Monday, July 25, 2016

Last Days of SATX

We returned to San Antonio from Montreal without the kids to play some final shows, finish up work,  visit with friends, and move.

Matt Parker is that rare breed of gallant gentleman one doesn't encounter often. He is one of the first musicians we met and became a dear friend of ours. We caught up with him at Stonewerks.

Saying goodbye to AF folks. Jean and I shared an office for almost two years -- and we still like each other! Bye, AF peeps! I love ya.

Parked it poolside for hours at the Fudge-Brown Fourth of July party, visiting with friends old and new.

Celebrated my birthday at La Fogata with these awesome people who took care of us and supported us and made us family.

Rooftop drinks at the Paramour (for the record, Judy never looks pissed, it's just the only pic I have!)

Get this -- we went out for dinner and left the house at 9:30 pm. Another odd feeling was being 1) alone in the house and 2) alone in the house overnight while he played a show in Corpus Christie.

Luke's final show at Random Beer Garden in Boerne.

Lucas Jack super fans!

Meanwhile, in the parking lot...

Vic gave a marvelous speech to close the show, quoting Dobie Gray:

Thanks for the joy that you've given me
I want you to know I believe in your song

the simplest, most succinct, and most heartfelt expression of the incredible support they've given Luke as an artist and the happiness his performances bring them. It was perfect. Luke closed the show with Drift Away.

We had dinner with his bandmates* and the Sylvias** at Down on Grayson and Rosario's (trying to eat as many fresh warm flour tortillas as possible, remember) and then it was time to pack. We purged the house and 1-800-GOT-JUNK (what a great company) picked it up: 


The packers were a grandmother-mother-granddaughter team who were friendly and funny, satisfying our questions of "what's the weirdest thing you've seen in someone's house? dirtiest? strangest?" (Funniest was the grandmother telling a story of packing a pro athlete's house, who dumped cocaine on herself when pulling sweaters from an overhead shelf. (Apparently the mistress of the house was unfazed, musing 'I thought we got it all'.)

Last night in our house. We came to this house two days' married. Luke launched a new career. I began a new phase of mine. We knew two people in the seventh largest city in the United States. I learned how to cook here by using America's Test Kitchen books. I crowed over making pizza - actual pizza! Luke started playing open mics and gigs that paid almost nothing; loading his equipment in and out of the van (Vanna White) in the heat, the rain, mud, upstairs, across fields; meeting people and learning sound, website design, recording, video. And writing songs, so many songs on the piano we found on Craigslist from a woman named Rachel who lamented to me her wayward teen daughter's choices while the men moved the piano. The very week I started piano lessons I found out I was pregnant with Clementine; Luke had just left for Bonnaroo and I told him over the phone and then made some white bean soup (which turned out terribly and I put away Mark Bittman forever and vowed never again to stray from ATK). I laughed a real belly laugh at least four times a day at work most days. We brought Clementine and then Josie home to this house and they each slept in the mini crib in the corner of our bedroom. I started this blog when we arrived here and Luke came up with the name over lunch at (where else?) Central Market. When I described my blog to Melissa Guerra very early on - I just moved from St Louis, I just got married, it's to share what we're up to - she said, "oh, a letter home." But just as much as a letter home it's been a diary for me and a place to record the things I saw, felt, ate, read, experienced - 539 entries!

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

from "Sometimes" by Mary Oliver


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

First Story in the New House

Talking About the Day 

by Jim Daniels

Each night after reading three books to my two children—
we each picked one—to unwind them into dreamland,
I’d turn off the light and sit between their beds
in the wide junk shop rocker I’d reupholstered blue,
still feeling the close-reading warmth of their bodies beside me,
and ask them to talk about the day—we did this,
we did that, sometimes leading somewhere, sometimes
not, but always ending up at the happy ending of now.
Now, in still darkness, listening to their breath slow and ease
into sleep’s regular rhythm.
                                                    They are grown, you might’ve guessed.
The past tense solid, unyielding, against the dropped bombs
of recent years. But how it calmed us then, rewinding
the gentle loop, and in the trusting darkness, pressing play.

First story in the new house from Julie Hinkle on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Clementine Draws

We will be reunited with the girls soon but not soon enough! Look what C has been up to ...

big hotel, shoe, plane, cage, clown, dark pineapple, bag, bug, tent, dog, little tiny bug, penguin, fly, Aunt Susie, sail boat, rocket ship, seahorse, bouncy house, light bulb, green sky, kite, fish, cane, gate, [getting abstract] camping in dark woods

Thanks for capturing this, A!

The artist mid-leap (photo by Aunt Susie)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Josie's On A Vacation Far Away

The girls are in Michigan while we pack up here, pretty much having the time of their lives with their grandparents and many cousins there. We've been Facetiming and receiving photos, videos, updates, and quotable quotes:

[preface: C accepts only intact things - broken things are unacceptable, i.e. half of a huge cookie is not as good as an intact small cookie, etc] Grandpa gave C half of a cookie which she refused; she wanted the whole thing.

Grandpa, seizing on a teachable moment: You have a choice - you can have half of this cookie or no cookie at all.

Clementine: I don't like those choices. I want a different choice.

The hard-nosed negotiator and her partner in crime.

Mess-free painting with their cousin.

Who also painted their nails :)

Zoo with the cousins

These girls have never looked cuter - how darling is their hair?!

Remember, this is the usual coiffure around here.

A utterly inadequate but heartfelt thanks to all of Luke's Michigan family for the TLC they've given the girls!

photos and videos courtesy of MI fam

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Would you like to see 125 photos of Montreal? I thought so!

Montreal has been on my list of places to go for a few years - I remember (dimly) checking out guidebooks when I was on maternity leave with Clementine. Our fifth anniversary coincided with our trip to Michigan and my in-laws graciously kept (and are still keeping) the hermanitas.

We left South Haven and spent a day in Kalamazoo visiting Luke's family before catching a flight to Detroit and on to Montreal. Our flight was delayed in Kalamazoo for crew rest and then for 3.5 hours in Detroit due to a malfunctioning radio altimeter and our baby pilots (I prefer my captains with a little gray at the temple) deplaned us and got us to Montreal, albeit a little late. Delta... Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport.

I had planned to do some research into Montreal, read a book set there, etc but none of that happened. I found two apartments in different parts of the city highly recommended on Airbnb and off we went. No plans. No kids!

Our first apartment was in the Plateau neighborhood. We had dinner down the street and in the morning set out for St. Viateur bagels. I don't know much about Montreal but I do know they are very proud of their bagels.

Walking next to the park.

After bagels we took a bus tour: first stop, Notre-Dame Basilica...

...where Celine Dion got married.

image via

St Joseph's Oratory.

Overlooking the city from the Mont Royal.

Our tour ended in downtown Montreal. First order of business: sample the famous smoked meat sandwich and poutine (that also had smoked meat).

Every time poutine came up I'd shout WHEN DID CANADA'S BOYFRIEND BREAK UP WITH HER?! and since Luke hasn't listened to Guy Branum's hilarious album this joke fell on (willingly) deaf ears and we had to wait to get back to some wifi so I could play this bit for him.

We walked back to our neighborhood from downtown and strolled around that evening. This city is amazingly walkable - we took a cab only to get our giant suitcase from one apartment to the next. Otherwise, we walked.

Beautiful buildings everywhere.

And murals.

And sculpture.

Back to our evening. Cocktails in this bar with philodendron hanging from the ceiling. Immediately I began to envision my jungle-kitchen-to-be.

Some live music.

Next morning, back to bagels through the park.

So coy.

Our apartment with the bay window above the bike shop.

At Steve's music shop trying out the Yahama Montage8 with the s u p e r k n o b.


Hand stretched noodles - cold beef salad and hot veggie bowl.

Ducking into a bakery during a brief rainstorm.

Old Montreal. I liked the boho Plateau neighborhood but loved our second apartment in here. Step right of the building- modern metropolis, step left, these romantic little streets.

Brief stop for an eyeglass frame purchase.

Iced coffee that I must replicate: foamed 1% milk and some sugar. Of course.

Best breakfast sandwich everrrrr: baguette, romaine, egg with cheese inside, a slice of bacon, a drizzle of sauce/mayo, sprinkle of herbs. We went back the next morning.

During our first dinner at a cafe on Rue Cherrier a police officer leapt out of her car across the street and Luke said, her pants are pink! I couldn't quite make them out due to the crepuscular time of day -- maybe they're red? I said. Then we asked about it and the pants are in protest - pink protest pants! I didn't get a photo of the pink pair but here is an officer looking dashing in plaid.

We didn't have any plans but we did have many, many delicious noshes. Absolutely delicious pizza with ricotta and nduja, served with scissors. I will steal all of these ideas.

We happened to be there the first day of the Jazz Festival and got tickets for Gregory Porter, an artist Luke was excited to see. We spent a lot of time puzzling over his headwear. Dinner beforehand was an Asian place in this complex and I had black sesame ice cream for the first time. Tasted like peanut butter, slate gray and gorgeous.

Eclair on a log.

Croburger -- a burger on a croissant. Don't worry, we walked eight miles a day.

Napoleon. A brisk eight miles.

Sofa-king rad.

Walking along the waterfront.

Experimental housing built for the World Fair - very expensive now yet utterly bleak and post-apocalyptic.

Luke's whiskey and sodas were served in at least three vessels: whiskey, small carafe or glass of soda, glass of ice. This is the bar of the St Paul Hotel, in the same block as our apartment. We hung out here twice to watch Wimbledon. That was our no-plan plan: ramble around, stop in for a drink and people watching, ramble some more...

Dinner in Old Montreal - macabre setting, good food. Giant vertebral column.


Just because you can taxidermy something doesn't mean you should.

Mini-films and images were projected on the buildings around Old Montreal. Creepy-cool.

Here we are! Now we're back in SATX, eating as many fresh warm flour tortillas as possible before our move to St Louis. Montreal was even better than I thought - gorgeous, glamorous, historic, great weather, safe, friendly, walkable. Next time I will learn a little tourist French - as a provincial American I was a little surprised more people weren't bilingual - and go to Quebec City.

A huge thanks to Luke's family for taking good care of our girls! Happy five years to us, Luke.