Rising from the (almost) dead

Saturday, July 25, 2015


I feel like a new woman and probably because for the majority of this week, I felt like a dead woman.  I was knocked down on Wednesday by a mysterious stomach bug (mysterious because I don't know how I caught it and no one else around me has had it) and that bug laid the righteous smack down on me.  I slept for an estimated 48 hours in a three day time span and managed to ignore basically every other part of my life, including eating.  Luckily, after hitting a high point with the fever yesterday evening, I woke up feeling well enough today to hit a full agenda of activities, what with people visiting from out of town and a graduation this morning.

And tonight, I'm hosting a dinner party at my apartment, the first one I've held since I moved to Dallas (yes, I've been here for over two years, shhh!).  We're catering the food in, thank goodness because there would have been no way I would have been in any state to cook.  I'm all prepped with beverages and desserts... except I just realized that for a party of six, I only have seating for five.  Worst case scenario, I can take all of my hardbacks, pile them up, and teeter precariously from atop.  Or steal one from the apartment clubhouse.  Or sit on my saddle rack.

Or maybe just go to Target and buy an extra chair.

I'll let you sit on pins and needles to find out the conclusion to this one...

Total facial, LaFleur

Monday, July 20, 2015


In the morning, I wash with Biologique Recherch√© Lait U, followed by Tracie Martyn Firming Serum, Biologique Recherch√© MSR-H Cream, and Suntegrity 5 in 1 (my new favorite organic tinted sunscreen). Then I slather myself with Burt’s Bees Nourishing Body Lotion, which is actually for babies.”

Carla Gugino’s skincare routine, a la TheNewPotato

I’ll admit, during the summer afternoon lull, I’ve been perusing more than my fair share of girlie web sites that discuss health, beauty, fashion, relationships, quite unlike my usual web browsing.  And wowza, the things you’ll learn (how to spiralize every veg ever, drink green things in a smoothie, exfoliate all the time always).  

One of the omnipresent themes of these websites is a featured column that delves into the morning and evening skincare routines of rosy, baby-faced angelwomencreatures.  These ladies, who most likely spend at least an hour upon waking and prior to sleeping, slather on a litany of products (serums/creams/toners/tonics/oils) to their faces in alphabetical order.  All of this careful facial care led me to an examination of my own skincare routine, which I’ll now share with you below...

AM: Bleary-eyed, I swipe at my face a few times with a cleansing facial wipe (thank the heavens for whomever came up with these things).  I’m dead to the world in the mornings and can’t imagine attempting a real face scrubbing with water.  Instead, I’m satisfied with my two morning accomplishments: bed making and teeth brushing.  My tube of Japanese facial sunscreen glares at me, judgingly.  I’m indoors during most daylight hours, I reason, so why waste it even if I am in my 30s and applying sunscreen is a Must Do instead of a Should Do.  At the office by 6:30 in the morning (killmenow), I then perform a second face check (did I wipe away all the sleep from my eyes?  likely not) by fluorescent light, which always makes me want to scrape my face off and start over.  The rest of the day is spent avoiding my reflection in all shiny surfaces.

PM: I wash my face with some random face wash whilst in the shower, wondering once again where those latest bruises came from and if I’m seriously just allergic to everything.  For someone who owns a horse, a hay allergy seems like one of the most nonsensical things to have.  Anyway, back to the face.  Does drying your face with a scratchy towel count as exfoliating?  Sometimes I’ll use an Alpha Beta peel wipe, if I remember, and oftentimes I don’t.  No night cream or face mask and instead I fall asleep with a comic book cracked open on my pillow and all the lights still on.

Clearly, no one will be photographing or filming me any time ever.  My focus at home is centered around making sure that the house is hygienic and let’s face (sorry) it, I’m lazy.  I’ll settle for my face showing its age, all of its laugh lines, and shadows from staying up reading too late once again.

The summer of his content

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ryon sneezes at the dust raised on the trails.  The rain that made it impossible to go out this spring has vanished and left exposed dirt everywhere.  If you look closely, you can see the hoofprints we’ve left behind us.

This is the second summer that Ryon and I have spent together and we’ve settled into a nice rocking rhythm.  It took nine months for him to acclimate to our barn and quit spooking at the shadows by the bleachers, puffs of wind, and cars backfiring.  Now he won’t even deign to twitch his tail at the commercial planes that roar overhead on their way to the airport.  Once distracted by every slight peripheral movement or sound, RyGuy (one of his many given nicknames) is now laser focused and alert in the arena, literally chomping at the bit for his turn to fly over the jump courses we’ve set up for him.

We have also finally convinced him that he is, indeed, a horse.

He’s very recently learned how to roll in the perma-mud puddles out in the turnouts, oftentimes only coating one side of his body in a grey shell of claylike mud.  I am no longer neurotically shampooing and conditioning his mane and tail on a weekly basis, as he’s just as happy covered with a coating of dirt as he was buffed to a shine.  Funny enough, the dirt layer has kept the flies at bay much better than when I had him sparkling like a penny last year.  

He’s also acted much more like the pack animal that he’s supposed to be.  He no longer angrily kicks the dividing wall between himself and his neighbor Bo Saint Pony, and instead removes the panels between them.  The wall is now so low that that they can stick their respective heads over the side and gossip about who they have a crush on and which rider they’re planning to torment.  We have him turned out during the day in a large paddock with two grey horses (remember how he hates those?), who have very quickly put him his proper herd position (definitely not the alpha, my poor Ryon).

As we get further into the summer, the heat mellows out all of the horses and makes them much more lazy.  One afternoon, very soon, I’m grabbing a lead rope and a book and finding a shaded spot under a tree, enjoying summer the way that a girl and a horse are supposed to.

Going over to the dark side

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

So... I'm going to do the cowardly thing and blame my lack of blogging presence so far this summer on technical difficulties.  My personal laptop has been inching toward a slow death since winter and finally hit that point a few months ago when it was unable to load a website within 15 minutes.  After an attempt to purchase a PC a few weeks ago and receiving a dead wifi adapter right out of the box, I decided to make the switch.  Yes, I've been shunning Apple computers for decades and yes, it makes me a big fat hypocrite now because I just want a computer that is fast and works.  I'm relearning all the hot keys as we speak (ugh) but small price to pay for something functional (I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that one).  Day one and I'm back to reading all your blogs and blogging again so that can't be all that bad, right?  Who knows, maybe these Apple people do have something figured out after all.

Since I've been silent (but not really gone), what I've been doing instead is reading all of the science fiction books, eating all of the TexMex, and sweating out all of the beer I've been drinking by the pool.  By my count, I've eaten nachos - fully loaded, guacamole heavy, substantial nachos, mind you - once a week since mid-June and I regret none of it.  The best part is that this is Texas, and I haven't even scratched the surface of nacho-eating.  This topic may be deserving of a post all on its own, come to think of it.

I've been gone for weeks and my closing note is going to be about food.  How terribly normal of me.

Really though, I've spent the evening catching up on all of your blogs and reading the stories that go behind the IG pictures you've been posting over the past few weeks (congrats to Stephanie and Jillian on your respective new babies).  I'm still here and with my new 'puter, I plan on being here much more often.

Living quietly

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The rain this season has forced us Texans indoors and made for a more quiet summer.  We’re grateful for the end of the drought here in Texas, but the continued thunderstorms after Tropical Storm Bill?  Mother Nature is just showing off.  The horses have barely gotten to run around their paddocks this summer and have gotten naughty and bored with cabin fever.  I haven’t been able to take Ryon on the trail in over two months, as the ground has been too soggy, and we run the danger of pulling a shoe.  Last week, they discovered a dead body alongside the trail (normal normal for Dallas) that had floated downstream, cause of death still unreleased to the public.  Come to think of it, maybe eschewing the trail for the summer hasn’t been all that bad after all.

The walking path that we spent 3 hours on earlier this spring has been underwater and overrun by the Trinity River for the past month, resurfaced very briefly for a week, and is again submerged.  As a consequence, the pedestrian bridge has been busy each night as Dallasites photograph the different stages of the swollen river.  The water is a constantly rushing, swirling vortex of brown murkiness that you’d not want to dip your toe into.

In Paris (always Texas), we’ve dug up potatoes and fat juicy earthworms - almost more earthworms than potatoes - and brought home some beautiful banana peppers this past weekend.  Grey evenings have been spent air conditioned and indoors, peeking out at the gloaming in between chapters of graphic novels and episodes of Penny Dreadful.  Even watching dinosaurs eat All The People on the big screen and monster trucks wreak havoc in the Australian desert happens at 10 am on damp Sunday mornings.  The longest day of the year was punctuated with flash thunderstorms, with the sky erupting one second and clearing to crystal blue the next.

Reluctantly, I’ve grown to love the indoor time, the forced relaxation, and the additional accidental naps.  But at heart, I’m a sun worshipper and you can bet your boots that when the sun is out, I’m frolicking about in the heat (with plenty of water) the best I can.  Send some sunshine my way, would you please?

Notes from a summer getaway

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

There are smudges on the inside of my windshield from my frantic attempts, whilst driving, to squash a mosquito trapped inside the car with me.  The result was a blood bath (mine) and clear victory (hers).  Phantom battle scars linger, and even indoors my legs and feet still itch.

The next day, undeterred by the swarms of insects that seem prepared to hunt me down, we hike down the Greenbelt which meanders along Barton Creek, squelching through mud puddles and jumping over rock piles.  Despite flooding in other areas of Hill Country, here the water runs cool and clear, entire families with their inner tubes and devil-may-care attitude floating in the serene pools.  It felt like the five mile trek took the entire morning, even longer than it took us to scale a mountain in the desert, and we turned back when the trail we were following devolved into large puddles filled with squirming tadpoles.  There was a brief pause in the rushing creek water for a fully-dressed dip to cool down, during which he slips and almost falls, which we capture on video.

As usual, the food in Austin doesn’t disappoint.  Burgers with doughnut buns, more doughnuts smothered in Nutella, vegetarian restaurants that must offer cheese and eggs, the mother of all quesos, and casual dining spots where the produce is grown fresh in the restaurant garden out back.  We hit up a barbecue restaurant - part of a gas station of course - and I almost drink the sauce straight from the bottle.  Later my stomach hurts and no one wonders why.

The streets in Central Texas will bake a person alive, even in June, and we popped in and out of quirky shops partially for the A/C blast alone.  A quick glance in a shop window was enough to remind me that as much as things change, so they also still stay the same.  A tank top, running shorts, and backpack, almost 10 years later I was still dressed in the same uniform as I wore when I was in college.  Getting carded at the restaurant later only underscored that point.

At night, it’s quiet, save for the flipping of pages.  There is no tv in the cottage and we don’t even notice.  The occasional cricket serves as background noise and falling asleep is almost as easy as falling in love.

Off the grid

Monday, June 1, 2015

Courtesy of JR
Over Memorial Day weekend (which now seems so long ago), I lost an earring, climbed a mountain, and bought groceries from a convenience store located in a mobile home in west Texas.  JR drove (I passenged - yep, new word) the 8+ hours to the desert and the highest mountains in Texas.  Live tweeting the road trip with #westwardho was probably the most exciting thing about the car trip, although the slick roads and reckless eighteen-wheelers made for a dicey adventure at times.  Forget oil / electricity / natural gas, the car could have probably been powered by our sugar rush alone, fueled by too many bags of Swedish Fish, gummy bears, rolos, and twizzlers.  The heavy wet clouds that have been hanging about north Texas for far too long cleared out about the time we reached the desert and the blazingly clear blue sky set off the rugged, rusty Texas mountains in a John Wayne-movie kind of way.

In the desert, we stayed in a teensy tiny farming community, population of 400, complete with cow crossing signs pegged at one mile intervals (note: we saw no cows in said city).  The casita we rented through Airbnb was part of a grouping of low slung adobe buildings, each painted a too bright colour which surprisingly played nicely against the muted pastels of the desert.  A hiking club joined us during our stay, their tents scattered along the porch and flapping about at night.

To say that our host was a fan of religion-themed art would be like saying the weather lately in Dallas has been a little bit damp.  JR and I both agreed that if we saw the eyes of the oil-painted angel shift, we would be packing up the car and staying in El Paso for the remainder of the weekend.

Over the weekend, there was no tv / cable, no internet service, and spotty cell reception.  With only one “restaurant” in the town, we ended up cooking eggs and eating Cool Ranch Doritos for most meals.  We fell asleep before 10 pm every night and one morning, I woke up to a rooster crowing at 4:30 am, grabbing a few sunrise shots for my troubles.  The silence and isolation was not deafening but instead refreshing.  I didn’t even end up reading much of the books that I lugged with me and stared at the sky, the mountains, and the cacti instead.

Peace, quiet, and cacti*.

*JR had to keep reminding me not to hug the cacti.  Don’t they just look like they need a hug, though?

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