) But I made the fatal call: no, I'd wait until we got back to Texas. There are Crocs stores in Texas, I said. I can get them there.

Bad move, Lisa. Not smart. A pair of shoes in the hand is worth a dozen pairs in a state an ocean away, as I would soon learn.

On my way back from a business trip, I went to the Crocs store in the outlet mall outside Houston. I described my cute shoes with the chunky heel and the cross strap to the manager. She knew exactly the shoe I meant. "No," she sighed mournfully. "We don't get the cute stuff here." Oh dear. Was I going to have a hard time finding my sweet Crocs in Texas?

While I was in Dallas last weekend, I thought, here's a town with style. I looked up Crocs on my handy-dandy phone and found a store in the Dallas Galleria. When I called to check availability, the clerk sounded surprised I would ask such a thing. Of course the shoe was in stock.

The only problem with this plan? The Galleria wasn't exactly on my way out of town, and fighting mall traffic isn't my idea of a good time. "There's this great new thing called the internet," sniffs my sister. Huh, you know, she might just have something there. Not shockingly, crocs has a web site. A few clicks later, I was happily not stopping by the mall on my way out of town.

Ah, but as they say, the best-laid plans of mice and shoe-shopping women drop many mangled cliches into a single post. A few days later, I checked my order status, only to find that my dream shoes hadn't yet shipped. Whaaa? I forgot to call them on Thursday, and of course they took Friday off.

When I called them today, I spent 25 minutes on hold. Naturally, I used the time effectively, finding my shoes on amazon, where I am a member of their Prime program. Free two-day shipping, y'all! So let me get this straight... I could order from amazon over a week later than I ordered from -- both with free shipping -- and get my order from amazon several days earlier. Nice.

Once a human finally answered my call on the Crocs not-so-hotline, I have to give them credit: Erin was friendly and professional, even giving me her direct line in case I had further questions about my order. She said it appeared my order was being processed by the factory and would still reach me within the ten business days they decree they have to get you your order.

Ten days? No offense Erin, but that ain't customer service. I'm looking at an order I placed last month, for cryin' out loud, and it hasn't shipped yet.

I hope these shoes are as amazing as they were the first time I put them on my feet. Even then, they may not be worth the wait and the hassle. I'll be ordering from amazon from now on.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My First YouTube Effort

I'm not a video editor. And as you'll see, I'm not much of a camera operator.

However, I had some great subject matter this past weekend when I went to my sister's place for my nephew's birthday party. My sweet niece gave a fun performance on the way back after bowling and putt-putt on Sunday.

My sister is the voice you hear directing her. This is the most responsive I saw her all weekend, which was shocking considering how tired she was. I'm glad I caught it on my little Flip camera!

Sorry for the camera shake and lack of editing skills, but I hope you enjoy the cuteness.