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Today is Monday, right?

I don't even remember the last time I posted. Probably last Wednesday, though that was one of those crazy-busy days, too.

Thursday, I trekked up to Austin for Planned Parenthood's Lobby Day, educating my legislators on the Prevention Works! and Education Works! bills on family planning and comprehensive sex education, respectively. Actually, my legislators--Rodney Ellis and Ellen Cohen--are pretty well versed and need nothing by my thanks and undying support. But I led some other constituents to talk with their legislators about the bills. Two Republican senators--Joan Huffman and Tommy Williams--who sent out their legislative aides, and one Democratic House Member--Kristi Thibaut--who sat with us for almost an hour and agreed to co-sponsor the bill. No one got a sense of Senator Huffman; she's brand new, won in a special election in December, and her thoughts on reproductive issues are unclear. Given that Senator Thompson's staff didn't let our group in the office, and made us give the presentation in the foyer, I leaned towards thinking that his was an unfriendly territory. Halfway through the pitch, he walked out of the office, through the crowd of constituents, and out of the office. We did stop in to see Ellen Cohen, who greeted us effusively and thanked US for the work we do.

It took us a few hours to make our way through the Capitol, and it was a lot of fun. I resisted the temptation to sing and dance in the rotunda, and I got to meet Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. I was partnered with Peter Durkin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, and of course, he knew half the people in the Capitol, so it was a lot of fun to be introduced to so many legislators, lobbyists and Planned Parenthood folk from all over the state.

After the shennangins at the Capitol were over, a big group of us headed to a bar for a few hours to unwind. With all the work I've done for Planned Parenthood over the years I know quite a few people on staff, so it was cool to hang out over a key lime martini and catch up with them. After the bar, we hopped on a bus and headed home, getting there around nine.

For some reason or another, my work had a day off on Friday, and the original plan was to go to the ranch soon after waking up. But on Thursday night, I discovered that my windshield wipers only worked on high, and of course, it was raining all day Friday.* A week previously, I'd taken my car in for an oil change, and by the way, my high beams aren't working, could you take a look? They ended up replacing the arm that controls the high beams and the windshield wipers. I thought that the new arm that had been put in the week before was defective or improperly put in, we took the car in thinking that a) it'd be a fairly easy problem to diagnose and fix, and b) it'd be cheap. Neither turned out to be the case. They had to dig deep into my dashboard, locate the central electrical distributor and replace it. We didn't get the car until six or so, and the dogs ended up going to the ranch ahead of time with my parents.

Still, we did make it to the ranch more or less in a resonable time to make some awesome pasta, chat with my parents and play with the dogs. This was Celosa's first time there, and I think the place made a favorable impression on her. Her first hour or so there was spent playing chase with Crianza, using Zapata as some sort of elaborate (and hairy) home base. We ended up going to bed relatively early that night, and since we had a king-sized bed, all four of us slept comfortably with plenty of room.

The next day, we had a liesurely breakfast, and Graham took a nap to rest up for the Grilled Cheese Invitational. My dad was fascinated by the whole thing, and he quizzed Graham on the details over and over again. At some point, he decided to "help" and got into a tizzy. While Graham was roasting garlic on the wood burning oven to whip with softened butter, my dad was hunting high and low for materials to make signs with. While Graham was cooking bits of pancetta, my dad was pouring through children's books to copy illustrations for his masterpiece. Graham's sandwich was titled Tre Piccoli Suini, or Three Little Pigs in Italian. So my dad found images of pigs and copied them in sharpie onto tin foil. He made three signs, just in case we needed them. The signs were awesome.

Around four o'clock, we were ready to take off, and with good wishes from the home front, we set forth to Austin. We got there in plenty of time to help set up a little and run into friends from all over. I was surprised how crowded it got, and by around seven-ten-ish, the griddles were fired up, and the first round of sandwiches were off. I think it was T that made the awesome tomato soup that they were handing out along with the starter kraft sandwiches, and on a chilly March day, that soup was perfect. Graham and I waited and heckled our friend Puppy and otherwise chatted with folk until it was his turn, around 8:45ish, to go. However well you do in practice, real compitition is totally different. Because it was so cold outside, the butter wasn't as soft initially as it had been earlier that day. The sandwich was made of italian bread, with the roasted garlic herb butter on the outsides. Fresh mozarella (which melts slowly) combined with Speck (a smoked ham), good pepporoni, and the pancetta, and was topped with provalone (which melts much faster). Three kinds of Italian pork based meats, with two Italian melty, gooey cheeses. And don't forget the butter.

After the first tester sandwich, we got into a groove. I was cutting bread and making sure that everything was more or less at Graham's hands. Every six mintues or so, he would cut a completed sandwich into quarters and I'd rush two over to one of the judge's tables, while our friend Brian rushed the others to the other judge's table. The judges--aside from the king and queen of cheese who sampled every one--were members of the cheese loving public. They (very patiently) stood in line, and they got the sandwich that happened to arrive when they got at the front. They then judged the sandwich and submitted their ballots to GCI officials. Then, the judges would get back in line to try another sandwich.

I think we took about 30 minutes to make our twenty samples. Much to Graham's chagrin, Karaoke was going on while we cooked. I think it was probably appropriate....

We waited around (sampling a donut based sandwich that would go on to win the Honey Pot category) for about an hour after we were done with our cooking, and the winners were announced at around 11:00ish. Porn and T's sons placed in both the Kama Sutra and the Honey Pot categories (I tried the Honey Pot one, and it needed to be higher than the donut sandwich...), but Graham and I didn't place. We think we did relatively well, though, as the King of Cheese told us that he liked our sandwich a lot, and a tabulator friend told us that she ran across an entry with a near perfect score for our sandwich.

As it was late, we took off shortly after the winners were announced, sort of sad in our defeat, but happy about the moral victory. And the cheese.

Yesterday, it seemed we did a lot. Jose and one of his friends had come up while we were gone, and I made crepes for breakfast. The puppies played for a good hunk of the day, and at some point we all went on a walk to see the memorial marker that the friends and family of the plane crash victim from last year had erected. Graham tended to the fire in the barbeque pit, and he also made another few sandwiches for my family, who were incensed that the tasty morsels they were given did not merit a victorious trophy. I pulled weeds for a few hours, and a lot of people took naps. I worked on step two of my lemoncello (step one took place the day after Christmas), which will probably be ready sometime in May. There was barbeque at some point, and then we had to pack, organize puppy dogs, and clean up. We got back to Houston around 9:00 last night, though it took us awhile to get to bed, and I couldn't sleep.

I woke at six this morning, went to the gym, worked out hard for an hour and a half, came home, kissed the pooches and the man, and came to work....


*This is not a bad thing. It hasn't rained in months. The mechanics later commented that because it's been so long since it rained, there's no telling when my windshield wipers went out.

Comments

( 1 comment — Say something )
clynne
Mar. 16th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
It was so awesome to see you.

Thanks for mentioning Leo, and thanks just as much for changing the subject to talk about happy new puppy time. That was a really caring gesture.

Can't wait to see you guys again this summer.
( 1 comment — Say something )