Dazzled by Market Square

July 24, 2014 at 4:03 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

When I was in San Antonio Saturday, my best friend dragged me to the old Farmer’s Market – dragged is too harsh, that makes it sound like I was kicking and screaming and I wasn’t.  I was happy to go and see something new, was excited about it really, except I looked past the archways from the street and my stomach sank… people.  Lots and lots of people.  Crowds didn’t bother me much when I was younger, they couldn’t, I went to a 5A highschool and if you were nervous in a crowd you’d drown in a sea of elbows.  (I realize now that maybe they did, I just often had a hand to cling to – my now husband – when walking through those crowds, not sure my bestie would be down with me grabbing her hands to hold in public… doesn’t stop me from wanting to.) Doesn’t change the fact that I see one ahead these days and I have to summon a purpose or desire for something in that crowd in order to enter it.

In this case, food, art, and music.  My trifecta that gets me through the festival experience.  I love those things.  And even though the Market was crowded – the worst of it at Mi Tierra – there was a little bit of space and I found myself able to breathe.  Especially once I got myself to the art booths.

Right outside Mi Tierra I stumbled across two separate booths. One for Joseph Hernandez Jr. (www.josephhernandezartist.com) and one for Robert Wilkens (robertwilkensco@sbcglobal.net).

It was the impressionistic style of Joseph Hernandez that caught my attention to the art in the first place. I was already tired from shopping, tired of the crowds, and on the verge of becoming very hungry. But then I saw this:



This is Joseph Hernandez Jr. He paints vibrantly, is self-taught, and stands about as tall as me. I could have stood in his booth and looked at every single painting for hours. If I were wealthy, I would have bought one of everything. My house would become a gallery to his work. I loved all the color. His use of it reminded me of Bryan Collins work even if their styles are nothing alike.

P1020682Much of his work is perfect for the tourist or native San Antonio lovers.  He chooses places around town to capture on the canvas.  Far more valuable than any photograph you could take of the same location.

He has just as many paintings of a random assortment, random things that inspired him… trees and branches are a running theme for him.  He had a lot for musicians – a sax, a violin, muP1020683sic notes, etc.  I can’t imagine walking into his booth and not seeing something you want to take home with you.  The hard part is deciding which something.

His paintings are affordable for the art collector.  Good size canvases that I’ve seen sell in the thousands by less talented painters were running between $400 – $500.  You could buy a very small  canvas for $25 and walk away with an original piece. His prints were what would hit your pocket, averaging at half the price of the canvas.  Seeing that I opted to save for an original Hernandez, rather than buying a print.  I took a business card, but came back later to take this picture with him:

P1020680Only a few booths away, closer to the Mi Tierra entrance, was Robert Wilkens – or Roberto as his wife kept calling him, and I can’t get her voice and pronunciation of his name out of my head.  She’s gorgeous and so passionate about his work.

P1020684I asked to take a picture of his work and later found out that most people just take the pictures – they don’t generally ask first.  I’m used to museums and conventions, rather than festivals, and I always ask.  Otherwise you might find yourself being barked at.

Robert and his wife were very gracious and let me take as many pictures as I wanted.  Robert is a chatterer, and I enjoyed talking to him while I watched him paint.  He teased me about my tattoo – told me it said “Soy Sauce in Chinese, didn’t you know?”  I picked on him for assuming I didn’t know what my tattoo said, just because I was a white girl.  Some things are funnier in my head than they are out loud.  Either way, Robert and I had a nice long chat about artistry and professions.  We showed him a picture of my kiddo’s art work.  We talked about books and my career as a writer.

“When did you first know you wanted to write?” he asked me.

“The moment I realized that ink came out of a pen and formed words on a page,” I answered.

P1020675He’s been a painter for decades, but he took the long road it sounds.  He had a lot of people tell him he couldn’t make a living at it.  It’s clear that he can, his work is incredible.  We talked about how we  encourage that artistic spirit in our children.  My daughter – the child of a writer – is quite the little painter.  His daughter – the child of a painter – just might be the next great American novelist.

He was a muralist for a long time, you can see the remnants of that life in some of his work.  I love it, and I want him to come do some walls in Houston that need sprucing.

He’s good enough for the first lady, he should be good enough for everyone:

Artist – Muralist, Robert Wilkens has been in the arts for twenty-five years and has worked commercially for fourteen years. He is well established in all media of the arts. Robert’s talent and dedication to his work has taken him to Mexico and all over the United States of America, even to the White House in the service of the First Lady, Laura Bush. There is no other artist of Roberts caliber when it comes to working with clients. His work ethics are honest and the beauty of his brush strokes while painting murals are eloquent and always precise.

(From Robert Wilkens & Company Blog)

I may not enjoy crowds, but I love discovering.  I love traveling and the search for new experiences and people.  I love seeing something I’ve never encountered before and picking it apart in my brain, learning to describe it.  New sights and smells and sounds may overwhelm me, but I welcome it as a learning experience.  I am so glad we went to Market Square that day.  I am glad we met Joseph Hernandez Jr and Robert Wilkens.  I am glad we waited for seats at Mi Tierra, even after we were told it would be an hour and half before we could be seated (it was actually only 35 minutes).  I’m ecstatic that I got to eat cheese enchiladas and suck down a Mojito before devouring more art with my eyes.  (I’m mildly amused that I got carded for my Mojito.)

When I went back out to take more pictures of Robert’s work and buy a print of his with my bestie, I was pleasantly buzzed (light weight, cheap date, whatever, I’ll take the name calling)… and found this:

P1020687I couldn’t stop looking at it and I wanted it for my wall.  He didn’t have any prints available for it, but said he would ship to Houston if only I let him know.

I want the original.  It’s magnificent.  The detail in the water and his pant leg is stellar.  I wanted to be swept away with him, from the dirty street and into that clear, blue water, up to the moon.  It helps that I find suitcases and umbrellas terribly romantic.

It helps that I find travel romantic.  It helps that adventure fascinates me, even if it makes me a little nervous, I still want to experience it all.  I want to absorb art through my eyes and bathe in it.  I want to taste new foods and close my eyes and live the flavor.  I want to meet new people and really discover who they are before I leave their presence, even if it takes a little bit of work to stay focused on what they are telling me.  I want to be dazzled.

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Log Off and Smell the Lattes

April 2, 2014 at 9:48 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

DSC03062The phrase used to be ‘stop and smell the roses,’ I don’t know that it’s an entirely accurate turn of phrase anymore.

I am a busy lady with lots of activities, but mostly I’m busy on the internet.  I have my personal accounts, and most things started out as hobbies, but somewhere along the way all my hobbies turned into jobs – and most these jobs include manning facebook, twitter, pinterest, and a whole host of other social media.  Not just for me and my writing career, but for my art company, bookstores, and, well, everyone.

Because I do all this from an actual computer, because I don’t have what I call a ‘fancy’ phone or any kind of ‘spectacular device’ (smartphone, ipads, and whatever other twenty-first century gadgets the world has at their fingertips these days), when I go on vacation, or even a business trip, I get a true break from everything.

I had a book signing in Dallas this past weekend.  Which means from the time I got into my car to drive the four hour trek to the time I pulled back into my driveway 72 hours later, I was on internet silence.  No facebook to log into. I didn’t have a chance to or even a reminder to tweet anything.  My blog became an afterthought; and everything of the cyberspace variety went 100% on the back burner so that I could spend all my time with the real world – or ink and paper when I didn’t want to look beyond my nose.

And guess what?

It was marvelous.


Click the photo to see all the pictures from the HPB Preston Village book signing.

My afternoon at my signing was completely focused on my customers, my business partner, and the beautiful friends that came to visit and support me.  I’ve seen many authors sit behind author tables and have no clue how to interact.  Instead they spend precious moments when they could be chatting with fans, typing on smartphones or figuring out how to take credit cards.  Being able to accept credit cards sure does make things simple for people – but my tech-free weekend kept all transactions cash only, and I have to say, it was nice.

Afterward, a group of us went off to a new restaurant in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas called Smoke.  I highly recommend eating there for anyone who hasn’t tried it.  The food was excellent, the service was great, and the place had a pretty stellar vibe.  (By the way, the creme brule is to die for – and the best part is the candied ginger. )  Part of that vibe, I must say, was enhanced by the fact that we spent little to no time on our phones!

P1010467 Instead, we discussed future events for Aoristos and myself, as well as books (both published and not yet published).  To the right, my lovely friend Miss Golightly is taking a brief gander at the Follies Past by Melanie Ker while we wait for our dinner.  (I’m still reading, but there will be a review posted soon!  Austen fans, stay tuned!)

Time and time again I have gone to dinner with the far less considerate only to sit at a table and watch people facebook and text all their friends who aren’t present.  It’s something I’ve never appreciated.  So, although having  a smart phone would make many of my events have a more solid online presence, I am not inclined to purchase one until I absolutely have to.  I’m less interested in an online presence and more interested in being present.  The online part can happen before and after, in my opinion.

After being stuffed to the gills with the most amazing barbecue I’ve had in a long time, I finished the day at my aunt and uncle’s house.  It’s practically a bed and breakfast it is so cozy and relaxing.  Homemade lattes were made, there was some time in the garden, and then afterward the kiddo and I slept here…


Clearly, this is after I mussed up the pillows.  P1010517

FYI, there’s a manlier room down the hall…

It was the best sleep I’ve had in a good long while.  Probably helpful that my eyes hadn’t spent any evening time looking at a computer screen.  (Not to mention, I was physically exhausted.)

Bright and early, and well rested, the next morning… I stepped out of my room to something that is nothing short of heaven to my soul:

P1010502Yes, that’s a coffee bar right outside the guest bedroom.  Complete with bottled water for the Keurig, International Delight creamers (in hazelnut and french vanilla), sugar packets, and real mugs!

After helping myself to coffee, I took my journal and Melanie Kerr’s book and headed to the room one door down…


It was a beautiful morning.  I did what I do every morning, sans computer screen blinking at me.  That lack of a computer screen makes all the difference.  And although computers are useful, and I adore my jobs and the freedom I have to raise my daughter while working mostly from home; once in awhile I need to remember that just because I’m sitting, doesn’t mean I need to be sitting with technology.

Log off… smell the lattes… breathe, relax, enjoy.

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The Name of the Rose Readathon

April 11, 2012 at 4:34 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Disclaimer: This is not the guest blogger post previously mentioned.  Caro’s review of this book can be found here.

I first read The Name of the Rose about four years ago.  I was just hired at Half Price Books in Humble as a bookseller and was totally stoked over my employee discount and having the opportunity to spend forty hours a week basking in the glory of the literature section.  I say basking, but in reality I was frantically shelving books completely convinced that this dream job would get yanked right from under my feet – something like too good to be true shock.

My sister had read Umberto Eco’s work when she was in college, I always imagine it was one of the last books she read on her own before before she started to have problems with her vision, but that could be a complete fabrication of my own mind.  She loved it and was excited to hear that I had stumbled across the book and felt the pull of intrigue on my soul.  You know that feeling when you first find something or someone you know you will fall in love with but you don’t know when or why, you just know its going to happen?  That’s the feeling I got the moment Eco’s book first hit my hands.

And I did fall in love.  The Name of the Rose is genius, Umberto Eco is a genius.  I eagerly read through each line, so excited about what would come next, thrilled to pieces at the idea of a library being a labyrinth in a spooky monestery.  I was in love page after page until I settled on the very last line with a deep sigh at its ending “stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.” I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that upon first reading, that last line’s deep sigh wasn’t just a lament over the ending of the book, it was also one of complete puzzlement and disastifaction in not fully understanding the meaning behind that last line, but knowing that of course there must be one.  Insert googling the quote, briefly reading a few things, being sad over the fact that I didn’t catch a literary reference on the first try because I’d never been exposed to Bernard whoever in my life, therefore wouldn’t have caught the reference the first time through, regardless of my intelligence level, and now you have a full visual of that deep sigh.  I haven’t read Bernard of Cluny’s (or is it Morlay, I find multiple references naming the author as Morlay instead of Cluny – clearly I need to brush up on my Medieval History) De Contemptu Mundi, but seeing how Eco wrote his very own ode to the concept behind the work (corruption of institutions, religion, and humanity), I’m dying to give it a try.

After reading The Name of the Rose, I devoured Foucault’s Pendulum, and began collecting everything Eco had ever penned.  Not long after, I sat down with Baudolino and Six Walks in the Fictional Woods.  So clearly, when a twitter follower mentioned doing a readathon of The Name of the Rose over the Easter holidays in 2012, I jumped at the chance to meander through the work that first introduced me to an author I will cherish for a lifetime.

Because I had already read The Name of the Rose before, I decided that this time I would read through my copy of The Key to The Name of the Rose, a handy dandy guide to all the references and phrases that I didn’t have the first time around.  I stumbled across it while shelving Literary Criticism about two years after my first dive into Eco.  In the introduction of this little guide, the authors recommend reading through the book in seven consecutive nights, taking an evening to read each day that passes in the adventure of William and Adso.  I don’t remember how long it took me to read through The Name of the Rose the first time (probably awhile, spending half the time refreshing my high school Latin), but as I re-read it for the readathon over the course of 2-3 days, I agree that there are some lovely benefits to reading it all at once.

For starters, the story stays really fresh and you don’t have to back peddle at all.  No double checking to see if that part you read two nights ago is still there. (You know you do that too sometimes, even though the book is clearly the same size it was before, has the same number of pages, sometimes you feel the need to breeze through the parts you already read to make sure you didn’t dream something up in the interem.)  You don’t feel as inclined to re-check any translations you did, its fresh, its right, you only have so long to read this next portion, so get on with the story.

On top of that, while reading it all at once, I noticed how familiar William of Baskerville is to me.  Maybe I’ve just been saturated with Agatha Christie this year, but I never noticed before how much William is a little bit Sherlock Holmes, a little bit Hercule Poirot, and all those fabulous sleuths we’ve enjoyed with over the years.  William is prone to shouting things like “Fantastic! More and more interesting!” before chasing after some unknown clatter and stumbling across Indiana Jones-like puzzles to be deciphered with the help of his sidekick.  (Ok, so Adso doesn’t resemble the asian kid Short Round at all, but you gotta admit he is a little bit like Arthur Hastings all the way down to his distraction when it comes to the ladies.)

All in all, I enjoy The Name of the Rose every time I read it.  I can’t wait to see what Carolina Cuicci has to say in her guest blog post and I hope you’ll come and read through her post with me.  And maybe, when we have a readathon for The Island of the Day Before, you’ll join us.

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