Warm days in Austin

Warm days in Austin

Hello from Austin. Melanie and I arrived here on Saturday afternoon from Dallas. It was a very interesting ride through central Texas, getting appreciate the lay of the land. Now I know why they call it “big sky” country. I can imagine what it was like to ride across it 125 years ago.

Yesterday, we went to Mass at Melanie’s family parish, St. Louis. If you want to know what a Novus Ordo High Mass looks like, you could do no better than their 9:30 Mass. There were a dozen altar servers, all in cassock, surplice, cape, and white gloves, as well as 2 acolytes, a con-celebrant, and a choir. The church itself was decorated beautifully for Christmas and the furnishings were lovely, from the ambo to the candlesticks to the various altar items. The music was beautiful and traditional for the Feast of the Epiphany and there was lots of incense and bells and chanting and so on.

The parish itself is huge. They have a K-8 school, a gift shop, a library, a food pantry, and more I didn’t see. It was all very nice and if I lived in Austin I think this would be my parish.

Melanie’s family has a very nice custom involving Epiphany. They don’t give gifts to each other on Christmas (or they give very small stocking stuffers), but wait until Epiphany to give them to each other, which is the traditional day for gift-giring in many countries. Yes, technically Epiphany is on January 6, but in the US it’s on the Sunday between January 2 and 8 and so we have to live with that. Still, it’s a very nice custom and her family gave me some nice gifts, including a boxed set of the Star Wars DVDs. (Melanie’s mom looked at my Amazon wish list.)

Melanie got me a “cowboy up” t-shirt with a Bible verse and some cowboys on it. For those of you who remember the Red Sox 2003 campaign, you may remember that “cowboy up” was their motto during the playoffs. Very appropriate. She’s also buying me a real cowboy hat, but had to wait until I was here so she could make sure it fit on the enormous melon we call my head. I promise a picture.

I’ve been promised authentic Texas BBQ and some wonderful Tex-Mex over the next couple of days, so I’m looking forward to that. Oh yeah, and it’s in the 70s, although a bit cloudy, but that’s fine with me because it’s a lot better than the weather back home.

  • Dombud:

    Melanie may have already told you this (and if she hasn’t … shame on her). But the best place in Austin for barbecue is the Iron Works on Red River, near the convention center. And make sure you get at least some beef … you can always get pork from the Southeasterners.

  • That’s funny. It seems everybody has an idea of where the best BBQ in town is. That’s one idea. Melanie has her favorite, County Line, her brother has another. If I were staying longer in Austin, I might just try them all to determine the best for myself.

    Of course, a real Texas BBQ place would sell nothing other than beef, and most likely brisket at that. None of that pork or … even stranger … chicken.

  • I don’t remember whether Iron Works is one such place, since it’s been more than a decade since I was in Austin …. Dubya had just been elected governor, and I’d been confirmed two years earlier at St. Mary’s while attending UT.

    But at many Texas barbecue places, you get both beef ribs and pork ribs—the former being WAY larger and a lot messier. At Iron Works (at least then), you also didn’t get a plate. You got a usual plastic cafeteria tray, covered with a piece of waxy butcher-block paper and your meat was served on that.

  • And don’t forget- go by St. Mary’s Cathedral for noon weekday Mass.  You’ve just gotta see the beautiful renovation.  Thank God for our wonderful orthodox bishop.
    And for great Tex-Mex , there are a million places.  My favorites are Matt’s El Rancho and Enchildas y Mas.
    It’s true about the sky.  When I lived in Boston I always felt cozy but faintly claustrophobic.  Then when I returned to Texas, I realized why- it’s that big beutiful open sky.

  • How would the curious politely ask “Who is Melanie?”  I’ve concluded from this post that she is not your sister.

  • Victor,

    We’re off to County Line BBQ which Melanie insists is her favorite, and she hasn’t heard of Iron Works so we’ll go with what she knows. But from driving around today, I can say that Austin must have the most funky restaurants per square mile of any place I’ve seen.


    We did go into the cathedral and it is indeed beautiful although it is probably the smallest cathedral I’ve seen. It would make even a cozy parish church. There’s definitely no “wreck-ovation going on there. It looks great.


    I’ve only explicitly explained who Melanie is a few times over the past year or so. She is my girlfriend, and I came down to Texas to meet her family.

  • Carrie, this was the “Meet the Parents” weekend.

    So Dom … did her father hook you up to any polygraphs or put any spy-cams in your room?

  • I did find a recording device in my room, but I brought along my jamming equipment purchased at MeetHerParents.com so I’m all set.

    Actually, Melanie’s dad is a third order Carmelite who used to own a Catholic bookstore and her mom is a real computer geek, as in a consultant on computers, so I’m getting along just great with both of them.