Photos around town

2013 is a photogenic one, apparently. On January 6th, I joined the Photographers Adventure Group for a photo walk downtown. This past weekend, I went on a hike with my friend Melanie and her pug, Lux. Then I walked around the Capitol area taking photos while Jon played Ingress (though apparently one does not “play” Ingress — whatever). Below is a sample of what I’ve been doing behind the lens.

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Like what you see? There are always more photos at my Flickr page.

2012 in Pictures

Inspired by the “2012 in Photos” post over at The New Me, I decided to do a summary of 2012 using photos. I more or less followed Chrissy’s setup, using photos I’d taken with my good camera, though made an exception for two group shots other people took that I really wanted to share.
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January: The year started off on a sad note, but it had wonderful moments as well. I attended America’s Classic Championship, which is one of my favorite competitions. The competition is well-run, the routines are amazing, and I get to spend time partying with my favorite dance friends. A great way to spend a winter weekend.

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February: Not the most eventful month of my year, but Jon did get a nice  bonus at work. We used the extra cash to treat ourselves to brunch at Perla’s. And got oysters on the half shell for an appetizer, and then again for dessert. We also didn’t eat the rest of the day.

547861_429560137068027_183738537_nMarch: My dance partner got married, and I was a bridesmaid. It was an exhausting, amazing weekend, involving great food, excellent music, and of course, lots of dancing.

 

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April: I photographed surprisingly little in April, even though a lot happened. There was my poker birthday party as well as a big dance competition in Austin. But here is a photo of my fellow triviagoers one early April night. This was the first night we took Max to trivia with us. It was also the last.

 

IMG_0639May: Jon gave me a weekend pass to Poetry at Round Top for my birthday, so I spent a glorious weekend in early May out at the festival grounds. I got to listen to some amazing poets, and had a great time connecting with writers from all over, including meeting a poet who had been a professor at Kenyon College when I was a student. The above photo is from the grotto in the chapel. A lovely sight after the sun went down.

 

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June: First time on a Texas beach! I went down to Galveston early, before it got hot, enjoyed the Gulf, and then ate a plate of raw oysters for lunch. I’m looking forward to more beach time this coming summer.

 

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July: 2012 marked my fourth year in Austin. Despite that, I had yet to visit Foundation Graffiti, which is close to my house, and also free. One afternoon, I finally took the time to check out the amazing artwork on display

 

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August: Only Austin is weird enough to have a hot sauce festival in August. Every year, I swear I don’t want to go, because it’s so hot and uncomfortable.  But I let Jon drag me down, and I end up having a fantastic time. The location change to Fiesta Gardens definitely helped make this year a success.

 

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September: September was a great month. I went to an excellent dance competition, I embarked on The Artist’s Way, and went on a photo walk at Pedernales Falls with my friend Savanni. I had the chance to take some great photos, and also wrote one of my best haiku ever.

 

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October: October marked my second year doing October Unprocessed. This year, I became obsessed with Greek yogurt and added a few new slow cooker meals to my regular rotation. Plus, I enjoyed these delicious breakfast tacos, courtesy of Jon.

 

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November: I hosted my friend Phoebe’s bridal shower at 1886 Cafe and Bakery. We had delicious food, played a low-key game, and I happen to think that this candid photo of the bride turned out beautifully.

 

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December: This month has been a total blur. I’ve been working tons of overtime on a big project deadline. Plus, there’s the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Plus, I finished The Artist’s Way and I’m doing the Southeast Review 30-day Writer’s Regimen. (If you’re wondering when I sleep, I’m not entirely sure myself.) But despite all the running around, there are moments that remind you to slow down. Earlier this week, we were running around getting ready for the day. It was warm, so the back door was open for the dogs. Jon noticed the light; the entire yard was cast in pink. I immediately grabbed my camera. And Simon, the dog who never stops moving, actually posed for a good picture. Yes, even the most hyper dog can stop moving once in a while. Or I get the proper shutter speed to catch him at just the right millisecond.

Picture Perfect Challenge: Decorations

I haven’t done a Picture Perfect Challenge in a while (or done much in the way of blogging, for that matter). Work, writing, and kung fu have all left me quite busy. However, some of my activities are winding down for the year, and I’ve found myself with extra time on my hands. So yesterday evening I took the time to take some photos to fit the theme.

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If you’re wondering why there are ornaments but no Christmas tree…I had the realization over Thanksgiving that Simon is not currently a tree-friendly dog. I knew that if I put one up, I’d come home from work and find every porcelain and blown-glass memory smashed to bits on the floor.

What, me? Destroy everything you love? But look how cute I am!
What, me? Destroy everything you love? But look how cute I am!

But I still wanted a few ornaments up. Then Jon had the idea of running a few nails at an angle down one of the walls. Once they were in, I selected some of my favorites and put them up. I couldn’t get every single piece I wanted, but I have a good representation of ornaments that make me happy, and I don’t need to worry about them being destroyed.

New Year’s Resolution: get some professional obedience training for this pup.

(And yes, he does like to snuggle up to Jon like that.)

October Unprocessed: Week 1

I’m doing October Unprocessed again this year. Since I know what to expect, this year will be more about sharing what, exactly I ate, rather than recording my experiences and impressions.

I used The New Moosewood Cookbook a lot this week, as most of the things in it either are or can be modified to be unprocessed, and because the recipes tend to make large portions. Leftovers are key when you’re eating almost entirely at home.

Most common ingredients in week 1: avocados (no difference from daily life), garlic (we went through an entire bulb in one week), peppers (bell and jalapeno), onions, beans, olives, and Greek yogurt. This year, I’m interested in seeing the consistent ingredients week-to-week.

Jon’s amazing homemade breakfast tacos.
Arabian Squash Casserole from The New Moosewood Cookbook.
Avocado toast on homemade bread
Multi-bean salad. Adaptation from The New Moosewood Cookbook, based on ingredients I had on-hand.
Rice noodle and fried tofu salad (my own recipe).
Gypsy Soup (The New Moosewood Cookbook)
Avocado pudding made with Greek yogurt and agave nectar, topped with flax.
Couscous with olives, capers, and feta (my friend Jerry’s recipe).
Chickpea-yogurt dip, an experiment in an attempt to use up leftovers. Unfortunately, the results were mediocre.
Stuffed tomatoes and cilantro rice. Another experiment in using leftovers, this time with fantastic results.
Jon’s amazing guacamole.

 

There was also a delicious pesto-artichoke-olive pizza that I made for dinner on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture.

Stay tuned for more unprocessed photographic deliciousness next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Adventures: Pedernales Falls State Park

I haven’t gone on a photography walk since Christmas. But last weekend, I had the entirety of Saturday unscheduled and a desire to be out and about. So I texted my friend Savanni (whose photography skills are excellent) about going somewhere nearby for a good, long walk, accompanied by cameras. I has a specific itch to go somewhere with water, so we headed out to Johnson City, home to Pedernales Falls State Park.

We met up midmorning, and headed out on 290. Despite some traffic in Dripping Springs, we made it out unscathed, and spent nearly three hours climbing rocks and taking pictures. The water levels were low, of course, but that made for lots of good exploring. (Pedernales Falls is known for flash floods, and while Savanni and I would both like to see that one day, we would also like to observe it from a safe distance.)

While we were walking, I realized how long it had been since I’d spent extended time exploring the outdoors. I was at the beach in July, and since then I’ve pretty much been city-bound. And while I adore Austin, I didn’t realize just how much I’d been missing nature until I was immersed in it.

We had a perfect afternoon: climbing, walking, photographing, conversing. I ended up with a bit of sunburn (it’s autumn, but the sun here hasn’t lost intensity yet), and my calves are still sore, but it was all worth it to get outside, walk around, and enjoy Texas.

I like lens flares. So sue me.

We finished off our afternoon with a late lunch at Torchy’s, which officially solidified the day’s greatness.

Somebody snarked at us for taking photos of this rusted-out plumbing accessory. Haters gonna hate.

I’m also seriously considering investing in a Texas State Parks Pass. I would need to make one solo state park visit a month for it to pay for itself, and since I usually go to parks with at least one person, it would get cost-effective pretty quickly. Especially with the camping fee discount.

Haiku up at Extract(s)

I have an haiku up today at Extract(s). The photo that accompanies it is an original one, taken while standing at the top of Enchanted Rock on a cloudy day.

This haiku came out of my small stones practice. Not all of my small stones are haiku — in fact, most of them aren’t — but some of them do end up being in haiku form. It was composed during that brief, blessed rainy season.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t enjoy writing haiku, but now I find it one of my favorite forms. And in the past few years, I feel like my longer poems are really inspired by the compression of haiku. I like to fit my words into tight spaces, and give a rich image while still managing to be sparse. There is so much concentration that goes into a haiku (both in the sense of compression and attention), and that’s why I’ve come to adore them so much.

Summer Adventures: Foundation Graffiti

Austin has had an unusually rainy week, which means cloudy skies and cooler temperatures. When the heat is (slightly) less intense, that means more exploring.

 

A few weeks ago, Jon went to lunch with a friend, and they happened upon Foundation Graffiti. A vacant lot just off of Lamar (if you’re heading southbound on Lamar, turn right on 12th street, and then take the first left that is a street rather than a parking lot). After hearing about it and seeing their photos, I had to take my camera out and see the sights.

 

I was floored by what I saw. Built on a vacant lot (I’m still puzzling over what it used to be back in the day), the remains of the building are embedded in Castle Hill, so there’s plenty of climbing to be done. Which is not always easy if you want to protect your camera, but well worth the effort.

 

I was amazed at the artwork on display. Those who do not believe that street art classifies at art will change their minds after seeing this display. Yes, there is a range in terms of the quality of work on display. However, all in all, the paintings here are the creations of experienced artists who have honed their craft.

 

Foundation Graffiti is free and open to the public, and you can browse for a few minutes or a couple of hours. All locals should stop by and check it out; it’s also a fun place to bring tourist friends, at least as a side trip. And from what I can tell from blocks and Flickr pages, it looks like the art gradually evolves over time, so there’s always something new to see.

 

If the art wasn’t enough to lure you in, it’s worth a climb to the top just to enjoy the view. You’ll get some excellent scenery of the downtown area. Get up early enough, and this would be an amazing spot to watch the sun rise.

 

So enjoy more photos of a spot that is quintessentially Austin. I hope they inspire you to visit.

 

 

 

Weekend Adventures: Galveston Island

This is what convertibles were made for: waking up early and heading out with a friend to get possibly the best bagels in the entire state of Texas from Hot Bagels in Houston. And then putting the top town, heading out on I-45 South, and driving to Galveston. And as you’re heading down the highway, knowing you’re probably already getting too much sun even though it’s only 8:30 a.m., but accepting that this is a fact of living in Texas, and deciding it’s worth it to drive down with the wind blowing all around you.

I spent most of the morning fiddling around with the different settings on my camera, which is why this is overexposed. However, I like it anyway.

Sunday was my first time in Galveston, and also my first time on a Texas beach. I’d seen the Gulf of Mexico from Florida, but was looking forward to see some of my state’s coast for once.

We hung around the seawall and spent the morning relaxing, alternating between the water and the sand. The waves were small at first,  but they started to pick up, and I had a ton of fun playing in them. There were also schools of fish that kept swimming by and jumping out of the water, as though just daring the gulls to try to eat them.

When the sun started getting intense, we headed out to get some food. Being on the coast made me want oysters, so we ended up at The Spot, where I indulged my whim and ate a full dozen oysters. Which I realize is not the most well-balance meal ever, but it was delicious, and exactly what I wanted.

The perfect lunch

Finally, it was time to head on back. Meaning more time driving my wonderful car, listening to good music, and enjoying the wind. And winding up with quite the sunburn, despite liberal applications of sunscreen. Welcome to summer in Texas.