Dazzled by Market Square

July 24, 2014 at 4:03 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

When I was in San Antonio Saturday, my best friend dragged me to the old Farmer’s Market – dragged is too harsh, that makes it sound like I was kicking and screaming and I wasn’t.  I was happy to go and see something new, was excited about it really, except I looked past the archways from the street and my stomach sank… people.  Lots and lots of people.  Crowds didn’t bother me much when I was younger, they couldn’t, I went to a 5A highschool and if you were nervous in a crowd you’d drown in a sea of elbows.  (I realize now that maybe they did, I just often had a hand to cling to – my now husband – when walking through those crowds, not sure my bestie would be down with me grabbing her hands to hold in public… doesn’t stop me from wanting to.) Doesn’t change the fact that I see one ahead these days and I have to summon a purpose or desire for something in that crowd in order to enter it.

In this case, food, art, and music.  My trifecta that gets me through the festival experience.  I love those things.  And even though the Market was crowded – the worst of it at Mi Tierra – there was a little bit of space and I found myself able to breathe.  Especially once I got myself to the art booths.

Right outside Mi Tierra I stumbled across two separate booths. One for Joseph Hernandez Jr. (www.josephhernandezartist.com) and one for Robert Wilkens (robertwilkensco@sbcglobal.net).

It was the impressionistic style of Joseph Hernandez that caught my attention to the art in the first place. I was already tired from shopping, tired of the crowds, and on the verge of becoming very hungry. But then I saw this:

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This is Joseph Hernandez Jr. He paints vibrantly, is self-taught, and stands about as tall as me. I could have stood in his booth and looked at every single painting for hours. If I were wealthy, I would have bought one of everything. My house would become a gallery to his work. I loved all the color. His use of it reminded me of Bryan Collins work even if their styles are nothing alike.

P1020682Much of his work is perfect for the tourist or native San Antonio lovers.  He chooses places around town to capture on the canvas.  Far more valuable than any photograph you could take of the same location.

He has just as many paintings of a random assortment, random things that inspired him… trees and branches are a running theme for him.  He had a lot for musicians – a sax, a violin, muP1020683sic notes, etc.  I can’t imagine walking into his booth and not seeing something you want to take home with you.  The hard part is deciding which something.

His paintings are affordable for the art collector.  Good size canvases that I’ve seen sell in the thousands by less talented painters were running between $400 – $500.  You could buy a very small  canvas for $25 and walk away with an original piece. His prints were what would hit your pocket, averaging at half the price of the canvas.  Seeing that I opted to save for an original Hernandez, rather than buying a print.  I took a business card, but came back later to take this picture with him:

P1020680Only a few booths away, closer to the Mi Tierra entrance, was Robert Wilkens – or Roberto as his wife kept calling him, and I can’t get her voice and pronunciation of his name out of my head.  She’s gorgeous and so passionate about his work.

P1020684I asked to take a picture of his work and later found out that most people just take the pictures – they don’t generally ask first.  I’m used to museums and conventions, rather than festivals, and I always ask.  Otherwise you might find yourself being barked at.

Robert and his wife were very gracious and let me take as many pictures as I wanted.  Robert is a chatterer, and I enjoyed talking to him while I watched him paint.  He teased me about my tattoo – told me it said “Soy Sauce in Chinese, didn’t you know?”  I picked on him for assuming I didn’t know what my tattoo said, just because I was a white girl.  Some things are funnier in my head than they are out loud.  Either way, Robert and I had a nice long chat about artistry and professions.  We showed him a picture of my kiddo’s art work.  We talked about books and my career as a writer.

“When did you first know you wanted to write?” he asked me.

“The moment I realized that ink came out of a pen and formed words on a page,” I answered.

P1020675He’s been a painter for decades, but he took the long road it sounds.  He had a lot of people tell him he couldn’t make a living at it.  It’s clear that he can, his work is incredible.  We talked about how we  encourage that artistic spirit in our children.  My daughter – the child of a writer – is quite the little painter.  His daughter – the child of a painter – just might be the next great American novelist.

He was a muralist for a long time, you can see the remnants of that life in some of his work.  I love it, and I want him to come do some walls in Houston that need sprucing.

He’s good enough for the first lady, he should be good enough for everyone:

Artist – Muralist, Robert Wilkens has been in the arts for twenty-five years and has worked commercially for fourteen years. He is well established in all media of the arts. Robert’s talent and dedication to his work has taken him to Mexico and all over the United States of America, even to the White House in the service of the First Lady, Laura Bush. There is no other artist of Roberts caliber when it comes to working with clients. His work ethics are honest and the beauty of his brush strokes while painting murals are eloquent and always precise.

(From Robert Wilkens & Company Blog)

I may not enjoy crowds, but I love discovering.  I love traveling and the search for new experiences and people.  I love seeing something I’ve never encountered before and picking it apart in my brain, learning to describe it.  New sights and smells and sounds may overwhelm me, but I welcome it as a learning experience.  I am so glad we went to Market Square that day.  I am glad we met Joseph Hernandez Jr and Robert Wilkens.  I am glad we waited for seats at Mi Tierra, even after we were told it would be an hour and half before we could be seated (it was actually only 35 minutes).  I’m ecstatic that I got to eat cheese enchiladas and suck down a Mojito before devouring more art with my eyes.  (I’m mildly amused that I got carded for my Mojito.)

When I went back out to take more pictures of Robert’s work and buy a print of his with my bestie, I was pleasantly buzzed (light weight, cheap date, whatever, I’ll take the name calling)… and found this:

P1020687I couldn’t stop looking at it and I wanted it for my wall.  He didn’t have any prints available for it, but said he would ship to Houston if only I let him know.

I want the original.  It’s magnificent.  The detail in the water and his pant leg is stellar.  I wanted to be swept away with him, from the dirty street and into that clear, blue water, up to the moon.  It helps that I find suitcases and umbrellas terribly romantic.

It helps that I find travel romantic.  It helps that adventure fascinates me, even if it makes me a little nervous, I still want to experience it all.  I want to absorb art through my eyes and bathe in it.  I want to taste new foods and close my eyes and live the flavor.  I want to meet new people and really discover who they are before I leave their presence, even if it takes a little bit of work to stay focused on what they are telling me.  I want to be dazzled.

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Easy Breezy Reads…

May 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm (Education, Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

mercy-watsonTitle: Mercy Watson Fights Crime

Author: Kate DiCamillo

I heard a rumor that Kate DiCamillo used to work for Half Price Books. With that being said, and me being an event coordinator for the company, I am bound and determined to get her in my store. So of course, I have to read everything she wrote aloud to my daughter in the interim.

And the kiddo loved Mercy Watson. It’s an easy reader chapter book with lots of pictures, and after sitting through countless Magic Tree House books, her attention span is right on par with these pig stories.

I highly recommend Mercy Watson books for toddlers on up to kiddos who can read this for themselves (8 years?). Mercy is highly entertaining as are her co-stars.

And for the Adults in the room…

Stay posted for future signings.

Stay posted for future signings.

Title: Don’t Die By Your Own Hands

Author: Reeshemah Holmes

I booked nutrition coach Reeshemah Holmes for a book signing at Half Price Books in Humble. The signing was just last night and she was kind enough to give me a copy of her book to read and review.

It truly is a busy person’s guide. It’s just shy of 70 pages and depending on your reading speed could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to conquer. I read it right before heading to bed after coming home from the signing.

It’s a great motivational tool for those who have already selected a diet plan; encouraging them not with a specific diet, but the tools to stick to the diet they’ve chosen as a lifestyle rather than a fad.

Don’t Die By Your Own Hands is definitely worth while for anyone wanting to change their life but uncertain of their power to do so… or someone who is convinced that they can change at any time, but haven’t changed yet.

For homeschooling parents who read my blog, this is also a good book to hand your teens as a lifestyle guide to follow their sports/ P.E. programs and rituals.  There’s a lot of good advice about handling goals, nutrition, and staying healthy mentally in order to stay healthy physically.

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Coach Reeshemah Holmes talking with customers at Half Price Books Humble book signing, May 2013.

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Julie & Julia – & JJ

December 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm (Recipes, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Some people are appalled at this, and some find it wonderfully convenient, but I have friend categories.  With me, people always know where they stand, because that is what I appreciate most about my own interpersonal relationships.  I have a ‘best friend’, a ‘best friend since kindergarten’, a ‘roomie’ (my college room-mate),  a ‘sister-wife’ (a very bad long running joke with my bestie of a cousin, no we are not actually sister-wives), and a ‘favorite friend.’  I can proudly say that JJ Golightly, of the Tidbits from Miss Golightly, is my favorite friend.

Favorite friends are those people you can go lengthy times without seeing, but once you see them again they are like crack to your system and you want them more and more.  Favorite friends are those friends that if you ever chose to be lesbians (which we are not) you’d spend your life with them, because they are the ones you call randomly and say in the most superfluous and hyperbolic way possible: “I have a longing for you!”  Favorite friends are the ones that you’ll hold hands with in public and not care if people look at you funny or take it the wrong way, because like a surrogate sister, your favorite friend is someone you would love to have literally attached to your hip, or in your back pocket if you could keep a miniature of them.  They are also the person you happen to see the least of, and maybe that’s why the magnetism toward them remains forever in tact.

I recently had a wonderful visit from both my Roomie (Coffee Cups in Trees) and my Favorite Friend (Miss Golightly).  What happens on these trips is this:

almond cakeasparagus pestocaramel cheesecake

Roomie drinks coffee at the table, Favorite Friend bakes and cooks all sorts of goodies and photographs the results, I scurry back and forth trying to decide which I’d rather do, help cook or be lazy and drink coffee. The coffee usually wins.

Maybe it was because of one of these visits (in which all three of us gain five pounds over night), or maybe it was because Glen at the HPB Humble Book Club meeting brought up Julie Powell in our discussion of The Old Curiosity Shop, or maybe it was because I’d had the book sitting open to page five on my coffee table for about a year, but I finally got around to reading Julie & Julia.

Nothing like reading a memoir about a frazzled maniac with a serious obsession for obsessions and sci-fi shows – in the kitchen – writing a blog and book when you too are nearly 29, frazzled, obsessed (but not dedicated), writing a blog, and most recently lost your entire book (again) to a computer virus.  It gives hope.  It gives motivation.

I will write a book in the next 30 days.  Not the one I intended, I’m too crushed right now, but a different, lighter book that is loitering in a journal in my cabinet just waiting to be properly edited and put into a computer.  I have 30 days.  If Julie Powell can cook 523 recipes in 365 days, get published, and not be a loser by age 30, damn it, so can I.  Except I’m not cooking.  I’ll be ‘writing’ a nearly already book (from paper to computer) in 30 days and getting it to Smashwords by my 29th birthday.  This I do vow.

In the mean time, I will still be reading, writing this blog, eating if I can afford it, and teaching Kung Fu… because that’s who I am, that’s what I do.  Funny, that I had to be reminded of that by a memoir about French cooking.

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Which is a delightful, by the way, all the way down to her swearing like a sailor, something I wouldn’t have even noticed had she not pointed it out.  She may live in Long Island City, but when it comes down to it she’s from Texas, and as a Texan I can say there are two kinds of Texas women… the kind that swear, and the southern belles who don’t.

I appreciate her kitchen woes, I love to eat but have many cooking woes myself.  I appreciate her small and outlandish apartment, I have a once lovely home that has just been utterly broken by this recession and a foundation problem.  There’s just so much to relate to, and frankly, Julie Powell is down right endearing.  She’ll never be my Favorite Friend in real life, as that spot is forever taken and I doubt I’ll ever even meet her, but she is definitely a favorite on my bookshelf.

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A Day With a Klemm

September 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Klemm.  When I looked up the meaning of my married name, I found a definition somewhat like this one:

German: from Middle High German klem ‘narrow’, ‘tight’, ‘scarce’, hence a
nickname for a thin or inhibited person, or alternatively a topographic name for
someone living in a narrow, precipitous place, from the Middle High German noun
form klemme ‘constriction’.

Read more on FamilyEducation: http://genealogy.familyeducation.com/surname-origin/klemm#ixzz26eR2FcGy

So it should come as no surprise that we have some very interesting daily habits that coincide with being a small, introverted, hobbit-like soul, that does not emerge from the house for days at a time.  First of all, we eat like hobbits:

  • Breakfast – 7am
  • Second breakfast – 9 am
  • Elevenses – 11 am
  • Lunch – 1 pm
  • Afternoon tea – 3pm
  • Dinner – 6 pm
  • Supper – 9 pm

In between all these meal times is a whole lot of coffee, a morning cleaning ritual, and lots of reading.

I get really into my books and the characters involved.  And with that engagement comes an intense need to invite them in my home the same way I would a welcomed but unknown guest.  I prepare coffee, make sure we have had our meals and have later meals prepared, clean the house (sweep, mop, vacuum, do the dishes and wipe down counters) and then I am ready to sit down with my future new friends – the lovely people portrayed in books.

So, I’m writing this blog post in between Elevenses and mopping the floor.  My coffee is ready (more than ready, I’m on cup two – and my cups are overly large mugs that fit about half a French press in each serving) thinking about Louise de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere and how we are going to enjoy some afternoon sandwiches together.  That’s crazy book nerd talk for: I am going to be reading more of Karleen Koen’s Before Versailles while I munch on chicken salad sandwiches (I’m addicted to HEB’s Rotisserie Chicken Salad) and sip even more coffee.

I do the same thing before I write.  Which is probably why I’ve been working on the same novel since I was 14 years old.  Karleen said yesterday that it takes her a long time to complete a book, and all I could think was: Thank God, I am not alone, because I am taking forever.  If my debut novel is half as good as hers (Through a Glass Darkly) I feel as though I will have accomplished something in life.  I just want to finish it, get it in print, and have a completed work that someone – anyone – will remember.

I spend days on end reading and writing and eating with my daughter.  It is only for events, planned activities for her benefit, and my random extreme extrovert days that get me out of the house.  (One day, my daughter will probably tell you her mother was a bit wacky, as when I take personality tests I come out equally extroverted and introverted depending on the day.  Some have misused the term bipolar on me, but I got that checked out and I’m not.)  Yesterday I spent the whole day at Half Price Books running around and giving things away… today I will huddle up with Louise and Louis XIV and whoever my daughter interupts me with (LadyBug Girl a constant play friend in our house).

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When We’re Not Reading…

May 13, 2012 at 3:09 am (Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

My Daughter, Ayla, at the Zoo

… We Go On Adventures.

Today we went to the Houston Zoo and Hobbit Hole Cafe.

The Houston Zoo is a great place to take kids.  When I was a kid it was free, but it wasn’t nearly as nice as it is now, and frankly, I’d rather pay money to enjoy my experience and see the animals enjoying their environment than go to a free zoo without shade, no amenities, and sad-looking creatures on display.  The Houston Zoo of 2012, is beautiful.  Paved (but not crappy concrete) walk ways, gorgeous fountains and statues, lots of shady spots and places to buy drinks and snacks (but they still let you bring drinks and snacks into the park, kudos and brownie points for that), and relatively happy looking animals.

The only animals that don’t look happy are the obvious ones… lions and tigers who should probably have more space, even though their habitats are quite large, and the injured animals that are being rehabilitated.  The lions and tigers are too cool for school, as most cats are.  They look grumpy and bored.  Although the male lion did a lot of showing off, he posed for the cameras and even roared for us, he also got pissed off when we wouldn’t go away afterward and peed on the glass.  There is no way on God’s green earth you can convince me that the lion did not piss on that glass directly in front of us on purpose to give us a lesson in privacy and manners.  It was done in the attitude of ‘You came, You saw, I even showed off for you, NOW GO!’  As for rehabilitated creatures, there’s a bald eagle there named Liberty who has a cast because she was found in 2000 with a bullet through one of her wings.  Her habitat is open to the sky, but she has no ability to fly.  Beautiful bird with a sad, sad tale.  Her cast today was neon green, which I thought was a cute touch.

I was looking forward to the otters because Ayla loved the otters at the Dallas Aquarium last year.  They had a female otter that just swam and swam and swam in circles the whole time we watched.  She did tricks and Ayla just giggled and laughed and thought it was the most wonderful thing she’d ever seen.  The otters today were sleepy and looked oh so cozy snuggled on top of eachother.  At that point, Ayla looked pretty sleepy too, so it wasn’t a disappointing moment at all.

But the big deal for us today were the giraffes and elephants.  Ayla’s room is mostly decorated with these wonderful beasts and we’ve been spending a lot of time the last few weeks going over their names because without being reminded she calls them dogs.  I really wanted her to make the connection between the live animals and their artsy counterparts on her walls and in her books.  Lucky me, I got the reaction I wanted once we got home and she recognized the animal above her changing table as a giraffe with the most wonderful level of awe ever.

When she is older, I plan to get a zoo membership.  We will be homeschooling and I think weekly outings to the zoo and the museums in the surrounding area will be a great addition to her library visits and lessons. (http://www.houstonzoo.org/membership/)  For $94 a year I can get free admission all year for my entire household, plus discounts in the gift shop and special events, and a whole lot more.  I’d say its a worthy amount to put towards Ayla’s “tuition.”

After our Zoo adventures, we went to the highly praised Hobbit Hole Cafe.  Granted, I know Ayla was tired and pretty much done for the day and this could have affected my experience a great deal, but man that place does NOT live up to its hype.  Hobbit Hole, sounds wonderful and bookish, and foodie fabulous, right?  Well, the food was good, nothing to get all hot and bothered about, but nothing to complain about either.   I had a Gandalf Classic (sandwich with mushrooms, avocado, and swiss cheese, I paid extra for onion rings (which were excellent).  Despite the large sandwich, I could have done with more onion rings… $1.99 for 5 rings, I don’t care how delicious, I want a bigger pile of rings… after all, I DO eat like a HOBBIT!  Other than the wonderfully named sandwich menu, though, nothing else was hobbit-esque or Lord of the Rings fashioned, other than the movie posters on the wall at the entrance.  Most of the people around me (not my table, but in the cafe at large) were eating enchiladas.  They’ve also got Jamaican dishes on the menu that, according to the Jamaican who was sitting next to me, don’t taste how they should.

Still, good food, but not worth going back to due to the awful service.  Long wait at the door, long wait at the table, long wait for silverware once food started arriving, long wait for straws, long wait for food that wasn’t ordered with the other food, long wait for, well, everything.  In addition to the long wait, we were crammed against other tables and lots of traffic.  My chair was literally being crushed by the chair next to mine… and they were randomly assorted plastic lawn chairs.  We were sitting at a square table slammed next to a circular table and I had the unfortunate luck at sitting in the awkward joint area, while I prayed the chair behind me didn’t slam into my back from people coming up the patio ramp to the front door.  On top of all that, those chairs (put there to create an aisle where there wasn’t one and give people waiting at the hostess desk a place to sit) were being used by servers to set plates of food down because the plates were too hot to carry and too heavy to juggle (Anyone hear of tray service? Sorry, too long a server at a tray service only restaurant makes me cranky about people carrying plates diner style with their sleeve dipping into my food.  Its gross.)  When we were done, the server had us tally up our meals and food on the back of a bill and figure out what we owed ourselves.  I’m assuming they don’t have a system in which you can easily split checks, I get that, but don’t ask me to do math on an 8 top, that’s your job.  I can say that because I’ve waited tables with the best of them.

Once again, the food was good, but over all I’d only go back if I was in a group and somebody else wanted to go.  It’s not on my list of places to return, but I feel like it should have been, because I’ve read so many glowing reviews (one even states that if you don’t like the establishment you’re just a terrible person).  I fear they get the vast majority of their business from the false promise of their fabulous name.  So people who love it… what did I miss?

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