Saturday, September 27, 2008

Taking Time to Notice

One really needs to take time to notice one's luck. To remind oneself that even when a day seems filled with things that don't work and make one angry that those things are trivial. One also needs to observe how one's fortune far exceeds that of most everyone else. Most of our friends have faced or are facing much more serious health problems or they are struggling more for money. A lot of people still have to work. (How does anyone find time for that?)

It's also important to take note of what's going on around one's own little nest. Sometimes I think I notice TOO much around here and not enough outside. I've been fretting over some cosmetic things FFP says don't matter much, that he wouldn't notice if I didn't notice.

I took this picture from the Long Center Terrace. I photographed the 360 from over there plenty of times. Our building really wants to be noticed from other there, set apart from the tall buildings on Congress.

Most of all one needs to notice when one is happy, take heed of what one is doing when there is that sought-after peaceful, satisfied feeling. Then repeat those moments. I spent a few hours at my club on Tuesday. I thought I was going to play tennis but there weren't enough folks for doubles and the one other lady didn't want to play singles. I went to the gym and had a long ride on the bike to nowhere finishing up a book I'd wanted to finish reading for a while. Then I had a coffee/yogurt smoothie and a breakfast taco and then I lifted weights and did sit-ups and stuff. Very slow and leisurely. Then I went to the locker room in the pro shop which I had completely to myself for a shower and grooming. I took my laptop to the club house to wait for a meeting and popped it open and read my e-mail. Someone came by and said the meeting would be in the pro shop so I went over there and ordered some food. I met with a sub-committee I'm on and then we walked the construction site. I felt peaceful and unstressed. (In spite of the worries about the construction project.) I realized that I really enjoy exercising, reading, relaxing. Yeah, of course. But sometimes I do forget.

This morning (which started off cool and sunny, almost but not quite fall) I played tennis and while I was playing I so enjoyed it. I even enjoyed the feeling when I got back to the condo and I was moving stuff around and cleaning up the place a little and then taking a shower. I felt I should go visit with my sister, but when I called Dad he said my sister and my brother-in-law were not back from going off somewhere to visit friends. I felt I had a little reprieve from trying to go out and compete with traffic for the ACL festival and the UT game. I like it when people entertain themselves.

Yesterday was a bad day, mostly, although I made myself stop, breathe and appreciate more than once to get through it. I must remember to repeat the things I love, over and over, as long as they give me that pleasurable feeling.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I don't seem to be connected to anything. Oh, I have my duties, my schedule. Today I was talked into playing tennis. Although playing four times a week is something I do not need to be doing. And I hate to disappoint my regular social friends the other three days. I am a registered sub for this team, though, and one of them had to go help a relative impacted by the hurricane so I relented. Then my dad told me yesterday morning that he had some edema in his legs. We decided he wasn't bad off enough to go to the emergency room, but needed to go to the doctor today. I told him I'd cancel tennis, but he improved some so we are going to try for the doctor this afternoon. We arranged to have dinner with friends we haven't seen in ages this evening. And so it goes.

Yesterday was social mostly. I did have my computer guy come by and install a fast Firewire drive on my Mac in an attempt to keep the VMware image backed up with Time Machine. Otherwise, we did our dog sitting duties for our god dog Zoey and took a walk and ate breakfast at Halcyon. In the afternoon we drove up to UT and saw a concert in the foyer of the Blanton museum and then came home and walked over to Long Center for a fund-raiser called Octo-Tea. A group of folks raise money for a fund (called the Paul Kirby fund) that helps people living with HIV-AIDS by providing emergency assistance for rent, meds, utilities, whatever. The group has raised over a million dollars over some years by having a loose band of people party on their own nickel or donations or both and charge attendees a fee that goes one hundred percent to the fund. This party was a dance party with a DJ on the City Terrace of Long Center and a jazz band in Kodosky lounge. There was food and drink and a silent auction but, mostly, we were there to see people and we saw a ton of people we know and met new ones.

We spent the evening reading (well, FFP watched a football game which miraculously was delivered by our dicey building DirecTV Sat service). I went out with my god dog's mom for the final walk. We were laughing about how she behaves when I take her out (looking longingly over her shoulder at the building where she last saw Mom). She stopped to sniff something. My friend said, "Come on, Zoey, or I'll give you to Auntie Lin." She handed the leash to me and the dog stopped in her tracks and whipped her head around to look at her mom. Hilarious. What separation anxiety. But it means I can't take her for long walks when I'm dog sitting. The further we get from the building the more she resists.

Well, I have to go play tennis and then see about my dad. It is a lovely day for tennis, still cool out there. It's hard to appreciate it, though, with other things on my mind and when I'm actually playing more hard court tennis than is probably good for my aging body. It's a good problem to have, though, as opposed to not having anyone to play with now that I don't have to work.

The other thing that has me at loose ends is a family visit. I'm not sure how long my sister and her husband are planning to stay with my dad or what they want to do while here. We have our schedule to keep, of course.

I'm not even going to mention the uneasy, floating feeling that finishing up the condo gives me. (Wait, I just did.) I know things are ephemeral but it does give me pause to invest all this time and money and then see places next door having sheetrock sledge-hammered out. I'm just saying. It adds to the floating, nothing is permanent feeling.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Not the End of the World

Last night we went to Taste Select Wines. When other places are crowded, this spot always seems to have a table or seats at the bar, even if it's buzzing. We'd had some people come by in the late afternoon and I'd had a couple of glasses of wine. But I had ordered bacon-wrapped alligator with homemade sauerkraut. And so, of course, I had to order a beer. They don't have beers on tap, but one of the owners had told me that this bottled beer they sold was very good.

Yes, La Fin du Monde means 'The End of the World' and I'm guessing that is fire and brimstone on the label. It fit my mood. FFP drank a bottle of Sweet Leaf tea. But he ordered a beet salad to start.

Today was a lovely day on the tennis court, especially at first when it was still cool and shady where we were playing. I didn't play that well, but I did have fun. We don't have a 'schedule' the rest of the afternoon (except that FFP is planning to watch football this evening) so it's hard to figure out what to do. We tentatively decide on a movie at the Alamo Ritz. I shower and we walk over there. The Pecan Street Festival is going on. It looks like a seedy State Fair. We see a booth for an artist we knew long ago. "It's a long, sad way down," I say. But maybe it isn't true. Maybe he's making lots of coin.

We are the first ones in the theater to see "Burn After Reading." All the trailers show Brad Pitt acting like an empty-headed gym dork but the movie is so much more than that. George Clooney is a character with a partially furnished head who is a sex addict. John Malkovich is a character who is intelligent enough, too intelligent maybe, and can't get over himself. Frances McDormand is a very empty-headed character who does probably the stupidest things and is, in the end, rewarded by getting what she wants. (Although one suspects it doesn't get her what she wants.) It is so Coen Brothers. High intrigue with simple explanations and disastrous results. I like it. There was so much physical acting and spot on action that all the characters, major and minor, were revealed and then their hilarious (yet explosive and dark) interactions made tons of sense.

We walk back through the tawdry festival and stop at CVS. I broke a shoelace in my hiking boot on the way over. I buy some that turn out to be almost long enough, usable. FFP buys some shaving balm that turns out to have a broken cap. The elevators don't seem to be working when we return. He goes out to return the shaving stuff. I have to walk my friend's dog at five or so. (Which will involve four elevator rides.)

My good cheer is evaporating. Sigh.'s not the end of the world.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Lots of people are looking for hope these days...including this graffiti artist who thoughtfully put a message going both ways on the hike and bike.

My mental landscape veers between hope and anxiety, bouncing around like the stock market.

So far we don't think our unit is impacted by the massive leak in our building and don't think they will be wielding their sledge hammers in here. (Although they gave us a scare yesterday by sending us an e-mail about removing material from our unit).

It's a cozy little nest, this place is, exactly like we want it with a few exceptions. The shades aren't right yet and there isn't a sub-woofer (although the surround sound is awesome even without it). Many channels we are paying for are 'searching for satellite' a lot of the time. There are still a few pictures to hang and a couple of small pieces of furniture to work out. Nothing cosmic. It's really peaceful and lovely in here.

When you step out the door, however, there is a vaguely industrial smell, fans blowing and wallpaper whipping around some bare studs, baseboards pulled off. When the elevator stops on other floors you hear the roar of fans and see piles of debris. Going in and out of the place feels strange. When you get close to the door there is that roar. I've become obsessive about cleaning my place and reorganizing. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

People wiped out by Ike and other floods, residents of this very building whose units are like the hallway all have far more reason to let the thing called hope fly away. But, as it says in a part of the poem (by Emily Dickinson, of course) not so often quoted:

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've been trying from the beginning to think of this condo as a permanent place, a home for many years. Now I simply see it as a resting place before the next storm.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

We are all followers in our own way. Slaves to the fashions of the moment and inordinately proud if we step out a bit from the ruts laid down by others. I like to think I have my own 'style' for clothes, hair, activities and attitude. But I'm sure I'm being influenced mightily.

Sometimes one wonders what will happen next. What storm, what failure, whose death, what OJ will be in court for? (Can you believe that amidst all the Ike devastation and Wall Street meltdown that we are still getting massive updates from old OJ in court?) I very much feel I'm moving into a new phase, but recent events are making me feel very unsettled about how it might turn out.

We went to a Heritage Society thing last night in a house that was once owned by Charles Marsh and that had decoration by Mansbendel and Weigl. The current owners have spent enormous amounts of money restoring the house and then effort, money and insurance restoring windows after a storm. FFP and I enjoyed looking at the place but all we really saw was maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. We almost have our condo like we want it and it is small and the exterior and common areas are someone else's problem. (Well, the Homeowner's Association and the developer and how much of an issue that is remains to be seen.) We hope we have simplified our involvement with our shelter and can think of other things. Last night we vowed to keep trying to simplify our lives in any way we can. FFP said at least we'd gotten rid of lots of possessions. I said I wanted to stay the course on that. He agreed.

Well, we'll see.

It's hard to simplify with all the clamor to get you to buy gadgets and fashionable things and be entertained in myriad ways. It helps to wear the same clothes for years, fashion be hanged.

The picture was taken of the VIVID shop window recently and the monkey observing a (human?) skull seems to be some sort of game board or once-lighted sign.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why Blogging is Perfect For Me

I noticed that Austin, Texas Daily Photo is about to catch up to this blog in number of posts. I don't want Visible Woman to become yet another LB abandoned project. There are so many. My collection of 'stuff' reveals many fits and starts of projects. (I have this habit of getting interested in something, buying the books and then not reading them. I start collections in haphazard, unstudied ways. I buy cooking gadgets but never cook.) My collection of online blogs and WEB sites reveal great unfinished ideas and my computer is littered with fits and starts of projects represented by folders and files. There are bits of novels and short stories, mounds of journals. You get the idea.

But. You do a blog entry. You insert a photo. You ramble. You hit 'Publish Post.' It isn't exactly an accomplishment but there it is. It adds up. Not to much perhaps. But it does accumulate in a somewhat organized way.

This photo, of a shop window of a store called AREA, reflecting me, distorted and subtracted, partly there and not, perfectly describes how I'm not always exactly present, how I'm flitting. I'm here, I'm not here. (The reflected building above is Austin City Hall.)

While trying to publish this post, I had a phone call, a visitor, helped the visitor remove some stuff from the premises, distracted myself by trying to look at some financial stuff and started reading an article in yesterday's NY Times. But I wrote it, and now I'll hit 'publish post.'

Bigger Things

There are bigger things in the world than my small problems. The hurricane damage has even people who were flooded by the leak in our building saying "I guess we are lucky." Naturally we feel lucky to have been a hair's breath from the flooding in our building.

Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy has sent world markets into another tailspin. So what if I lose another couple of percentage points on my stocks and mutual funds and retirement funds? Others are worse off. (Of course, not the people who perpetrated the banking and mortgage crisis. They come out floating on golden parachutes.)

I am small. The world is big. I should be happy to be safe in a small corner of it, dry and with power and food and water. Just be thankful. That's my mantra.

The picture was taken at the By George store on South Congress during our big wander yesterday. We walked to Guero's for brunch and shopped a little on SoCo (buying nothing but an Orangina in Farm to Market Grocery to refresh at walk's midpoint). Then we went over to S. First on Annie and back to the condo. Nice long walk. Oh, and we didn't start our cars yesterday. We had a charity event at the Bob Bullock Museum on MLK. We walked over to Congress, caught a 'Dillo up Lavaca and went to the bar at the Clay Pit for a drink and snack. (We couldn't time the 'Dillo ride because they quit running at six on Sunday.) We walked from there to the museum and then were prepared to catch the Airport Flyer for a couple of stops to get home. (Or walk. Not so bad when the sun is down.) Some friends, however, insisted on going out of their way to drive us home.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feeling Blank

This mural that looks perpetually unfinished (like ads or pictures might appear in the boxes) is on North Lamar just south of the Tavern. Where you, my faithful few readers know, I was on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I thought maybe I'd finish 'tricking out' the condo. Oh, I knew something would probably be missing or wrong and need fixing. Big projects are like that. I knew a hurricane was coming and was vaguely worried about how bad the offshoot weather would be in Austin and how our building and our houses would fare. I'd become increasingly disgusted with how our brand new high rise operates, how poor elevator service is and such and so was vaguely worried about getting everything up to the tenth floor on Thursday.

Thursday didn't go too badly. After FFP got the concierge to open the door to the loading dock door and figured out how to operate the freight elevator himself we got the stuff up here.

Then, of course, the unexpected happened. The thing about the flood (or leak as I call it or as the building management calls it an 'incident' or 'water flow' problem) is this: while I escaped damage (apparently) in my condo, many people did not. The water was, quite literally, about ten feet away. The elevators got flooded. They are operating haphazardly still (which, frankly, they also did before). There are dirty streaks inside them where water flowed. Frankly, one is put in mind of an ancient and subsidized apartment. Remediation equipment is all over the place. There are harried residents fighting a battle between the developer and the management with their insurance companies and lawyers at their side.

I feel helpless, of course. I love my condo and except for the unfinished shades (which also need some adjustment) things are just the way I want them. But it all seems ephemeral. I will never feel like it will last. I see water coursing down the walls, damaging the book cases and the books I've so carefully assembled. I see it damaging my art, my electronics. Nothing seems safe.

Of course, people say that we don't want to let this get out (that we have these problems a mere four months after the building is occupied) or we can never sell or lease our property. But, you know, you are required to disclosed anything you know about such problems. Can't escape it.

As time goes by, if they get the elevators working and assure us that they have inspected and re-inspected whatever systems failed and all remediation is done, then I'll become more comfortable and complacent. Probably I won't get flooded by a leak. Something else will happen. It will come out of left field when I'm comfortable. On Shoal Creek I fought water. Water came in the garage in the '81 flood (from the street not Shoal Creek) and we fought it back with a French drain and sealants. (In that flood, water reached into our yard on the bluff and knocked down fences, too.) Water main breaks happened in our front yard three different times. Our pressure step down valve failed and water erupted in the garage where the service entered the house. We had sprinkler system leaks, roof leaks, condensation line leaks and toward the end a leak in the service from meter to house and had to rebuild that. I thought that I'd worry less about water on the tenth floor of a brand new building developed by a company experienced in high rise construction.

Time will pass. I'll worry about something else. Meanwhile I'm going to revel in living where I want to live. Being urban. But I won't forget water. Beside the building is a creek. It is, in fact, Shoal Creek. Of course, it won't rise to the tenth floor (or if it does, you know, goodbye Austin) but it could rise up and lap around the building stranding us here. The lake could come up here. Tom Miller Dam could fail.

After the Northridge Earthquake in '94 my friend who had lived there moved to Austin. She said that for a long time she would look at glass objects on shelves and think 'that is going to break in the next earthquake.' Even though the objects were here in Austin where the earth doesn't move that often.

So I'm seeing water damage. But my future disaster is probably something else.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh, My. Chained Melody!

Well, if the drilling in the next room was worrying me yesterday and I'd found a few things to complain about that guaranteed I was going to have to have workmen back here another day and it all seemed futile...well, that was nothing! The guys working on the AV decided they had to go to their truck for something. Then they popped in and said 'FYI, there is water pouring out of the telephone room.' They were right about that. Yikes. One condo, a one bedroom, separates us from this little room with all its phone wires and cables and routers for Internet and TV. About then the gals came out of the sales office down the hall and said we had to evacuate. It was about three and I'd just started to eat a late lunch of some cheese and crackers. (I'd had a taco and a banana for breakfast earlier and I don't usually do breakfast so I was a bit off, but I'd gotten hungry.) So, yeah. We lock up and go down the stairs with our four workmen. And we don't get back in the place until around five. It looks like 9-11 except no one is hurt. Lots of fire trucks, firemen running up the stairs, EMTs standing by with stretchers. The EMTs gave water to over-heated people. Finally I went into the Mulberry, a wine bar on the first floor, which kept operating. We sat in the cool (AC still working) and had beers and I had a sandwich and thought of that delicious cheese on my counter.

So, yeah. Worse than having guys drilling in your living room.

What happened, apparently, is that a sprinkler pipe burst on the 19th floor. I think the people on 19 were put up in hotels. Water remediation teams had to climb to 19 with equipment. Because water went into the elevatoars and they didn't work. They still don't. My workmen had to climb up here to work on the AV and they are going to have to remove the ladders and tools for the shade guys as well as their own. On the stairs. Now, we are on the 10th floor. Imagine if you live on 29 or 33 or, I don't know how high it goes where people are living, but WOW. Supposedly we will have one elevator 'some time this afternoon.'

And I was worried about drilling in my living room. And Ike (which seems to have turned his cheek to us but has sent thousands of refugees our way).

I went up to eleven and rescued my friend's poodle yesterday afternnoon who was unhappy and confused at being drug down eleven flights of stairs. My friend got home from work and we drove to the eighth floor and walked back up, changed and drove out of the place from eight and went to Ruth's Chris to drown our sorrows. We weren't surprised to find no elevators when we returned. We drove up to eight and climbed the two flights (three for my friend).

This morning, FFP called about the newspapers. The concierge said he hadn't had time to climb up with them. Yikes, who would expect that anyway? I went down and got them. The climb up was a little harder than yesterday when I was running on adrenelin. Of course, I was chatting with my neighbor who lives on one side of the telephone room. He didn't get water but the guy on the other side did.

When you are looking one way, something always happends somewhere else. Of course, I am cooped up inside now with workmen (who had to climbe the stairs) who should have finished yesterday. By the time that's cleared out, the weather will probably turn bad. So it goes. It could be worse. I could be in the path of Ike.

The picture was taken on Second Street I think.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My New Neighborhood

One of the first things we did when we moved downtown was make dates with some couples who already lived downtown. We'd met them downtown for meals before or visited in their places, but this was to inaugurate downtown friendships in this new way: WE LIVE DOWNTOWN, TOO! One couple mentioned how many places they walked to and it seemed like they really walked a long way. Since the weather was moving into the teeth of summer, it surprised me. But the longer we are down here, the more we realize how easy and fun it is to roam around on your feet.

When I walked to The Tavern on Tuesday for my friend's book signing, I realized how easy it was to roam over to things in that stretch of Lamar. Not just the venerable Tavern but Wink Wine Bar, an interesting looking health food snack bar, Betty Sport (sport stuff for the ladies) and Twelfth Street Books. The latter (where the picture was taken) is a real live (as opposed to WEB only) erudite secondhand bookstore. Most of those don't maintain a storefront anymore. (I saw my friend David at Momo's the other night and he used to run a great place called State House Books. He is still in the business. Only just virtually.) Which reminds me: my dad and I somehow got on the topic of 'book rate' postage and wondered if it still exists. And, yes, it does.

But I digress. My new neighborhood. Yesterday I only got out in the neighborhood for that walk over to the Four Seasons. I felt cooped up because, for the rest of the day, the closest I got to getting out was going to the parking garage to get some books out of my car and going to the concierge to get a package. I ordered some bookends. Given our decoration strategy (bookshelves, bookshelves, bookshelves with art and artifacts and gewgaws mixed in, all artfully arranged in the aesthetic of devil may care modern collector), our decorator said 'bookends are our friends.' However, only the right bookends work, in my opinion, so we gave some away, saved ones we thought would work and have used things that aren't really bookends. It looks nice, but we are still in the market for a few cool bookends.

But, yeah, digression from new neighborhood and walking in it. Did I mention that I'm stuck inside again today with workmen doing my 'final' AV stuff and motorized shades? Did I mention that Hurricane Ike has promised some stormy weather late tomorrow and early Saturday?

But really the possibilities for things to be walked to are endless. When we moved in, a friend who had been leasing in the Brown Building waiting for his place in this building, turned us on to the delights of Torchy's Tacos which had a trailer in Little Woodrow's parking lot a hop and skip down the street. But they moved! To S. First, I believe. Some people we had turned on to Torchy's just walked the mile and a half each way to satisfy their Torchy desires. Cool.

So, yeah I'm stuck inside getting stuff that makes you stay inside: fancy shades to block the early morning sun and fancy AV equipment. So, you know, you can stick in a Blu-Ray disk at seven in the morning and watch Blu-Ray DVDs all day long with surround sound. I've never seen a Blu-ray disk played (except maybe by accident in a store) and I've never owned a flat screen HD television bigger than the nineteen inch one I bought for a temporary one back in June. I don't own a Blu-ray disk. I thought of buying one (1) Blu-ray Disk but I couldn't find one at Costco. I didn't look too hard.

I wish I were out walking. Guys measuring and drilling in my condo make me palpably nervous. Forrest finds errands to do although I don't think it makes him as nervous. He knows I ordered this stuff and I have to answer questions. Although I can't imagine I'd know the answers.

There are so many places I could walk to. Even to the University on a good day. Or take the 'Dillo up there and then walk around. I could go to the Harry Ransom Center or the Blanton, shop on the drag. Heck for the price of the AV and shades, I could take a limo up there every day for a year or two probably and have them wait while I had a burger at Dirty Martin's.

We proved the other day that walking to toney SoCo is no problem. I could shop for weird bookends at Uncommon Objects. We could explore South Lamar, North Lamar (see above) and S. First. We could wander in old West Austin and Clarksville like we did the other day. Of course, downtown offers many wandering options. The library is on Guadalupe, not far away. It's true that the homeless population has made the Central Library a home away from no home, but there are still books there for ordinary people. Wait! I have enough books in the condo (after furious downsizing of them and with a few boxes pending at my dad's house) to last a reader a lifetime. Especially a reader who gets The New Yorker (fifty issues or so a year) and who has subscriptions to two seven-day-a-week newspapers, one six-day-a-week newspaper and one weekly newspaper and who occasionally picks up at least one free weekly. Ruined by Reading. Which is the title of a book that I don't think I gave away. I think it's still in a box at Dad's house.

I could walk to a myriad of coffee shops and write on my laptop or in a journal and look literary. I could walk to the Capitol and take a tour.

But today I sit, logged onto the Internet and worry at the sounds of drilling in the next room. Maybe I'll pop the DVDs of all issues of The New Yorker from 1925 through April 30, 2007 into my iMac and browse around. But I'd sort of rather be walking.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Forgot to Say What I Ate

So, yeah when last seen, the Visible Woman promised a report on lunch. Day before yesterday's lunch! Hmmm. Where does the time go? That isn't my refrigerator but a window display on South Congress showing trendy products in an old refrigerator. The window was intended, during these dog days, to project coolness. In more ways than one.

So I had a panini sandwich for lunch day before yesterday. It had pesto on it. I was in a wine bar but I had water to drink. I'm thinking I went incommunicado after that last note precisely because I didn't want to describe my terrible diet. I think there was some of the ever popular arugula with that sandwich. For dinner on Monday, I had guacamole, hot sauce, chips, enchiladas and a beer. My companions were being good. They had guac and chips and stuff but had salads they didn't finish. And tea, not beer. I topped that off by buying a single, large Hefeweissen at Royal Blue on the way back from the restaurant and drinking it at home.

Yesterday, the good news was that I didn't eat anything until about 1 or 2. I was busy. I played tennis, ran a couple of errands and went to my dad's house where we washed the filter on his HVAC unit and I sorted some books to bring a few more into the fold at the condo. Didn't have time to eat. When I did, I chose, um, nachos! But just water to drink.

I walked to the Tavern (12th and Lamar) around 4:30 and it was plenty hot out so a cool Newcastle was nice when I got there. I wasn't just wandering around looking for a cool beer...could have done that steps from my building front door. A friend of mine was having a book signing for her book. I've known her since I first moved to Austin and while I rarely see her any more I thought it would be a great chance to catch up.

Dinner last night involved a couple of glasses of wine, a peach and arugula salad and risotto and (the shame of it!) a share in some rich dessert.

Too much food! So what did I do? Go to The Four Seasons for a delicious Market Breakfast which had heirloom tomatoes, local sausage, local Goat Cheese and eggs and a griddle cake. I don't even eat breakfast usually. Now I have to stave off the desire for napping and accomplish some of my goals for today. Hmm...what were they again?

Monday, September 08, 2008


I have lifted my head and will now move onward. I will finish sorting and straightening the stuff that didn't already get tossed. I will do creative projects. I will learn new things. I will entertain my friends with witty conversation that never touches on the topics of downsizing and moving. I will make a book of shop window reflections. I will call this one 'Butterfly' and wonder if people notice the building reflected in the glass. I will buy strange black frocks and mix it up with society types. Well, maybe scratch the last part.

The weekend was kind of strange. Between me and VMWare, I bollixed my Windows image. (I'm running MAC OS X and XP on this machine). My techie tended to blame the setup and the software, but, you know, I pay him. I must pay him one day to teach me the magic. He got most everything back and what he didn't recover I think we got all fixed up from the data backups. This happened Friday night and Saturday I tried to fix it and recovered stuff to my laptop and Sunday he fixed it for me.

I played tennis Saturday and then, because I was part way north, made a trip to Costco and then my Dad's. He wanted D batteries and toilet paper. He had a stash of the latter in the garage but he didn't notice it. I visited with him, did a few things for him that he can't do and sorted three boxes of books. I took two boxes back to the condo because we do have some space for books still. You have to mount the ladder to get to most of the rest of the space, but this is where books as decoration comes in. Who has time to read anyway?

Actually I now have times when I choose between reading the papers, reading a book or The New Yorker or writing. Or watching TV. Or, you know, eating and drinking.

Saturday we went early to Lambert's just as they opened when there was no one at the bar but staff chatting and getting briefed. Craig, the actor bartender who looks like some famous actor or maybe an amalgam of two or three, served us some food and I had a cucumber gimlet (with vodka substituted for the gin they recommend). OK, I had a glass of wine, too. We came back and I finished reading an interesting article in a New Yorker that was a couple weeks old and watched some of the U.S. Open tennis and then we went to the building's media room and watched the U.T. football game with a few other residents while a private party raged outside in the clubroom. The sound-proofing is good...the sound only rushed in when someone opened the door.

I spent five hours on Sunday, closer to six really watching my techie minister to my computers and network while I was going through some paper files and straightening them out. A lot of stuff got moved rather haphazardly at the end. After that, I had cabin fever. Or, in this case, tenth floor condo fever. (FFP had been out to take stuff to my car and storage and to get tacos and across the hall to work out.) We headed over to Taste and sat around eating stuff and drinking wine and picking out some party wine to take home and working the NY Times Sunday magazine crossword and talking to three of the owners of the place who were around working and planning. Then jazz started at five so we listened for a while before going home and reading some more Sunday papers while alternating between tennis and football and watching "Mad Men."

A good weekend. Except for the computer woes and evertying seems to be working out now including some new features we added to the mix. I don't think FFP started his car since Friday night. (When he drove five of us to see Elaine Stritch at Austin Cabaret Theater at Mansion at Judge's Hill.)

This morning we had a little shower downtown. I was supposed to play tennis so I called the captain of the team I'm subbing for and said "You know, if it's going to be a rainout I don't want to start my car!" But she said it wasn't raining and had only sprinkled a little earlier. I went and played. It went to three sets, but I was on the winning side. It didn't hurt that my partner (tall and twenty years younger than I) hit a few aces and service winners in the last game.

So here I am. Back with the details. I'm going out to lunch. I'll report back. No unexamined meals. I'm going to be a better correspondent. With you and with myself.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Unexamined LIfe

After you die, people write about you, sum up your life. If you are somebody, maybe someone writes a biography or you write your autobiography while you are still around. (If you are nobody, you write a memoir!) Old Plato said it.

"The life which is unexamined is not worth living."
--Plato, Dialogues

I just finished writing a little piece about a friend who died last year for another friend to use in a tribute. I have so much material about this friend that it's hard to hone in on a couple of pages of words and quotes and a few pictures. The e-mail file for this friend has almost 2000 pieces of mail. As I struggled to keep my facts straight (even the year something happened sometimes eludes me sometimes) I appreciated the scattered online journals that I kept and that e-mail file and files of paper journals and records.

I realize that I've neglected any kind of journal for some weeks except a few scattered and distant entries here that now seem full of self-absorption and self-pity and short on facts.

The other day a friend said something like 'I'm tired of the examined life.' Not me, though. The better record I have the better I feel...even when I can't locate anything in the heaps and piles of pictures and words. I wish I had a record of every bite I'd ever eaten and every movie I'd ever seen and every song I'd ever heard. So. I've got to get back on the journal bandwagon. Online and/or off.

While thinking about this entry, I tried to find the above quote by looking in my old journal entries housed on the IPOWER host. All my WEB pages on this service were out of service. Very disconcerting.

This reflection picture, by the way, is from the store VIVID although in the picture name I identified it as Uncommon Objects. You live, you lose track, you die.