Settled

After spending most of the last two years living like an expat, I’m finally settled in Ohio, my new home. As in permanent residence. As in changing every bit of legal paper and accounts. As in the true badge of residency: an Ohio driver’s license.

settled.jpgWhile that may not seem like much, I’ve held a Texas driver’s license since 1971. For some of you, that’s before you were born, no doubt! So no small change for this boy. All of it welcomed, all of it good, of course.

For the last two years I’ve bought this and thats, knowing I had the same thing back in Texas, but needing it in Ohio. I’ve missed my books, far away and out of reach, but now sitting quietly on my shelves as though no time had passed. After this long without my “stuff,” it was almost like Christmas unpacking the boxes once they finally made it to my loft apartment.

I’ve been nomadic most of my life, having the fortune of being a military brat until high school. Later life didn’t keep me in one place very long either, although I managed to stay confined within the Lone Star State. Lots of good memories from there, lots of friends made and lost, and significant events. Both my babies were born there (babies…ha…they’re both taller than me, driving, and about to be unleashed upon the world). But it’s nice to finally feel settled. New job, new digs, new friends, new places to explore, new winters to endure…a little bit of everything. Settled. It’s a comfy word.

Praying for Freedom?

mantis1.jpg

I rescued a praying mantis from my garage today. Rescue is perhaps inaccurate, as I wasn’t sure if the big bug was hiding or just couldn’t get out. I moved it to a shrub, thinking it would fare better outside in the green rather than trapped in the anti-nature garage.

mantis2.jpg

I watched it for awhile and moved around the bush to reposition for a better picture. As I did, it turned its head and followed me with its eyes. Eerie. Unfortunately, when I went out about 10 minutes later to retake a macro shot, I couldn’t find it. Hopefully some passing bird didn’t spot it and think, “Oooh…a bratwurst” or whatever birds think when a tasty morsel such as this is at hand, er, beak.

Amazing

moth1.jpg

My friend’s house in Houston where I’m staying had a couple extra visitors. These two gorgeous luna moths stayed motionless for days on the front door jamb and trim. I’ve seen these before, but never two in such a position. They are probably mates, since these silkmoths essentially live for romance. Awww…

moth2.jpg

Named after Polyphemus, a Greek mythology one-eyed giant, they live short lives to reproduce, and apparently (from what I read), don’t feed as adults. Based on how motionless these two were, they don’t seem to fly much either. Regardless of their life habits, they are unquestionably eye-catching.

moth3.jpg

Delightful

Cafe Piquet

It’s hard to describe what Cuban food is if you haven’t experienced it. Somewhat Carribbean, a little bit Spanish, a little bit Mexican. But mostly delicious.

Yesterday I found myself near a favorite old haunt, Cafe Piquet on Bissonnet in Houston. I used to frequently eat at Cafe Miami, just down the street a bit. Although they serve yellow rice and black beans, reason to eat there, Cafe Piquet opts for the “arroz blanco, frijoles negros” (white rice, black bean mixture) to represent this traditional staple, and has a more traditional menu. But you can’t go wrong with either place for a taste of cocina cubano.

One thing I find interesting in a pure ethnic restaurant such as Cafe Piquet is the clientèle. When I dine there, I’m typically the only gringo in sight, most of the patrons being Cuban. Conversations are always in Spanish, spoken with a lyrical rhythm and clear enunciation unlike the Tex-Mex one hears nearly everywhere in South Texas. While I understand a little, I can more easily pick up words and phrases listening to the Cuban tongue than I can the Tex-Mex mess.

But back to the food. Last night I dined on pernil asado with arroz blanco, frijoles negros, and platanos maduros (roasted pork with white rice, black beans, and ripe plantains). Washed down with a Peruvian Cristal (alas, no mojito), the meal was more than I could handle (translation: take away!), but every bite tasty. Just wished my Spanish were better so I could catch more of the floating conversations, although likely they are more exotic in my imagination than if I knew what they were saying.