Sunday, March 30, 2008

What could Be Better Than


and this

at the same time?

Last night we went to Threadgill's World Headquarters to hear Jimmy LaFave. The outdoor venue is located a couple of blocks south of the river (aka Ladybird Lake). There is a big park bordering the lake on both sides. Just on the south side of the lake, is the Parmer Event Center and the brand spankin' new Long Center for the Performing Arts. The Long Center is so new that this weekend was its gala opening. It is on the site of the old Parmer Center which was partially torn down and some of its more unique features recycled into the design of the new building. The construction was privately funded mostly by some Dellionares and other very wealthy folks . Tickets to the gala started at well over $100. These people put a lot of money into the center and a lot of money into the gala.

Jimmy and his band took the stage just before 10:00. After the first song, he said that he had heard that there were supposed to be some fireworks over the lake at 10:00 and that they might start any time. His plan was for everybody to just turn their chairs around and the band would 'play something patriotic or something' when the time came. They were about four or five songs into their set and John Inmon was on fire. He was into a long smokin' riff when Stephen nudged me and pointed to the sky over the lake. The sky had exploded. Inmon continued and the band was sure that they would be able to sustain the song until the firework finally. After two or three minutes, they gave up. Jimmy made a statement about how long the display was lasting and they stopped playing for a few minutes while we all watched the sky. Then Jimmy talked John into a Hendrixesque version of the Star Spangled Banner which he certainly made his own and just about brought down the house. When he finished, the fireworks were just getting started so the band went into a blues number which started out slow and gradually gained tempo as it went along. Once again, Inmon and the keyboard player were sure that they could time the end of the song with the finally in the sky and we all thought they had. Then about thirty seconds after they finished, we were treated to about and other ninety seconds of fireworks.

I am sure the longest fireworks display any of us had ever witnessed was all in honor of my birthday this week. At any rate, it was one of those magic nights in South Austin.

Soundtrack for this post: Every song I heard last night.

Photo of Jimmy LaFave and his band is from his website and it is not the same configuration of players as last night.

Photo of fireworks from:

More Science Experiements

Over the past few months, my kitchen has become a science lab of sorts as I have tried to create more and more of the food we eat from what a lot of people would consider beyond scratch. Some of this has been motivated by reading ingredients on some of the things we use on a regular basis. It has become increasingly hard to find bread that does contain ingredients that I cannot pronounce in addition to high fructose corn syrup. I have had bread in my kitchen that did not go stale for a month. That freaked me out just a little bit. I have been experimenting with baking my own bread and hope to eventually be able to bake all our bread using organic ingredients. The best bread recipe I have found so far has to be started the night before you plan to bake it and then takes a whole day. It may be a while before I can manage to bake all our bread due to time constraints.

In the meantime, the most recent experiment that I have completed was making buttermilk. I have had problems with cornbread and biscuits not having the texture that I have been used to. I have decided that the buttermilk. Remember when the buttermilk you got at the grocery store was thick and creamy? Checked it lately? It is about the same consistency as regular milk and has four or five ingredients listed on the label. Yuck! Buttermilk should contain low fat milk and buttermilk culture. That's all. Of course, originally it was the liquid that was left over from churning butter, but that is no longer available in most areas. I ordered butter milk culture from New England Cheese Making Supply and followed their directions. You just bring low fat milk up to about 80 degrees, mix in the culture and leave it in a thermos overnight. I did not have a thermos so I used one of those big thermal insulated cups that you can get at convenience store in the summer. I put a thick kitchen towel over the lid to keep it a little warmer. In this weather, I probably did not even need the thermos. I most likely could have just left in in a quart jar. It turned out wonderfully. If I liked to drink buttermilk, I am sure that I would have considered it delicious. I have yet to make cornbread or biscuits but I did make a couple of buttermilk pies, one for us and one for our next door neighbors who loaned us a lawn mower with and attachment that picks up leaves. ( This was a huge favor since all those beautiful trees in my previous post are live oaks which lose all their leaves in about two weeks this time of year. We had 3 inches of leaves in some parts of our yard.)

The pies were very tasty and looked pretty good, too.

I have a few on going experiments. I am attempting once again to make cream cheese. I have done this before and always end up with a rather sour product. I have ordered fresh starter and have put the mixture in the refrigerator instead of leaving it out. It may be that I cannot make it without having strict temperature control. It is supposed to be kept at 65 degrees ant that is not going to happen. It will be interesting to see what I have this time tomorrow.

The red wine vinegar is making its 'mother' at such a rate that I have had to remove several layers of it. If anybody wants to start their own vinegar, let me know. I'll try to send you some.

I read on this blog about fermenting beans so of course I had to try it. I soaked the beans night before last in water then changed over to whey last night. I think they will be ready to cook tomorrow.
Soundtrack for this post: Anything by Domestic Science Club

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Orbit Completed

I am celebrating today, my 54th birthday, by not moving. I don’t mean to imply that I have spent the day in a catatonic state. I have moved around a lot today. I went to my chiropractor’s office and I got a pedicure. I took Lani for a nice walk in the woods and then dropped her off to get a bath. It is just that the past two years, we have been moving on my birthday.

In 2006, we moved from here: (Don’t be fooled by the picture. It was not as good as it looks.)

To here:

where we thought that we had found a little slice of heaven in Austin but that was not the case in so many ways. To make matters worse, our landlords were, if not exactly friends of ours, at least in our close social circle so I did not feel that I could really let them have it about all the things that were promised and not followed through on. As soon as our lease was up, we started looking for a new place. Acting on a tip from a former neighbor, Stephen drove up the street and found our current residence less than an hour after the ‘for rent’ sign went up. We have a beautiful home with a great fenced yard for Princess Lani. We have the world’s best landlord. We ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Soundtrack for this post: Bob Dylan's You Ain't Goin' Nowhere . Gotta love this version by the Byrds with Earl Scruggs as well as this one from Desert Rose Band. I've always had a thing for Chris Hillman.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A New Blog

David LaMotte, one of the coolest people I know, has recently started a blog. Check him out here:

He is a wonderful singer/songwriter who is about to hang it all up to become a student of peace studies in Brisbane, Australia.

He has too many great songs to pick one as a soundtrack.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Inside the Wild Rumpus

I had to work downtown today from 10:00 till 2:00 so I took my camera and walked around a little bit.
View of 6th Street looking east from Brazos Street at 2:30pm

A poster glued onto the sidewalk

Everybody gets to be the best at something.

I didn't know beer trucks this long existed.

No showcase, no problem. Just park your truck, hang your sign, plug in and start playing.

Since I was down town with my camera, I decided to take some photos of the hotel where I work.

Stained glass light fixture in the lobby

Part of the mural in the Chisholm Trail Room. It wraps completely around the top third of the room. The wooded panels were made from the hotel's original headboards circa 1886.

Soundtrack for this post: Butch Hancock's Standing at the Big Hotel

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Austin Gets Invaded

In most of the country, March Madness refers to the college basketball play offs. Here in Austin, it means full on invasion...other wise known as South By SouthWest. Started in 1987 as a way to draw major labels and venue booking agents to come to town and attend showcases, mostly by local musicians, SXSW has evolved into a major music conference/festival which pretty much takes over the whole town. As competition from already signed bands and solo acts made it near impossible for the locals to get any attention and crowds making wristbands all but worthless for getting into the most popular shows, many local venues have chosen not to participate officially. Instead, many of them host their own non-sanctioned showcases. Most of these guerrilla showcases are free or have very small cover charges. The official music portion of South By (as locals call it) got started today. However, the interactive (geek) conference and the film festival began last week. At the same time, the rodeo was in town as well as the state basketball playoffs.

I worked a shift at Ten Thousand Villages today. It is on terminally trendy South Congress Avenue and next door to the Continental Club, one of Austin's oldest music venues. Across the street is Joe's Coffee where a stage was set up in the parking lot. A little farther up the street, Guero's had a band out side. Some poor guy had an easy up where he was trying to sell some shirts but I think the real reason for his 'booth' was that he wanted to showcase all by himself. He had a small amp and a guitar and was being totally drowned out by the music from Guero's.

Friday I will be downtown until 7pm. Please pray for my safe escape back to the wilds of Far South Austin.

Soundtrack for this post: Every song you can think of

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Soundrack for this post: the saddest dirge you can think of.


I could have voted twice!!!! I was doing good to vote once considering how undecided I was up until the day I voted. I had to stand in line for twenty minutes on the next to the last day of early voting. Now it seems that I could have gone out and stood in line for hours to caucus. What I want to know is: What would have stopped me from voting for him on the ballot and then voting for her at the caucus?

As I write this, he has won Vermont. She has won Ohio and nobody knows which one has Texas in the bag. With our weird vote and caucus set up, it may be days before it is all settled. It usually doesn't matter much. By the time the Texas primary rolls around, the race has usually been decided, but not this year.

I could have voted twice?

Soundtrack for this post: Linda Ronstatd's version of Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Indpendence Day

That's right, Independence Day, Texas Independence Day,that is. It was on this day in 1836 that Texas declared its independence from Mexico. It seems that old Andy Jackson had sent his disgraced buddy Sam Houston down here to see what he could do about getting Texas added to the Union without snatching it from Mexico fair and square. So old Sam got together with Stephen Austin, Davey Crockett and a few others and really stirred things up. They were aided by the fact that a certain Mexican general was trying to annex as much territory as he possibly could. Next thing ya know, Texas is a republic with no way to support herself or pay her war debts, so she gets welcomed into the United States at a time when they were trying real hard to balance the number of slave states with the number of non-slave states and just in time for the unCivil War.

The Republic was larger than the state we now know as Texas and included parts of what are now New Mexico and Colorado. Its western border was defined bu the Rio Grande River and it looked something like this:

Sound track for this post has to be The Yellow Rose of Texas. (Follow the link to read the original lyrics and the story. I think it is hysterical that the big hotel in San Antonio is misnamed.)

Photo of map from:


The last truffle....... all alone in its box...... will be put out of its misery very soon.
Soundtrack for this post: Roy Orbison's Only the Lonely