Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spring Is Definitely In The Air (i.e. Hot Froggy Love)

Oh yes I did! I couldn't help myself. This evening when I was walking in from the back porch I heard some rustling in the leaves. Out of curiosity, and much against my better judgment, I looked towards the noise. And this is what I found. I thought it was too cute to pass up. I know, I know, I completely interrupted them. But trust was pretty clear they either didn't care that I was there or had no idea I was there. She tried to hop away....typical scenario....but he was relentless. It was cute and proves that spring is in the air.......

I sincerely hope I have not offended anyone! Most especially, I am hoping I didn't offend Kermit and his lady friend. I would hate to cause any ill will between myself and my backyard tenants.

Last night I took myself out on a date! I invited myself to go see Patty Griffin live at Floore Country Store. I dressed up for myself, drove myself to the concert, bought myself a drink and enjoyed one of the best, if not THE BEST, live performances I have ever seen.
Originally I had purchased two tickets and asked Najla to join me. She is a huge Kelly Willis fan and I KNEW she would equally appreciate Patty Griffin. She agreed but as the time drew near she realized she likely wouldn’t be up for a late night. I completely understand that given she is close to 8 months pregnant. I really didn’t stress about finding someone to go with me; I figured I would just go alone and enjoy Patty Griffin by myself. I had a few people mention they might be able to join me but in the end no one was able to join me.

As I have indicated in prior posts I was really, really, really looking forward to this concert. Patty’s music has cradled me through a very difficult time in my life. Her music, songwriting and voice gives me permission to experience deep, deep sorrow but in the very next instant she reminds me about the beauty of suffering and how strong we come out on the other side.

Around 6pm I started having doubts, major doubts, about going alone. I went through the motions of getting ready, fixing my hair and applying my make up. I remembered this one episode of Sex in the City where Samantha Jones went to a jazz concert all alone because no one wanted to go with her. (As it happens this actually is a true story. Kim Catrall attended a Chick Corea concert alone in Manhattan. At the concert she met her future husband! I suppose the writers liked the story line and included it in the series!) So, I summoned my inner Samantha….(which I really don’t have much of….I am more of a Carrie Bradshaw)…and I took myself out on a date.

I spoke with my mother on my way to the venue. She was so worried someone was going to “steal me” from Helotes, TX. I assured her I would be fine and would remain in constant contact with her throughout the concert and would call her when I arrived home.

I picked up my tickets at will call and the young lady said, “You purchased two tickets. Will your guest be arriving later?” I said, “Nope, it’s just me tonight.” And she said, “Oh, that’s okay. There are tons of cuties here! Enjoy yourself!” “I will,” I responded.

Imagine my relief when I saw chairs set up in rows. Typically it is standing room only and the thought of “standing” alone was what was frightening me most. I found a seat, behind a huge pole, and then moved further down the row. The lady next to me said, “You can put your purse down here, or scoot down further if you would like.” I said, “Thank you. I am here alone so I am not saving a seat for anyone.” She didn’t make a sad face for me, in fact, she did not respond at all to my admission of “single-ness” at this event. This made me feel instantly comfortable. She looked to be about my mom’s age and her husband had this fabulous mess of long gray hair and emanated a very cool vibe for a man roughly the age of my father. I felt safe sitting next to them.

The opening act was a gentleman named Michael Fracasso. I had heard of him but had never seen him live. He sang “Only the Lonely” and I smiled for my frantic mother! She is a huge Roy Orbison fan. I thought to myself, she would be happy to know that I was not only sitting safely next to a nice couple but that it was good mojo that one of her favorite songs was being sung live! Between the first and second acts I started talking with the lady next to me. Her name is Charlotte and her husband’s name is John. He is the Patty Griffin fan. She really had never heard of Patty Griffin before. As it turns out they live in my parent’s neighborhood. In addition, Charlotte is a retired speech pathologist so she knew exactly what my job entails! We had a lot in common and they really were a joy to talk with. They offered to walk me to my car at the end of the concert because they would have wanted someone to do that for their daughter.

I am not sure I can do the concert justice. Words simply can not explain the energy in the room. The audience was small…maybe 250 people. When Patty Griffin arrived on stage the audience was transfixed. It was completely silent and everyone had a singular purpose. It was clear to me by the looks on everyone’s face that they love her for the same reasons I do. She makes deep connections with people through her words and her music. She often touches upon life’s deepest, darkest vulnerabilities and celebrates life’s greatest joys at the same time. She sang a lot of gospel music because that is what she is currently working on. It struck me that God is using her as a tool for His word because when she sang those classic gospel songs you could feel the entire room really believed in the “promise land” or the “place just over the mountain!” I am glad I went alone. When she sang “Heavenly Day” I gave myself permission to cry. (I wouldn’t have done that if anyone were with me.) And I don’t mean misty eyed…I mean big fat tears rolling down my face. No one noticed because not one person took their eyes off her. The young lady behind me cried as well. I have never cried at a concert, no one has ever moved me in that way. I decided at that point not only do I want that song played at my funeral, I want it to be the first dance at my wedding and playing when I have children! I want that song to be a part of every major life milestone I might be blessed with. As the concert ended I decided to stand up to grab a few photos of Patty. I finally rested myself inside the frame of the screen doors leading to the porch. She ended the concert with an old George Strait song since she was in “his neck of the woods.” She said it was only fitting to honor him. As she sang a light breeze blew through my hair and I didn’t care one bit that I was standing in that door alone. I felt completely at peace in that moment! I was IN that moment and moments passed and future moments didn’t matter. I long to inhabit that space more often. It doesn’t come naturally for me. But I am trying.
If any of you have the opportunity to see this woman live…, don’t walk! It doesn’t matter if you are unfamiliar with her work. She is captivating and takes you to a place that does your heart good! She is good medicine!

In celebration of Patty Griffin I have added a few of her songs. The first four songs you are hearing are hers. The song called “Fly” might be erroneously attributed to the Dixie Chicks. It is, in fact, a Patty Griffin song they covered on their album “Fly.” I dedicate that song to a dear friend that is at a major crossroads. You know who you are and I know you don’t ever have the volume up when you read my blog. Turn up the volume and listen to the words! And know that I am sending you my very best wishes during a very tough time.
I am lovin’ my new poster right now! I have admired this poster for a LONG time. I just never knew where to find it. I noticed it in two separate issues of Domino (sad, sad, sad, sad, sad….it has shut down production). That motivated me to do my research and get this print in my house. Not only do I love the message, but I absolutely love the graphic quality of this print. The lines are so simple yet profoundly regal. And I can’t help but love the Tiffany blue element. It is my understanding the queen commissioned this print. It hung in the subways of London during World War II reminding the citizens to “Keep calm and carry on!” I found it on . I had it framed and picked it up today. I am going to hang it above my bed and hope that the message manages to drift into my dreams!
Lorelai, Luke (Lorelai’s boyfriend) and Emily (Lorelai’s mother) are sitting in the drawing room having drinks before dinner. Lorelai is particularly nervous about this dinner and has previously encouraged Luke to drink a lot as it helps to deal with her mother!

Emily: What happened to your martini?
Lorelai: It went to a happy place.
Emily: Do you want another one?
Lorelai: Does Pavarotti want another doughnut?
Goodnight friends.......

Monday, April 27, 2009

Denver Revisited and Another Perfect Date

I returned from Denver last night. My flight was delayed for what seemed like hours and I didn’t get settled in until about 1am. As a result I did not have the gumption, strength or brain power to blog!

My visit was lovely. I had a wonderful time visiting my friend Sangeeta. (For those of you who don’t know…Sangeeta is a friend from graduate school. Her sister, Rupa, lives here with her family.) She moved into her loft about a week ago so the primary purpose of my visit was to put that interior design certificate to good use and help her create a space representative of her “transitional period!” This is the first time she has carved out her very own niche and I can’t help but think that Virginia Woolf is smiling down on her and admiring her strength and fortitude during a rather difficult time! Above is a picture of Sangeeta on the phone with her cable company. She is going to love this photo! I can not wait to hear her yell at me for posting this. Tee-hee! Below are a few photos of her new loft and a view of the mountains from her balcony.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her very loving kitties, Isis and Athena. They are sisters and love to cuddle with one another. This type of cuddling NEVER happens at my house.
In addition to adding finishing touches to the loft we had our nails done at the BEST nail salon EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am in love with this place. Not only is it a place to get manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing and massages….it is also a “lounge.” In other words, you can order wine and martinis during your treatments. Furthermore….it is completely shabby chic in style and we all know that is where I feel most at home! I brought along my Jungle Red by NARS and Karen gave me a great manicure and pedicure. If you are ever in Denver (Stapleton area) check this place out. It is called Sweet Life Nail Bar and Lounge.
Above are three photos from the Nail Bar and Lounge. We NEED one of these in San Antonio. Anyone interested in a business venture? Partner up with the local public school cosmetology programs….something to consider….

We had dinner at a restaurant in downtown Denver called Rioja. I had scallops on toasted risotto cakes garnished with a mango salad. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We stepped next door to a lounge called Corridor 44. We met some very nice people there. One gentleman was from England (so we had a chat!) another was from Lebanon and named Lutfy….which is so ironic. I immediately sent a text to the Lutfy I know and he marveled at the coincidence. We also met some precious young girls, early 20’s, who were so fun to talk with. The lounge was beautiful….it was kind of old school pub meets upscale elegance. And the martinis were perfectly filthy….the way I like them!
Saturday we had traditional high tea at the Brown Palace which is the oldest hotel in Denver. I chose chamomile and Sangeeta ordered her typical oolong. We shared scones, clotted cream and jam, tea sandwiches and an array of desserts. The tea is held in the lobby and it is accompanied by a piano player and a harpist. The hotel is stunning! Again…if you are ever in Denver this is a MUST! Here is a photo of the hotel lobby where tea is served. This is a picture of our traditional tea.
Sangeet and I enjoying our tea. Hers was the chocolate version and mine was the traditional menu. After tea we hit a PRECIOUS boutique called Talulah Jones. I don’t have any photos but I want to mention it because I think they have an online store. (Just click on the highlighted words above.) The owner was so gracious and she had the fattest dog I have ever seen. The dog is named Mary Gertrude and she is supposedly the same breed as Toto from The Wizard of Oz. Not even close! This dog resembled a hairy pig! But she sure was sweet and what a name…I love it….Mary Gertrude!

That evening I had another spectacular date! This is Maximus! Isn’t he sweet? I went to undergraduate and graduate school with his mommy, Alaina. She lives in Denver, as well. She and Sangeeta are very close and enjoy spending time playing with this little man! Congratulations to Alaina and William. He is an angel. Unfortunately…..he fell asleep in my arms too. (But only for a few minutes!) What’s with all my dates falling asleep on me?

Maximus and I.......
Sangeeta, Maximus and his mommy, Alaina........ Despite the “elevation disease” that plagued me the first two days (happened last time I was there), annihilating my shin on Sangeeta’s new platform bed and dropping a burning hot Kashi meal on my arm the trip was absolutely fantastic. I think I speak for both of us when I say we needed it! We needed a “no boys, girls only” weekend (with the obvious exception of Mr. Max) where we could reconnect and enjoy each others company. Not to mention it was nice to get out of town and enjoy much cooler weather. And…it has to be said…my hair looked awesome. Of course, my nose bled… there is something to be said for a little humidity!
Today’s daily celebration is harsh criticism and character attacks. I know you are wondering how this can possibly fall under the sub-heading of daily celebration. Hang in there with me. I promise I am going somewhere with this. I recently received a very caustic email from a person who was of once great importance to me. This person attacked my character and pushed the VERY SPECIFIC button that upsets me and hurts me most. (Great strategy on that individual’s part.) Now, to be fair, I picked the fight. Having said that, I needed to have been prepared for the retaliatory consequences. However, I never expected to hear such harsh words. The email unnerved me and I was shaken for a few hours. It was unfortunate I opened the email in Denver….but I was in the company of a dear friend who held me as I cried. I continued to mope about for a few hours. Feelings welled up in me that I had not experienced in a while. I felt angry and even projected that anger onto several individuals (silently in my head) at the Denver airport. As I waited for my airplane (which we know took several hours) I started to wonder how I could turn this situation into a positive. How could I make these bitter, angry, biting words a “daily celebration.” I kept seeing the ONE sentence in my mind. I could hear this person’s voice echoing the words in my mind. The perseveration set in and I was on the verge of tears for a long while. Two valuable things occurred to me. First, there is a large element of truth to the words of this individual….making them even more difficult to hear. Second, it is my responsibility to listen to these words and not make the same mistakes again. This person’s anger is my opportunity to better myself. Especially because I know the statement was somewhat valid. I do not plan on responding and I graciously surrender the last word. This was, perhaps, the harshest criticism of my character I have ever experienced. Given that it is my responsibility to hear the individual’s concern and work through the validity for myself. Today I celebrate criticism and it’s opportunity for my personal growth. Even ugly criticism can be made constructive criticism if we are open to it. I certainly am trying to be!
Right now I am lovin’ a book called American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It is a fictional account which is very loosely based on the life of Laura Bush. This is the second book I have read by this author. I previously read Prep. She (yes, the author is female) has a way of drawing me in immediately. I really appreciate her writing style. And though she is a young woman I feel she is wise far beyond her years. Her observation of the human condition seems to belong to a woman who has lived a long, experienced life. I appreciate that most about her writing. It’s almost as if there is no judgment in her writing. She can write from a truly objective place and allows the reader to slip comfortably into that spot as well. I am about 150 pages in and my very favorite quote comes from the main character’s grandmother. One simple statement that hit me profoundly, “We have to make mistakes. It's how we learn compassion for others.” I am sure I will mention this book again several times before I finish it. But I already highly recommend it. (Image from

Jim: Right now this is just a job. If I advance any higher….that would make this my career. And if this were my career, I would have to throw myself in front of a train. So, really, it’s a matter of life and death.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Hi friends....I am in Denver visiting my friend Sangeeta. She has this FANTASTIC brand new MacBook! (Hint, hint Mom and Dad....Birthday is in August...Remember?) Anyhow....I am not at all sure how to play with this thing...other than to just press the keys and make the words appear. I brought my camera and I brought my flash drive with all my graphics. However, I could sense the trepidation in her voice when I asked her if I could plug in my flash drive and blog away. (What does she think my flash drive is? Some little vixen that goes from computer to computer collecting viruses?) So...until she gets home and she and I can figure this out together there are no photos, no graphics, nothing. That makes me sad...I had such high hopes of blogging from a "remote location!"

I will say this for Denver.....the airport is great! VERY clean, well laid out, easy to navigate and it had a little mini-transit system...again waxing nostalgic for my London Underground days.

Dear Future Mayor, Julian Castro.....Can we have a subway system? Please, please, please!?!?!? And can it go straight from my house to my work place, gym, pilates studio, etc? Thank you!

Okay....I officially need to get out of these pajamas and into some "not lazy" people clothes. Sangeeta is still at work so I am going to head over to her neighborhood center and play. We have pedicures (yes...again!) planned at 3pm and wonderful dinner plans for the evening. I hope to blog with photos tomorrow.

For all my Texas is 65 degrees here! Not a cloud in the sky. Jealous?

Have a great day friends.....

Oh, and yes, I will be going to Invesco Field and the Coors Brewery. And please send the limo for me at 10pm on Sunday evening....San Antonio International Airport, please. Thanks......

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Best Lunch Date Ever

Last night I attended the first night of Night In Old San Antonio, otherwise knows as NIOSA. NIOSA is a celebration of this city’s diverse cultural heritage with 15 different ethnic areas dedicated to food, drinks, music, etc. specific to each culture. The celebration is held at La Villita National Historic District. It is an 18th century Spanish neighborhood located on the banks of the San Antonio River. NIOSA serves to benefit the programs of the Conservation Society of San Antonio. The Conservation Society is dedicated to preserving the historic character of San Antonio. Below are some photos of the crowd.

I arrived by Park and Ride. (I love it because riding the bus reminds me of my old days in London. I love public transportation!) I met Christine and crew and spent a few minutes with them before I met with the campaign volunteers. We walked through NIOSA with Julian and Joaquin Castro and handed out Fiesta pins for Julian. It was an interesting experience. They certainly are well respected in this community and quite popular with the NIOSA crowd. Needless to say I was pretty exhausted, my hair was filled with confetti (from the cascarones) and my new pedicure is pretty torn up! I should not have worn those flip flops. Next time I will know better.

Christine, Sofie and I......
Sofie and "Anais" (whose real name is Danica.......)
Milagro and I................. (And that IS his real name. I love it!)

Today’s daily celebration is Ruth! Given today is Administrative Professional’s Day I want to celebrate this wonderful woman who has been a part of my life for the last 10 years. Ruth is the secretary of the department I work with. She has literally seen me grow up….from a 23 year old neophyte to the woman I am today. Along the way she has served as a friend, a mother, a sister, a mentor, an inspiration and a source of guidance in my life. Not to mention she keeps my calendar in check, reminds me when my work is due and assists me with various tasks and requests with a smile on her face! I am so honored to work alongside Ruth. And if she ever decides to leave the school district I think she might have a very lucrative career in private investigations. This woman can track down wayward students and hard to find parents 100% of the time. Ruth, I celebrate you today….and everyday I come into work and you greet me with kindness and your famously strong coffee!
What I am lovin’ today is my lunch date. Now, I promised myself I would NOT, under any circumstance, allow my love life to enter into this blog. However, my lunch date was the cutest, sweetest, most precious guy I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with. He was so gentle, quiet and filled with child like innocence. Here is a picture of my lunch date. His name is Nicholas Joaquin! Isn’t he precious? He is, by far, the best lunch date I have ever had….despite the fact he slept through most of it. (Although some dates have left me wishing the guy across from me would fall asleep!)And here is his mommy....Vegas Val (otherwise known as Valerie).....

Logan: You're special.

Rory: Special? Like stop eating the paste, "special?"

Goodnight friends. Need to pack for Denver and have to be up very, very, very early! Not enough hours between now and then......

Monday, April 20, 2009

To Whom Much Is Given

Happy Monday! Today was, quite possibly, the MOST glorious day in recent history. The weather was unbelievable! It was so good....all of me wanted to play hooky, lay in the grass and sun bathe. But, I didn't. Way too much work to be done. However, I did take the EXTRA long route after lunch so I could enjoy the wind in my hair just a little bit longer.
Today's celebration actually took place yesterday. Several individuals and I hosted a fundraiser in honor of Julian Castro and his race for mayor. I want to share the invitation that we sent out. It was created by my new e-BFF Amber with Announcing You. I think she did a lovely job and I was so pleased with her innovative approach to creating this invitation. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention Ricardo Ruiz with Cha-Cha's Mexican Restaurant. He generously and graciously provided us a wonderful space and excellent food for our function! Additionally, his entire wait staff was incredibly serviceable and most helpful.
Christine and I arrived early to decorate the back room. We decided to go with a Fiesta theme since it is, in fact, Fiesta week and we were celebrating at a Mexican food restaurant. Additionally, we had a decoration budget of approximately 0 dollars so we pooled resources we already owned and humbly decorated as best we could. (Those of you who know me KNOW how I am about things like these. And I also know you are all laughing out loud right about now! Go ahead...I am laughing with you!)
Decorating Budget for Julian Castro Fundraising Event-$0 dollars
Knowing Patty Freaks Out About That-Priceless
Imagining Patty Freaking Out About It In Your Head-Also Priceless
Christine and Patty Raiding Their Houses for Decorations-Once Again, Priceless
There are some things money can't buy....for everything else there is the pricelessness of Patty's panic attacks regarding decorating for a party!

So it turns out that my mom and Julian's mom went to Our Lady of the Lake University together. They chatted and realized they graduated the same year and had many mutual friends in common. Here is a photo of my dad, my mom and Julian's mom, Rosie Castro.
Christine and I were both hostesses, along with Irene, who initiated the fundraiser and without whom none of this would have been possible!
I was originally going to introduce Julian. No small task for such an important public figure. Thank goodness his twin brother, Joaquin, arrived. I pushed the scary task onto him! Thanks, Joaquin. Anyhow....who better than your twin to introduce you and poke fun at you with total impunity! (BTW......loved the casual look again, Joaquin! It really does make telling you guys apart much, much, much easier!)
Julian shared his vision for the city and was kind enough to answer five pre-determined questions. Most of us in the room were educators so the questions revolved around education and his hopes for the future of our youth. His message has CONSISTENTLY been that he would like for the children of this city to be educated here, have the option to stay here for the purposes of higher education and be hopeful about making their way, their livelihood and their homes in a city that is filled with promising job opportunities.....opportunities that are competitive with those in Houston, Dallas and Austin.
It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. Julian and Joaquin are shining examples of this. They are both such gifted, intelligent, motivated individuals. They have made opportunities for themselves that most of us can only dream of. They have shown that with hard work, dedication, and the loving support of your family your dreams can come to fruition. This city is well served by this entire family and they continue to exceed my expectations! What continues to strike me is that they had the opportunity to go anywhere to make a difference, and they chose to come back to their community and to serve their community. This speaks volumes about their character and their upbringing. Thank you for being an inspiration! And Julian, best of luck! (Even though I am convinced you won't need it!)
Some of the guests included Sofie and "Anais".........
"Spacey" (who said I could "out" her, too.....her name is really Jace') and I.........
Christine and her mom, Josie......
These two fine looking people......Thanks for coming Mom and Dad. I am glad you were able to share in the celebration....even though you can't vote because you don't technically live in the city! I know you would if you could!
Jace' and Christine's mom, Josie......
Overall I think the fundraiser was a success! I had a good time and only stressed out a teeny tiny little bit about the decorations. Again...for those of you who know me....I think you can agree I have come a long way if the stress level was that low!
Immediately following the fundraiser Jace' and I decided to go for pedicures. Much needed because I had been standing in heels for most of the afternoon. She and I were searching for off beat colors and we found one that matches the blog. So what I am lovin' right now is my nail polish color. By the way, Jace' is sportin' it too......
And finally, in honor of the "anonymous" person who left me this quote....(although I am pretty sure I know who you are because you repeat this quote to me daily)....
Dwight: Every time I am about to do something, I ask myself, "Would an idiot do it?" And if the answer is "yes," I DO NOT do that thing!
Goodnight friends.....
Will report from Night In Old San Antonio (NIOSA) tomorrow......
Viva Fiesta!