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Six years ago today I moved to Texas. As a matter of fact, that was also a Friday the 13th! I wondered at the time if the date might be an ominous sign, and during my two miserable years in the uber-conservative college town a curse didn’t seem unlikely. At the time I intended to power through my Phd and get out, which would mean that I’d be out looking for a tenure-track position now. Instead I hightailed it out of town with a Master’s, killed a little time, sold a lot of textbooks, married the best Cajun husband ever, and now I’m back to school again. I dug around for pictures from the past few years to share here and suddenly realized that the only pictures I could find from my first two years in Texas were of graduation. Sorry, yall. But you’re in luck: thanks to my three years as a wandering textbook rep my collection of Texana pictures is huge. I never carried my camera with me, so you’ll have to suffer through the awesome cell phone picture quality. Enjoy!

Plainview, Texas, is full of cows. Well, lots of Texas is full of cows, but Plainview is full of painted cows that advertise for the Dairy Queen, the car dealership, etc. I love them.

Yes, that says Moonopoly, and appropriately enough it sits in front of the bank.

Speaking of cows: Stephenville, Texas, has more cowboys per capita than any other city (at least according to their signs), and a cow statue downtown advertises their milk sales. (I promise this won’t ALL be about cows. Really.)

I also see some amazingly strange bumper stickers.

Lots and lots of bumper stickers concerning the superiority of one’s political beliefs. I will admit that I do see bumper stickers for the left end of the spectrum on occasion, but they are definitely in the minority.

The billboards are also pretty awesome. As if naming a restaurant Big Fatty’s wasn’t enough, they come up with the “El Farto Grande.” I’m afraid to ask just what that might be.

Speaking of “afraid to ask,” if you don’t know what a calf nut is, I don’t want to be the one to tell you. If you’re really curious, it’ll be cross-referenced with “Rocky Mountain oyster.”

This, my friends, is my all time favorite strip mall ever. Don’t you want to run in and pick up some guns or crossbows while you’re out for donuts?

On my Mom’s last visit, I took her to visit South Fork Ranch, of Dallas fame. We discovered on our tour that they only used this house for external shots and they used special camera tricks to make the house look bigger and the swimming pool appear twice as long.

Austin is an oasis of cool and funky in the midst of central Texas. Hubs would love to move there, and I can understand why.


But the best things I’ve found in Texas? Other than Cajun hubs, this is also where I found my pup dog, Bella (who I SWEAR was named long before I ever heard of Twilight).Texas also gave me Dorian Gray (aka Dory, aka the cutest kitten in the world), who immediately latched onto Bella despite her feelings about cats (they were previously only for chasing, barking at, or cowering from).

We also have two other cats. Have I ever shared them here? Oh dear. I’m a BAD cat-stepmama. Meet Bailey and Emma.

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After the sappy love overload of the anniversary, I apparently had used up all of my good karma and proceeded to have a really crappy day. A holy cow, there’s a $5000 fraudulent charge to my credit card bad day. And of course the bad day snowballed. Once it starts to go bad, every little thing seems terrible. That car cut me off! The grocery store is out of the on-sale steaks! The whining was getting bad enough that even I could tell it was ridiculous, so I bought myself flowers. Do you ever go out and buy flowers just for you?  I highly recommend it. Don’t wait for someone else to bring them to you. Even incredibly thoughtful guys may not think to get you flowers when you need them, like for an anniversary or a terrible day, or a terrible day following an anniversary (ahem). And you also shouldn’t have to have a significant other just to have something to brighten your day.

I don’t spend a lot on big fancy bouquets (obviously). I just buy flowers that make me happy and that look like they’ll last more than a day. If I had a green thumb like my mother or my grandmother, I would just go out into my garden and cut flowers to put in a vase, but I haven’t yet conquered the “cutting” garden. My herb garden could take over the world, but thyme and sage don’t have quite the same decorative effect.

So GO! Buy yourself some flowers. Add some pretty to your day. Make yourself smile.

(photos by author)

My week back home was crazy, busy, exhausting, wonderful, good. Yep.

Here are the highlights:

*Milo’s. Speaking of ugly, awesome food. Yummm. If you’re ever passing through Birmingham and you have a high tolerance of onions and sugar, pick up one of these saucy burgers and a sweet tea.

*And I just happened to sneak by Dreamcakes (now in Homewood) for a caramel mocha sea salt cupcake. We had these as part of our groom’s “cake” spread, and they are DELICIOUS. We saved the top tier of the wedding cake for our upcoming anniversary (and I successfully transported it back to Texas from my maid of honor’s freezer!), but since I expect it will taste pretty frozen and stale, I’m going to attempt to replicate these amazing cupcakes.

*Hilly, windy, woodsy roads are good for my soul. In Dallas I mainly get flat, straight, and bordered by strip malls. Shockingly not so soul nourishing.

*Hanging with my three incredibly awesome nephews (ages 8, 6, and 2). I spent a couple of days romping around with them, and it was wonderful. Oldest boy is obsessed with sports, middle boy spends every spare second drawing (or stealing my phone to play with the artsy droid apps), and little one is just plain cute. Little one has also renamed me Grandma, which the older boys find HILARIOUS.

*And while the cool breezes of fall (aka football season) are still months away, I did get to see the new additions to Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Roll Tide! And did I mention that I married an LSU fan?

*Kudzu may be an invasive plant, but it’s also one of those dear, familiar signs of home. They say that if you sit still enough you can hear it growing.

*Small town streets. With old trees! And people who actually know and take care of their neighbors! This is my grandmother’s street, where she has lived in the same house for nearly 60 years.

The day I drove up through the back roads of the state to see my grandma I sunk into total I LOVE HOME OMG WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE. I was in love with everything. Then as I drove back towards my parents’ new home, I saw a billboard that reminded me of the OTHER side of being from Alabama. I did not take a picture of this anti-Obama propaganda because it made me too sad. I took Mark Kemp’s Dixie Lullaby with me on this trip, and as I read of his conflicted feeling about being from the South, I felt echoes of my own story… I will always have a love/hate relationship with home because it’s a beautiful, wonderful place with a dark underbelly that hasn’t faded into history just yet.

(all photos by the author)

Twitter Updates

  • @nodakademic Congrats on her arrival! Hope you both are doing much better and that she's home very soon. 4 years ago
  • @hubbit New twist on aspirational baby naming ;) 4 years ago
  • In a somewhat ironic twist, I'm using my real name twitter account again because I have a new alias. 4 years ago
  • Is muscadine wine supposed to taste like Fun Dip and Pop Rocks? 4 years ago
  • Apparently I'm a hypocrite for believing in same sex marriage but not in incest. You learn so much on facebook... 4 years ago