Magical Me

It has been much too long between posts; my desire to post weekly has been raging a war with my doubt that I have anything to write that people will be interested in reading.  Not fishing for compliments, merely letting you know where my head has been.

Sunday was the 20th anniversary of the publishing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, probably one of the most influential novels in my life, and my kids’ lives.  Because, you see, I have always longed to be magical.  In fact, longing isn’t even a strong enough word for my desire to have magic inside of me, for my use, to change the world around me, and do my bidding.  Before this gets to sounding any more megalomaniacal, I swear I would only use it for good, unlike the Marauder’s Map, which will only show itself by tapping on it with your wand and intoning “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”

But ever since I was little,  I wanted to be Samantha from Bewitched, able to twitch my nose and have time stand still, or Mary Poppins, with her “Spit Spot!” and my room straighten itself.  I go to Scarborough Faire almost every year to see the cosplay fairies and witches.  I insisted my daughter have a fairy themed birthday party. In fact, for years in my head, I was an elf living in Elrond’s Last Homely House in Rivendell, a legend in my own mind (though my brother claims I am more like Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings movie, quick to see the power of owning the ring, and all she could accomplish, with the desire to do good, but ultimately corrupted if she accepted it)(I have no idea why he thought the comparison was accurate).

Georgetown, Texas, hosted a publishing party for each of the rest of the books in the series, and, since my mom lived there, we went to several of them.  The entire downtown square converted to Diagon Alley; even the bank converted to Gringott’s for the night.  Wands were available to purchase, butter beer served, and many very cute little Harry Potters ran around, their lightening scars getting smudged in the Texas heat, their tiny voices trying to transmogrify their siblings into rats. We would buy the newest book, and my son and daughter would fight over who got to read it first – we had to alternate every book.  As a grown up, I would wait until after their bedtime and devour the book, reading it the first time as fast as I could, knowing that I would read it again and again in the future, loving it anew each time.

One memorable evening, the year it was my daughter’s turn to read the book first, she was lying on the couch at my mom’s house, and suddenly burst into tears.  When asked what was wrong, she cried “Dumbledore died!” To this day, and he is now 23, my son resents her for the spoiler.  In fact, in a text this week about the anniversary, he wrote,”I do remember that. I also remember grace ruining dumbledore’s death for everyone involved, NEVER FORGET.” I’m still a little miffed about it, too, to be honest. And I still cry every time I read about it.

I was going to end this post with the usual blah blah blah, “the truth is, I’ll never be magic,” but I can’t, because I don’t believe that. I still believe that at some point in my life, I will be able to swish and flick, intone “Wingardiam Leviooosa,” and levitate the the cat off of my lap.  Or  “Accio!” to bring the wine bottle to me, to refill my glass (one of the more useful spells). And I will always believe.





A Good Excuse for an Excellent Beer

Yesterday, we took a road trip down to Salado, Texas, to attend the grand opening of a new microbrewery, Barrow Brewing Co.  Normally, we would never drive two hours for a beer, but this was family.  The owners of the brewery are Bruce’s brother’s widow’s third husband’s daughter and her husband.  This makes Sharon, the mom  (one of the most delightful women I’ve ever met), my sister-in-law, and Katie, the young brewery owner, my niece, by any Southern Standard.  So, Family. Even if we were just meeting for the first time.

And it was an absolutely delightful day.  The sun was out for the first time in weeks, and I’ve never seen Texas so green in June.  As we drove up to the brewery, we saw that a very eclectic crowd had already gathered, awaiting the ribbon cutting – luckily, the bartenders were not awaiting the same – they were pouring brew as fast as they could.  I opted for the tasting menu, while Bruce went straight for the Evil Catfish IPA.  Each one was tasty, but our favorite was the Tipsy Monk Stout; brewed with chocolate, we were told. It didn’t have the bitterness of Guinness, while still keeping all of the flavor.

While I was standing at the bar waiting service, I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me, and, the next thing I know, he not only poured a taste of the ginger rye into one of my empty glasses, but then poured a taste of his wife’s 784 Belgium Witte for me, too!  What a great guy, I thought! Later,  after we bought lunch from the food trucks, we looked for a place in the shade to sit and eat – and, hey, there were the husband and wife from the bar – the friendly ones, that gave me tastes of their beer! How fortuitous! As it turns out, he is a mortician, and, as is anyone who is passionate about their calling, wanted to share his knowledge with us, so we, too, could be passionate about it.  Bruce bailed out right after the gentleman explained the reason a 2 man team or a 3 man were sent out to pick up the deceased (I will let you fill that in for yourself).  Did my husband come back to save me, perhaps using the excuse that he had someone he wanted to meet? No he did not. The conversation had just segued from mortuary shop talk to crazy cats, and they were searching their phone for a picture of their beloved crazy cat, when I managed to escape.  I went and found Bruce and punched him. Hard.

But, back to the opening, I can’t write enough good about the brewery. Everything about it was done right, and the owners built everything themselves, to make sure of that. If you get down to Salado, stop by, tell them you know me, and they will look at you blankly and politely take your payment in full.  But they will serve you a  tasty brew, and, if you are lucky, some of Sharon’s spicy popcorn to keep you thirsty and coming back for more. Check them out here: