Two-meat Tuesday

Only, it was a Sunday. In Austin. With Cousin Pepper.

Cousin Pepper:

Her web site, as an introduction.

Some of her books:
Mastering Quilts.
Mastering Techniques.
Drunkard’s Path.

My cousin was passing through town, and at the behest of family, or listening to my own command, we set tentative then more permanent arrangements. As author to author, there’s a kinship that I feel with Pepper, more so than any other members of the family. She was, in her time, a bit of an outcast and loner, so there’s that, then, too, she publishes in a field that might not exactly be mainstream.

For one reason or another, we found ourselves at Austin’s “The Domain.” It’s a rather tony, upscale kind of a place. So far removed from what I know about Austin that it hurts. I’ve seen places just like this, specifically in Dallas and its environs, and I’m not pleased. But no one asked me.

There’s an artificial feeling, manufactured sense of well-being that’s about as fake – to me – as it gets. Which is a far cry from what Cousin Pepper is like. Spent time and money at the Apple store, and then, we found all of our party, next door to a (Star) buck’s, in a place called “The Steeping Room” Or something like that. Tea Room as opposed to a coffee shop.

To its credit, the Steeping Room was proper in its tea service, and the food was tea room perfect. Tea rooms are supposed to be quiet and conducive to conversation. Although tucked into a retail corner, and probably geared towards “The Domain’s” target affluent audience, the tea shop was nice.

A little salad, a dainty piece of cake, and some tea that was single-estate from China. Or something, but the tea was good, and the service was more than adequate. We sat for hours, about five us, and I never knew the world of quilt-making was so deep. Then, too, Pepper effectively bridges the gap between old-school and current best-practices.

Quilting Designs from the Amish
Quilting Designs from Antique Quilts
Multi-block Quilt Designs

Listening to Pepper talk, it’s a memory that’s dark and distant, but current, too. We pass each other at various points, maybe once every five or ten years, and as family, first cousins, we share a strong genetic link. As I see it, Pepper looks a lot like her mother, my father’s sister. And then there’s the genetic predisposition to tales. Stories. Talk. Gossip, chatter and tall tales.

Her father, my uncle, was, at one time – apparently (allegedly) – an officer for the CIA. I was previously led to believe he was just Army Air Corp, pre-Air Force Air Force. Later, I thought, he was Air Force. Cold-war era. With harrowing tales of daring. However, prior to that, my uncle was a bomber pilot in “the big war,” when the line between good and evil was a little more clear. Or not. At one point, he ditched in the Mediterranean, and him and his crew were all recovered by the RAF. Which goes a long way towards understanding some familial Anglo-American relations.

There was another tale, about CIA safe-houses, German agents, evil Russian rogues, but given the family’s propensity for rhetoric, though, veracity is not insured. Like a patchwork quilt, the family stories and histories were interwoven with more direct quilting talk. I’m not sure what a quarter-inch seam is. Or the difference between a hand-stitching and a sewing machine.

As a change, to see my side of Austin, we headed off for BBQ, as we all entered, the usual greeting, “Hi, come on in, oh, it’s only you,” when they saw me.

My cousin looked around, asked about what was good, I suggested pork ribs, fried okra, usual stuff. Bucket of ice tea. I greeted each server (and manager) by sign. Like it was normal. Which it is. South Austin still retains some funky chic.

Surveying the place, Cousin Pepper did allow as how she liked it. Looked like a “joint.” She likes joints. I would prefer the term “dive” but one must allow for regional differences in languages – joint, or dive, all about the same.

While they do have good Peach Cobbler at the “joint,” we headed off, one last ultimate Austin stop on my tour, Amy’s. I think she had vanilla wafers mashed into coffee ice cream, I’m not sure. Mexican Vanilla, all the way for me. Some surprise. New kid working there, too, Aquarius.

At Amy’s, that Aquarius behind the counter made a musical suggestion, and I’ll add it to the wish list of stuff to peruse, at some point. Which is what I like about the relaxed Austin atmosphere, how there can be a casual reference that results in new material.

Or a hot tip on a BBQ place in Houston. Not that Houston’s on my immediate itinerary, but never hurts to now about “Goode Co. BBQ in Houston.” Or, if staying in Houston, at the Hyatt? The roll away beds are better than the real hotel beds.

In the UK, outside of London, Pepper’s a quilt maker, work with it, she was telling about the Needle Museum – as if it was the coolest museum, better than all the big names.

All I knew, Pepper lives in the Carolina, North, South, one of them. However, she did use the best bait ever, “Come on out, we’ll get the boat and fish….”

Got to ask though, are their BBQ joints as good as ours?

In the spirit of planetary cooperation, a re-run

Retrograde bumper sticker:
The right to keep and arm bears.
Bumper sticker: Kennedy & Johnson – ticket for Texas

Desolation road:
It’s not a cryptic song hint, it’s downtown Gary, Indiana.

(cure for the common horoscope)
Two Meat Tuesday (the book)