Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Movember: The Manliest Month of the Year

This month, I participated in an international fundraiser known as "Movember." The basic idea is that I spend the month growing a mustache, and then I solicit sponsorship for my mustache from friends, family, and basically anyone who asks why I have a mustache (which was pretty much everyone). The month of Movember has reached its conclusion, but there is still time to donate to the cause. Donations benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong.

Last night, I said goodbye to the mustache with a relaxing evening with my dog, my guitar, and a Mo-retti. Below are some photos to share the greatness that was my 'stache.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Red River and Taos: Mountain Time!

A long overdue post from our Labor Day trip. This year we decided to capitalize on the Labor Day holiday, squeeze in a couple extra days off, and manage to enjoy a handful of days in the Rockies. The main destination was my family's cabin near Red River, New Mexico, but we also tossed in a day trip to Taos.

While the legendary tales of this adventure will be echoed in the pines for years to come, I will use the blog to share the photos. But first, a game of I Spy--how many sheep can you find in this photo:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Update in Photos

This latest blogging hiatus has been far too long. At this point, a detailed narrative of each adventure would take a long time to write, so I'll rely instead on photographs.


The summer began with a milestone in Harper's life, graduation from puppy kindergarten. The ceremony was complete with cap and gown . . . this is as close as we could get to capturing a picture of Harper in his. I wonder if he was benefited by social promotion.


Four sweaty days in Tennessee. The first night brought an intense storm with driving rain, leaving the fields full of ankle-deep mud. Fortunately the storm hit, for the most part, after camp had been constructed, so we had shelter (but missed great acts like Low Anthem, Alberta Cross, and Passion Pit). The rest of the weekend went much better, from the surprise show by Jimmy Buffet to Ben Harper's remarkable new iteration, the Relentless 7. Other highlights included MGMT, Zach Deputy's Shakedown Alley performances, and the local brewery tent. Oh, and someone was allegedly stabbed in our campsite this year. Oh yeah, and we witnessed heroin usage. Otherwise, great Bonnaroo.


From Bonnaroo, I dropped Megan off in Sewanee, Tennesee, for a week-long pottery workshop called Shakerag. The workshop featured gourmet meals consisting of locally-grown produce prepared by accomplished chefs. She returned with roughly a dozen beautiful pieces and culinary bragging rights for life. The last bowl was Megan's masterpiece, unfortunately completed too late to fire. The blue building below is a place called Shenanigans, where Megan and I enjoyed the blessed post-Bonnaroo first meal.

Fourth of July

Floated the river . . . two-stepped while Gary P Nunn played "London Homesick Blues" at Gruene Hall. Enough said.


Of course, the most significant event of the summer has been keeping Harper from destroying the planet. (As I type this, he is removing the leather casing from a baseball. Most exotic thing consumed, that we know of, was half a mole during a visit to Brenham.) He's a friendly guy, chock-full of mischief and energy. He's also growing with remarkable speed. Here are some summer highlights. The white dog is Harper's long-time lover and best friend, Emma.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Opposite Day

I finally decided that living with a puppy is like living in opposite day, a very popular day in elementary school where every word took on its opposite meaning. "Release," a command often given when the puppy is trying to make a meal out of the couch, is interpreted as "bite harder, and maybe add a touch of growl." "No," shouted loudly as he begins to chew a plant that we so carefully added to the garden just weeks before, means "this plant must be the best thing to chew on . . . ever." "Come" means "keep doing whatever I'm doing and definitely ignore that guy over there." "Down" means "rip Megan's pants off and then go for the shoelaces."

It's been tough, but tonight the tables turn. We begin "puppy kindergarten" at a place near our home that actually sells a product called "Happy Tail Ale", a beer designed for dogs. I'm not sure how much discipline can be learned at the only purveyor of dog beer I've ever seen, but we'll give it a shot.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Just before six this morning, I knew my weekend routine was forever changed. I heard pawing and a bit of crying coming from inside the crate at the foot of our bed. We had been through this drill: Harper needed to take care of some business. Megan had taken the 3 AM shift, so it was clearly my turn. If we have any hope of housebreaking the little guy, I needed to get in gear quickly. Day Two of dog ownership had begun, and, as I noticed the remnants of last night's margaritas trouncing around my skull, I felt it had begun far too early.

But, it turns out, this was a great way to start a day. Harper reminded me immediately that there is so much to do that I was missing just laying in bed. There are noises to investigate, bushes to pounce, and, most importantly, a whole world of objects just waiting to be gnawed. We played hard until sunrise, at which point I grabbed a guitar and he grabbed a nap. This may just work out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mountain Road Trip: Shredding the Nar, Loving the Pow Pow, Encountering UFOs

1889 miles. 30 runs. 5 nights. 3 states. 1 UFO watchtower. It was a heck of a road trip.

Megan's job offers one benefit that few other "grownups" get to enjoy--Spring Break. Around the time her Spring Break was getting started, I noted a lull in my litigation calendar, a brief window free of briefing deadlines and discovery due dates. So we capitalized in a big way.

We left on a Thursday morning for Amarillo. Thursday night offered the theater as two of my siblings, EmElise and Barrett, were starring in Peter Pan. The play was a tale of daring and danger (literally, as it turns out). The set included a gigantic pirate ship, and sword fights were plentiful. All in all it was a good stop.

We left Friday morning for the long drive to Denver. The towns fell by quickly as the elevation increased. The drive was noteworthy for a tasty stop at Tequila's in Trinidad, but perhaps more noteworthy for Trinidad's one-stop shopping, including this store that peddles antiques, jewelry, and liquor. Notice the dreamcatchers on the roofline . . . just great.

After nearly 8 hours on the road, we made a sling-shot around Denver and headed up a canyon near the Red Rocks concert venue. Megan's conversation gave way to a repetitive mantra: "I can't believe they live here." "They" were friends from college, Megan's roommate Erica and her husband, Spencer. "Here" was just past Morrison near the lovely, bustling town of Conifer. Their gorgeous house sat on a hillside with great views of nearby mountains. They had arrived, and fortunately, so had we.

Shredding (Shifting) the Nar

Well rested and very well fed, we skied like champs, like the kind of champs who flawlessly pose for cheesy ski shots like the one above. Megan's progress throughout the weekend was incredible. She began the first morning expressing her growing nervousness at having to dismount from the chairlift, a mundane task, for sure, but really the first test of one's ability to stay upright while sliding downhill. She got on and off the lift flawlessly, and we knew it would be a good day.

The snow was falling quickly, and the air was cold. None of this stopped Megan from perfecting a gorgeous parallel turn . . . as long as she was turning left. The right turns were lacking, but, after a couple of afternoon beers and some coaching from Erica and me, things started coming together. Finally, by the close of day two, Megan was turning left and right like a pro and selecting blue runs over greens. She had graduated from shifting to shredding the nar.

Alien Encounters

The drive to New Mexico was incredible. We left Erica and Spencer's retreat, turned right on 285, and drifted by the Collegiate Peaks, 14,000 foot giants that took our breath away. We were immediately thankful that we drove instead of flew.

As 285 took a hard turn south, I struggled as I drove through Poncha Springs without turning toward Monarch Pass, the cite of a legendary ski trip that Tom and I took several years before.

Fortunately, the San Luis Valley opened up before us, and we soon found ourselves distracted by the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado--a research facility, museum, and energy vortex dedicated to the extraterrestrial. It was a unique visit, and the owner of the property invited us to leave objects in one of the vortexes to contribute to the positive flow of energy. I noticed one person who ditched their smart phone--while I felt a similar inclination at the moment, I settled on a rubber band. Megan contributed a pen cap. If the universe seems more harmonious this week, you now know the cause. Below are some snapshots of our stay.

We left Hooper and headed to Taos where we enjoyed enchiladas and avocado pie at Orlando's. From there, it was onto Santa Fe and the familiar comforts of Ten Thousand Waves and the Compound. The trip, it seemed, was coming to a comfortable conclusion.

Heading Home

But an unexpected thing happened--Santa Fe ski area got 3 fresh inches of the white stuff. Never one to neglect a fresh batch of the pow pow, I found my dear wife convincing me that we had time for one more morning on the slopes. While I knew we had a roughly 650 mile ahead, I also knew the end of that drive would present zero inches of delicious powder. So, we donned our ski garb one more time, pointed the car up-valley, and prepared for another gorgeous morning.

The snow fell softly as Megan skied blue after blue--each run with increasing confidence and increasingly beautiful right turns. I bombed Muerte once, for tradition's sake. Just less than three hours and eight beautiful runs later, we were back in the parking lot saluting ourselves on a job well done.

While rational people would have then pointed the car east and worked their way home, we had one more stop to make--Pasqual's where Megan chose the huevos motulenos. This was another tradition that couldn't be avoided. And, while we were at it, we picked up an art gallery here and there, and finally, yes finally, we headed toward Texas around 2:30 Mountain time.

The drive back went quickly at first as we chattered with the last remnants of the morning rush. As we cleared Clines Corners, we knew we were in for a long haul. By Amarillo, we were thankful to stop at Mom's house for some food and conversation. By Claude, we had begun the longest road-sign alphabet game ever. That came to a close with the "z" in "fertilizer" as we passed through Memphis. In Childress, we started picking out hotels that seemed inviting. By Wichita Falls, I was doubting whether we would make it Dallas alive. At 3 AM on the spot, we pulled into the driveway with 1889 miles on the odometer. We had arrived.

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