Saturday, November 29, 2008


I sometimes wonder how I'd get along without FFP. (Pictured here in my shop window reflection fashion.) I don't like how that plays out in my head, to tell you the truth.

Oh, I do lots of things independently and do have friends and relatives who provide some help and comfort.

But I rely an awful lot on FFP. Not just his handling of many of the details of our lives (social, chores, financial). I also rely on him to be there to reassure me that whatever I'm doing is OK. He did this throughout my career. He does it now when I go off and play tennis or work out instead of doing chores or accomplishing anything in retirement. If I goofing off, he says it's OK. so I can do things I should be doing when the spirit moves me without a lot of guilt.

It's also good to have someone around to talk to, to bounce things off of, to laugh at things with and to share discoveries with. We are always reading something aloud to the other one or showing the other one something on the WEB.

Right now I should be doing some cleaning and going though my inbox and updating the budget. But I feel like blogging, drinking coffee and reading the paper. Which I will do. FFP will say it's OK. That I deserve it. That he "isn't doing anything worthwhile either." (Which may or may not be true.) Or he just won't say anything and I'll know it's fine.

I'm always so pleasantly surprised when I look up and realize he has taken out the recycling or trash, cooked some salmon, done the laundry, done some other chore.

Yeah, but mostly I just like talking to him, watching movies with him, listening to music with him. I don't mind spending some time by myself. I even used to take vacations apart from him and spent a lot of time away on business trips.I did fine on those trips. Enjoyed my alone time to some degree.

But I'm comforted that we will be together again when we're apart. Sitting home reading in our separate chairs or back-to-back doing something at our computers. Going out to eat, just the two of us, taking along our books or magazines to read. Going out with others knowing that we'll both probably want to go home at the same time.

This morning I was playing tennis. There were only three of us so I took on the other two for three sets of "California" or "Australia" doubles where you play against two people but they don't get to use the doubles alleys. I was having a really good time and thinking what a good time I was having. FFP has only played tennis a few times and isn't into it. But I felt good when it was over and, on my way home, my cell rang and he said he'd been working out and was going to shop for groceries for us and his mom. So, yeah, as soon as my independent activity was over I was happy to link up with FFP.

It's no wonder, I guess, that I feel that he's essential. I've been married to him more than half my life. Amazing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fact and Fiction

I discovered Sunday while we wandered around East Austin taking in a couple of Artist's studios that mirror glass is being used for some interesting in-fills and remodels. That's me then reflected in the door beyond the interesting rusty iron and mesh fence.

Mirrors and reflections. Versions of images, versions of truth. I was riding the recumbent bike to nowhere across the hall in the condo gym this morning. As I knocked around on this free Friday, I'd been thinking about what to write in here and why I did it. Yada yada. I'd been considering moving my protagonist (one Cliff Pogonip) along that concourse outside into a warm August day. First he'd meet some folks and learn the identity of the harried woman. By the way, I changed that paragraph to say she scurried, putting harried and scurried into the same sentence which sounds silly but I'll leave it for now. Hmm...and that word harried. Interesting word. But I digress. Here we go, out into the August heat.

Pogonip wasn't tempted to buy the papers. Even if he had been he had no change to plug into the machines. He didn't think he had any U.S. dollars on him at all. In fact, nestled in a cardboard travel organizer delivered to his London apartment yesterday, there was a hundred dollar bill and several twenties and fifties. It had contained ticket info on a flight to New York, a ticket to fly to Austin and a thick itinerary with car services, dates, times. He'd dug into the stuff to see what time he was being picked up at the apartment and to find the ticket info. On the flight over yesterday he'd fumbled with the packet and found the car service information and already filled-in forms for entering the country ready to be signed. He'd been whisked by a car service to the apartment in New York that was his but was fully occupied by two aspiring artists, one a painter and one a playwright. He had slept fitfully in an alcove with a curtain that contained a bed, nightstand, chair. His tenants were out for the opening of an off-Broadway production soon after he arrived and asleep when he slipped out of bed, showered and went downstairs to catch his car. He'd plowed further into the folder to find the info on his morning car service and Austin flight. He supposed that somewhere in there it said who would meet him at the airport. He didn't look. Instead he pulled out his phone and powered it on. There was one new missed called. He didn't listen to messages but called the number of the missed call.

OK, I didn't get him outside. So sue me. It's fiction and it goes where it goes.

Speaking of which, it's fiction. In the paragraph prior to the one above, presented to you first on November 16th, I mention the newspaper headline about a terrorist attack. ("Two Austin Men Dead in Berlin Attack."). Did I feel a frisson of synchrony on the bike this morning when, on CNN on the little TV in front of me, the headline came on saying "Two Americans Killed in Mumbai." I did not. I felt a bit betrayed by fact trumping fiction. Sort of like the writers and producers of a "Numb3rs" episode must have felt when that California train wreck occurred after they had spent a boatload on an episode about a train collision. (They taped David Krumholtz talking about how it was a coincidence and they were sorry for the victims and showed it before the episode.) I didn't feel too bad though because my investment in my fictional terror attack is small, after all, and I don't believe it was predictive, psychic or any other phenomena.

Fact and fiction are all of a mix anyway. Oh, some things are real. All too real. There was one of those religious stampedes today where people get killed in the rush. Well, it was the religion of consumerism. And the guy had a heart attack, but people were hurt in the Wal-Mart rush to get some goods and maybe they trampled the guy. It reminded me of those pilgrim things where people die. But you can't make this stuff up because, if you do, it just seems ripped from the headlines. Every fiction is fact. Every fact appears from a certain angle, made-up.

Our Friday is not black. But it is bleak. The weather that is. We got out to take some cleaning and mail our holiday postcards and ended up eating at Pecan Street Cafe on East Sixth. They have been there since before we married and they are still there and still serving a lot of the same dishes. Like the spinach crêpe that I had. It was cloudy and threatening. Downtown wasn't it's usual bustling Friday self because of the holiday. It drizzled on us a bit on the way back. We decided that staying in and drinking coffee and reading would be a nice way to spend the evening. I have things that need doing. Neglected chores (clean the kitchen), neglected sorting and filing. But I feel lazy. I feel like letting myself think and read. Next week social events loom and a visit from relatives. Obligations.

Where am I not today? I am not at the mall. Or shopping at all. My e-mail in box was full of special on-line offers and I did look at some. But, no, not tempted. We are listening to that iPod I bought a while back. FFP wanted to create a Genius playlist and after fumbling a bit I figured out how to do that again. I was in the middle of writing my little novel paragraph above when he asked me about it. So I'm sure it is different from the paragraph I would have written without interruption. Now if I only knew if it would be better or worse. That's fact influencing fiction in the moment.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dirt and Stuff

Trying to be my own maid (and secretary and bookkeeper) is always a challenge. (No, that's not the floor of my closet. The photo was shot in Uncommon Objects Sunday. I resisted becoming a typewriter collector and I haven't owned a pair of boots in years although I'm often tempted.)

Yesterday and the day before I tried to move some of the dirt around and straighten things a bit. On Tuesday I ran out of steam after giving the main bath a good cleaning. Yesterday I managed to do a lot of dusting and to vacuum the floors and the one small rug. I usually just use one of those Swifter things but, occasionally, you have to suck it up. The dirt that is. I didn't move a vacuum here and haven't bought one. (I'm not sure where I could store it for one thing.) My friend who lives on 11 has one that I borrow. So added to having to get it out and use it, I have to go upstairs, haul it down and later take it back. I've seen that several people have those robot things that go around apparently on their own vacuuming. Hmmm. Anyway, I needed to give the kitchen a good cleaning, too, but I haven't got around to that. I thought I might do that this morning but writing on my holiday postcards (secretary) and updating our budget (bookkeeper) with last night's eating and drinking indiscretions and, well, blogging have taken up the time. And I need to exercise before I go eat a big Thanksgiving meal at the club.

I have to say that we are very circumspect about buying stuff these days. The condo can't swallow stuff like the old house where I had a walk-in closet in the bedroom and seven other closets and a storage room, wine storage room, walk-in pantry, tons of kitchen cabinets and drawers, many file cabinets, desks with drawers, beaucoup bookshelves built in and free-standing, media cabinets, a double garage, etc. etc. Sure we have crammed as many storage opportunities as possible here and given away much of what occupied that space, but it does seem, well, finite. Very finite. That's a good thing, I think.

My in-box on my desk is full of things I need to do, though, and my files and some boxes in the extra closet need sorting and trimming. I didn't succeed in getting here with everything trimmed down and organized.

This closed-in feeling has brought me up short for Christmas shopping. FFP and I don't do much for each other, usually, just giving blessing to something the other person would want or need anyway and getting what we want for ourselves. We usually buy some token gifts for the parents. (Book for my dad, audio tapes for dad-in-law and a calendar or soap or something for mom-in-law.) But in years past I've bought gifts for friends, toys for my great nephews and niece, gifts for my sister and brother-in-law and nieces, etc. I just can't do it this year. Everything time I look at on-line come-ons or ads in the paper or stock in stores I feel that the stuff is not desirable but burdensome. So I've completely abandoned the nieces/sister crew to their own devices with an economic stimulus package of checks from me with minimal instruction. If friends bring me presents, I won't be prepared to reciprocate unless I buy a few emergency things but I haven't gotten the spark to do that.

This morning's paper was groaning with ads for deals tomorrow (Black Friday). As I looked through them I thought, "But you would have to pay me to go to the store tomorrow." So I tossed them all.

Ah, well, the more stuff you have, the more dirt you have to deal with. And this season seems to be rife with useless things. My not favorite: a marshmallow shooter. Huh? What's wrong with toys like Slinky? (The woman who ran the company making that classic toy died recently.) But a marshmallow shooter? Can you think of anything messier or stupider? Can you even plug an iPod into it?It seems all the gadgets have an iPod dock. Even now that I have an iPod I'm not tempted by these things. I do still want a new digital camera (or two) and a GPS. (I saw an ad for one digital camera that had a built-in GPS to identify where you took the picture. Which I want but in a smaller camera.) But I haven't had the umph to not only spend the money but learn to use them and sort through all the accessories, etc.

I'm just pretty bah humbug, I guess. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and dusting stuff in between. I do notice that things get dusted around here that wouldn't have at the old place. The maid didn't dust very much, but I always expected her to do it and wouldn't do much myself. And, of course, there was so much more stuff getting dusty and square feet of places to pile it. So...things are cleaner now in the smaller space, I think, even with my bungling attempts at being the maid.

As I write this final paragraph I've failed to work out much (a few weights) and made it through a Thanksgiving buffet with all the parental units. I'm sleepy. Maybe I'll nap while not cleaning or working on my Christmas cards.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where to Begin?

Where to begin? Or end for that matter.

I appeared on Friday to agonize over home. I've had a lot of thoughts since early Friday. And a couple of nights of dreams.

The dreams, then. My dreams night before last took the form of writing collaborations. Amid the usual (for me) dream scape of lost luggage and weird logistics of going places I'm not sure I need to be, there I was with sheaves of yellow legal paper with lots of handwritten notes for a novel of some sort. I seemed to be collaborating on the work with someone else (who remained quite vague) and then with a different person. I was untroubled by this apparent lack of loyalty and, with this second assistant, agreed to make the two principal characters, apparently based on us, dead in the book. Not dead as in dead and gone and not influencing the action in the present, but dead as in ghosts who could only see each other.

Last night my dreams were more usual. We were walking a long way, but I'd lost my shoes. FFP was helping me along. My stocking feet felt good. We were on a moving sidewalk for a very long time and then a set of colorful triangular steps that seemed perilous and to not be where we were supposed to be walking. In my dreams I'm often walking or driving when the walkway or roadway becomes something else again.

Why am I talking about dreams? I don't know. My little piece of the world has seemed dreamlike for a few days. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I have settle into the condo enough to internalize some of the facts of living here. Like you can't hear it rain. Not that it has rained much since we have lived here. We've had a drought. But at the old house you'd wake up and hear the pitter-patter on the roof and windows and that was cool. I'm sure it could rain hard enough that we'd hear it in here, but it would have to be quite a storm. It's nice to wake up on Sunday and see that it's been raining, though, and not worry about the paper being wet. The newspaper guy delivers the papers to the concierge who runs them up to the hallway in front of our door. Nice.

We are also noting how our place is so small that it's hard to lose track of each other or our stuff. That's good. Of course, we can be 'home' and be in the mail room, storage area, gym, parking garage, lobby, etc. That's weird.

It feels more monumental to get the car out now. Friday night we went to a opening of a big wine and gourment shop in Hancock Center. Too far to walk. Since we were already in the car we battled the IH35 service road to go to an Italian place on E. 11th. When we lived in the 'burbs (close-in burbs, though) we'd jump in the car at the drop of a hat. We'd jump in the car (sometimes both in separate cards) and go to the club to use the gym. We'd sometimes drive to a restaurant that was an easy walk away. Certainly going downtown or driving to a restaurant far afield was no big deal. I'd walk out to the garage seven minutes before my tennis game at the club (or any other event there) and figure I wouldn't be too late. Now I need to add seven minutes to get to my car and get it out of the building. And, for meetings at the club at night, there is a lot of pesky traffic in the way. I think this is basically a good thing. We went to luncheons on Friday and Saturday that were downtown and all we had to do was walk over. No driving downtown and no finding parking or using a valet and waiting with everyone else after for the car. Last night we went to a dinner party at some friends' apartment in the Monarch. We just hoofed over on our feet with five bottles of wine.

I've been thinking more about the novel. You know, the one I've posted two paragraphs of here in the harsh light of blogland. (Here and here if you are following along.) I was going to get the guy to meet up with the person picking him up at the airport, have him learn who the woman sitting next to him was, etc. Move him along. This would require, however, deciding on the weather. Will it be hot when he steps out of the terminal? Will he remove his blazer against the heat of an August or will it be pleasantly cool and sunny. Of course, if it is May-September it's probably hot, but if it's October-April it could be anything. So I have to decide what time of year it is and then, if it isn't in the prolonged Austin summer, I have to decide whether, you know, it is a twenty degree day in January or a sixty degree one. Of course, maybe I could just take this guy outside without comment on the weather, his clothes, etc. But it doesn't seem right. Even if you don't write these things you should have established them in your head. And, to be honest, if it's August, he felt the heat in the jet way between the plane and the air-conditioned terminal.

The real actual weather in Austin today is dreary and around sixty. We have tickets to see Chekhov's "Three Sisters" in the afternoon. I can't concentrate long enough to read the synopsis on Wikipedia. I think I have a little hangover. Nothing too serious. I'm just a little dreary myself. Wine flowed last night and some guy whipped up a cocktail that I believe involved gin that I may have (OK, I did) had one of. I have lots of things I need to do like wrap a present for my father-in-law, print mailing labels for holiday cards, clean the condo. We were thinking of visiting a few galleries in the East Austin Studio Tour before going to the play.

But. Where to begin?

Friday, November 21, 2008

You Can't Go Home Again

By rights I ought to feel silly pointing to this building (shot here reflected in the pond north of the Palmer Events Center) and saying "I live there." I don't, though. Feel silly, that is. People do find it exciting or shocking, though. Austin hasn't been that much of a high rise living town until recently. Before the 360, the 18 story AMLI and the Monarch, most apartment and condo projects were shorter and lower key. But we are movin' on up to apartments in the sky. OK, our place is not on such a high floor. I am a little tired of answering the questions about how we like it, do we miss our house, do we miss the space, the stuff.

By rights I should miss our old place. Miss the pretty yard, the space, the stuff I left behind, gave away. But really I don't. It's the same old, same old really. Wishing I could/would find the time to clean out the drawers, shelves, cabinets and the storage unit in the parking structure. Wishing I would find time to write. I am forced to keep things tidier, I guess, because the piles would be in my face.

In spite of living at the "Shoal Creek Manse" (as we called it, tongues firmly in cheek) for about thirty-one years, I don't miss living there. And I finally realized why.

I don't ever settle into a place, I don't think. Not in a way that makes moving difficult. Maybe I did as a kid. I started out living in a 2-1 farmhouse with a basement and a screen porch (which got enclosed at some point and became a narrow tiny bedroom for my six-year-old self at some point). I knew nothing else, really. Except the grandmother's house which, come to think of it, had a porch that had been converted to accommodate my old granddad. (He was twenty-one years older than my grandmother and thus a quite elderly man when I was born. And I don't mean sixty. He was seventy-three when I was born.) I do remember not liking to spend a night anywhere but my grandmother's house or at home. Possible exception was my aunts' house in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. Gradually I became comfortable with being away from home. I even sought it out, eager to see things, have adventures.

When I was about ten, we moved. To a bigger town than the small town with my grandmother's house. (Our farmhouse was outside this smaller town.) We moved to a brand new tract house in town. It wasn't a city but this town had a bowling alley. Imagine that! I don't remember being disturbed by moving. My whole family went, of course, and we still saw my grandmother. Sometimes she took a bus and a cab to get to our new house and come take care of me.

That little 3/2 house was my home for ten years. I went to the elementary down the street and to the old Junior high and high school 'in town.' I rode my bike around the neighborhood, learned to drive and drove around town. (I wasn't allowed to drive far out of town, but I had a friend that lived as far east as we did west and we were back and forth all the time.) It came time for college. I'd be going away to live in a dorm. I got to take a couple of trips that summer after graduation. And while I was gone on one of them, my parents packed up and moved to a suburb of Dallas so Dad would be closer to his work.

I never really lived in that new house. (Another 3/2 tract house, with a bit bigger family room.) Oh, I did go there on school holidays, I lived there one summer and commuted to my college town. Between apartments and situations I'd move in with all my stuff and out again. When I graduated from college I got a job in Dallas and, too broke to put a deposit on an apartment, lived with the parents for quite a few months, paying my mother rent. It was a crash place for me. The very friendliest of places to light between here and there.

I moved to Austin in 1975. I rented an apartment that I would live in for less than a year. I married FFP and joined him in a little 2/1 house that he'd bought several years before. A little more than a year after that we saw a 'For Sale' sign down the street and bought a bigger house. Which we remodeled four times, making it bigger and bigger, until it had three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a large separate office with wet bar and a large entertainment room. (At 550 square feet, almost as big as the first house.) The master suite had been expanded to include a commodious bath and a pretty big walk-in. The basic house always had tons of storage, fairly good-sized bedrooms and a huge kitchen with walk-in pantry. It wasn't a manse, but it was big, especially compared to the tiny apartments and tract houses and dorm rooms I'd lived in.

Do I miss that big house? No. It never felt like home. I realize that beyond the farmhouse or that first tract house, no place ever did seem like anything but a temporary place to sleep, eat, entertain.

If I feel I 'want to go home' what it really means is that I want to exit the company and clutter and be alone in whatever abode that is. Maybe a room someone has loaned me in a house. Maybe a hotel room. Or a condo in a high rise. Home is me, alone, writing. (Or in the modern era, blogging.) Or just thinking. I can even be 'home' in public if I'm not with anyone. People can be all around as long as they aren't with me and don't require anything of me.

FFP is an exception to the people rules. I can be in close proximity to him and still feel at home. I do enjoy some alone time when I don't feel that what I'm doing (cleaning, playing music, dragging things out of closets) might disturb him. But I can certainly be 'at home' with him in the room. (Like now.) In the old house, we had office space as far away as possible from one another. (Not really intentionally, just the way it happened. We called and e-mailed each other. We still e-mail each other. So sue us.) As we moved out and fixed up the house, we moved into the large office together and now we share a small one. I'm at home here. But I'm just as much at home in a coffee shop somewhere with a notebook or my laptop. Home is in my head somehow. We have made our place more comfortable here since we were 'camping' in the living room but I'm no more at home here now.

Yeah, homesick is something I really can't feel. I can miss seeing people. I used to miss FFP and the various dogs when I'd be on a trip without them. I used to miss seeing my parents. But the structure and surroundings? I could enjoy them, some were more comfy and accommodating than others, but I could never really miss them. If I didn't have a comfortable place to be, I'd regret that. And I'd feel lost if I didn't have things I wanted in close proximity to me. I could miss a town, I guess. I've certainly come back from Europe missing Mexican food and I've missed places I've been because of the things to do (entertainment, museums, cafes, bars, the streets). But I'll sleep happily here or there. We have everything we really need and enjoy from the old house here. So, no, I don't miss it. I find I miss some of the neighborhood restaurants and coffee shops that aren't quite duplicated downtown, but I'd miss the ones around here and their particular joys if I was back there.

You can't go home again because it's not a spot with GPS coordinates. At least not for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Walking After Midnight

Yesterday afternoon I took this picture of the shadow of this new arty fence near the South First pedestrian bridge. (More here on Austin Daily Photo.) I'm so excited that this bridge is usable.

I get inordinately excited about walking different places. It may seem a long way to walk to SoCo for lunch, but the walk is part of the program, part of the visit with my friend and a (little) exercise.

I didn't really 'walk after midnight.' (Patsy Cline made the tune "Walking After Midnight" famous. Lyrics here so you can hear in your head. I just made a 'genius' play list from it. It's playing Robert Earl Keen now. Hmm.)

But we did walk after dark. Friends were treating us to a dinner at the (newly renovated) Paggi House. This place is close to us but the pesky Little Colorado (Lady Bird Lake) is in the way. We took our lives in our hands and walked the dark trail to get under Cesar Chavez and over to the pedestrian unfriendly south side of that street and then got to the Pfluger Ped bridge. We were home free then. I had told FFP that if we were accosted in the dark by evil doers he should start quoting lines from "Slingblade" and they would flee, assured that he was crazier than they were. He'd just been watching and quoting from the DVD before we left home. Anyway, yeah, we made the bridge and then Paggi House is just across a well-lighted street. We dodged the cars, choc-a-bloc in the parking lot, stacked in by valets for people who couldn't, ahem, walk there. (The place is basically cheek-by-jowl with the Bridges condos. They can really walk there.)

We had a meal. Really good food. Service a little dicey. Good wine, too. Good company. Then...time to go home. we walked a little out of the way for light and decent sidewalks. Back to the now precious to us South First Pedestrian bridge that is actually usable. Yeah!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Best Laid Plans

I was supposed to play tennis, but the organizers couldn't get up a game. I thought I'd work out before my walk/lunch date at noon then. But I got distracted by a project of FFP's and interested in finishing redoing a friend's WEB site. Then I thought I might do a workout after lunch (and walk). But then it seemed too easy to sit in front of my computer and finish the test version of the site and enter some receipts into my budget. Time ticked away. And I hadn't worked the NY Times crossword or done some accounting chores I needed to do. And I hadn't worked out. And I hadn't gotten a shower.

While we were having lunch, my companion indicated that normally he would go for a workout in the afternoon but that the pot pie lunch he was having might mean he'd have to go to a movie. (Being retired is having some cool choices, I admit it.) He also asked me how the writing was going. I said it was going along in my head, that my fictional characters went right along doing stuff in my head if not on paper (or pixels). I also told him that since I'd developed a sense of humor about not writing it made the idea of writing easier. Not that I'd done much.

So time ticks away. And many things are undone. But, it's time to take a shower and work that puzzle. And go out to dinner.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waiting for Inspiration

"I'm going to work out and I'm going to clean the place, but first I'm going to goof off," I said. To FFP, of course, because usually if I'm not talking to myself then I'm talking to him. I had trouble sleeping last night. We got home around nine after taking my dad on an excursion. His dear friends had invited us all over for a lamb dinner. We went early and installed and tested his new Lifeline equipment. His old phone died of alcohol overdose. (Shorted out from a beer spill.) We watched a little TV with him and then took off for the meal and visit. We all enjoyed it, I think, in our own way. Anyway, we dropped him off and got back here around nine. We watched some football and then I watched a recording of The Simpsons that dovetailed with the NY Times Sunday Magazine crossword. Yeah, no kidding. What fun.

I read newspapers and dozed a few times but then I ended up messing around with the equations for an answer to Marilyn vos Savant's column in Parade. (Yeah, I read Parade, too. I'm not proud of it.) Is that a made-up name? Like the 'geniuses' at Apple? Anyway, algebra. I miss math sometimes. My eyes got bleary. I went to the computer, discovered an error had occurred on something I wanted to write customer support about, posted my Austin Daily Photo blog. I wondered is my monitor was getting fuzzy. My eyese were fuzzy. It was late, late. Went to bed.

I got up this morning thinking I needed to clean, work out and to work on a friend's WEB page that I foolishly volunteered to create some while ago. She is coming by to visit this afternoon and had sent a bunch of e-mails over the last few weeks about updates she wanted. I had to track them down. It felt like 'work.'

So I'm not cleaning. I'm not working out. I'm, well, you know, blogging! And drinking coffee. Because that's what I feel like doing.

Yesterday we walked over to Z'Tejas for brunch. I was reading Marcel Bénabou's Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books and he waxes eloquently about trying to write without the reflection and 'story within a story' and metaphor that is, well, literature:

I dreamed of a book in which one would take everything in its simplest, most immediately revealed sense....A book whose structure would, in its simplicity, have no inkling of resorting to drawers within drawers; a book from which any kind of mirror would be banished, in which one would search in vain for the least surface able to reflect the image of objects; in short, a book that would allow itself none of the facile effects of mise en abîme and specular games.

Now, apart from never having heard 'mise en abîme' and not knowing the meaning of specular, I know mirrors and reflections so when we left I went to Portnoy's nearby and took several reflection pictures as above. [And later looked up the mystery phrase and word. Cool.]

And my point was? I don't know. Just displacing. Did I mention I've worked the crossword in the NY Times? And watched as some workmen messed with the water and chilled water meters in my mechanical closet? So, the day is disappearing. And I really must do something useful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reading, Writing, Words, Memory

A while back I wrote about my unwritten books and called out a book by George Steiner that I wanted to buy with that very title. (But didn't because the unread around here is threatening enough already.)

Last night we were headed out to watch the UT Women's Basketball team take on an early, hapless opponent at Erwin Center and, as we were planning to walk, I looked around for a small, intense bit of reading material. What should I find but Marcel Bénabou's Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books, translated from the French by David Kornacker. (Have I mentioned that, if only I knew a foreign language well and wasn't ADD, that I think I would make a great translator?) But, yeah, digression...that's why it's in parentheses. I didn't remember owning this book, let alone reading it. (I'm pretty sure I hadn't cracked the cover.) Plus, for a moment I thought it might be the book that I was talking about in that other entry. That's hard to admit. I write and research stuff and then forget it. (I forget my own life in this way, in large measure. I've recently been rereading online journal entries from September 2001. There are many things in there I forgot I did and felt. Sadly I linked to places that were interesting that are gone from the Internet. I did not, by the way, go back to these entries because of 9/11. No I was looking for something else that, it turns out, occurred around that time.) But I really digress.

So I found Bénabou's book and took it to the basketball game and read some of it while keeping an eye on the action. You know, the downtime of time outs, half time, etc. Anyway. It's a very interesting book. Unfortunately I was reading it away from computer or dictionary, though, because there were words I didn't know. I like reading books with words I don't know, but I am frustrated if I'm dictionary-less at the moment of reading. For example, prolegomenon. Geez, one guesses it's like a prologue in spite of looking like a word for a person favoring certain Danish toy bricks.

It's funny but certain books I own I sort of remember reading while not watching basketball. (Even if I remember none of the contents.)

Is this forgetting of the particular in favor of some other kind of memory? Does it support remembering definitions of words in books, general knowledge of behavior and assumptions? I don't know. As I attack the NY Times Magazine puzzle this morning, I wonder. Where is all this stuff kept in my pitiful head? And why is some of it gone or impossible to access? And, if I wrote a book, would I forget it to an extent that I could read it (like the books of others) and have it feel fresh all over again.

In that vein, I'm going to type another bit of my unwritten novel here, assuming I can find the scrap I wrote it on in a book I'm not reading.
The harried woman scurried away as they emerged from the jetway. He was loitering, staying to the right of other rushed travelers. The woman was now chatting into one of the two phones she'd retrieved from her bag while they stood, unavoidably touching, in the crush of the aisle a few minutes ago. He paused by three newspaper boxes, one each for the Austin, Houston and Dallas papers. The Austin paper said in large type "Two Austin Men Dead in Berlin Attack."
I reread the paragraph I blogged before prior to typing this in. And I wondered about changing a word. The paragraph above I typed faithfully from the scrap I wrote in on in the coffee shop on Wednesday. (Did I mention I in this entry that I did that? Anyway. Somewhere I thought I mentioned it.)

What's the point of this entry then? I think to give you a chance to see inside my brain on a Sunday morning. It's a mess, isn't it?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Odd Effects

Light changes everything. Experience changes everything.

I was working with my computer guru yesterday on installing some new some new software. When I first got my iMacs their pretty faces seduced me. I still like sitting here typing away like now. But the hard drive failure on Forrest's and various little glitches have left me with a less than "I LOVE Apple" impression. Not all of this is rational. I am trying to run Microsoft software on both these machines. (Yeah, I'm not in the I LOVE Microsoft camp either. That ship sailed long ago.) I am trying to run these two HP all-in-one printers wirelessly on the Intranet. I am trying to use VMware and a mishmash of XP programs. I am notorious for changing lots of files on my computer willy-nilly in my ADD fashion and trying to backup everything and, I don't know, maybe demanding more of my environment than other people and not remembering what I did to cause something to crash. I've had some weird problems with the CD/DVD drive on my iMac, too, where the Apple side loses track of the drive and I have to go connect it to the VMware XP, eject it, disconnect it, start over. Once a CD got stuck halfway in, too. Anyway, when I look at my pretty Apple machine now it doesn't elicit pure joy. (OK, maybe everyone doesn't download enough CDs to have 7251 songs in iTunes only one of which was purchased online. Still.) And don't call anything 'genius.' Not people not software. You invite the idiot retort. Would I buy Apple again? Maybe. Would I buy HP printers? (Did I mention that the software for their all-in-ones is a big smelly pile? Yeah. It is.) No, when I see an HP printer now it kind of makes me mad. I'm just saying.

It's funny though how these things that maybe have nothing to do with some object like the software that runs on it or something that attaches to it start to make you think of it in a different light.

Well, things are running OK now. Just OK, however. There are a couple of things not OK. And my guru is going to leave the business for a real job when he graduates. I'm happy for him, but I will miss his help. And talking to him. Interesting kid. Like a son I'd be proud to have. Anyway.

When we were finishing up and banishing a couple of last minute little difficulties, I noticed the light outside. It was amazing with dark clouds in the east and the last of the sun reflected in buildings. The way I perceive an evening is often influenced by how the skyline east of me looks at sunset, assuming I notice it. This view was amazing. See above. (Not that my bad photography captures it.)

It's funny how we react to the things around us. Funny and not all that rational.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Physics of Tennis and Walking

I got some new tennis shoes in the mail this week. I feel a little bad for not buying them from a local place. But my pro shop at my club doesn't carry my brand (New Balance) and I know exactly what I need (10 B, slightly larger than my dress shoe size) and can get it so easily online. My others had developed a very, very thin spot on the sole and when that happens a toe injury is soon to follow. I'd reverted to shoes -1 because the sole was smooth but intact. So, I wore them for the first time yesterday and played three not very hard sets of doubles on hard court. So they are fine. It's amazing that we humans (even this uncoordinated one) can play tennis. Moving around the court and arranging to have the racket strings strike the fuzzy ball and go over the net and stay in. (Well, sometimes.) It's just amazing, really, what we can do. Like I say: even me. Oh, I miss of course but even in missing your body is conducting an amazing array of spectacular fine and gross motions.

I took a walk yesterday, too. I just felt like getting out and so I walked over to Congress and sat in the Hideout and drank a root beer and worked the Thursday crossword in the NY Times. All but one square without any Google checks or such. I also wrote a little in a notebook and pondered great questions of the world. Like "what is the story of the weird guy who seemed maybe a character, maybe homeless and then engaged the girl nearby with the Mac laptop about Flickr accounts?"And "How is there enough bad art in the world to decorate all the coffee shops?" Things like that. It's good to get away from watching the stock market or wallowing in techno-land turning your thoughts into pixels and just sit in a coffee shop.

Walking back and forth I was struck again by how we walk, adjusting to bumps in the terrain (easier in my hiking boots than in heels, I thought, as I saw one gal teetering across a street). Stepping nimbly over curbs and around obstructions, most of us go along without a hitch. It's really no wonder that sometimes we fall. And sometimes we can't get up.

Speaking of which (falling and not being able to get up) my dad left a message on the phone last night that the Lifeline people had sent him a new phone (which has the antenna and speaker built in to communicate with the Lifeline button). His did not survive its encounter with the Shiner Bock. He was wondering this morning how he could set it up so he could use the phone from his chair (it doesn't buzz his hearing aids and has nice large numbers that announce themselves, etc.) but possibly avoid his liquids. We decided that maybe it could go on another table. Of course, the next misstep won't involve the phone. That's how these things go.

It's amazing how we can do all these things with our bodies without thinking much about them. Until they disappear. Or we do. Dad can still walk and take care of himself (eased by the accessible house and canes and walkers, of course) and after over nine decades that's amazing.

In other random thoughts from yesterday: it's too bad our computing environments are so powerful and yet so difficult to back up. I was anticipating a visit from my computer guru today to look at updating some stuff and why we get some random errors here and there. I decided to record briefly the changes I made to my computing environment on the Windows XP Virtual Machine. I updated spreadsheet cells, downloaded and edited photos, wrote in a journal I keep in a Word document, updated QuickBooks with a stock dividend in one of my accounts and with some checks we'd written, etc. That's not counting, of course, updating my Austin Daily Photo blog. Who knows whether that blether will be 'preserved' or not.

It's too bad that we can't register all our software including versions and option settings, record our file structure, get versioning on all files, be asked to rank the importance of data, etc. without having to develop our own elaborate schemes for not losing stuff when our media and computers so down. It makes me so tired, making backup schemes, making sure they work, upgrading software, looking for files, organizing. I just want to use the computer to make words and pictures and to read stuff. I want it to be there with my calendar, mail, journals, financial software and spreadsheets. There just is no scheme that works flawlessly. Apple has this 'Time Machine' thing but I don't know how well it really works especially if you lose your whole environment. It seems more suited for recovering from your own faux pas. I guess Apple offers some off site backup, too, but I don't know how that works. I think my main problem is that I create too much stuff. Too many e-mails, too many downloaded pictures, too many words. I think it's interesting that I've entrusted all the blog entries to some free service without much of a qualm. I used to create my own HTML journals and such and I would upload those to the servers of companies I paid to host them and then I was pretty blase about otherwise backing them up.

Where am I going with all of this? Don't know. Life is complicated. We are complicated. Computers are complicated. I'm going to go across the hall and exercise and read the newspaper.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Take Your Time

Take the time to look around. Take the time to enjoy your leisure. Even if you are using the 'free' time to clean your house and fret over your finances and update your calendar and organize stuff. You have the time, enjoy it. Go down the by-ways and alleys. This one is between the Austin Club and the buildings west of it. (I usually show the prettier, intentional picture on Austin Daily Photo. Not that I didn't take this one intentionally. Just not with a pretty motive. At least it's not a reflection. I'm sort of tired of them. You?)

Take the time to blog. Yeah, I was cleaning house but right in the middle of a task I started blogging and drinking coffee. I'd gotten distracted by some sirens. I went out on the balcony to hear them better. I'm listening to my new iPod on the sound system playing a play list it made up from our CD collection. You pick a song and it picks ones to go with it. Who knew? It's pretty clever really. But not genius. Which is what they call it. And what they call the people who work in the Apple Store. Hmm, yeah. But I digress.

When I retired, I had all this time, but I fretted over spending it. I obsessed more about allocating my time than I did when I worked. I obsessed more about time than money. Not that I obsess about money a lot. I don't.

When we started getting ready to move there were all these important things to do. Or so I thought. I squeezed leisure around sorting and packing and tossing and planning the moving and the condo redo and fixing the house to sell and on and on. Now there are days, like today, when only a few things are pressing. When I have scads of time to clean, to catch up some of my projects, to work out. Maybe even time to think.

I want to take some of the time to get the condo clean. I'm my own maid. Did I mention that? How many times? Anyway, FFP is a big help. He takes out the recycling and takes things to the dumpster and does laundry. Does most of the shopping. Arranges the flowers. I once thought that I'd be rich if I had fresh flowers around most of the time. So, yeah, I'm a richie! (Points for knowing what movie has that line.)

I want to clean today because a friend is coming by tonight to see the place for the first time. I want it to look pretty good. First impressions. I think this friend should sell her house and go back to condo living. Not that she could sell right now, but anyway. Once she had a condo. She had major damage in the Northridge earthquake of '94. Structurally it stood but lots of damage to the interior. She wasn't inside. But I digress again.

I think I'll go back to cleaning. My mood is improving, I think. It's been bleak. It needs to rise to a point in the next fifteen minutes that is high enough to keep going when the stock market opens. If you know what I mean.

So, take your time. Go find the feather duster. Get things clean. Workout. Write. Read. File. But take it easy. Take your time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Few Guarantees

I had a few minutes before going off to the club to play tennis. I put up this photo which reflects me in a window of Day of the Dead figures, this one colorfully dressed with an elaborate cigarette holder. Cigarettes or no, we all die, I thought. I started this entry, before going to tennis, but I didn't like where it was going and didn't finish it. I went off to play tennis after receiving a call that, because of some earlier rain, we were on a clay court.

We were on and off the clay courts. It kept trying to rain. Once, when it stopped, we moved to a drier one. Another shower and we gave up. I decided not to go to the gym. Instead I went to the Lamme's candy store. They weren't open yet. But they had a sign that the candy I wanted to buy (because my uncle asked me to send him some to give as gifts) would go on sale the 20th. I made a phone call to see if they could wait that long. They need it by Thanksgiving. That should work. I went in the camera store. I looked at some point and shoot cameras (smaller, more zoom than my current ones) and talked to the guy about SLRs. I didn't buy anything. Just can't bring myself to spend money right now on gadgets. Not when I lose thousands of dollars a day on stocks and mutual funds!

I took my car in for maintenance yesterday. I don't drive much but time goes by, things age. Th car is nearly eight years old. I decided to replace some bushings to stop noises. I spent a lot of time in the waiting room of the dealer or in the desolate neighborhood nearby. (I used to live not far from here. But this area is a little more desolate than that because it's mostly commercial except for a high school.) I watched people who were waiting for cars. A very pregnant woman with a tattoo. A very obese woman with a large cross around her neck, reading a book that seemed like a romance title. She had another book at the ready should she finish that. There was a lawyer counseling someone over the phone while pounding away on his laptop. (They have nice waiting areas, with Wi-Fi in one and cable in another. I walked to Half Price Books. I bought some used books on tape for my father-in-law. I saw an interesting book about Paul Bowles with facsimiles of journals and pictures for $5 that in more acquisitive times I would have purchased. I went to a cheap Mexican place for some cheese enchiladas.

I always try to give my cars a chance to not break down on the road by getting them checked and serviced. But you never know really. Once we had a water hose rupture on our Accord (the -1 Accord, not the one we have now) days after a maintenance check.

Before I left for tennis today, I was just about to say to FFP that my plan for the day was to clean the house. But you hate to make promises. Life has no guarantees. I said nothing.

There is only one thing that is sure and inevitable. And it isn't taxes. However, you just don't know when the end comes, for you or anyone else. And there's the mystery. This morning when I started this entry I thought I'd had something to say about death somewhere in blog- or journal-land and sure I enough I found this.

I'm home now and thinking about that cleaning. Maybe I'll do it. No guarantees.

Life has very few guarantees, you know.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Today we did some cocooning, just hanging around our place. We did walk about three miles this morning, over to Caffe Medici on W. Lynn with our friend and our God Dog. The dog walked further, detouring up walks and chasing a few squirrels.

Since we have a gym across the hall, it counts as part of the cocoon, although it's a public area. I did forty-five minutes on the bike. I had to use my iPod to pipe Ella Fitzgerald and such into my ears to avoid listening to rap music on an audio source that couldn't be cut off. (I know I said I wouldn't use my iPod in this way. It was an emergency.)

I confess to some depression today. In part it's because my computer setup had a glitch and that always makes me feel bad because I feel so dependent on it which is stupid, I suppose. Fortunately one of my backup schemes saved me. All is well for the moment. Also, the ongoing meltdown of the world makes me depressed and my condo needs cleaning and I have other chores I don't feel like doing. So I worked as much of the NY Times Sunday Magazine crossword as I could (with a couple of Internet cheats and asking FFP some sports questions) and then logged onto this cool site that has the solution and discusses it. I ate the food FFP prepared (because left to my own devices I eat cheese from the frig although I also had a bagel and cream cheese at the coffee shop).

Instead of doing what I should be doing, I downloaded CDs to iTunes. I read some newspapers while displacing from the things I should have been doing, too. I read that Billy Graham was too old and sick to advise Barak Obama. In fact, Barak has yet to get to meet him although Biily would like to 'pray with him.' This is news, my friends, in the era of evangelical politics.

When I was all sweaty from my workout, I got a call from Lifeline Systems that my dad's system had gone off and they couldn't communicate with him. We were halfway out there when they called to say that he was OK and had simply "spilled a beer on his phone device." We continued out there and, sure enough, I think the beer may have disabled the phone. They'll replace it. I wasn't all that worried. Real emergencies don't follow predictable patterns, I find. It did make us get out of the house. We even thought of grabbing dinner out on the way home, but instead came home, relied on FFP's cooking again and watched "Sunset Boulevard" and some football. We drank some delicious wine, too. Cocooning can be a good thing if you don't take it too far.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

And It Begins

We knew there would be fallout. (Of course, the precipitous decline in the stock market has already sucked the value out of our retirement funds sufficiently to make a mockery of our net worth.) Now one of our banks has failed and is being taken over by another bank. Impact to us is likely to be minimal although both sets of parents have some CDs there and we have a business checking account, etc. and if there is annoying paperwork it is likely to fall to moi and FFP.

This reflection photo shows a shop on SoCo displaying a 'No Cash' sign. There have been a number of shops that have gotten windows smashed by people trying to get at cash registers so I guess this is the equivalent of the 'No Radio' signs you used to see in NYC.

Mostly this picture shows me in shorts. I don't usually do walkies (or anything else but tennis and workouts) in shorts, but I did this day. So, yeah, those are my 60-year-old legs.

I'm off for a walkie soon. In jeans, though. It isn't fifty degrees yet although it will be close to 80 before the day is over.

In other economic news...I broke down and bought an iPod. A classic with 120GB. I put over 6000 tracks on it that I'd downloaded from CDs we own. And I bought the k.d. lang track of "Hallelujah" although it doesn't hold a candle to the live performance. I won't be carrying the iPod around with me, though. I just wanted an easy way to put all our music on the sound system and since we have an iPod deck.... All the other gadgets I'm considering (multi-media projector, GPS, small laptop for travel, new pocket camera, a digital SLR) are still pending. And may pend forever. Although if we decide to go on a trip the laptop and GPS might rise to the top. I guess I should buy 'em all and fuel the economy. But, honestly, walking through Costco yesterday, I just didn't feel in the mood to drop coin. But at least I bought the iPod. I'm doing my part.

So, get up, get moving. Write about it later.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Should Be...

I should be working out, I should be cleaning, I should be doing some errands. But. I'm blogging. I have a lunch date with a friend and my father later.

This photo shows me reflected on a giant gadget (an iPhone?) in the Apple Store window. I'm thinking the little things around represent games and such you can download to your phone. I've thought of getting a new phone but not very hard. I'm not sure I want a phone that can do more than phone.

We saw k.d. lang last night. I'd never seen her in person. Things I love about k.d. lang:

  1. She is impossibly, completely, irrepressibly herself and damn the consequences.
  2. She can take a brilliant song by someone else (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" last night) and make a chill run through your body that you suddenly realize is going all along the row, all through the audience and at the end they rise to their feet and it's not to beg an encore but it's just that one piece and an appreciation of it that has yanked the audience up.
  3. In spite of the above, in spite of the fact that she could cover songs and perhaps be the most popular singer on earth (think Roy Orbison's "Crying" here, too) she does material that is all her own (written by her or for her) and bangs on it over the years and takes her faithful with her. (See number 1.)

I enjoyed it. Before that we went to the Austin Club and ate and drank too much. I like the Austin Club. The bartender. Summer, knows our names, our reciprocal number (we aren't really members at all but are in a reciprocity club from another club) and my drink. FFP saw her preparing my drink and realized she was using a different whiskey than I prefer. He said she stopped, thought, poured it out and got out the Woodford Reserve! It's great when people do their job well, isn't it? It's not like we go there all the time. (No, really. We drink all the time. Just not there.) Then she was laughing at herself for not remembering!

Yeah, I'm going to do some of those things I should be doing. Soon. But not until FFP and I finish listening to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" sung by a bunch of different artists. And not until I finish reading a play by my new friend in New York that she sent us.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Should I Read It or Be It?

Here we are reflected at the Domain. The retroactive bid to deny the tax incentives given this high-end multi-use development failed, by the way. Now that we are townies we don't go there so much. Fact is, when we lived a few miles closer we didn't go there much.

But, yeah. Seems everyone has something to say about the election. Should I just observe and read others' thoughts or add to fray?

Obama has given a lot of people what he promised. Hope. That's something. I'm too pragmatic, I guess, to feel it. The stock market is pragmatic, too, and is sailing downward. I keep thinking how a president, even with a majority in both houses, can really be stymied by the system and the circumstances. I keep thinking about what Barack is not. He is not an advocate of gay rights. He is not a descendant of slaves. The First Lady and his children, though, might be. I always thought our first 'black' president would be. I didn't think that he wouldn't have white ancestors, of course, because many U.S. blacks do. Remember Barbara Jordan? Yeah, wow. (Black, Gay, Woman. Not in my lifetime.) Barack seems a little too evangelical for my tastes (yeah, yeah, the Republicans, damn 'em, let's not even talk about them) and he didn't come out for gay rights. I also have a problem with his assertions about taxes. He says 'if you earn less than 250,000 dollars your taxes won't go up.' If you are a retiree with unearned income, though, what then? Ah, well. I can hope, too. I like that Barack seems a radical choice from name to background. The world took notice. It represents better than our words that the U.S. is an amalgam. It is many things, our country. Some are unsavory, some are lovely and some are just plain interesting! I find people with varied backgrounds to be beautiful, creative, interesting, accepting. Well, you know, in general. And I have hope that Barack will lead us out of wars, fix the economy, appoint some Supreme Court Justices, change the way the world views us, etc. But I'm a skeptic. I'm waiting for the morning after. And I hope he is given a chance to do what he can without too much pressure of all this expectation.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I AM 60

Apparently so is Puma. They have a store at the Domain. I was surprised to see all this "I AM 60" decor in their window when we were out there the other day. Before I started wearing New Balance some years ago I always liked Puma tennies.

I am 60, but I still don't have my life figured out. What's up with that?

This morning I had a conversation with my dad. We were talking about something and I said it was so far in the future I didn't care, I wouldn't live that long.

"You will live as long as I have," he asserted.

"You keep going and you are going to make another Christmas and make 93."

"I'm planning on it," he said. "Christmas is almost here. I haven't even decided what to buy for myself."

Which is hilarious. He buys almost nothing for himself but gas for the car, groceries and the occasional article of clothing which he grudgingly gets to replace something ancient. The other morning I was over there and it was cool and he'd grabbed a corduroy shirt out of his closet.

"You know where I got this shirt?"

I didn't.

"Deedy [our affectionate name for my grandmother on my mother's side] made it for me."

I have no idea when the shirt was made, but my grandmother died in 1978 and she'd been too infirm to sit at a sewing machine for a while before that. So, I don't know, maybe the shirt was forty years old if a day. He never gives up on a good thing. I wore out my last article of clothing that she made me in the '60's about a decade ago.

Compared to my dad, sixty is young. And I do feel young. Immature even. When will I grow up and figure stuff out?

And I'm still laughing about my dad's Christmas comment. He doesn't buy presents for other people either and only sends money.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I was trying to choose a picture for Austin Daily Photo. I finally fell back on something that I'd used with a different crop on this blog because it had a flag. A flag distorted by a circular window over at the Avenue Lofts. (I'm a sucker for circular windows, but that's another story.) Every day I have to post a picture over there that is somewhat different from the previous ones. Have to is too strong, of course. It's a commitment with no consequences if I default. Some things, a lot of things, are like that.

I chose this picture rather arbitrarily for this entry because I really have an obsession with reflection and this shop window on West Sixth presents a fall theme.

We make so many choices every day. Yesterday I decided to do the following: (1) clean the dining table and the console and glass shelves; (2) work on a writing project for a possible newspaper column that didn't really come together, not yet anyway; (3) work on a Christmas postcard to be sent early in an attempt to stop some errant holiday mail; (4) transcribe some old paper journals and write in my private journal; (5) watch the rest of The Commitments, a movie FFP asserted he's already seen that we rented from NETFLIX; (6) do a workout of fifty minutes on the recumbent bike and a few free weights and weight machines; (7) shower off the sweat from number six; (8) walk with FFP to the Film Festival office to pick something up; and (9) impulsively (a sort of common impulse between us) stop at the new Corazon (old Castle Hill) for soup and salad; (10) read all the day's papers as well as a pile of sections from prior days; (11) watch the entire movie Giant for the umpteenth time; (12) watch some police procedurals; (13) find a new dentist; and (14) work a bunch of crosswords. No, that wasn't my 'to do' list but the things that I actually chose to do and, by golly, for whatever it's worth, DID.

So today was blank on my calendar and I was thinking of taking a walk while FFP went to an interview, maybe cleaning house, working the Tuesday Times puzzle, getting a workout. FFP decided to walk with me so we stopped in time for him to get back and clean up and go to the interview. And while I was walking the dentist called and instead of waiting until December 10th to get my teeth cleaned, I could do it at 11. So, yeah teeth cleaning and X-Rays that were really digital. (Did you think they could make holding the film in your mouth more uncomfortable? Yeah, they did. Instead of a thin piece of film, it's a CF disk or something.) But no big deal. My teeth are clean, I've had my lecture about home dental hygiene. I have to go back to see the dentist for a thorough intake exam. Yeah, but I'm not buying off on optional work, by golly, not after last year's fiasco with the old dentist.

Now I just don't feel like doing anything. Except maybe taking a nap. But teeth cleaned. An accomplishment for sure. And, for what it's worth, I can walk to my new dentist.

Monday, November 03, 2008


No. I'm not talking about you voters who didn't vote early. (Presumably if you DID vote early you were decided, but that's not this story.)

No, I'm talking about, once again, deciding how to spend a day that isn't full of appointments.

I usually get up at seven. I did so today, more or less. Lots more light at seven these days. Someone changed the time.

Things I need to do: get an appointment for teeth cleaning, take my car for regular maintenance, clean my house. Straighten and file some stuff. Shred. Workout. Take a walk. (A kind of workout and yet it doesn't 'count.') I'm not even going to think about writing. That's what I'll probably actually do, then.

But right now? I'm watching a lugubrious Chinese movie (Three Times) that I rented from NETFLIX ages ago. I hate to send them back without putting them in the DVD player. (Although I rented and never watched the Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp and a film of a staged version of same because FFP refused to watch them and I never found time without him.) The lugubrious movie is two hours long. I started watching it yesterday. I use the term 'watching' loosely, I was doing other things like reading at the same time and you know subtitles and reading don't gel that well. Anyway, I'm sending it back and getting something else to not watch. Yesterday I watched a documentary about Amish teenagers going wild while they tried to decide whether to commit to the church. That was pretty good, actually. It was called Devil's Playground. I was very impressed with it. I think the Amish might do well to wait until the kids are 18 or 21 to give them that much freedom, but what is amazing is how many survive the freedom and do join the church.

But I digress. What am I going to do with my day? What am I going to do right now? Why I'm going to work the puzzle in the New York Times, silly. I can usually whip through it, get a laugh. I love Monday when the Arts section of the Times is thin and manageable (few ads) and packed with interesting stuff including an easy but still amusing puzzle.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Not Daily

Happy Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Meurtos). I didn't do a Visible Woman entry yesterday. I'm intentionally (or unintentionally, hard to say), not being a daily blogger here. Last year I signed up for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and tried to post every day in November. I'm not doing that this year. I'm keeping up with Austin Daily Photo. I may return to The Journal of Unintended Consequences but the material for that has been overwhelming lately. So many possible topics, so little time. Last year I also signed up for Holidailies, a wonderful portal run by my friends Jette and Chip. Somehow I don't think they will be doing it this year. If they did, though, I might sign up. Otherwise not daily. Not me, not so much. (If you write a blog I read daily, please keep it up. I like to find you every day. If you write a blog I read when you post, keep posting.)

I ran a better picture than this one on Austin Daily Photo today. It makes me laugh. Me and the devil skeleton. As one.

The days are slipping away. And I'm not keeping up. Not in the blogosphere. Not with my chores. Not with my reading. Not with my personal journal where I keep losing entire days. Certainly not with my Unwritten Works.

There is that extra hour they gave me this morning. But, I've wasted it, of course.