Tuesday, June 29, 2010

That Perfect Hour

That Perfect Hour. Right about now: Around 10 or 11 among the evening hours. I can spin and focus and whirl and posit all day long. I can be so accomplished, I can achieve so much during the daylight hours. Or, I can waste the day not knowing what to do or not even considering such a thing - just letting the day pass me by. Regardless of how tired, annoyed, productive, independent, chained, or useless I've been all the live long day, by early evening, say 6 or 7, I feel worn and weary, having been at the mercy of things external to my soul. But, then as the hours grow later and darker, somehow at least some of the energy I'd lost, I'd released, I'd burned along the daily way... returns to me. No matter how tired I am from the trials of the day, I find myself contemplative, quiet, and yet so very awake at this hour. It's at this time of day I believe I am my best, my most true, my most - in general. Ideas lap over me like waves, colors and sounds inspire me, language strikes a chord within me. A night owl, some would say. Even though the day is nearly at its close, there is something large and yet quiet in the personal, real time. It is precarious, though; alas, the world, as usual, imposes its schedule on me, so this eveningtime-springtime is inevitably shortened, inescapably limiting the heights I can reach, at least for today. Tomorrow beckons, and lest I be all too useless to face it, I must go to bed in the coming hours before my mind is fully ready. Maybe that is why I always have such vivid dreams.

"And it's time, time, time that you love. And it's time, time, time." Tom Waits, "Time."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

That Perfect Sleepy Sad Day Album

That Perfect Sleepy Sad Day Album. I am more often that not drawn to this kind of music, so it's incredibly hard for me to narrow this down. Exceedingly difficult. I figure, though, if I use specific adjectives that describe this album but do not limit my future naming of That Perfect ___ ___ Album(s) (which may also strike certain emotional chords on some other days), then I'm safe enough.

When you've had a rough day, and you really want to sleep, but you can't sleep so well... when your muscles just won't let go, and your eyes are meaninglessly open. When your heart feels a little sad, but you aren't sure why. When you long for something, but you aren't sure what. When you vividly remember things and forget some others. When you feel less than perfect. When you want to be moved. Listen to That Perfect Sleepy Sad Day Album. 9 by Damien Rice. In some ways it isn't as strong or as striking as O, Damien's first album (which made me cry time and time again when I first heard it), but 9 seriously grows on you. Where O ought to be on some best album of all time list, 9 is the one I want to write about today. Nine Crimes, Sleep Don't Weep, Elephant, and Accidental Babies are especially moving. Amazing songs. And Rootless Tree is great turned up loud, yet it still feels sad. Sometimes sadness is worth celebrating. It's part of life, after all.

I originally had a link to Amazon so you could listen to short snippets of songs from the album, but I decided that the snippets simply did not do the sublime songs on this album justice. Go buy it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That Perfect Stroller

I am not sure how many of you in my readership have kiddos, especially kiddos who are stroller-age, but I just can't help myself. When I was pregnant with my son, we researched strollers (along with every other baby necessity... looking for That Perfect everything...), and we were seeking a stroller that would (1) allow for the car seat to snap into it so as not to disturb our little one if possible, (2) be sturdy, and (3) be easily foldable/packable into the car. Oh, and cute also entered into my calculations. We ended up with this:

It's the Peg Perego Revi in orange with cute little polka dots. We also had the matching car seat that snapped into it. The trouble was, figuring out which lever or button did what was utterly confusing. It was actually overwhelming. When we took it for strolls, which a stroller is supposedly built for, it would catch on sidewalk cracks, sticks, and practically leaves, breezes, and small anthills. Really, the thing cost a lot of money, and I was just annoyed that we'd wasted our money on it. It was cute, but that was not enough. Additionally, getting the car seat snapped safely into it would inevitably wake up the baby, and was more of a pain to do than to just carry the car seat by its handle. Plus, turning around, and even simple turning, even on the smooth concrete floor of a mall, were clumsy endeavors. So, this very expensive but cute stroller sat in the back of our car gathering dust.

We finally wised up and bought a new stroller: That Perfect Stroller. What is That Perfect Stroller you ask? Well, a Bob, of course! It is a stroller of which all other strollers should be jealous. Seriously, this thing is amazing. It turns on a dime and glides over any surface (including the bumpiest of sidewalks, stairs, grassy hills... you name it). I can also fold it up and get it in the car in about 5 seconds - literally (it barely weighs more than 20 pounds, and it folds in half - that's it). All the key parts you need to (1) buckle the child in and (2) fold it up are red so you can't miss the important little pieces when you need to find them. The tires are like bike tires -- smooth and agile and can be aired up to perfection. It's also got large storage spots, so we can always have plenty of books, toys, and snacks at our disposal to keep our little boy entertained, and there's still room for my shopping bags and drinks for Mom & Dad, too. I've even seen someone in my neighborhood taking a stroll with her Bob with a car seat sitting in it -- we didn't have ours when our son was too young to be buckled in, but from the looks of it, they're pretty adaptable for even the smallest kiddos, too, who prefer to stay in their car seats outside of the car. Our Bob has a front wheel that locks in place if you want it to (for jogging), or it can be mobile for more agility and ease of turning. I really love this stroller. If you're in the market, it's a purchase you will absolutely not regret. In my neighborhood, which is overflowing with trees, kids, dogs, and a great park, you see more Bobs than any other strollers around here. And, I can honestly say, they're the most popular stroller for very good reasons. Others just don't compare. Here's ours - it's the Bob Revolution.

And here's the website for That Perfect Stroller:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

That Perfect ____

What's this? Two posts in one day? Well, I was inspired a little while ago to go digging in my plan file drawers -- these monstrous thin flat drawers made of oak (stacked about a foot taller and three times wider than I am) for storing artwork, which I was fortunate enough to inherit from G.P. (see earlier That Perfect Rum post) -- and I ran across many many many old drawings from when I was in art school. These date from 1995 to 1997 or so, when I was taking life drawing classes. For the elucidation those of you who had "normal" majors in college or didn't attend at all, life drawing classes (and all studio art classes, for that matter) at UT Austin (and elsewhere, I'd assume) consist of 4-hour class sessions twice a week (usually MW or TTh from 8-12 or 2-6) for three hours of class credit (yep -- so if you had a 12 hour semester, that amounted to 32 hours of class time, not counting outside work that was required, especially in the advanced classes). We'd spend the entire four hours drawing nude models. Oddly, you forget they're nude while you're drawing -- honest -- and just focus on the folds, wrinkles, lines, shapes, textures, and expressions. I snapped a few digital photos just now of some of the old drawings I did in my undergrad studies -- they're below. I'm not sure what That Perfect ___ this post is about, but there was a feeling of something perfect that swept over me -- either in the drawings or in my reflections upon them. Don't know what to call it, but something was perfect in that moment of my looking back at these sketches. I'm not including any of my "sophisticated" later work here... just some charcoal and pencil sketches. Some finished, some not, most done in life drawing classes, a few done just messing around at home. There's a million billion trillion miles between who I am today and who I was when I drew these, but I've been trying to narrow that gap as of late. I just dusted off my old prismacolor pencils, and it turns out that going through law school, being a lawyer, and being a pretty demanding toddler's mom hasn't made me forget how to draw after all. And so, since I don't know what That Perfect this post is about, it's up to you to fill in the blank this time....

That Perfect Summer Drink

Remember how I said it gets hot in Texas?? Sweltering even? Well, such cruel temperatures always start the resourceful wheels in my mind turning toward figuring out how to stay cool and clean. Cool and clean. Cool and clean. Even just typing those words together feels good. Those simple words also happen to describe That Perfect Summer Drink, which I made for the first time last summer. One day last summer, I purchased some fancy schmancy 16 oz fruit essence water at the local gourmet market -- no sugar, just fruit essence infused into the water. I tried the one with cucumber essence and fell in love with how clean, light, and refreshing it was. I was not, however, so enamored with the high price -- maybe it was two or three bucks. Too much for a single serving of water, to be sure. I won't be paying that again. Especially when water is free (or at least already paid for via my monthly payment to the city of Dallas for my running water), and fruit is also readily available fairly inexpensively any local supermarket. And it's so very simple to make That Perfect Summer Drink. (1) Fill a pitcher with tap or filtered water - whichever you prefer; (2) Slice up a whole cucumber; (3) Put the cucumber slices in the pitcher; (4) Refrigerate; (5) Once cold, drink lovingly (leaving the cucumber slices themselves in the pitcher). I tell you, this is the stuff you want on a really hot day. After I have made it through about 1/2 of the pitcher (which I leave in the fridge), I add more water. Depending on how quickly you down it, the same cucumber slices can be used multiple times. Keep adding water to be infused until you think the cucumber has surpassed its potential. Cheap. Easy. Most importantly -- cool and clean.

The plastic tupperware pitcher I use is not terribly photogenic, so I googled cucumber water just now to find a photo to use here, and, not shockingly, I'm not the first to come up with this idea. Here's a photo of some pretty grand looking cucumber water. Yours will taste as good as this looks, even if it's concocted in a cheap plastic pitcher like mine.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

That Perfect Sub

There aren't many sub sandwich shops that are really worth stopping to eat in. I mean, Subway and Quizno's are okay. So is Potbelly. Other chain sandwich places are ok, too. They're fine to pick up on a road trip or something or a quick bite when you need something easy and close. But they're not destinations. Dino's in Arlington, TX is a destination sandwich shop. My husband grew up in Arlington and LOVES the sandwiches there. I'm officially awarding them the title of That Perfect Sub. And they come "Dino's dressed" with the shop's proprietary mix of herbs, oil, parmesan, and not sure what else is in there, but, man it's good. Hubby's sandwich also always includes a marinated pepper tapenade of sorts, which I prefer to skip on, but, if you're into that sort of thing, it's very well done here. The sandwiches are dressed just right, and even the lettuce is cut perfectly in little shreds. All the meat and cheeses are cut fresh on site when you order, and the bread is also fresh. The attached photo is of us cheersing our sandwiches there on his birthday... it's what he wanted, and I can't blame him. I get the #10. Yum. Don't believe me? Here's some other reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/dinos-subs-no-2-arlington

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

That Perfect Weather - A Random Memory

You know the feeling. It's been hot all summer. I mean really f-ing hot. I've lived my whole life (apart from some fantastic trips here and there) in Louisiana and Texas. I know hot. I remember taking cold showers when the power went out just to stay sane. I remember lying face down on a cool waterbed mattress wearing as little as possible in a crappy house in Austin, where the landlord laughed at our, admittedly, laughable window air conditioning units, just to feel some sort of coolness. I remember walking through the freezer section at the grocery store for some authentic coldness when it was hard to come by where I lived. As I've had many different occupations, including that of a practically professional student for a number of years (four degrees later... seriously, I was a student for a long time), I've spent many years with little money searching out the cool when it was unbearably hot outside. I now have a good job and steady air conditioning, which only serves to remind me of how good I have it now. Ultra hot summers down here in the deep South are miserable. I just saw on the news that we're hitting triple digits this week. It's barely June. We're in for a long, excruciating summer -- I can feel it coming. How to remedy my dismay over the impending doom of heat headed my way? Memories of That Perfect Weather -- knowing it'll come again one day. A particular moment is popping in my head...

I remember living in Austin, while I was in undergrad, I believe it was late in the year 1995. I was driving to work in my 1987 gray Chevy Blazer (man, I loved that thing), which was plastered with stickers all over its backside, on the service road of I-35 somewhere near the intersection of 38th Street. I was driving along with my windows down, feeling COLD air. Naturally wind-driven cold air. My long crazy hair was blowing everywhere, and I was probably smoking a cigarette - which I did in those days - out the open window. I don't recall the music I was listening to, but it was probably something emotionally driven, and I am sure it was turned up LOUD. Cold air. Driving. Windows down. Feeling energized. If that's not a happy memory, I'm not sure what is.

My mother has told me that a cold front came through right as I was being born - a lovely fall day in an October many years ago. I guess I've always felt a very personal bond with a cold front that comes in and, at long last, relieves the relentless heat of its duties, at least for a while.

It's quite difficult to think of a picture that encapsulates the weather I'm remembering. So, I've just dug through some really old photos (quite fun, actually), and I found what I think is the only photo I have of my old beloved Blazer. Here it is for good measure: