A Month Has How Many Days?

Hello, friends. I was a bit shocked to realize upon posting The Curse of the Bass Player that it had been over a month since I wrote anything for this weblog. I’ve been feeling pretty overextended, and this was one of the things that gave when I wasn’t able to keep all the balls in the air.

There’s been a lot of good and interesting stuff going on. Back at the end of last month, I spent a slightly extended weekend in Georgia, visiting [Chris->]. It was a fantastic time. We listened to some good bluegrass, visited several good museums, ate Georgia-style BBQ (which is nothing like BBQ in Texas), went bike riding and hiking, climbed on public sculpture, ate some absolutely spectacular Pho, and generally had a delightful romp.

Two particular standouts: Amy Etheridge, Chris’ lady friend, gave us a personal guided tour of the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, where she serves as the Executive Director. The Institute is a beautiful place, and was hosting a fair bit of fun and interesting art as part of its current exhibit.

Amy also came along for the drive-in-movie night that turned into a bowling night. After Chris’ come-from-behind bowling victory, we passed a little store with a sign out front that boldly proclaimed it “The Monkey Store.” It was open. “THE MONKEY STORE?” we all said, nearly in unison. “We’ve GOT to go see what that’s about.” So, we turned around, drove back, parked, and ventured into The Monkey Store.

We were a mite disappointed to discover nothing more exotic for sale than animal feed and Pringles. (But I’m being redundant. Haha!) However, the fellow on duty and his friend, who’s family trees were evidently palms, made up in color for anything the store itself lacked. We asked them about why the place was called The Monkey Store, and he explained that there used to be monkeys. (I was never quite clear if these were just wild monkeys that were hanging around the area, or promotional monkeys specially imported for the store.) Apparently the flocks (gaggles? murders? ah, a “band” or “troop”, according to the Oracle at Google) of monkeys dwindled over time, and eventually vanished altogether. By way of explanation, the clerk explained that “People take monkeys for all kinds of reasons. You know…you know in China, people eat monkey brains…monkey brains are a delicatessen over there.” I had to very assiduously avoid looking at my brother during this exchange to keep a straight face. After we’d had our fill of Monkey Store fun, Amy bought a corncob pipe and we drove off into the night.

A couple of weekends later, we made our way south for Sand Castle Days, a great big sandcastle building contest down in South Padre. Kathy and Emily joined teams, and took 2nd and 3rd place respectively in their division. The other kids and I played in the sand down by the waves, building castles and then building buttresses and waterworks to keep the castles from being washed away by incoming waves.

On Saturday night, the other members of the Grant Mazak Band and I played backup for Ponty Bone an accordionist who plays Texas-flavored Zydeco music. In addition to the usual suspects, we were joined by another slide guitarist, an additional accordionist, and a great fiddler. Additionally, there was an Australian fellow with some funky dreadlocks who had a drum slung around his neck, which he played as he shuffled around the dance floor amid the other sand-caked dancers.

We also got to see my friend David Barnard, who recently moved from Austin back to Brownsville until the new year. It was fun to catch up with him, as well as to have lunch with Mike Howard, with whom I share an office at work, and his family down there. We ate at Blackbeard’s, which was yummy in an everything-deep-fried kind of way.

So, that’s the text summary. I’m working on a pictorial update as well, and hope to have that ready too in the not-too-distant future.