Already in the mere four years I’ve been a homeschool mom, with my child not even “school age,” homeschooling in general has proven to be as much an education for me as it is for her. When you homeschool, field trips feel imperative. Not only do you want your kid to interact in the world, but even the most extreme homebody, if not an agoraphobe, gets a touch of cabin fever now and again.
In 2012, we discovered that Houston has an annual Pow Wow and attended. I documented that trip here. The kiddo loved it. We studied everything a two year old could “study” about Native Americans at that time and watched a lot of Pocahontas after the event. The culture, the dancing, the drums, the music, the food, I tried to dip my very pasty child in the whole experience. She came away desperately wanting an out fit just like the girl’s she took a picture with in my previous blog post (see left).
Life happened and we missed the 2013 gathering, though we do intend to attend every year.
This year, though kiddo didn’t do much in the way of pre- Pow Wow “research,” I felt the need to grab a book. On my lunch breaks I’ve been perusing The Five Civilized Tribes. I was most interested in the segment on the Choctaw since that is the tribe our rumored ancestor was supposed to have been. (I’m convinced everyone claims a tie to the Native Americans, I’m not convinced everyone has one… I’m not convinced I even have one. But from a geographical standpoint, Choctaw makes good sense.)
I’m not done reading, so a full review cannot commence. Currently, I’ve read through the Choctaw segment and now am knee deep in the Creeks. The book, however, is thorough and enjoyable though – as the Christian Science Monitor reported – “pure history, sober, and fully documented.” One would assume that it would read dry, but it’s not. Sober and dry should not be used interchangeably when speaking of history, but often it is. Especially when dealing with the history of the Native American Indian tribes. Their cultures are too colorful and their history too rich to ever be considered dry.
My favorite bit about the Choctaw is how thoroughly devoted to educating their children they were. Building school houses and hiring teachers was a huge deal for them. They built educational requests into their treaties. Although I don’t agree with institutionalizing, I do find it interesting how much they wanted to learn about those infiltrating their land. Some would say that it was an effort to assimilate, but I don’t think so. I think it was more of an effort to understand. Understanding and knowledge is important to me, though, so perhaps that is always how I will interpret those sorts of actions.
We don’t speak with the competitors at the Pow Wows much. I’d like to know what tribes they are affiliated with, who their ancestors are, whether they live next door or on a reservation. I’d like to talk to them all, interview them all, watch them all more closely. But they are there for a competition and seem to be far more in the public eye than what could possibly be comfortable. Instead we politely nod, smile, purchase raffle tickets for Indian Blankets, donate money to musicians, and try not to take too many invasive pictures of the dancers. Instead, my child makes friends with their children for the day and blows bubbles, and desperately contains herself from touching their bead work and feathers, lest a fiercely intense father of a playmate scowl at all his hard work being undone.
The event is beautiful. It’s all so beautiful.
Today, however, it was rainy and cold. The Pow Wow had to be moved from the arena to a pavilion. The show must go on, though, rain or shine, and despite the cold and the wet, they danced, and they were brilliant and kind. Kind – even when my daughter said quite boldly during their prayer time, “But Indians DON’T PRAY!” I promise I didn’t teach her that. I popped her little butt and said, “Everyone prays, now bow your head.”
1. You came to Texas for the first time for an Earth Day celebration book signing tour. Let’s recap, what stores and schools did you visit?
Half Price Books in Houston at these locations:
Half Price Books in San Antonio at these locations:
Half Price Books Austin area:
Half Price Books in Dallas area:
Claughton Middle School in Houston
Austin Jewish Academy in Austin
2. Did you meet any memorable customers you’d like to send a shout out to?
Oh my gosh—so many! The young woman from Spain studying in the futures program, sorry I can’t remember the name of the program and don’t know if I got hers. What a long, great conversation. There was Rob who was interested in knowing more about publishing. Marie Senter, “Viva la Fiesta!” in San Antonio who blessed me with my own pair of cowboy boot earrings. Lots of excited and, alternately, very shy kids. I met kindred spirits in the food movement who were very encouraging about the theme of my books. Answering these questions is helping me remember all the good times. 🙂
3. Where did you visit when you weren’t at bookstores and schools?
Unfortunately, my husband and I did not get to do too much touristy stuff, but we got in a little. Of course, first, I got to meet my number one fan in Texas and her family, and visit her woods—you! We also got to visit Old Spring. In San Antonio we ran into a spring festival called Fiesta that we hadn’t a clue was happening! We also were staying in an old part of town with historic homes, many included on the “walking tour.” We met the owner of one of those homes (shout out to Victoria!), who gave us an inside tour of the home. I also got to have dinner with an old friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in 30 years! And of course we did the Riverwalk and had dinner there the first night. Unfortunately, in Austin and Dallas it was just busy, busy, busy. On the way home we got in a quick visit to Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico and the Grand Canyon. We were sort of on a deadline to get back.
4. Do you have a favorite city or region, now that you’ve been here?
I think we both enjoyed San Antonio the most. But it might have been because we were staying at a very good location. Close to downtown and in a cool, older neighborhood.
5. Did you learn anything new on your tour?
Sure. I learned how cool Half Price Books bookstores are, for one. Besides books, records, etc., they have lots of very nice stationery products which I am a sucker for. I also learned what the sky looks like when it’s full of dust. I got to see a lot of new terrain. We drove through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and a touch of Utah. Some of those were for the first time. And the Hoover dam is huge.
6. Did you try any new foods?
No, I don’t think so. Unless you count McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger. Although there were a different kind of beans being served with the Mexican meals than we usually have here. Charro beans?
8. Your trip ran into the Easter weekend. How did celebrating Easter on the road differ than how you celebrate it at home?
Normally at home we would go to church in the morning and in the afternoon my family would get together, have a traditional meal where I would bring my homemade egg noodles, my sister-in-law would bring her fried rice, and five or six layer jello, my sister would bring her green or pink creamy salads, mom a pie or two, and whoever is hosting filling in with the rest (ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable, more pies…). Then the kids would do an Easter egg hunt until nobody wanted to hunt anymore and everyone wanted to hide the eggs. Sometimes we use plastic eggs, but I like to use the real boiled and colored ones. It would be a lot like the scene in Heirloom where it is Easter. This year we drove from Houston to San Antonio on Easter. We managed to get to a church service late and then we were offered some food that they had eaten in the morning before the service. Since we were on the road we ate some. So I had two tamales and an orange for Easter noon dinner this year. But I guess the Riverwalk dinner at night was also on Easter. It just didn’t seem like Easter, but periodically someone would wish us a happy Easter.
9. What would you tell non-Texans to expect from a visit to Texas?
10. In the third installment of the series, the story takes readers to Florida. Do you see a Florida trip in your future?
Well, I have been to Florida, just not out and about much. A reader in Florida recently invited me down, so you never know….:)
Even if you missed the tour, don’t miss out on the books:
Title: Road Trippin’
Author: Jeff Hodge
When you’re reading about the life and times of a comic on the run, you get a lot of information you’d probably rather not – unless you’re a dude. This is definitely a dude’s memoir!
It’s good! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying getting to know Jeff Hodge. I’m enjoying reading up on all the little adventures that made up his life. But more than his adventures and sexcapades, I love his bits about growing up in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands and then in Houston. Those are my favorite parts.
I’m preemptively writing this review. I’ve had the book in my possession for awhile now (longer than I usually do when I am sent a review copy) and I’ve been picking it up and reading it leisurely. I do this with memoirs sometimes, and Hodge’s is a memoir to take in over a long time, because I want to actually become acquainted. I want to hang out once a week, as you would with an old friend, and absorb his life story – not just read the book in a day and forget about him like a one night stand.
Maybe it’s because he’s sort of wonderful. Maybe it’s because going into it, his one night stand stories made me sad before I even heard them. Call me a judgmental Christian homeschool mom, but tromping around with your pants down in bars all the time doesn’t sound like a happy life to me. The fact that he seems to innocently stumble into these situations is both endearing and frustrating as hell. But I do love that Hodge has way more going on than that in his memoir. So rather than dismiss getting to know him through his book after reading about his rendezvous with a married woman (for shame!), I calmly set it aside, and pick it up another day when my irritation has worn off – curious to see what he learned from the experience. Exactly how I would be if I was hearing this story in person.
Road Trippin’ belongs on the shelf with Dave Barry and alongside I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. A little more than halfway through his book, with full intentions of finishing, I’m curious to see one of his acts. Next time Hodge is in Houston, I plan to pay him a visit. But as a true fan – for the record – not as a skanky hoe (and no matter how pretty you dress these girls up, I think for the most part, they were skanky hoes).
I’ll keep you posted how it all turns out in the end. Or, you could download the 99 cent ebook and read it yourself.
Kevin J. Anderson I told him I was one of those annoying book bloggers and he said book bloggers are never annoying – unless they recommend that you never read his books. I like him, very personable. Hope he’s there tomorrow, I might go back and get something signed.
I finally made it to another one! Critical Mass Houston is amazing and I’m working on making it happen every month. Having a two year old can put a damper in these kinds of plans, but once it’s worked out, it’s worth it.
Last night was the first time we went without a “chaperone.” My bestie’s brother, Desmond, is a bicycle extraordinaire and we rode in a little pack with him last time. This time it was just me and the bestie… and a crowd of cyclists en masse.
The first ride I ever did was the Halloween 2012 ride… see here: https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/when-were-not-reading-critical-mass/. There’s links and info about CM. After that ride, I purchased lights for my bike, both out of necessity and a reward system for myself. This time, I only did 15 miles of the ride because we had to go home early, but I think I’ve earned myself a bell.
What do I love about CM? Well, what don’t I love? I love the large group of people who seemingly have nothing in common except their desire to be on wheels. I love when one thing can bring an entire community together like that. It’s beautiful and exciting. This will sound cheesy, but I totally love the wind in my hair and against my face. Even if it’s cold, I think it’s heavenly to have a bit of a breeze that you’re creating yourself through motion. (But it wasn’t cold last night, last night the weather was perfect.) I love my sore legs the next day, reminding me that I did something fun, productive, and good for me. I love my bike. I love other peoples’ bikes. I love the road. I love the city at night.
And despite my efforts last night to find out where we were headed in advance, I usually love the mystery and adventure of it all. After all, I’m a reader, so mystery and adventure and not knowing what comes next absolutely thrills me.
Last night, though, I had an old school mate trying to meet up with us part way in. So before the ride began, I was asking people who I thought looked like they might be in the know… “you know where we might end up tonight?” Of course, I got a wide variety of answers:
“Wherever our legs and wheels carry us.” I know, I know, how very zen of you. But tonight I’m actually trying to find out a real answer. Just tonight. I’ll never ask again, I promise.
“My house!”…. Ok I totally opened myself up for that one, come on man, really? Really. It turned out, the guy was supposedly actually planning an after party. Something I would have gone to in college before I was married and had a baby!
Later, at first break when I was trying to determine where exactly Foodarama and Speedee Mart (the buildings I was standing in between) were located, I started asking around. Sorry, people, it’s not that I’m helpless, it’s just that I don’t have one of those fancy phones with all the map apps. Frankly, I was too lazy to walk out in the middle of the street and hunt down a street sign. So I tried to convince my bestie that sometimes it’s ok to talk to strangers. At which point the guy telling me we were at Ella and West 18th grinned and offered me candy. He dug out a cough drop from the bottom of his pack. Funny. Very funny. Also, kiddo, when you’re old enough to read, if you stumble across this blog post your mama wrote – DON’T talk to strangers. Although I thought Candy Man was kinda adorable for being a smart ass.
If you were at CM last night – or any night for that matter – leave me a story in the comment section. I’d like to compile them sometime.
P.S. Thanks again to everyone who complimented my bike. It makes my night every time. See you next month!
A short car ride to a friend’s house and the kiddo and I find we have all of the Heights at our fingertips… or our toes, rather, as we don’t walk with our hands. My favorite part of the drive is passing those town homes pictured above – they remind me of Full House.
I love the Heights. There’s always something new to discover, and today we stumbled across Sparrow and the Nest, a little art boutique off Studewood.
Undaunted by a two year old waltzing in amongst their treasures, the people (Andrew and Stephanie) are really nice and took the kiddo to the back and let her play with markers while my best friend browsed the shop. I came away with a priceless masterpiece from my offspring, while the bestie picked out a gorgeous bookmark. We were on our way to get coffee at Antidote, so we didn’t stay long.
As their website says, Sparrow and the Nest is really best experienced in person, there’s so much to see that I just couldn’t capture on camera. Lots of tiny origami in frames and on pins, teensy handcrafted things you won’t find anywhere else, and all of it so beautiful. Cool pieces of furniture, paintings, quilts… the shop is as good as visiting an art museum, better actually because you can take the stuff home if you’ve got the cash.
I’m not the best photographer, but I took some pictures to share anyway.
As much as I love to read and review books, I’ve really been enjoying finding things to add to my When We’re Not Reading segments. It has forced me to be bold and adventurous in the Houston area, re-visit my attitude from my college years. Which went something like this: It could be fun, Its free, Why not?
This month my best friend invited me to a not-so-little shin dig called Critical Mass. Cyclists all over the world get together in their home cities and take to the streets on the last Friday of the month every month. Hundreds, easily nearly a thousand, people on bikes trekking through downtown together for 20+ miles. It was nothing short of amazing.
I’m not the biggest fan of getting info from Wikipedia, but they do have some interesting tidbits on what Critical Mass is all about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Mass.
For some people this event is an agenda to gain respect on the road for cyclists, make a statement, and more. From my bike seat, it was a fantastic rolling party. It was a blast that still managed to create a new appreciation for the world of cyclists, and for my need for headlights, tail-lights, and a helmet. I would also like a bell and basket.
Last night’s ride was a Halloween ride. There were costumes and all sorts of excitement. In advance, my friend and I had agreed that if we lost each other to simply look for “the hat and the tutu” (two costumed people that were easy to spot and part of our collective mini-group). This is a good plan. If you ride a Critical Mass, whatever you do, don’t stop to look for someone… just keep on rolling and catch up to each other when you catch up to each other.
Many motorists cheered, took pictures, and had a general blast right along with us. However, there were the occasional drivers that got really pissed off that 600 people were holding up traffic as we had to roll through the red lights. I understand that this is technically illegal, and with an individual or a crowd of 2-30, very ill-advised. But with 600 riders, stopping at the red light is far more dangerous than holding up traffic. You wouldn’t ask the Macy’s Day parade to stop at all the red lights, and it is obvious that an event is happening. So if you happen across this group on a Friday night, please be patient and don’t hate; 99% of the people involved in this ride are trying to be as safe and friendly as possible.
Check out this awesome crowd:
Initially, I was under the impression that it was a 10 mile ride. My husband was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to do it, as owning a bike is something that has only been a part of my recent adult life. I’d never taken the thing farther than around the block a few times (most likely about a mile, 3 miles at best but that could be stretching the truth of reality). Come to find out, it is actually about a 20 mile ride. Someone gps-ed it as we went and came up with this map after the fact: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/149370997. Include our ride to the event and back to the house when we were done and I can safely say without exaggeration that I rode 22 miles.