Monday, July 25, 2011

Music Monday...and More!

Considering that in roughly two weeks another adventure awaits, it's now or never if I'm going to get caught up in posts.

Rewind to Memorial Day weekend...

After landing in Austin on Saturday morning, D picked me up at the airport. She had to work that afternoon (she's a massage therapist), but we had time to go to her house and drop off my stuff and say hello to her husband, M. He was busy patching a tiny hole in their swimming pool - which was good, considering how hot it was. Not a humid heat, just dry, but it was in the mid-to-upper '90s. In May. Welcome to Texas!

D wanted to try out an Indian restaurant around the corner from her work for lunch. M, apparently, is willing to eat Indian food, but isn't a big fan. It was a great place. I forget the name of the flatbread that they provided as an appetizer, but it's the sort of thing that's really hard to stop eating. There were a number of different restaurants and stores around the area.

After lunch, D went to work and I wandered around the shopping complex. After a bit, I went in and D gave me a massage. That's one advantage to having a good friend give a massage - it's really easy to relax. Not like being around a stranger. I knew it was good because I almost fell asleep. :)

D had a short break once mine was done, so we went to Starbucks. Surprise. M came and picked me up then and we went back to the house. Their living room was really cozy, covered in posters and pictures of castles in Germany (from M's travels) and Japanese screens (D's interests), and of course, lots of books and pictures of their families. M and I had an interesting conversation about what looks like a deep freeze in their kitchen. It was a deep freeze - until M put four big tanks inside and rigged the outside with four buttons. Each pours out a different drink. They put soda and M's different homemade beers inside. M said he would have put more than four options on it, but there wasn't room.

When D got home after work, we went out to a late dinner at their favorite Tex-Mex place. It was packed (even late), but we didn't have to wait too long to sit. That was really good food, too. Indian, Starbucks, Tex-Mex. God Bless America. :)

In the morning, we hustled to D & M's church. We got there in plenty of time for the service, but my friends wanted to make sure that I got to speak to their pastor beforehand. It seems he's one of those old-fashioned Lutheran pastors who, you know, actually want to follow the Lutheran Confessions and abide by (gasp) close communion. D introduced me as a friend from her previous church, and the pastor looked at me, asked some questions, and that was that. It felt slightly like going to a very brief version of public examination, but it was a good thing. It's good to be reminded of the reverence of the Lord's Supper. Not that I'm irreverant the rest of the year, but - oh, you know. Too often I'm on autopilot on Sundays. The other difference at their church is that they do NOT use LSB. Nope, it was the good ol' red hymnal (or blue, depending on who you talk to) a/k/a TLH. My only disappointment was that we didn't go to early service, and missed Matins. I adore Matins from TLH. And....another post on that. :)

When we got home, D and I got into the pool. This was reaaaaaaallllly nice. The temperature was perfect. We couldn't stay in there all afternoon, though. There was an invitation to go to a couple's house for a barbeque. It was really fun (they actually grilled outside and the rest of us stayed inside because of the heat) and we stayed until almost midnight. It was mostly playing the Wii. Taking turns on this, I did fairly well for someone who's pretty bad at video games. There's something entertaining about watching other people do it. What was interesting to me (other than meeting strangers) was just being in a nice house (like the Glenwood house, for those of you who remember) owned by people who are my age. Still not used to that. And not used to people who don't discipline their Great Danes. But it was a good evening on the whole. Just better when they shut the dogs in another room.

On Monday (Memorial Day), D and I went into Austin. We went by the big visitors center, then walked in the heat to the Statehouse. Being Memorial Day, there were several events going on there. We missed the ceremonies, but got there in plenty of time to hear a lot of music from an a capella men's chorus in the rotunda. We climbed up to the fourth floor and just listened for a while. One of the best pieces was a medley of the different military service songs. When they sang part of "Anchors Aweigh", people clapped and cheered for the Navy. When they started singing, "The Caissons Go Rolling Along", same for the Army. And of course for "The Marines' Hymn". But when they started singing "Off we go into the wild blue yonder...", everybody really roared. This was Texas, after all. The space program came there. The astronauts, as anyone who's watched The Right Stuff will know, are pilots. I'll admit to a preference towards the Air Force. And yes, I was glad to hear it on Memorial Day. Thinking of you, Major.

We exited the building on the opposite side from where we went in. The grounds of the Texas Statehouse are really beautiful - lots of trees, and a wide assortment of flora and fauna. There are also lots of statues - many of which are dedicated to the "Lost Cause", the Confederacy. D and I ended up talking about the Civil War for awhile. We talk about anything.

Leaving the Statehouse, we walked to Sixth Street. This is the famous street in Austin that has many of the bars, clubs, honky-tonks, etc that make Austin the "Live Music Capital". We went into a music store that sold both kitschy tourist items and authentic instruments, as well as local art. Really cool place. After spending a couple of hours walking around downtown, we finally found an open restaurant. Usually, this would not be difficult. But on a federal holiday, it was. It felt like the only restaurant that was open (this was after we went into a hotel to ask for an open place to eat). By that time, I would have gone into the greasiest-looking place just to get into some air-conditioning. D said I looked like a tomato. I felt like a fried egg. After a long lunch (Tex-Mex again), a lot of water and plenty of AC, we went out again. We walked back in the direction of the Statehouse, stopped to go into Saint Mary Cathedral, then went back to the car. But we didn't leave downtown.

D found a club that had live music. It was still early for that sort of thing - just around 5 PM. But that meant we were some of the first in the door. The group that was performing was called Anam Mila. Two guys and a girl. The girl was phenomenal - she sang the lead, played the guiter, and for a couple of songs, played the violin. When she was trying out the sound system, to warm up, she sang "Sing" by the Carpenters. It sounded really mellow. How do you not like that? :) Then we went back to the house. We didn't stay up too late, because D had to take me to the airport at 4 am on Tuesday.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Good friends, good food, good city. I'll definitely go back again!

On to another subject that's slightly related to Austin. Music! I've wanted to post video clips of different songs and performances but only recently figured out how to do it. I'll do my best to post interesting clips on Mondays. I'll be posting a lot more videos in general, on any day. I like too much music to confine myself to one day. :)

I don't know if the Man in Black every performed in Austin (he probably did at some point), but this is a song I heard on some out-of-the-way country station (that is, NOT top-40) coming back from Chicago a couple of months ago. It's just fun. Enjoy!


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