Saturday, December 17, 2011

driving pet peeve number 328: aggressive courtesy

Like most people, I find the holiday season one of such mixed feelings. On the one hand there's the season of love and giving and Santa and of course the baby bejeebus (credit, Hokgardner), all combining to bring out our kindest selves.

On the other hand there is Christmas shopping and navigating a crowded parking lot.  This recent spate of frantic beat-the-rush browsing has brought to the fore one of my driving pet peeves:  Aggressive courtesy.

Or is that, courteous aggression?

Not sure.  I'll let you decide.

Yesterday was the latest and a typical example.  I'm in my car wanting to make a left into a parking lane.  There is an oncoming black truck with darkish windows.  It's drizzlingand his windshield is foggy.  With my blinker on, I'm waiting for him to pass by me, but he's not moving, he's ... what?  Waiting for me to cross in front of him?  Then I see movement through the windshield. I believe he is signaling to let me pass.  Not quite sure so I sit.  I don't want to take the risk, I can't really see for sure and anyway, he has the right of way.  If our fenders crunch insurance is gonna make me pay.  So I wave him on.

But now he waves harder.  Oh I see, another man driver insisting on playing the gentleman.  But I wave him on, thanks but no thanks.  He proceeds, gunning it.  And now he drives by me, waving his hand in a display of disgust, hand turned toward his face, jerking upwards, looking down at me, shaking his head, scowl on his face, as if to say... what?  How dare I not take advantage of his seemingly courteous gesture?  Even though doing would require that I trust a complete stranger, in the rain, in a monster truck the color of evil?

I have a hard time shaking off these exchanges.  They always involve a man and he is usually alone, often at 4-way stops.  It seems as if these courteously aggressive drivers insist on asserting some sort of power or, why else the angry gesturing when I don't comply?  Does a generous offering in a vehicle by a man (some men) demand the woman assent?  Because this you go... no, you go exhange happens with women drivers, too, but it never ends with them proverbially flipping me off with an angry wave.  So I don't get it.  I am left assuming it is some kind of chauvanistic ritual left over from the not-so-long-ago era we now know as Mad Men.

I used to wonder how the show got its name.  Now I'm pretty sure I know.

*Yes, we in the land of worst-drought-in-history (yes, I blogged about it, here and taken pictures of it, here) have been getting rain.  Several days of it.  Ground is soaked.  Thank you, thank you, thank you Mother Nature!

Friday, December 09, 2011

a little bit of texas (no football, promise)

Sam and I spent our 20th anniversary in San Antonio.  Some random pictorial highlights:

First things first.  Thanks to Karen for her restaurant suggestion.  Homemade hot sauce with roasted .. peppers or tomatoes, or both... was superb.  Cheese enchiladas... perfecto.  Margarita... excellentay: Sweetly sour, salt around the rim and stout.

A word about the corn tortillas.  When it comes to restaurant tortillas, Sam always orders corn and I order flour.  I don't especially like cornmeal unless comes wrapped in a tamale.  But here?  When I reached into the tortilla holder, I grabbed the flour tortilla on top.  Halfway into my soft taco Sam noticed I was eating one of his corn tortillas.  Thin and mashed very fine, I didn't taste the difference (the stout margarita might have had something to do with it).

I had an instant feeling of love in the women's room.  Lots of great prints by Mexican artists here and throughout the restaurant.

Sautillo tile floor in the bathroom, plastic slipcover on the couch.

In the ladies room stall.  Way to make a woman feel, well, like a woman.  I want this print in my home bathroom.

Because I've never taken a picture of myself in a mirror.  Good a place as any.

Husband Sam used to visit his grandmother in this house, King William District, back before it was gentrified.  It was a four-plex back then.  She lived in the upper right hand side.

The right sign out front.  I wonder who lives here and has a loved one overseas.

View from E. Guenther St. of the Pioneer flour mill.   Sam could see this tower when he looked out his grandmother's window at night. Used to scare him.

I could look at the King William District architecture all day.  Beautiful front porch made for sipping lemonade. Or margaritas.  

Love the board and batten siding and the standing seam metal roof.  Sam pointed this house out to me, said he thinks someone from New Jersey must live here due to the single candles in each window (my hometown tradition).

Relaxing back in hotel room.  Yes, that's prickly pear cactus juice in the pink drink.  I'm seldom without my prickly.

Holiday lights on the Riverwalk. Arched footbridge in the center of the trees.

Flags atop the Tower Life Building on the Riverwalk.  They've got their priorities straight.

Love the way the tower is lit up at night.

Flowering Spanish Olive tree beside the Alamo.

Fuzzy olives. Security guard said they sell the olives in the gift shop. Wish I had stopped to get some the next day, but then, you can't have your Alamo olives and eat them too.

View of lights as we sat shivering at Waxy O'Connor's eating fish and chips.

In case the night view wasn't clear enough, that's an Aggie flag atop the Tower Life Building.  Owner is a big alum.  One spring break a few years ago my husband and kids went to the Riverwalk.  We were invited to walk up on that octagon balcony at the top. Very cool views of San Antonio.  Can see for hundreds of miles.

Enjoying Texas Sized margaritas at Rita's on the Riverwalk.  Driver, Sam, ordered his Jersey Sized.   That's my high school friend in red and her daughter who were in town for a wedding.  Tempting picture of the margarita taken by Middle Age Mom, here.

Hope you enjoyed my motley crue photos of San Antonio.  I didn't take too many because it was (1) cold and (2) my anniversary (better things to do).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

turkey may never taste the same

We interrupt the preparation of your family's Thanksgiving feast to bring you a special announcement.

Be it stuffing your turkey with oranges (like we do) or making a last minute grocery store run for parker rolls (like I wish we didn't do) or preparing a blender full of liquid fortification in anticipation of Aunt Martha, who, every year, without fail, puts on her unique version of the martyr syndrome, I want you to stop and hear what I have to say.

This evening at 8pm EST, on Kyle Field, the Texas A&M Aggies will meet the t.u. Longhorns on the gridiron for the 118th time and for what might be the last match up ever.

Here's my message: The Aggies want to keep playing the 'Horns.

No matter what you hear on ESPN, no matter how many times the announcers infer that the last game is due to the Aggies leaving the Big 12 conference, no matter what you read in the rag of a newspaper, know this:

Aggie head coach Mike Sherman has publicly stated he wants to play the Longhorns every year.

Longhorn head coach, Mac Brown, has publicly stated he wants to keep playing the Aggies.

The chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, John Sharp, has publicly stated he wants to keep playing the Aggies.

"We want to make it abundantly clear we will play the game anywhere, any time."

Even the Texas Legislature might get into the act and mandate the annual rivalry.

So who is responsible?  Almost single handedly, the t.u. Athletic Director, DeLost Dodds, is responsible for the end of one of the longest running college football rivalries in U.S. History.  DeLies Dodds is the one who insisted on keeping the Longhorn Network (LHN).

DeLoser's choice to sign a $30 million deal didn't just piss off Texas A&M.  It also pissed off Missouri.  They've signed to leave the Big 12, too

Insistence on keeping the Long Hate Network also blocked the 'Horns from moving out of the Big 12 and into the PAC 12.  PAC 12 said, in effect, no to LHN and no to UT.  The 'Horns, much to their consternation, were left holding the LHN bag, stuck in an ever diminishing conference.

Ok, that's it. We conclude this special announcement. You can now go back to your pre-turkey dinner preparations and your liquid libations.  Just needed to set that record straight.

Gig 'em Aggies.  Beat the hell outta t.u. This year and any other year t.u. feels up to the challenge.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

she jumps out of the recipe rut and into the frying pan

You could say I've been in something of a cooking rut. With three teens going three different directions, a dog (because there's always a dog, isn't there?), five chickens including three new young chickens introduced to the coop (creating a pecking order situation that has brought out my fierce, Inner Mother Hen), and one sorely neglected beta fish named Molly, I haven't had much time to think cook let alone experiment with new recipes.

Mention a new dish and I cringe at the thought of reading a recipe (heaving sigh), shopping for extra ingredients (deep groan), more time in the kitchen to get the recipe right (loud argh).

But, amazing for my track record, I tried two new recipes in the past week.

It started with fresh shrimp on sale at the grocery store and fresh tortillas in my cart.  Not having made shrimp tacos in recent memory (I know, and I call myself a Texan?), I went searching and found a recipe that included Lime Cilantro Sauce here at Life's Ambrosia.

Now, usually I skip a new recipe's sauce because I'm lazy but this one sounded way too good to miss. And it was. Really tangy.  Amazing on the spicy shrimp. Out of sour cream, I substituted with plain yogurt - still amazing. Add chopped avacados?  Lawd have mercy.

The second recipe venture started with wilting strawberries in the fridge. The idea of another banana berry smoothie sent me to the edge and then to the internet in search of something different.

Thanks to Cookies on Friday, I came up with this wonderful Fresh Strawberry and Cream Cheese Bread.  Adding walnuts and ground flax seed changed the look considerably but everyone loved it, including four girls at my daughters' sleepover.

So two new recipe successes in one week.  Pretty pleased with myself.  My family's palate is pretty pleased, too.

How about you? Tried any new recipes lately?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

the ides of twinness

Beware the Ides of Twinness.

Because it's a guarantee. One of your twins will beg you to get braces. You will spend fifteen minutes at the dinner table explaining the many reasons why she does not want braces: they hurt, the many foods that can't be eaten, how gross it is to get food stuck in the braces.

And then? The other twin will be told she needs braces. And you will spend fifteen minutes during the car ride home explaining mom doesn't always know what she is talking about the many reasons it's not so bad having braces.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

fare thee well coffee yogurt, sort of

How exactly does one announce a blog name change? How does one inform of a profile name update? Send out cyber printed announcements? Commission a video? Hire a plane to pull a banner, a la Mrs. Brightside's post?

I came up with Coffee Yogurt one night in December several years ago. I didn't know what the blogsphere was all about, exactly. I was looking for some virtual connection with fellow psychologists. What I came across was a bevy of witty, creative, humorous and real people bloggers. So, I did what any sane 40-something shrink on winter vacation would do: Take up residence.

Before you could say psychoanalysis I had clicked on the Create a Profile button. Presto-chango I had to come up with a moniker for myself. Hmmm. I gave it some about 15 seconds worth of thought. What was something I love and couldn't live without? I spied the empty cup of coffee yogurt on my coffee table.

Lurrve Dannon's coffee yogurt since I sold it at the local dairy convenience store - my first part time job. The unwritten, unspoken rule was - if it was sold on the shelf it could be consumed on premises.

Dannon is the yogurt I love but have all but stopped buying because two of my teens seem to love it more than me, even, and those cute little white plastic cups I purchas on sale only pretty much disappear by the next afternoon. Fear not the empty nest; welcome the Dannon-stocked refrigerator shelves.

And in case you don't mind a further trip down the sentimental path, I miss Dannon's waxy cardboard cups. Not to mention the bigger serving of yogurt they contained. But mostly I miss the pleated lids that you had to lift and unfold in accordion fashion, to reveal the tabbed, round, colorful cardboard discs. Anyone else miss those?

Anyhow, I never really meant to be known 'round the cyber world as a semi-solid sour-ish bacteria fermented food stuff but I was too noncomittal lazy to do anything about it. And so this morning, quite without purpose, I hit the Design button on the dashboard and gave it a looksie. Wahlah, just like that, I deleted Coffee Yogurt from my Header and a Shrink was Born!

Not a very deep or insightful reason for the change. But then, we cognitive behavioral shrinks are not known for our profound insights. We're known for figuring out the problem and fixing it. Fast.

Well, maybe not so fast, but it's done.

When a Shrink Gets On The Couch is the name of my blog. Shrink on the Couch will be my stamp of visitation.

For the time being.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


A huge thanks and nod of appreciation to my regular readers who haven't given up on me. Especially those who continue to leave comments despite my EPIC FAIL as a reciprocal blogger.

My excuses are as follows.

Work has been kicking my boo-tay.

Playing limousine driver to my not terribly grateful twin tweens has been kicking my boo-tay.

My husband's rants about the Aggies leaving the Big 12 Conference and joining the SEC have been kicking my boo-tay forced me to feign active listening whilst playing Pogo's Poppit ad infinitum.

As you can see, it hasn't been all work and no play (see Poppit). I've been getting to bed earlier and doing more reading. Of the book variety. Rah! My favorite genre, historical fiction. Pithy reviews for those who share my enthusiasm:

Jude Morgan's Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes was somewhat slow but one I could sink my teeth into. I can't get enough of 19th Century women authors.

In Manette Ansay's Good Things I Wish You, a contemporary woman writer speculates on the relationship between pianist Clara Schumann and her husband's protege, Johannes Brahms, while also relating to their mutual hardship of balancing career and motherhood. Good stuff.

So here I am, between books, with the aim of reconnecting to bloggerville and finding more entertaining and intellectually stimulating ways to pretend listening. Let's see how well I do.

jenn's sensational high coup

Join the fun!

Today Jenn's Sensational Haiku Wednesday theme is ...

beautiful man, there
graceful handsome courteous
dance with ... who me? yes!

Friday, October 14, 2011

don't include me in the 99%

Am I willing to march with the 99% protesters?

Meh. Not so much.

Am I willing to march with the 90% protesters?

Hell to the yeah!

Who can support this growing economic disparity? Better question: What the hell is wrong with Tea Partiers and other tax cut harpers who think the way out of this recession is more of the same?

Thank you Mother Jones for the above chart and others that point out the glaring unfairness faced by the middle class and the poor.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

parental bonding of the highest order

For various reasons, I didn't get to breastfeed my kids. Not beyond the first few weeks, anyway. So I wince a little when I remember those shark nibbles hear breast feeding moms make claims that nothing brings a mother and her baby closer than the feeding the way mother nature intended.

Used to be, when I heard smug mommies claim breast is best my stomach would lurch. I wondered if I missed out. Worried that there really is a special bond that only nursing mothers can experience. That maybe my children were deprived because they didn't receive the highest expression of their mother's love.

Well, move over breast milk magnates.

Regrets be gone, ye of the dry breast.

Because I am here to give witness to a heretofore never revealed, far more powerful form of parental bonding. It doesn't matter how many children you have nursed or for how long, you have not thoroughly attached to your child until you have engaged in this most tender, most intimate, this pan-ultimate ritual of self-sacrifice:


Or as we nitpicking shrinks call it: attachpicking.

Whether you attachpick in your back yard under the golden rays of the murderously hot summer sun or in the comfort of your family room huddled under the harsh glare of a florescent lamp, attachpicking is guaranteed to bring you and your child closer than you could ever have wanted imagined. Your child will open up and scare the snot outta you share secrets of her soul and confidences heard only at the cafeteria table. Not for the faint of heart or the weak of vision, attachpicking is an extraordinary bonding experience.

Best of all? Dads can do it. No more will fathers be forced to stand helplessly by and watch their wives become the sole super-bonder.

So the next time your child comes home from school for the third time in almost as many years complaining of a scratching head? Do not flinch, groan or roll your eyes. Do not blame the other mom because she allowed a sleepover despite knowing her daughter had head lice.

No ma'am.

With gratitude in your heart and a nit zapping comb in your hand, grab your coke bottle 3.0 strength reading glasses and feel fortunate that you and your child have been granted the privilege, yet again, of luxuriating in this crowning achievement of motherhood.

Either that or see if this little guy is available:

Friday, September 30, 2011

do cry for me, austintina

A few Friday mornings a year I manage to take a solo walk around the Lady Bird Lake, formerly known as Town Lake, or, in the case of most longtime Austinites, stubbornly referred to as Town Lake.

This morning I walked (highlighted in yellow, above) from the south side of the pedestrian bridge at Lamar Boulevard (PFLUGER Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge), crossing onto Congress Avenue Bridge (aka Bat Bridge), up into the Shoal Creek Trail and back down across the pedestrian bridge. A little over two miles total.

Best thing about today's walk, I remembered to take my camera.

First stop, the Women in Construction Pavilion, located on the south shore of the lake, right next to the South 1st Street Bridge. I didn't know it was called WiCP until I Googled it just now.

By the way, the Google blogger's spell check doesn't recognize "Googled" as a word. You'd think blogger would have corrected this glitch by now.

The pavilion is usually one of my favorite stops. But this morning? It made me cry.

Here's what the pavilion looked like when I walked with my girls in summer of 2009:

This graffiti caught my eye along the Shoal Creek Trail:

Close up:

More political graffiti under the pedestrian bridge, Texas' latest, but far from greatest, presidential contender:

I thought it was important to post both vantage points of Governor Perry Goodhair (so dubbed by Austin's own Molly Ivins).

More graffiti under the pedestrian bridge, this time with a romantic twist:

On the trail that runs on the north side of the lake, along Cesar Chavez Street, a longhorn that even an Aggie can appreciate:

Artist: Nichelle Notabartolo.

It's part of the Cow Parade Austin 2011. This is probably one of the least creative of the cows located all around town. I saw this one too, at the south entrance of the pedestrian bridge, but was too lazy to walk up to get a decent picture (pathetic blogger, yes):

Artist: Angi Gahler

I did not see this, the cleverest cow, below. I'm pretty pissed off that I missed it because I'm sure I walked almost directly under it. (If it's hanging on the Austin Statesman side of the bridge. Anyone know?) Had I known it was there I think I could have found the effort to look up and snap a picture of Bat Cow hanging from Congress Avenue Bridge:

Artist: D.J. Stout and Faith Schexnnayder

Back to my walk and pictures I, myself, took (as opposed to who? I, Robot?):

Thanks to my crappy camera and/or photography skills you can't see what's written on these steps that take you from the ground on Cesar Chavez up to the pedestrian bridge. It says "100 Year Flood Plain June 2001." I don't think water reached that high in 2001 but it sure makes me wish Mother Nature would see this turn cry her rain tears.

Last stop, atop the pedestrian bridge at Lamar Boulevard, one of Austin's Ghost Bikes:

I did not take the above photograph. Thank you Jon Pratt for taking a picture the way it's meant to be taken, i.e., where the subject is visible. As opposed to the picture I took this morning:

I do think, however, my picture captures the "ghost" aspect of this Ghost Bike.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

shame on Tennessee

Shame on the Tennessee Department of Revenue, Taxpayer and Vehicle Services for denying their citizen, Ms. Whitney Calk's personalized license request because they jumped to the conclusion that she intended something "vulgar."

Leave it to a red state, pork barbecue eating, bible belt bureaucrat to miss the wholesome, health promoting, true intent of a vegetarian enthusiast.

Redeem yourself, Tennessee. Get your collective minds out of the gutter. Reach into the depths of your government issued desk drawers and find the rubber stamp that says

and give Ms. Calk the freedom of expression our American forefathers intended. Just like you did for this upstanding Tennessee citizen: