Some productive packing was accomplished while I waited for my flight, which took me to LaGuardia (one of my least favorite airports of all time because of their absurd amount of screens at every turn) and on to Detroit (a favorite airport but was forced to sprint my way to the final flight). My plane landed in Austin before the clock struck midnight and, after snuggling my favorite Texan fur babies, I was in my childhood bed soon after.
The next morning brought a walk to the lake. If you looked one way down the Colorado River/dammed lake, you could only see houses and boats, tents and signs of humans. But if you looked to the left, there was nothing unnatural about it. Pure life. Cedar trees and calm waters as far as the eye can see. This is my favorite spot in the Austin area because you almost feel like nothing else exists.
Reality always beckons though so on to the first task of our final wedding plans came. Flowers and lots of them were looked at and decided upon for the bouquet, boutonnière and table arrangements. Roses, eucalyptus, coffee berries and white limonium were all chosen for their textures, smells and colors. Thanks to my cousins, the flowers came together beautifully.
Friday evening, after picking up family from the airport, we went to the rehearsal dinner and ate way too much for the first time that weekend. Queso, guacamole, ravioli, quesadilla and drinks were on the table before entrees were ordered. Salads, pork sliders, tacos, chicken fried steak and more were ordered next and a mousse bomb and goat cheesecake finished off the meal. We were stuffed but still managed to walk the mile and a half downtown a few hours later for one more beer.
I had always thought of Austin as a drive-everywhere city but that's because I've enter stayed in close proximity to anything except my car. This night, we managed to walk across I-35, over the most beautiful lake (another section of the dammed Colorado) and over to Rainey Street. After walking up and down the street and deciding to stay instead of continue on to 6th Street, we chose Craft Pride, a Texas-only bar. This meant Texas-make beer and wine, rather than Texas residents as I wouldn't have been let in...
The next day brought a walk to Congerss and 4th Street to Houndstooth Coffee, then up to South Congress for some window shopping. The wedding was held in the evening at an open air chapel in the hill country and dinner was served at Trattoria Lisina. Again, oh so much food but it was all very good and included bread, meats and cheese, pasta, lasagna, pork and beef, salad and of course, cake, cake and more cake. We made a whole other meal out of all this the next evening, which was just as good, if not better.
Sunday morning brought brunch at my godmother's house. I went over early to make crepes with Nutella and strawberries, all the bacon, to prep a great cheese array, and help make sure all was ready for our "guests" to arrive. The meal went off without a hitch (after finding the right pan for the crepes) and we drank champagne I acquired 10 years ago and had been saving for my wedding (#whatsthepointofsavingitanylonger). It was delicious. Sunday afternoon brought a walk down to the water, where I put my feet in and watched the city move and a final dinner with the whole family.
Bike rides are standard and necessary when I go home so ride my dad and I did. On our final ride, we came across a dozen zebras (on the Texas Disposal Systems' exotic game ranch. Just go with it), racing cars on the Circuit of the Americas, two Crested Caracara up close for the first time ever, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and two fantastic sunburns. That's what you get when you forget to lotion your arms and have been wearing four layers of clothes for the past four months. The burn has faded and left me tan but the memories of the animals and time spent with family will last forever. Or until Alzheimers truly sets in.
I made it home on time and, after a busy Wednesday and Thursday at work, I made it to the Maine Environmental Education Association Conference, where I was chosen to present. My topic was the waste hierarchy and a trash audit, to show just how much of what we throw out is actually recyclable or compostable/digestible (see 1/13/2017 post for more information on the Waste Hierarchy). From our targeted experiment, we extrapolated that Colby College is throwing out 350 pounds of food and other compostable/digestible material within only two bags of trash (there are hundreds more bags on campus). Imagine the savings to our taxes and our environment if we all pitched in and pitched our natural materials in the right bin. Which brings us to this weekend. Tomorrow will be spent shooting commercials for food waste recycling, so stay tuned for those.
Today was partially spent participating in Maine Maple Weekend. I visited the farmer's market for chard, carrots and onions and then drove out to Gorham to partake in maple syrup-covered ice cream, scents of evaporating sap, friendly puppy snuggles and a gallon plus of syrup. My dad, sister and nephew get special deliveries a couple times a year of Maine or Canada's sweetest treat. Now, on to dumpster diving for gleaned produce. I love my job!
Opening photo: Cheese, summer sausage and crackers on S.E. Hall Furniture and Design's Chef's Board. (www.sehallfurniture.com)