Hong Kong is a fun–if challenging and hamstring-building–city to walk in. There are sudden gardens and parks and winding alleyways, which seem to lead to nowhere, until you stumble upon a open-front cafe with friends gathered around a common table, smoking cigarettes and laughing about their day.
This is an alley adjacent to my hotel. You have to pay attention as you walk the narrow sidewalks, because you might miss a shortcut between streets. Up and to the left is Coffee By Zion on First Street. It’s where I am now for Monday breakfast.
In the time it takes me to fly from DFW halfway around the world to Hong Kong, I could drive across Texas from Beaumont to El Paso (via Dallas of course), with just enough time to stop at L&J Cafe for a dinner of green chili chicken enchiladas.
The world is getting smaller and smaller.
But Texas sure is big.
And don’t you forget it.
Of course, my trip didn’t terminate in Hong Kong. I still had to fly to Manila on Cebu Pacific, a flight that was not altogether comfortable–unlike American’s flight to HK, which was cushy–due to the cranked AC and a neighboring gentleman doing Boss-Level manspreading. I almost took a photo of his intrusive left leg but you never know what will happen when you document a Rampant Manspreader.
That said, the flight attendants were delightful, and while this is certainly generalizing, Filipino culture has social graces built into most interactions.
In Tagalog, people use the word “po” in a suffix position to a verb or phrase to indicate respect to another. From what I understand, it can serve as “Sir” or “Madam.”
And of course, when you order a simple sausage croissant from a food kiosk in the Philippines Airline terminal 2 (domestic) en route to Tagbilaran City, then you are knighted.
Seen outside Gibson’s, practically my favorite store on Planet Earth:
Hide & Carry: ALL DAMSEL / NO DISTRESS
How could I not navigate over to its website, if only to see the handbag beauty behind the brains that came up with the tagline for concealed-carry couture. One bag is called the Aphrodite, so if you’re feeling mythical and want to make sure no bad demigods toy with your immortality, this is the accessory for you. One of the most popular items is an evening shoulder bag, available in black or tan leopard. So if you’re at the Cailloux Theater listening to the symphony, and during intermission some joker tries to make a move on your tailgate, you go all cross-body with your .38 special and pump him full of timpani.
This is Texas, and if you can’t be deadly and look dressed-to-kill, well then, you best be on your way back to Oklahoma.
Everyone knows that cocker spaniels are uptight and a bit insecure. They are the canine version of Woody Allen: diminutive and a bit sad, often whiny, and barking at the slightest provocation.
I live next to a cocker spaniel, and while I have had very sweet moments with her, on balance she gives me little grace during my coming and going. Perhaps not surprisingly, she defends her owner–barking at me incessantly and like she’s never seen me or forgets our sweet moments–but is quiet and reserved, even bashful, when I see her during her owner’s absence. I suspect she is trying to earn her keep as a guard dog.
But everyone knows cocker spaniels will never be Guard Dogs. Guard Dogs are feared, but a cocker spaniel is not feared. It is a long-haired ottoman in motion.
And then there are the dogs on the other side of the fence. See Housing Situation diagram below.
The cocker spaniel (in chartreuse) is in either Position 2 at the side gate or, more often, Position 1 at the back gate off the courtyard as I drive in via the Gauntlet to park in the back yard by my garage apartment. I get barked at. Hearing the long-haired ottoman, the neighbor’s three dogs on the right come running to see what the excitement is. (It is the same every day, but as dogs are not so smart as cats, even if they are ten times as loyal, they think it’s a different 1998 Ford Contour and not the same one they’ve seen for two months with the same driver.) There is a chest-high faux wrought iron fence separating the properties. The two bigger neighbor dogs, a husky of some type and a brown mutt, run alongside and sometimes over each other, the brown mutt looking at the husky for encouragement, like, “We’re gonna bark at him again, right?” Then there’s a small gray dog, the size of a bullhorn, about which my landlady cautioned me once, “Don’t pet her. If you pet her, she will get very jealous if you go to pet any of the other dogs and she’ll try to bite them.”
My landlady doesn’t realize that this incentivizes me.
I was on my deck two nights ago, and the two larger dogs were barking at a neighbor’s unseen dog to the north. There was a slight opening at the bottom of the wood fence, and after consulting with the husky, the mutt started in, barking and tail furiously wagging. The husky watched with ears pricked up, tongue hanging out, panting. Tail raised in victory.
My father used to joke that during a slow part of any movie, the screenplay would surely indicate to the director, “Somewhere a dog was barking.”
Let’s talk about driving. And parking. Specifically, turning lanes and Corvettes taking up two mall slots.
First, Corvettes and mall parking spaces. That’s the one that burns me up a little, so let’s expunge this little rant like last night’s jalapeño poppers.
I described the scene above to Karen, who said, “Ooh. He’s just asking for it.”
It needs no further qualification. It is anything that falls into the category of things he–and you know it’s a “he”–didn’t want to happen to his Precious Ride, so he took more spaces than God granted him in this great country. IT DOESN’T MATTER TO ME THAT THE LOT IS LARGELY EMPTY. That’s not the point, Dear Reader. The point is justice. The point is fairness. The point is that he was the camper in 8th grade who had the last cup of “bug juice” at the cabin table during lunch and didn’t abide by the “you kill it, you fill it”
rule, which every kid on Planet Earth knows is right and good and beautiful. This is kind of like manspreading on the NYC subway, except that I wouldn’t personally tangle with most manspreaders. They manspread because they know no one’s going to mess with them. But a Corvette parked like this is “asking for it.”
Now, on to the kinder side of driving.
The turning lane.
The turning lane is a wonder of ex-urban driving, which practically doesn’t even acknowledge lanes. Having got my license at 17 in New York City and as a former Uber driver, I can tell you that driving there is like a video game: Competitive…leveling up…finding the “easter eggs”…always multiplayer and never campaign mode. The turning lane here changes things. Softens things. Makes life pleasant. Creates smiles. Reduces manspreading.
Imagine you’re coming out of the Take It Easy RV Resort (where Karen’s paternal grandmother once lived) on Junction Highway. You want to go to Hometown Crafts, which is really just a few hops and a skip north. Only about 75 yards, in fact. BUT…you’ve got some serious traffic between those two places. Well, you could drive in the breakdown lane going the wrong way. But that would not be Driving Friendly, as they do in Texas. (They really do. If you pull onto the shoulder on a highway to let a faster car pass, they wave out the back window or, at night, tap the breaks a few times to acknowledge your thoughtfulness.) No, you don’t drive in the breakdown lane the wrong way. That would be wrong. That way is for Corvettes. That’s the way of Darkness.
What you do instead is pull out into the Turning Lane.
Now, there is actually a raging debate about the proper use and the misuse of this Gift From God which is the Turning Lane. Even the Kerrville Daily Times has covered this. It’s a thing.
But in any case, let’s say you’re a sweet Kilgore grandmother, and you’re simply going from your RV to Hometown Crafts to get, say, some fake ferns to decorate the front porch. I mean, right? Not a big deal. You pull gently out into the turn lane–all the Super Duty trucks whizzing to and fro with their dual exhaust pipes the diameter of large shop vacs–and sally forth the 75 yards north. Then waiting for the red ‘Vette and the three Dodge Chargers to pass, you make a gentle left…a slight swing…a smooth curving 90-degree arc like a graceful figure skater of old, the kind we don’t see anymore on TV–these days we see them flipping three or four times so fast our heads spin and give us whiplash and they’re all probably using those steroids and such–no, I’m talking about a gentle turn, a smooth graceful arc, DAMNED be the dual exhaust on those big ol’ white Super Duty Ford trucks a-rumbling down Junction Highway–and you gracefully turn into Hometown Crafts to get your fern. You are smiling. Others who pass you in the parking lot are smiling. They have their ferns. You almost have your fern.
All because of the Turning Lane.
And that is why Turning Lanes are good and Corvettes are bad.
It’s Sunday morning, and I feel I should write something.
Should I mention that The Hunt Store had far better french fries on Friday night than last night?
I think I’ll write about Edson’s Kerrcrafters. One of my favorite buildings in Kerrville. The old showroom is on the left, on the corner of Water and G Streets. The warehouse is on the right.
To get you oriented, though, here are two overviews of approximately where these buildings are:
OK, so I went a little overboard with the visual aids today.
After stopping by Kerrville Kayak & Canoe on Broadway and G the other day, I drove down G to Water to turn right, or north, as I usually go. I decided this time I would get out and take some photos. It was high time to inspect this place that I’d so often admired. One of the disadvantages to driving is that one often says, “I should look at that more closely next time I…” and then there’s no next time.
If you look on Yelp, Facebook, or Google Maps, you’ll find a listing for Kerrcrafters but nary a hint of commercial viability. That’s because it’s not. Word is–from Karen and her sister, who said that Kerrcrafters probably made the cabinets in their childhood home–that the company also made the cabinets for jewelry maker James Avery, until Avery started to make their own fixtures.
I just love the shape of the showroom, on the corner, and the desert sand color it and the warehouse sibling building have.
I had taken the first photo from caddy-corner and also across G Street, and walking back to my idling car across Water Street in front of Wilson’s Ice House, a bar that’s open from 10am till only 12 Midnight (when others stay open later), I was addressed by a man sitting on the porch glider who was nursing a now-probably-warm beer purchased an hour ago at 10:15am. This was Thursday.
“Whatchya takin’ pictures of?”
“Oh…” I started–he was partially obscured by the establishment’s prison-like bars around the porch and the palm tree bushes next to the seating–“I was taking pictures of that building. I love its design.”
“Yeah. That’s supposed to become a restaurant.”
“Oh! Really?… That’s cool. Know what kind of food?”
“I think fine dining. They’re developing this whole side of town.”
“Cool.” I really need to come up with a more intelligent response to helpful field research. “Nice to know. It’s a shame to let that building go to waste.”
We said our goodbyes–he may not have remembered me by Noon–and I decided to drive down Water toward the warehouse.
It was across from River Trail Cottages, which I learned from the Hill Country Community Journal has renovated a former motor court and is expecting robust business. From their website’s gallery, this could give Marfa, TX, a run for its hipster money. Frankly, for your money, you might want to go up toward Ingram and check out Casita Blu, whose gallery doesn’t show the very cool “glamper” I stayed in once for $78/night.
I’ve been told there are old-timers around here who reject change and the notion of change.
But the change that seems to be taking hold is when it beckons the past into the present to be honored and enjoyed.