Tuesday, October 20, 2009

State Fair, Part II

As promised, here are the quilts:

Aren't they gorgeous? It's hard to see in these pictures--far away, little hand camera--but the applique and hand-embroidery is just as beautiful as the piecing and the color choices.

There was more though (this is, after all, the TEXAS State Fair).

Clothes for Barbies--which reminded me of the clothes my own grandmother used to sew for my dolls--and other dolls.

These are older dolls that have new clothes or have been restored. I have several of this kind of china-head doll from my maternal grandmother.

Also, preserving:

These shelves are full of jars of preserves, jellies, jams, pickles, and so forth--and there was another set of them to the right.

But these were my favorites: handmade children's clothing.

The bodice is smocked and embroided (chickens to match the fabric print). Gorgeous.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Texas State Fair

On Friday, I went to the Texas State Fair with friends... or perhaps people I thought were friends, given the amount of fried food they allowed me to ingest in a six-hour period!

Here they are, contemplating our next fried adventure.

Here we are near Big Tex, the annual dual mascot and welcome wagon. You can always find yourself at the fair by examining your relationship to Big Tex... literally and metaphorically.

The fair is out in the State Fair grounds, permanent structures that remind me of NYC's Rockefeller Plaza: art deco and monumental...

with lots of exaggerated, symbolic maidens...

and hard-working blue-collar guys...

We saw butter sculpture: this year's entry was a complete Old West Saloon scene, with butter bar, butter bartender, butter saloon girl...

butter dog and walls...

and butter fireplace, table, and stools (the "brick" thing on the left was the fireplace, complete with faux fabric flames).

Forgive the flash lights: it is all behind glass, and I took terrible pictures!

We also looked at the women's handwork: quilts, clothing, and so forth, with handsewing, crochet, knitting, embroidery, needlepoint, crewelwork, and any other kind of handwork you can imagine. Gorgeous stuff, that reminded me very much of the work my grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts, and mom taught me.


This is three quilts, hanging 'way above our heads. I'll include more of them in a later post, because they are simply spectacular and should get the attention they deserve. The colors, the quality of the quilting and applique, all of it was incredible.

We also saw the work of the Master Pumpkin Carver on two massive pumpkins. Here's the less scary one.

We also ate our weight--or perhaps cholesterol count--in fried foods, but that too is another day's tale. I'll simply leave you with this: fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, fried butter, fried Oreos, fried potato laces, fire-and-ice (fried pineapple), and fried bacon. That's right: deep-fat-fried bacon.

Mmmm, good.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Consumer Annoyance: AT&T

Well, another annoying call from AT&T. What was it? In short:

1. the only customer service number on their website goes directly to wireless phone service--which I don't have and wasn't calling about. Had to tell wireless service lady that I wanted home phone and wireless internet... spent significant time on hold... then had to transfer again... hold... transfer... fnally at right department: no customer service phone number on website.

2. explained that two months ago I negotiated my bill down because I ONLY get these two services, want no others, and should be saving money... except that every month the electronic transfers from me to them are a. different in amount and b. more than I was promised.

3. explained that I cannot get onto the website for my account because the web wouldn't accept my ID number or password to open my account.

Was told in response that:

1. this month's "extra charge" was for two long distance information calls I made on August 24--that's right, two billing cycles ago--although the operator cannot tell me numbers I purportedly dialed for calls I don't remember making to an area I don't know why I would be looking to call. I was billed this month because (get this) long distance bills on a different cycle than my service plan: literally, the dates of billing and the period encompassed are different... and it has always been thus.

2. my September account was different because the government surcharges increased...

3. my August account was different because... what was the question again? Oh, yes, "why are the amounts of my bill different every month when I am on a billing plan." Well, they're different because I said so. I don't know. Red. Square. Billings, Montana. Oh, hell.

4. she can't open my account either, and while she can reset my password, she cannot reset or change my user ID. And she literally tells me that is has thus been so since May 2002: not my user ID, the fact that she cannot change it, which is supposed to give her an out and a sense of authority at the same time.

So while I am paying the same amount I would pay if I got cable tv on top of my phone and wireless internet--meaning apparently that cable is free--I cannot reduce my monthly bill because I only want two services. Huh? if I get three services, it costs the same as two services... I KNOW I an not a math whiz, honey, but I am not an idiot. What you are telling me is JUST STUPID math. It is Lehmann Brothers I want my bonus math. It is Big Corporation Shut Up and Pay Me math.

And it would be great if I wanted cable--but I don't. And it would be great if the third service was laundry--but it ain't.  And it would be great if AT&T understood the term "customer service"--but they don't.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spicy Chicken

This week I made a delicious chicken main dish. Actually made it up, and it turned out great.

Spicy Chicken

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp Madras curry powder
1/2 c. lemon juice

Put stove top/over casserole dish on stove top. Add butter on medium heat; when it is melted, add garlic, cumin, turmeric, curry, and allow to cook for 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and chicken breasts. Turn chicken to coat with spices and butter; allow to brown on each side. Then put in oven at 300 for 30 minutes.

The result is a spice, juicy dish for two, with few calories or fat. Add salad and rice or vegetable, you're good to go.

Note: I used good-sized breasts; if your chicken breasts are smaller, cook for only 20 minutes. You don't want to dry them out, but the lemon juice should help keep them jucy and give the meat a tangy flavor.

I love cooking with chicken because there is so much you can do with it, no matter whether it is a complete roast chicken or pieces. Lemon, white wine, salsa, tomatoes, broth, and nearly every spice known to mankind. Humankind. I also made chicken soup this past weekend--spicy chicken soup, using red pepper flakes and garlic (d'you ge tthat I like my food spicy? Deifnitely this week when I am fighting congestion and allergies).


Trip to Beaumont, Texas

Last Friday and Saturday I traveled to Beaumont, Texas, for another feedback/workshop session... but no pictures this time. The drive down was dull--except for the raging storm during Beaumont's rush hour where I got stuck on the highway in no-visibility fog-and-rain spittle... but I didn't crash and I didn't drive over the verge and I found my exit and hotel. So yay me!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trip to San Angelo

This weekend, I drove to San Angelo to see and respond to an original play.

On the ride there, I saw this mosaic at a rest stop. Yes, it is a longhorn puffing out heated breaths and a pair of boots. Because nothing says "Texas in a ladies rest room" like a longhorn and boots.

All the way back on Saturday, there was heavy cloud cover and rain. The Hill Country--that part of central-west Texas--is flat land, primarily used for farming along the roads I drove.

These blue tin chickens were huddled up outside a small town.

Cotton fields in full blossom.

And, last, a herd of goats resting roadside just as the sun came up (heavily muffled by cloud cover).

As I got closer, I noticed something about the goats...

Zombie eyes...


Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday: Sloooooooooooow Day

Or not.

I finally have a simple day: no classes, only one meeting, and no social obligations. Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

Thus far today, I have gotten myself showered/dressed/coffeed, taken out the garbage, done two loads of laundry, unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher, made oatmeal in the slow cooker, organized said lone meeting, cleared out email boxes in 3 accounts, posted on Facebook, posted snail mail, fed Jack, set up two students meetings for next week, organized a Chicks' Night Out for friends, graded student papers, graded student monologues, graded student participation points... and now to GET AWAY FROM SAID COMPUTER!

I think I'm due some time for reading or laziness...