Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Top Ten Reasons for Moving to Downtown Austin

10. What a cool name for a hot dog wagon! (See picture.)

9. The mussels at Capitol Brasserie.

8. Mercury Design Studio.

7. Walking to Whole Foods Planet. (My name for the downtown Whole Foods because of the signs that say 'Whole Foods/Whole Planet' or something like that.)

6. Walking to Austin Music Hall, the Paramount, the convention center, many restaurants, bars, some museums. Not to mention several coffee shops that don't have 'Bucks' in their name. Like Halcyon. And Little City. And Hideout. And there's Elephant Room with jazz every night and nowadays almost no smoke. Jazz with takeout from Kyoto upstairs and a Guinness on draft. Yum.

5. Walking to Book People. And other shopping besides that cool Mercury place. Home stores, art galleries, Austin Wine Merchant and...

4. The new hip bodega, Royal Blue Grocery, on Third Street in the AMLI.

3. Proximity to City Hall so it's a piece of cake to get in line to speak your mind.

2. Getting on the Hike and Bike trail and walking around Town Lake without driving downtown.

And the top reason for moving to downtown Austin for us?
1. Walking to the new Ballet Austin building at Third and San Antonio. Heck, on a good day and in comfortable shoes we could walk to Long Center or the Opera Building or Palmer Events Center or the Capitol for the Book Festival. But FFP spends a lot of time volunteering on Ballet Austin projects. So being close will be great for him. And if possible, we are going to be really close to their building.

I realize I can walk to lots of stuff from my house. A branch library, three bakeries, restaurants (Billy's Burgers, Blue Star, Jorge's, Fonda San Miguel, Upper Crust, Pacha's, Phoenician, La Victoria, Sampaio, some new sushi place, etc.), thrift stores and, if you are feeling like a long walk...Central Market. And I realize that I often complain that I can't walk to these places because it's too hot or the sidewalks aren't adequate (they are putting sidewalks on Shoal Creek however). But somehow this downtown thing feels right. I guess we'll see. The future is kind of a blur anyway, huh? But imagining life a little different is good.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Airport Trip Seven Complete

About the picture. FFP took it on Second Street in downtown Austin. Maybe now that my '90th Birthday Project' is over I can get out and shoot some pictures.

I delivered my sister to the airport yesterday. She stayed over after my dad's party to visit. She is somewhat disabled (requires a wheelchair to get to the gate although she can walk short distances with her cane) and the only person I could find to help me take her to the airport ninety-year-old dad. I deposited the two of them and her luggage on the curb next to United's curbside where there was no one helping people. "If you have to, just wait here until I park," I said. Then I raced around to short term parking. I couldn't find a place for the van so I used Dad's handicapped tag and got a handicapped place and raced up three flights of stairs to the departure level. [If you were at the airport and saw that, well when Dad and I left I would have had to leave him on the curb again and go for the van if I hadn't been able to park it near the elevator. I never use his tag when I'm just out and about in his van. I don't use the one in my glove box assigned to my father-in-law either unless he's with me. It's illegal. And I wouldn't do it. But I felt I had the right here.]

They had gone inside and there was a wheelchair person arriving. Turns out they were cancelling her direct flight to Denver. Yikes. They were trying to rebook her and finally gave her some paperwork and sent us to Continental. I called my brother-in-law with the info. She was going to have to fly to Houston and then Denver. After more snafus between the airlines she got her luggage checked with Continental. Since she was going to be even later than we'd thought I sprinted down to buy her some candy bars which is what she said would sustain her. . My dad got tired during all this process and had to go sit down. We said our goodbyes to her and the wheelchair attendant took her to the gate.

Dad and I walked out to the curb. I pointed to the elevator bank across the street. "If you can walk that far, the van is right there." He made it. He had told me that he had to get home because he was taking two lady friends to a musical show later. He does pretty well, but he's a little slow and standing a long time or walking a long distance is tough. But he takes care of himself pretty well.

When I retrieved my car from Dad's and went home, the house was empty. FFP was at a board retreat. I couldn't believe it...ten days of visits and the party and all the logistics were over. Time to worry about something new. I checked on my sister's flight. It was delayed. Yikes. What if she missed the flight to Denver? FFP got home and we were watching the football game (UT's, of course, this is Austin) when thunder roared and they suspended the game in a downpour featuring lightning. Fortunately, my sister's plane was already headed to Houston. Maybe her plane out would be delayed and she'd get home just an hour or so late. The rain stopped. I hoped my Dad wasn't out in it. I tracked my sister's progress. Yup, missed the plane. I reached her and my brother-in-law on their cell phones. She did get a later plane. I worried a little but what can you do if someone is in the Houston airport? Or sitting on the tarmac in Houston on a plane delayed by weather? I think she finally landed about midnight.

It's over. All seven trips to the airport. My sister had the roughest airport trip although my niece and her husband were bumped on the way here. At least two other people flew in for the party that I did not have to pick up or take to the airport. Thanks for that. Many drove in and all apparently without incident. Although my Dad's great nephew forgot his dress up clothes. He fit in fine with the Austin vibe in a black T-Shirt and jeans. All the comings and goings, months of invites and RSVPs and changing hotel reservations. Arranging for everything. Trying to keep the hoopla from wearing my dad out while letting him enjoy it.

Now, what should I worry about now?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Well...That's Almost Over!

Living ninety years is well-deserving of a lot of hoopla, celebration, adulation and such. However, that requires a bit of planning and a lot of luck to pull off. Especially to make the ninety-year-old person in question not feel like he's been through the wringer.

Since last Thursday, I've made five round trips to the airport, organized six hotel stays, answered the inevitable last minute calls and e-mails, and overseen a party for 140 people that included music, valet parking, name tags, flowers and some minor decoration, hors d'oeuvres, a bar and a full buffet dinner. I've tried to keep several meet-ups of out-of-town relatives organized while dealing with the fact that two of my AC units in my house decided to fail in different ways. I have two out-of-town guests remaining and two more airport trips to make.

I'm not complaining, but I told Dad that he isn't getting a big party for 95. Maybe for his 100th. So...he has set his sights on living to be 100. Well, there are worse goals.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Haven't Been Writing

And, honestly, I miss it when I haven't been doing it. Even my 'personal' journal entries have been terse. I am currently in that familiar mode whereby everything is being delayed until something else happens. OK, it does take focus to have a party for 150 people and have a couple of dozen people coming in from out of town. And in the midst of that, I had to shop for a car with my almost-90-year-old father. That'll stop you in your tracks. And then there is the crick in my neck. Yesterday I woke up with a sharp pain in my neck. Tried warming it up (with exercise and heat applied). Tried wine. Tried Advil. Got it rubbed. Got my feet rubbed. Tried cookies. Woke up better off this morning.

Life deals things out. Little things. Big things. Little things that will become big things. Seemingly big things that will be forgotten.

But I did have a good vacation. And enjoyed a visit to this cute little bookstore in Tilamook, OR.

Another excuse I've had is tennis. The U.S. Open has provided way too much TV time. At least I don't care about football.