Friday, February 17, 2023

Bags and Rags...

and maybe boxes, too. That ratty dish towel or maybe an old bath towel. An undershirt with holes. You hate to throw away a good rag. That perfectly good grocery bag. That cloth tote. That old briefcase or backpack you used to carry. You could put things inside it. And carry it. And of course here's a great box, a perfect size for, well, something. A bunch of giveaway First and Business class toiletry kits. Some with tiny tubes of toothpaste or other toiletries. It's hard to part with things that could be useful in a pinch. They put pens in those freebie bags (using the term loosely, those seats on the plane are expensive). How many pens do we have around here? How many actually still have ink?

Sometimes I think I will have reduced my possessions to just these things. Rags for just in case and containers with nothing in them. Or some miscellaneous possibly useless things. And supplies of pens and staples and paper goods. A giant bag of rubber bands, gradually hardening and cracking.

Oh and masks. I still wear one in our elevators at my high rise when I remember. But I have settled on one kind: a disposable KN95. So there are a bunch around of other types. But I should keep them just in case. Right?

I suppose, really, if you could whittle things down to the essentials then it wouldn't be so bad to have supplies of "just in case" stuff. (Yeah, I have bottles of water, too.) Instead, I also have clothes I don't wear, books and magazines I've read (and lots I haven't), and a lot of CDs and DVDs. I did purge a bunch of CDs to the thrift store but kept a lot of jazz ones because I like to look at the liner notes. Or even play them directly instead of off my old, ahem, iPod! And we have collections. Glassware, paintings, geegaws, etc. But more on that later.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023 T-Shirts

One day I was looking for an Armadillo World Headquarters T-Shirt. It was purchased around 2013 when we had a party celebrating the anniversary of our first date. The AWH had been out of business for many years (1980) but the T-Shirts survived at Threadgill's Restaurant (both locations are now gone). Many memories surround both the original venue and the restaurant. We had our first date on Thanksgiving Night in 1975 at the Armadillo. We saw Marcia Ball and the Misery Brothers there that night. (We hired Marcia's current band for our party, too.) 

I was looking for the shirt because of a party we were invited to that celebrated the 50th Anniversary of some friends. We were instructed to dress like the '70s so I chose worn-out denim jeans and this T-Shirt marking an iconic Austin '70s spot with a denim shirt and a few pins. 

I have tried to get rid of T-Shirts but there are a dozen or more in my drawers. Some evoke memories, and some are merely good to throw on to cover the body for cleaning or exercising. I keep a lot of things because they would be good to wear to do some dirty work or in a pinch. As my hiking boots wear out, inside and out, I replace them, but, in a pinch, the old ones would do for a comfortable water-resistant, and stable pair. They don't hold memories as much as the T-Shirts. But some do. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

If I were to write a memoir...

 I'd like to know what approach I'd take. Chronological? By topic? (Relationships, influences from people and events, objects, school experiences, jobs, attire and hairstyle, trips.) More spaced-out stream of consciousness? Sometimes I think I should write something like "my life in x objects." The other day,  after finally shutting off a landline I've had for almost fifteen years, I filled a large sack with wired phones and portable phone connection gadgets. Many such phones have passed through my hands, including some with rotary dials.

I've decided to spend a few minutes a day pondering these questions. Because, if I'm ever going to write a memoir, I should start thinking about it! I will have my diamond jubilee this year.

Last year I reviewed some old paper journals and notes (from September through early December 1972) when I went off to tramp around Europe with a Eurail Pass and no reservations. I chronicled this a bit on Facebook and some of my (few) followers were amused. I was surprised by some of the thoughts and activities I'd written down but didn't remember thinking or doing. There are a few "artifacts" of that trip remaining. A lambswool scarf I bought and still have and wear. An acrylic lap blanket celebrating the 1972 Olympics. (Which I didn't attend. I arrived in Munich a bit after the event. I think I bought the blanket at a factory doing a close-out that some friends discovered.) Somewhere there is an Oktoberfest poster. (I did attend that.) Memories in things. There are some old ticket stubs and maps in a box somewhere. Some were scanned. See below. That trip had a lasting impression on me and formed me in many ways. I'm not in contact with any of the people I met during that journey, but some were definitely an influence on me. 

Monday, January 03, 2022

Holiday Cards


I sent postcards with images of us in Paris at the Wrapped Arc de Triomphe as a New Year Greeting. They go in the mail today. I was waiting to see if 2022 really arrived.

We got about 40 cards from people (and one fruit cake and one box of goodies with a card inside) and a couple of electronic or email greetings. At least half included pictures of family. A couple of friends our age sent cards with only pictures of kids and grandkids. I'd like to see how gray their hair is, though. One extended family always sends huge tri-fold. There are always weddings and graduations. Three had those extensive letters that exhaust me just reading about all the activities with kids and grandkids. I sent 89 postcards. I sent one family two of them, I realized. (I knew this before I mailed them, but thought I'd just send them anyway and test the postal system.) We may get some more cards this week but the season is pretty done I guess. I get fewer and send fewer every year. Every year we get a small stack from organizations and businesses. I don't really know why they bother.

I hand-addressed and wrote a brief greeting on each of mine. I used to print labels. I have an Access database with addresses. It has 756 entries. Many don't have a proper address. There are quite a few people whose names don't ring a bell. I used to eliminate the people who had passed. I don't do that any longer and instead, just make a comment in a review column. I note on lines where I know the address is wrong or where a couple has split and, you know, who knows who is where and with whom. The database is becoming a sort of repository of the past, a time capsule. And that is OK. I think I only do this exercise and then write about it to connect briefly with some of the lives that have passed my way.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Holiday Cards, The Final Act


During the holiday season we clipped and hung cards we received (along with our stockings and some Santa bendies) to a screen in our entryway.

I sent around 45 holiday letters and received about the same number of cards and letters from individuals. (We also receive quite a few from non-profits and businesses.) This is down from 150 plus going both directions in some years.

We got two Thanksgiving cards, two or three new year greetings, I think. Many cards were personal creations with pictures of families and pets. Letters recounted the COVID year. Some were just commercial cards with poinsettias, trees, stars, wise men, doves, wreaths, presents, Santas, snow, puppies, kittens, reindeer, snowmen. There was a glittery unicorn and two (2) with glittery Thomas Kinkade painting images. (The painter of light and glitter? Um.) There were personal notes here and there, many involving hopes for meet-ups "after."

Except for one cool reindeer card, the rest are consigned to trash (photos and glitter) or recycling. I save some nice ones in the Christmas decoration box to display in the future. I'll pack up the rest of the decorations soon and the holidays will be officially over giving way to tax season.

Saturday, January 02, 2021


 On our walk yesterday this bird posed for me. It was quite close and didn't move while I took first one shot (above) and then another.

I feel like, right now, that I am posing, too. I'm posing as someone who is not completely unhinged by the chaos of vaccinations in Texas (and elsewhere). I'm posing as someone who really wants to entertain the other homebound oldies with pictures like these on Facebook. I'm posing as someone who can just be thankful that we have enough to eat and comfortable surroundings and plenty of money even though we will possibly never get to go out and dine with a gaggle of friends safely or travel and wander without fear. 

It's a pose. Today the mask (not that mask, it was firmly on my face for every second I was outside the apartment) slipped. I was a bit angry at all the know-it-alls even when I shouldn't have been. And I was mad that people much younger than I and in good health were getting randomly vaccinated. I was mad that people older than I am felt comfortable doing international travel. I was mad that it had only been one day since someone in our high rise building was admitted to have tested positive. I was beyond furious at politicians trying to overturn the democratic process and promoting violence. Of course, no one but this blog and my husband saw this slip down the anger tunnel, because we aren't around others that much. Oh, I might have been a little sharp on Facebook in some comments. As one does.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Reading and Tangents


Books I've read during the pandemic shown above. I'm a slow reader. Plus I usually only read books at night in bed before drifting off to sleep. (This usually results in reading all or part of a page or two when I pick it up the next night, too.) 

The books I read often lead me to other books. Years ago I read Last Train From Berlin by Howard K. Smith, a book published in 1942 that I borrowed from my in-laws. I found the first-person narrative of the World War II era in Europe so fascinating that I bought and read lots of old books published in the same time frame in the same vein. That slim volume entitled Skin and Bones is one I purchased in January at the Strand bookstore (in NYC) about a French WWII prisoner of war. Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile is in the WWII era vein but instead of being published in that era was published this year. However, it was drawn entirely from first-person letters, diaries, and reports and it is an absolutely stunning account of life in England during the blitz. 

The other slim volume is a translation from the French of a book published in 1795 wherein a man is confined to his rooms and makes a journey of it. (I bought this long ago. How appropriate to read during the plague!) 

The Biggest Bluff and The Improbability Principle are examples of what I like to call 'popular math' books. I love reading them. The former is about poker and the people who play it but also touches on chance and probability. The latter book is about the chances of rare things happening. I was able to use what I learned in formulating my COVID-19 risk spreadsheet. Even if there are only 4500 infected people out of 1.3 million, you have an 8% chance of encountering one in a group of 25. If you encounter 250 then the chance exceeds 50%.

Leaving the Gay Place is a biography of Billy Lee Brammer who wrote the quintessential Texas political novel The Gay Place. It was very interesting to track this infamous character and all the other characters one has heard of through Texas and D.C. 

Lastly, the book I just finished Flâneuse is one that really created tangents. Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that I enjoy walking as a meditation and creative act as well as exercise. This book was both highly personal and off into literary tangents. The author, Lauren Elkin, had her own experiences in Tokyo, Venice, Paris, New York, and London. But she talks at length about other women including ones I'd explored a lot before (Martha Gellhorn, Virginia Woolf) and ones I'd barely been cognizant of before. For example, she explores the French filmmaker Agnès Varda. I'd watched one of her films on the Criterion Channel (Cléo de 5 à 7) but reading about others caused me to subject my husband to a couple more last night and this morning. (He said he enjoyed them.) Odd French films are a great tangent to take one away from pandemic land.

I guess this is goodbye to Holidailies. It's been fun.