Chris and Amy do Mormons?

Posted on 8:38 AM
I don't think so.

I have been fasting this week as a sort of personal and spiritual cleanse from the past decade. I have a lot of invisible ties of quilt that just aren't necessary or productive going forward in my life. I have a lot to look forward to. I have a a renewed and deeper sense of self. I have a wonderful husband to share my life with. And I have hope.

I started this fast on Monday the 4th. Tuesday afternoon was spent questioning why I'm doing this fast, what am I trying to prove, what's the point, etc.. etc.. Most of this probably had to do with me watching T.V. all afternoon - that will suck the spiritual out of anyone! Molly and I had class at 7:00 p.m. so dutifully we hopped in the car and did our sit stays, waits, and watch me's. Driving home past Wendy's and Subway and the grocery store was just enough to keep me questioning why why why...

Upon returning home at 8:00 p.m a bit tired, a headache coming on and thinking about food, we were approached by a couple well dressed young men. They wanted to see the cute dog, the one with the waggly tail! It's dark, it's cold and I'm too nice to tell them "back off! she's a killer this one!". Turns out they were just mormons. Couldn't have been more than 21 the poor things. So I talked to them, hoping they would get some points on the mormon scoreboard for someone not running away. I actually eluded to them I thought it was interesting that here I'm doing this spiritual fast and today I've been questioning why I'm doing it and.. here they are!
Ooh yes.. You did read that correctly.. I opened the door wide open! Come on in boys - I been waitin' to be saved - praise Joseph Smith!!

I was too slow to see what I had done until they asked "When could we come over and talk with you?". Ugh. They caught me like a bear taken by surprise at the bear baiting pile. I was still digging for food and didn't have a good reaction time. I replied with "um. I don't know.. my schedule is kinda busy.." lying to church people? That felt a little wrong.. They fired again with "We do this every day all day for two years so when is a good time for you?". I'm still stuck on the lying part but slowly realizing I've been baited.. "Um I guess evenings work best?".. BAM the final shot that takes the big slow, minding his own business bear down.
7:00 p.m. Thursday evening. Maybe they get more points with a meeting?

Well I came to my senses enough to "reschedule" the meeting with the mormons at their church on Friday morning instead of our home on Thursday night. I thought what could it hurt to have a polite conversation with the mormons. I completely forgot the mormons are a political clut and they aren't interested in polite conversation - they want to convert me!! I tried to research what they would do to me at the church. Would they take away my phone so I couldn't tell what time it was? Do they change my name to 'sister' at the first meeting? Will Chris need more wives? How many points do they get for converting someone?

Gaining further sense and clarity Friday morning I was able to call them and cancel without rescheduling. I did apologize for taking up their time and told them I was not interested and sorry about the lost points.


Posted on 9:00 AM
There's a coffee shop across the street from us. It's definitely a 'cool' coffee shop and it's the first place in Austin where I felt like maybe I wasn't 'cool' enough to fit into this town. The coffee is overpriced. The line is usually too long. The barista's never look you in the eye because they are usually too busy being 'cool', which means you may have to repeat your order several times in order for them to understand what you're saying. It's one of the few things in life that make me giggle and annoyed at the same time.

A few weeks after we moved here, we grew tired of dropping $7 a day on coffee and grew even more tired of the Jo's scene. So we bought an espresso maker, never looked back and spent the extra cash on boxed wine. Yesterday I felt like just sitting somewhere other than the couch, so I grabbed a book, the dog and a plastic Jo's to-go cup we've been re-using for our own and headed across the street.

Jo's isn't really a shop, you don't go inside to order, there really is no inside. It's more of a makeshift wood and corrugated metal shack with a deck, some tarps to keep the sun off the patrons and a mish-mosh of tables and chairs to 'patron' on (I absolutely know that's an incorrect use of the word but it felt really good so deal with it). I walked up to the window, ordered my ice-coffee and got a response of "you got it", no repeating the order! As I stepped over to the register I found if you bring an old Jo's cup they only charge you for a refill which saves about $2.00! Woo-hoo! Of course it was the more laid back afternoon guys and not the too cool morning gals, and my ink was showing so there may have been a number of variables going into the pleasant ordering experience. 

I grabbed my iced Jo and looked for a nice spot in the afternoon sun. The patio was populated but not crowded, a couple of little guys running around playing pirates, people working, people not working, etc. I found a cozy little corner spot and laid Brik down then sat myself down in a red metal chair with my back to the sun. As I opened my book a feeling of complete presence washed over me. It's as if my senses became hyper-aware and fully immersed in my surroundings. I absorbed as much of it as I could. Warm sun on my back, cool breeze raising goosebumps on my arms. Colors and shadows in my view reminding me of those artistic photographs that aren't really of anything but get burned in your brain regardless. Absorbing more... Sounds of the boys playing, the deaf couple signing casually with friends, other conversation of varying importance.

It was wonderful and in the couple hours I was there, I only got through two pages of the book. The rest of my time spent swimming in the experience until the dog stood up and sniffed my book as if to say "you're not reading this", then kissed my nose as if to say "let's go". So we left.

I have a new love for the pretentious coffee shack across the street and will most likely spend more afternoon time on the patio there. Not to recreate the experience I had that afternoon but to continue to create my experience in general. 


Posted on 9:54 AM
The dog has always been a bit strange but shortly after getting him accustomed to his new "yard" he decided there was one area he would not tread. He had also taken to cautiously sniffing trees before he got too close. We found it to be funny and odd at the same time. Odd because he had been frequenting that very spot for a few days in a row. Funny because it's Brik and his quirks make us giggle for the most part.

Around the same time we made our first visit to the vet, a "meet and greet" so to speak and to make sure this doggie Dr. could deal the drugs that help make life more tolerable for our fuzzy fellow. Our only other question to the vet, "What do we need to be aware of as a dog owner in Austin?". Other than the expected year round treatment for heart worm, nothing much... except for... fire ants. "Have you run into any fire ants yet?", thankfully no and then I asked how do we avoid them. He informed us to stay away from big piles of dirt. "Oh" I replied, "So I should stop kicking around the piles of dirt in our yard?". Both the vet and Chris looked at me as though I had lost all common sense and may as well have swallowed a lit firecracker (yes I'm exaggerating but it's for the sake of the post). I learned that no, I should not be kicking around piles of dirt. Also, if I do run into a fire ant hill I will be amazed by the sheer number of tiny fire breathing formicidae that will surround and do their best to kill me.

Duly noted.

Interestingly enough, within a day of the informative vet visit, Brik decided to give the feared spot another go as we were all headed out for a walk (to get cupcakes). We stood near one of the big live oaks and I felt a quick pinch on my ankle and heard myself cry "OW!" - could it be? I looked down and sure enough one tiny little ant was making his way up my leg to do even more damage. Seems as though he could care less about his fellow soldiers, he was going to take me on his own. Unfortunately for him, he (as many others before him) had underestimated my lightning-speed reaction time as well as my disregard for things that bite me and quickly met his maker with one quick slap of my hand.

That's why Brik didn't want to go near that spot! Fire ants! There were hundreds of them surrounding the base of the tree, we quickly made our way to ant free territory to avoid further confrontation. The annoying pain from the small soldiers bite lasted for most of the afternoon. Still, a week later there is a visual reminder of the attack made on my person that day.

Today on our morning walk Brik strayed from the safety of the sidewalk to see if a tree needed marking. As I sipped my delicious Jo's iced coffee I watched Brik's foot sink into a soft mound of dirt at the base of the tree. I wondered to myself if that could be home to another fire ant army. Brik moved a step forward to make his final decision regarding if the tree should be marked and in less than a milli-second I saw an overwhelming number of ants crawling everywhere doing God knows what. There were hundreds of them going in all different directions and tons of white things which I guess may have been eggs or pupae, I'm not sure which. I jerked Brik to safety and turned back to the ant pile to watch in awe as hundreds of ants swarmed to do their harmful bidding, then tended to my friends paw that was already being attacked by the angry pests. Of course Brik seemed oblivious to the whole ordeal and we resumed our walk with no further delays.
Gross Gross Gross.

Aparently, even though we live in a really great, SAFE city where there are few worries we still need to beware of the dreaded fire ant. Or as Jorge from Monterrey says "Be aware, be very aware..." Some sites that I have gone to have gone so far as to declare war on the evil colonists. After doing some reading I too have joined the war. I have opted for a desk job as I have no interest in hand to mandible contact with the enemy. Here are some of the disturbing facts I want to share with you:
  • Fire ants are social insects that nest in the soil in large colonies that contain tens of thousands to more than 200,000 ants.
  • Worker fire ants vary in size, but all are capable of stinging.
  • Solid food is fed to the larger larvae, which chew and digest it and regurgitate it in liquid form. Liquid food is passed from the larvae back to the workers and then shared with all ants in the colony.
  • Fire ants spread by swarming. Unmated, winged reproductive male and female ants exit the mound in mass, fly into the air and mate while airborne.
  • Newly mated fire ant queens fall back to the ground within a few hundred yards to a few miles of the mound from which they emerged, shed their wings and attempt to start new colonies.
  • If the ants sense increased water levels in their nests, they will come together and form a huge ball or raft that is able to float on the water.

Wings? Form of an ant raft?? Need I say more??? probably not but you know I will...

As a child I remember seeing part of an old horror movie where ants had grown to giant proportions and were attacking people (Empire of the Ants). The maker of this movie obviously had the creative vision to layout for us what potentially could happen if humans fail to take action against the ants. After being attacked myself, I can clearly see what damage could be done by these biting rebels were they to ingest one of the many potent chemicals that are running rampant in our soil and water these days. What's to stop them from growing freakishly huge and eating all of us?

For those of you who poo-poo the power of harzardus chemicals in the environment maybe Suzanne Sommers can paint a more realistic scenario. "It Happened at Lakewood Manor" aka "Ants" will show you it's only a matter of time before the wrong ant hill is destroyed and the ants take revenge on us all!

Eco-horror or Eco-prophecy? The FDA estimates that more than $5 billion is spent annually on medical treatment, damage, and control in fire ant infested areas. In addition, the ants cause approximately $750 million in damage to agricultural assets, including vet bills and livestock and crop loss. Scientists and agencies around the world are actively working to develop methods to stop these tiny terrorists.

Until some of these questions is answered Brik and I will dutifully take our spot behind the desk and continue to send you the reports from the frontlines. Stay safe friends.


Posted on 5:23 PM In:
Our first blog from Austin could be a little background on Chris and Amy. It could be the story of how two kids from Minnesota decided to move to Texas on a whim with their hyper-sensitive dog. Or, it could be about the experience of moving from friends and family to a city where you don't know anyone or anything. It could be about those things but instead, it will be about cupcakes.

This first entry is about these two crazy kids and a dog from Minnesota, and their first friend in Austin, "Hey Cupcake!". "Hey Cupcake!" is a cupcake stand that currently resides two blocks south of us in a beautiful aluminum airstream trailer. It's so shiny and beautiful that the last time we were there the dog was actually checking himself out in the perfectly clean mirror-like aluminum. "Hey Cupcake!" doesn't know it's our first friend in Austin and honestly I don't care if they ever know. The reason they hold this esteemed and presumptuously coveted title (although other applicants must still be working on entries) are numbered.

"Hey Cupcake!" earned the designation on what could have been a very bad week for them. It was Thanksgiving day and since we are new to town and don't know anyone we planned a nice quiet day consisting of a coffee from Jo's (across the street), a long morning walk, and a relaxing afternoon of slow cooking and enjoying each other. The walk started bad when we realized that Jo's decided to close the doors allowing their employees the day off to apparently enjoy whoever they wanted to. Hmmph. Nevermind that, a beautiful morning and the hopes that some coffee hocker would be open set us briskly in the direction of Town Lake trail.

I could turn this post into an essay on the walk and never get to "Hey Cupcake" so to spare all the boring details, at the end of a five mile walk my tummy specifically requested a cupcake from the trailer and Chris' tummy agreed. To our dismay "Hey Cupcake!" also decided to be closed on Thanksgiving. Grrr. As far as I was concerned at that point they might have well been closed all week. I needed a cupcake. Damn them for not thinking about the people who want yummy Thanksgiving day cupcakes! The next day we drove by, they were open and the line fo cupcakes was at least 20 people deep.. We wanted a cupcakce so badly but I was holding a grudge and didn't want them to know how much I needed them so I insisted we not stop for a delicious, huge, over-frosted, moist, perfectly sprinkled and easily digested cupcake. Damn them for not working on Thanksgiving!

We finally gave into the calling on Saturday using the excuse that the dog needed to go out. After walking the two longest blocks in Austin my feelings of resentment quickly melted away as we approched the shiny silver trailer, the only form of life on the huge dirt parking lot reserved for people who have to drive to our neighborhood. Smiles grew on our faces as we saw we had arrived at a rare line-less cupcake trailer. We happily chatted with the youngster selling the stuff we came for until I could no longer wait for the cupcakes and blurted out the order. Two Standards, a Michael Jackson and a Red Velvet. The kid had also just made some fresh dog treats and generously offered the dog several of his bone shaped snacks, which we later learned contains doggie crack. We walked home on air with our box of ambrosia and a pocketfull of homemade dog treats.

It was Sunday that the love really set in. We allowed ourselvs one cupcake on Saturday night and saved the other two for "later". Mid-morning Sunday I took the cupcakes out of the fridge, of course I had to open the box to see how the cakes held up overnight and of course I wanted to see how the frosting had firmed in the cold of the refrigerator. I gently poked my finger into the cream cheese icing on the red velvet and my thumb involuntarily followed, working together and with no direction from me the two pinched off the perfect amount of icing and cupcake and almost too slowly delivered the bite size chunk to my mouth.

"Hey Cupcake!" has the most delectible cups of cake that have ever been presented to me. At first glance I thought "too much frosting!" but then I wondered if they somehow scientifically calculate how much to put on each cake. If you pay attention you can exact the perfect amount of frosting for every last bite. I've also noticed that when you want to just take a pinch of cupcake it doesn't crumble like most others, when you pinch the cake it releases what you asked . It has the density and moistness to maintain the specified bite in your fingers until it reaches it's desired location, whether it be your mouth or across the room to the one you love who must partake in such deliciousness with you.

The chocolate in the Michael Jackson is rich, dark and lucious. Paired with the cream cheese frosting this one is hard to turn your back on assuming you can get one (they are often sold-out). The Red Velvet is like the guy/girl you keep trying to get rid of but just can't becuase he/she is just too darn pretty. The color of the Red Velvet is one of those colors you don't quite know how to respond to. You could politely eat it, you could take an artistic picture of the impressive air-bubble to cake ratio, with the rich red making it look like some beatiful planet from outer space. Or, you could fill your bathtub with the beauties light some candles and take the sweetest and most sumptuous and beautiful bath you've ever had. The Standard... Well it's just that, albeit the highest version of standard that exists. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are shaking in their boots becuase of this "standard" cupcake. Moist but not too moist, white but not too white, chocolate frosting but not so chocolatey it makes your throat hurt.

"Hey Cupcake!" is also our first friend because of the great people in the trailer. Our first gal was so friendly we wanted to stay and talk even though it was windy and freezing and the lady behind us had one of those recogonizable "get the hell out of my way I need a cupcake" looks on her face. The guy who donated the the dog treats to our overprivledged dog should also be given props. He was so nice to talk to, the weather had gone from a little chilly and overcast earlier in the day to a little warm and clear later in the day and we were all happy to be witness to it and chatted accordingly. He also gets points for sending some of the doggie crack home with us. The dog has actually almost done a back flip to get a bite of these things. Whole wheat flour, peanut butter, whatever else.. When I took a bite I thought maybe I should keep one for myself...

We're still exploring our addiction to cupcakes and trying to get to know the area so it seems that befriending "Hey Cupcake!" is the most effective way to forge a new frienship, quell the sweet-tooth and score some doggie crack along the way.