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Patio Roof is not our friend from Ireland

Now that you've all had a chance to read and probably hear about certain marital issues, I'm going to move back to some regular stuff. Exciting to us, maybe not to others, but just the same it gets its place here.

First off, a quick recap of Chicago for those that don't have our phone number and who we've talked to since last week. Chicago was really great. I can't come up with any other metaphors than that, although I'll do my best to keep you readers entertained. (It was good. That's great dude, click back to Google.) It started out a little odd, the flight to Rosemont was pushed back an hour while we sat on the plane and waited for our flight crew that was delayed in LA. But I had my mp3 player and a book so I was fine. Got into Chicago later than I wanted, had to hang around for a shuttle (Chicago's a big ass airport come to find out) all the while dragging a very heavy portfolio case and a box with all my books in it. Get to the hotel, check in, meet some PJers at the hotel bar where we were gauged on prices for beer and Midwestern tasting quesadias (sorry guys, you have to come to Texas to get good Tex Mex) and then hit the hay, a little drunk, ready to start the convention. Friday was kind of a bust. Other than meeting all the PJers who came and hanging out with Jeremy and his wife and brother in law, the day drug on like a three toed sloth eating peanut butter in the heat of August. Broken up by quite a few smoke breaks and a few trips to the "Expoteria," it was a really long day. Jeremy and I didn't have much to say to each other and ended up staring into space just dying for some foot traffic, conversation or spark of inspiration. That night was spent meeting new people in the bar.

Saturday was awesome. Friday a couple from a cable access channel some distance north of Chicago asked us if we'd do an interview. They were wanting to talk with small press creators, try to get a grass roots look at the big business, such as it is. We said we'd do a short interview, didn't cost us anything and they went off. The next day a camera and a few people show up at our table and really made us look probably more impressive than we deserved. Jeremy was all business and very articulate, I was talking through a haze of cotton mouth and blood-in-the-ear idiodicy. I don't expect to ever see the interview so it doesn't matter. We could have requested a copy, but I think that would have required a "donation." The rest of the day was just as exciting. Jeremy and I decided to actually work together and draw something, so he'd sketch random characters and I'd color them. These mo's sold like hotcakes. That and we offloaded about 20 books, I sold some pieces of finished art and Jeremy's wife got a lot of sketches and photos. It was a good day.

Sunday was more of the same, little less traffic, but still very cool. We got to wander the exhibit floor a bit and see some freaks and cool things. The amount of money put into this event is just staggering when you consider some insiders' views that the industry is dead or that comics are just for kids. Screw them. This place was bigger than most car shows I've been to, and I've been to a few. Made it home safe and sound, a little heavier in the art portfolio as I bought a case and Jeremy donated some boards.

You can see some con pictures here.

I came home and was treated to a good ol' Texas style freak storm. I can't really explain it any better. It wasn't just a thunderstorm, nor was it a tornado, it was somewhere in between. Right on our neighborhood, all the cold air over Texas decided it was going to drop through thousands of feet it what's called a downburst. It has tornado style impact on property because it's moving at up to 70mph. I'll get some damage pics up later, but let's just say it's enough to fell trees, fences and roofing. We sustained some moderate hail damage to car and house and our patio umbrella was shredded. We lost power for about 15 mins, but everyone was ok. So to commemorate the passing of the umbrella, Mrs. Austin and I decide now would be a great time to build that patio cover we'd been threatening to for the past year.

So here it is. It only took about 4 hours to put up, including shopping time for supplies. We had no plan, barely any measurements and just enough moxy to get this thing in place. We didn't even fight. Then we took on the arduous task of trimming back our mesquite tree. Folks, let me tell you, mesquite is the devil's tree. Both MA and I received some thorns in our feet because of this tree so we were more than happy to cut it's damned branches off. I'm pretty close to cutting the whole thing down, but it offers some shade so it stays...for now.

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