Monday, October 18, 2010

Texas Book Festival and an Austin weekend

We started our trip to Austin with a stop at Heritage Homestead outside Elm Mott (just north of Waco). It's a commune with a wonderful restaurant--almost all the food is grown, baked, etc. on the grounds. I heard an ordinary sandwich--turkey and cheese with mayo--but in their hands it became extraordinary. The grounds are beautiful, and we wandered to the gift shop (hand-crafted items, from weaving and pottery to word-working and a $4900 wooden rocking chair), the pottery shop where no one was working at the moment but we saw more of their ware, the wood shop where we watched them building furniture, all by hand. No electric tools for these folks! We by-passed the weaving shop--Susan Petty was with us, and we'd never have gotten her out of there but she did pick up some brochures on classes, etc. Heritage Homestead is really an amazing place and I urge you to stop there. The picture above doesn't do it credit (the sun was in my eyes and I couldn't see what I was taking) but that's the restaurant building, wonderfully landscaped.
In Austin by 3:30--Melinda and I met her friend (and now mine) K.K. for drinks at Z-Tejas on the patio and relaxed and had a good time. Then I went to Megan's, where we had terrific flank steak and salad for supper. Jamie and his girls arrived shortly thereafter, so I had a good portion of my family together.
Sat. morning everyone left for Sawyer's nine o'clock soccer game--except me. I was reading and drinking tea when Jamie wandered in from the guest apt., so we had a good visit.
Megan and Brandon have recently remodeled their kitchen, opening the house from the front all the way to the back. It's spectacular and makes so much more space for visiting while someone cooks, etc. When the house was empty I took a couple of pictures.
Megan announced a picnic at 11:30 and B. made sandwiches; by 12:15 or so, she decided we'd just go ahead and eat them. Jamie had left to check into a hotel and prepare for his half Ironman. Megan then announced at one that everyone was going to go to the park to throw footballs and kick soccer balls. I begged off, read, had a little wine, and a good nap. Saturday night we ate at Matt's El Rancho, which was fun for me because the Dallas incarnations of that restaurant are in my book, Great Texas Chefs. I particularly liked eating the Bob Armstrong Dip. Ate way too much. This picture is of Uncle Jamie conspiring with his nephews to play tricks on people--they think he's very exciting.
Sunday I went to the Texas Book Festival and, as I have for years, was at the TCU Press both with the A&M consortium, even though I have no official capacity any more. It was good to see so many people I worked with for years and am so fond of. I actually sold two books, both to a good friend from A&M but also went to a program for Smurglets Are Everywhere, a marvelous book of children's poetry written by Alan Birkelbach and illustrated by my neighbor Susan Halbower. Met fellow Guppie Kaye George (a branch of Sisters in Crime for those who are Going to be Published) for lunch--fun to meet someone I've known on the computer for a couple of years. And I sat at the Texas Institute of Letters booth for an hour, though with no interest from the public--still a good chance to visit with my friend Bob Flynn. Went home tired to find Jamie and the girls still at the house--he'd finished his half Ironman in 5 hours 18 minutes, which I thought was really good.
Today we headed home--slowly. Breakfast with my longtime friend Barbara Whitehead, who has designed books for TCU Press for almost 30 years. Then Melinda, K.K., and I went looking for the student who was to drive home with us and got lost in the rolling hills of suburban west Austin. Finally found her, dropped K.K. off at her house, and hit the highway. One stop in Lorena, where there is a block-long quaint old-town section. We were headed for the cheese shop, and I meant to take a picture--the whole place was picturesque. I bought some homemade pimiento cheese and a quarter pound Lorena manchego (delicious!). They have a lunch menu, and we may stop another time.
Home, weary, to be greeted by Jacob who has an earache, but is not settling down to bed. And I'm so sleepy. But what a wonderful weekend.

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