Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not Stopping Now...What We Do and Why We Do It

The Visible Woman...ponders.

Pondering is that meandering kind of lazy thinking that can either give us great insights or put us in a muddle.

I was just reviewing entries in my real daily effort (with help from FFP and sometimes others): Austin, Texas Daily Photo. Because tomorrow we will display our favorite picture of 2013, as laid on in the strictures of the City Daily Photo And then I remembered that I have a busy day ahead and I haven't done an entry in this space. Which I have done for each of the prior thirty days to honor a Holidailies commitment. And it's December 31st!

Anyway...busy day. I have tennis in an hour. I'm up and dressed for it, having my coffee and getting ready to punch in an electronic reservation for tennis for Thursday at the strike of 8AM. I need to do the above review and put up a favorite from 2013 for that blog tomorrow. We have tickets for the little theater around the corner (Violet Crown) for seeing "American Hustle" at 1PM. After tennis I'd like to go to the post office and send my passport renewal stuff to the processing center priority mail. I probably have to get gas. I haven't bought gas in so long I don't remember when, but it's getting quite low. Then at 6PM we have a reservation for an early, special dinner for New Year's Eve. After which we will relax safely in our condo while people revel and fireworks explode.

So here are the things I'm pondering. What do the pictures we take and cull from the virtual stack say about us? What happens to the strangers inadvertently captured there? And what, if any, are the benefits of nostalgia? (Just sort of kidding on that last one.)

So...to have a picture for today I chose one from the small archive I have put in the cloud for saving.

This is FFP in 2005 on a very ambitious road trip we took. He has since lost weight. We drove all the way to Southern Maine with some stops. On the way home we spent two nights in Buffalo in order to visit Niagara Falls. He'd never been and I'd never been to the American side. He's standing next to the roar on the American side (I think).

For some reason I framed this picture to show a stranger, a dark-haired man crouching on the other side of the rail. I'm pretty sure he's shooting a picture but this seems dangerous. I think he might be Asian. We all walked away from the falls. And then, what? For us...we know that we moved to downtown. And we lost three more parents. And we weathered a health scare for Forrest. And we just keep getting older. The man in the red, white and blue jacket? How about him? I will never know.

I don't know why I framed the picture to include the stranger. But I'm betting he was just a bit of visual composition to me. Like the mist, the railing, my husband and the building looming (on the Canadian side?) across the way. I wonder: what the pictures the stranger took look like?

Looking back, fondly. Not nostalgia really. Not wanting to be there at that stage. Just wanting to think a bit about how it was to be there. For us. And for a stranger.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Too Many Clothes, Not Enough Wardrobe

The Visible Woman...owns.

I was looking at this picture. I didn't find much to like about this one until I started to wonder why it looked like I had on a collection of winter scarves or a bunch of layers like the bag lady I usually resemble on my walks. I think, however, the clothing was in this shop window.

Which got me thinking about my wardrobe. My clothing storage area in the apartment (half of our walk-in closet with a tiny bit of overflow into another closet and six drawers in our bedroom storage) is crammed with stuff. And, yet, as the saying goes I often have nothing to wear.

So much of my clothing is so old. Custom pants and blazers from when I worked, ahem, years ago. Some custom blouses, too, although most of those have gone the way of frayed collars and cuffs. A few newer off-the-rack things. Some ancient off-the-rack stuff. Some after five tops. Shoes with soles and heels redone many times. I have a few nice jackets and pants I've gotten off the rack and had altered.

I was telling myself last year that I would eat more healthy stuff, eat a little less, drink a little less. I'd lose ten pounds and then and only then...get some new custom clothes. Maybe after I kept it off for six weeks or so. I initially lost a bit and then...back to the old weight. Not a serious yo-yo (I never do that). Just a blip.

So still...wearing the same old stuff. Occasionally and with great regret I throw stuff out. Usually the item has a hole in it or cuffs or collars that are tattered from wear and washing. I was wearing a polo yesterday. It was a logo thing from when I worked which, let's be honest is over eleven years ago now. A small hole is pulled near the placket. I was just wearing it for a hike around the lake. But still. I do have newer polos and they were clean. I was wearing a pair of black jeans faded from many washings. They are a Men's style of loose fit Levis (560's) that I discovered fit pretty darn well in a certain size years ago. (34x30 to be exact.) I haven't bought new ones since we moved downtown. I have a dozen or so pairs and only a couple have holes (along the back pockets) that have taken them out of circulation even though I haven't thrown them away. Anyway, so all these are over five years old. Some are black (or were) and some are other washes. When I travel I pick the blackest of the black ones for the trip (so they don't show so much grime and also can 'fool' people into thinking they aren't jeans). I vaguely remember actually getting jeans laundered with a light starch before a trip because they stayed neater and the starch also helps resist stains. Sure enough when I was taking these off yesterday I noticed that my hubby's name was penned on the pocket inside with a laundry marker...this pair had been to the cleaners. (He was always a dear about taking stuff to the laundry hence his name, not mine. We've never worn the same size jeans although if he keeps losing weight it may happen.)

I have a few pairs of tennis shorts, a couple of pairs of sweat pants, a sweat shirt, a Polartec jacket. I have some walking shorts, some T-Shirts. (Those multiply don't they? People are always giving us T-Shirts.) I have lots of underthings. (These I replenish by ordering online. Then I throw out the frayed and tattered.) I have a few sweaters and most of them are relatively new. It is sweater weather here today but we don't get as much use out of them as people in colder climes. I have two overcoats and a couple of anoraks. Mufflers. Including the one I bought in Germany in 1972. Really don't get much use out of the overcoats here but take one on trips in the cold weather.

 I replace sports shoes and hiking boots every couple of years. I don't throw enough of them out but keep them around 'just in case.' There are several pairs of boots and tennis shoes in the trunk of my car I think. I found this picture the other day I took of all my sport shoes in 2003. So ten years ago. Looks like I had running as well as tennis shoes and five pairs of hiking boots? Really. This was taken at the old house before our bedroom remodel. In fact, we were probably clearing out for that remodel. I hope I've gotten rid of some of these shoes!

All of this is to say: I need to beef up the wardrobe. Get some really nice stuff. But do I try to lose some weight before investing in anything custom? And can't I get rid of a bunch of stuff first? Truly a first world problem of the very lucky (who can afford the clothes even if they can't lose the weight).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Grown Old

The Visible Woman...ages.

I am putting together my stuff to send in my passport renewal. Getting some clear head shots from the photo shop made me all too aware of my wrinkly neck and other telltale signs of aging. Makes me understand why I prefer vague reflection images like the one above.

I've been rereading some ancient journal entries and I really don't think I've aged that much if you compare the ones here to the recent one above. Passport photos tell a different story, however.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Keep Learning, Keep Doing, One More Day

Another Pithy Quote from the rocks at Butler Park.

The Visible Woman...learns.

When I am wasting time I try to pass it off as something useful. 

Playing tennis? Every day I can stay on my feet is good, right? "Trot over and pick up that ball," I tell myself. "It's cool you can still trap the ball between your tennis shoe and your racket and smoothly make it bounce into your hand," I marvel. It may seem to others, and some days to me, that I'm not learning anything new. But I am, I swear. My 82-year-old companion for tennis (it is almost always us and two other people) has recently (in the last year I think) begun to aggressively play the net biding her time and making a great angle volley. On her serve I have her go forward. We are old ladies and we are stuck in many habits, but we can evolve.

Wasting time on the puzzles in the newspapers? But...you can learn a new word or fact. Yesterday's The Wall Street Journal crossword (Friday is the only day The WSJ  has a puzzle I like) reminded me of a word. 
abscissa, n.  Mathematics (in plane Cartesian coordinates) the x-coordinate of a point: its distance from the y-axis measured parallel to the x-axis.
I say 'reminded' because, with a degree in mathematics surely I knew this word at one time! I love knowing this even if I only remember for a few hours or until it pops up on Jeopardy! 

Clearning? Around here a lot of cleaning is dusting and straightening books and magazines. I stop and open them at random occasionally just like I do in the book store and read a paragraph or two.

As long as you are learning (and forgetting and learning) you are alive. I know it won't keep the grim reaper (18 down in yesterday's WSJ puzzle: death personified) permanently at bay. I read the obituaries. Mortality is always at hand. No, it just makes still being alive worthwhile.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Portrait of Myself

The Visible Woman...reflects.

Self portraits are odd things. Many artists (not that I consider myself one) have explored the image of themselves. I'm intrigued by what the kids call 'selfies.' I have been doing them for a long time, long before phone cameras made them so popular with kids. Before I had a digital camera even.

I also love collage and, at some point, I became intrigued with the collage-like look of shop window reflections especially with interesting shapes outside the window and interesting goods. Sometimes the windows contained mirrors or other reflective objects and this amplified the effect. I soon noticed the fun of having me, FFP or strangers reflected there, too. Sometimes it's the mere outline of my head that shows up, other times more of my features. Always something is a little obscure. Like life itself, oneself is an elusive concept, visually or in the abstract.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Dreamed of Travel

The Visible Woman...travels.

When I retired (it's been over eleven years ago now) I thought I'd do a lot more traveling. At first FFP was still working, but my dad was up for some road trips to Dallas and Colorado to see relatives. I could slip in a trip with friends as a single. Which has its advantages in some ways. Beginning in 2004, FFP made time for more trips and made his first foray to France. We've only been back once since and only to Paris.

The parents and their aging needs made us wonder about trips to Europe for a while. We developed a habit of going to New York in June and then, the last three years, also in December. We began, at some point, to go to Portland, OR and a few other spots in the Northwest every August. In 2005 we drove to the Northeast and in 2010 we drove to the Northwest. In 2006 we drove to Santa Fe and Phoenix. We've made driving trips to New Orleans the last two springs. We made a trip to the north coast above Boston and the Hamptons in July 2012. I also squeezed in a trip that summer to see my relatives in Colorado. Last summer I had a trip to Maine to assist my aunt in taking my uncle's remains back to his home.

We downsized and moved to a simple downtown condo in 2008. That made it easier to leave town. As did not getting a new dog when our Chalow had to be put down in 2007.

My dad died in 2010 and FFP's parents both died in 2011. That might have freed us a little for travel. Of course, FFP had a health scare in 2010 and while that's behind us now we still visit Houston twice a year for a trip to MD Anderson.

Somehow we travel a lot and yet not enough. I hear friends talk about cruises and safaris and trips to Italy and trips to places like South America where I have never ever been. Some friends went to Berlin in October, a place I've been multiple times, most times meeting up with these friends. I was eager to show FFP Berlin. But I couldn't make it work.

We don't have any trips planned for 2014. We have some mentally penciled in. My passport expires in October so I think I'll renew it now and hope that I do get to go to some place outside the U.S. this year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

FFP poses with a stuffed Santa at a party at the Headliners Club.

The Visible Woman...celebrates.

There are no more presents to open. I got my present earlier and I love it. FFP liked his new muffler and umbrella (or so he said). It's not the one in this picture because I didn't let him open until Christmas Eve and this was the day before. 

We got up around 7:30. At that moment when a hot coffee from the Capresso machine sounded better than staying in bed. I sorted the ads to throw away out of the paper. Just glanced at a couple. I have no intention of shopping after Christmas, but I like to see what they are pushing.

Yesterday we walked down to SoCo and ate at a favorite spot, Snack Bar. I had a salad of avocado, pineapple and quinoa and FFP had the same and we shared an order of crispy Brussels sprouts although I ate most of them. There were lots of people down there, presumably getting last minute gifts. We only went in to Off the Wall, Tesoros Trading Company and South Congress Books. At South Congress Books we bought a book of jazz essays by Phillip Larkin called All What Jazz: A Record Diary  Who knew he wrote about jazz? And a biography of Peggy Lee. I guess you could say we bought ourselves some presents. We refused the gift bags offered however. FFP came home and immediately started reading the Peggy Lee book. I wanted to take up the Phillip Larkin book because I'd started one essay in the store and it sounded great. But I'm going to finish Kansas City Lightning by Stanley Crouch first. It's my bedside book. (I read papers in my chair in front of the TV and while eating.) I finish books, but slowly, since that's usually my only book reading time.

We came home and finally decided to stay in for the evening. We watched Le Notti Bianche on a disk rented from Netflix. We listened to an extra on the disk which was a reading of the Dostoevsky story it was based on. (I love this movie. The way it looks. The way they film flashbacks. The atmosphere of the streets.) I read papers all the while, missing this and that in the film and reading I'm sure. We ate a dinner of what was in the refrigerator. And we had drinks. I had two lovely Manhattans on the rocks, mixed by FFP. On Monday at our club party they had Bloody Marys and I had two and they were delicious. I think FFP even had one. (We did walk to the party!) FFP started thinking about mixing one and had to run around the neighborhood and find some mix. He tried the store in the building but it was closed early for the holiday and so he went about four blocks to a liquor store he called to see if they had it.

So we celebrated with cocktails and an old movie and reading. Happy Christmas Eve to us. It was nice, actually.

Early in the evening I called my Aunt Cappy on the phone. She lives near Dallas and my cousin and his wife and one of their daughters and her family live not too far away. However, I think everyone was in Taos for Christmas. My cousin in Houston has a wife and mother-in-law not doing that well. We don't like to drive IH35 this time of year. So there she was, alone. (Her husband died in January. She couldn't attend his memorial in February because she was in the hospital with pneumonia. I helped her return his ashes to his native state of Maine in the summer and she did quite well on the trip.) She said she'd saved our gift for Christmas morning. It wasn't much: some ballpoint pens in a retro style and a package of note cards with a typewriter as decoration. (She still has a typewriter and uses it occasionally!) She said, yes, she was alone. Then: "I spent lots of time alone in the barracks before I was married." (She was a career Navy woman. She married a Marine within a few years of both of their retirements.)

I thought of a Christmas I spent alone, before I was married. My parents went to Colorado where they had grandchildren. My aunts who lived nearby (the older sisters of my Aunt Cappy who never married) had gone to West Texas where there were two other sisters, married with children. I didn't get an invitation from anyone I worked with. It was a sort of wonderful experience, actually. I had presents from my parents and sister and probably some from my aunts and I saved them for Christmas morning. I opened them and then later called Colorado to thank them for the presents (and hear the chaos of the kids and their presents in the background). I don't remember any of my gifsts except one. It was a pencil sharpener. A crank-style one, heavy duty. Instead of having to be screwed to a shelf like in our schools at that time it had a lever that activated a powerful suction cup to stabilize it. That was back when I dreamed of writing a book on yellow pads with Number 2 pencils. Back before computers for the home. (I programmed computers at the time, having my code typed onto punch cards for the compiler by a room full of ladies. Yes they were all ladies.) I never wrote a book on yellow pads with pencils. I never wrote a book, period. I kept the pencil sharpener for a long time, however.

That Christmas I made myself some coffee, maybe a little breakfast of bacon and eggs. I got the Dallas Morning News and I turned on my stereo and listened to the Beatles or something while reading every single page and section of the paper. If I'm not mistaken, I may not have owned a TV at that time.

Like my Aunt Cappy, I can deal with being alone. Even on the holiday when it seems most people gather in large groups. But I almost never am alone and I almost never was at Christmas before I married either.

Today we are relaxing with coffee and papers. We may have a walk this morning. Probably have some chicken and veggie tacos for lunch. Then we join a family gathering for dinner and drinking. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Where's the Spirit?

West Sixth Street Shop Window Reflection

The Visible Woman...opines.

This time of year was filled with glee when I was a kid. Even if Christmas didn't always bring all the things I hoped for (and it usually didn't given the money my parents had) it brought this precious time off from school. Mom taught school from the time I was ten or so and she would be off from work, too. We would see relatives. We would wrap packages and anticipate. We'd sing carols. My sister and I may have even devised our own live nativity or other production. My grandmother's homemade rolls and cinnamon rolls and her giblet gravy can make my mouth water from the distance of many years. I especially liked the time when we were eating leftovers and the table was cleared for a board game (or a card or domino game) or a jigsaw puzzle. I'd wake up each morning of the school break feeling the great anticipation of another lazy day playing with new things or reading a book or playing with friends or family.

I didn't pay much attention to the impending new year as a kid. 

After college there wasn't as much time off but there was always a day or two. We kept the excitement, my mom and I, with visits from my young nieces and my cousins' kids. I had a little money since I had a job and I enjoyed buying many, many gifts. At least one year I tried for a gift for every kid we'd see and my cousins were, at that time, in their child-bearing years. 

The after Christmas time became even more fun. I enjoyed the steaming cups of coffee (I became a coffee drinker in college) and the leftover pie around the table playing games or putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. 

I didn't pay much attention to the new year that loomed. I'd forget the date on the checks for a while. I'd file my ultra simple tax return. EZ form? Probably. Maybe I'd find a New Year's Eve celebration.

My mom has been dead for eleven years and her love of Christmas is fading from my mind. Although I do remember one Christmas Eve. My sister was visiting with the two little nieces. My cousin and his wife were coming over for Christmas with three little ones. She made me arrange Santa Claus gifts. She sent me to Sears at the mall on Christmas Eve to get a new needle for her sewing machine because she was stitching up stockings for each person with their name on them. I believe I drove the little ones around to see Christmas lights while Santa did his thing. If Mom were still around I'm betting she'd make us get in the spirit of the day, kids or no kids. Some wrapped presents, some decor, a puzzle or game.

Now I'm older. There are no young kids in my family nearby. I rely on my nieces in Colorado and my sister to create Christmas excitement for their kids. Cousins' children are grown and some have kids but I don't see them. Their grandparents, my cousins, are hopefully getting involved in those celebrations like our parents did. Hopefully the jigsaw puzzle and non-video games are part of it. And I don't know if I'd be up for that chaos. We will have a Christmas dinner with some friends who have the wife's parents and sister in for the holidays. We'll probably watch sports and eat and drink too much. I've already unwrapped my present from Forrest because he wanted to be sure I liked it. (It's a small collage object by Lance Letscher. A book. I do like it.) He just asked when we could open our presents. But only he still has one to open. One of our old family traditions is giving hints about presents. I told him his present was two things and one he could use today and one he couldn't. The present is a nice umbrella and a muffler. It's cold today (thirties) here but no rain forecast. 

And now Christmas brings the depressing thought of the New Year. My taxes are complicated. I owe tax forms right away to the government for business stuff and to people I've provided with mortgages. The arduous process of collecting things for our own 1040 begins. And, honestly, another year has disappeared? I haven't learned enough, written enough, I haven't organized my life enough. I haven't traveled to all those places I'm interested in seeing. Door shuts on the year and on possibilities for me. Oh sure one can hopefully make New Year's resolutions and see the new year as this wonderful stream of time to accomplish things. I've done that. See here. Or going back really far: here or here are some I made for other people, for society at large. I'm sure there are old paper journals with scrawled promises to myself in the archives, too. But the hope is pretty much extinguished now. Time marches on and you just hope you'll be in the parade and glad to be there.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Decorations of Red

The columns supporting the Long Center ring are decorated for Christmas.

The Visible Woman...doesn't decorate.

There are two stacks of holiday cards on the little desk in our living area (kitchen/dining/living). One is cards from people. One is cards from businesses or charities. For a while we had them on the counter between the kitchen and dining room until there were too many and I also had to go through them to make sure I'd sent cards to people who sent them to me.

On the same little desk are three holiday presents. Gift bags with tissue. Two have Texas Christmas ornaments as decoration. One is for FFP. The others are for the friends who have included us in family Christmas.

Otherwise, there is no decoration here. Nothing to remind of the season, nothing to take down when it's over.

Down in our 40-square-foot storage cage are some boxes or bins with Christmas stuff. Nothing like a fake tree or a bunch of glass balls or strings of lights. No. Instead there are many, many bendable, posable Christmas figures. Mostly Santas with some trees, reindeer, elves and such thrown in for good measure. See here. There are so many (plus a few other decorative things) that I really could make this place look like Christmas. I think I even did it one year. But I find no evidence of it. The decorations remain in that cage, somewhere behind the ironing board, the piles of cleaning supplies and paper goods and the file boxes of archives and such.

Maybe next year. Maybe I'll decorate and have a little Christmas cocktail party.

But this year I enjoyed the decorations of others. From the tree at Rockefeller Center and the shop windows on Fifth and Madison in New York to the fun of candy cane columns at the Long Center and Christmas trees and fantastic gingerbread structures at the local hotels. Decorations are nice but I just can't seem to be bothered to do them myself. Today we go to a party at a club we belong to downtown. I'll probably take a camera and snap some pictures of their great decorations.

But I feel for my little bendable fellows down in the parking structure in the dark.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Need to Walk!

The Visible Woman...walks.

I have to get out and walk. It's where I do my best thinking. The exercise is good, too. Seeing things at ground level, exploring change in the neighborhood is never boring but the repetitive one foot, other foot, do it again clears the mind.

We haven't been walking enough lately. FFP felt ill. Then yesterday our walking ambitions were cut short by rain. It was nice later but FFP went to the Ballet Austin "Nutcracker" performance in his back stage "Mother Ginger Wrangler" role and I drove him over and then did various things around the apartment.

The picture above of the quote carved into a rock was taken last week in Butler Park near the Palmer Events Center. We did take a short walk over there to tour around the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar a bit last week. We walked around to the retention pond and we saw all these rocks carved with quotes on the north side of it. We had never seen them. Truth is we rarely go to this part of this park which is kind of lovely. It has a retention pond which reflects the downtown skyline.

But I need to walk today! I need to see what I have failed to notice before. And I need to clear my head. My head is full of news of the evils of the world and the haggard hope people find in the holiday season. I need to focus for a while on what's just right in front of that lead foot.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Surfeit of Umbrellas

The Visible Woman...owns...umbrellas.

These compact little lightweight (they are Tyvek or something) ones from REI got pulled out and used today when we went walking and it started to rain. Lucky I'd stashed them in the backpack. They are drying off in the spare bathroom which doubles as storage.

Near the front door is an umbrella stand we bought when we moved into this little condo apartment.

I spend a lot (too much in fact) of time thinking about things. Mostly things I already own that are impinging on my personal space. Which is easy to do in this relatively small apartment even though we've maximized the storage space.

Even when I lived in a 3000-square-foot house with a double garage and tons of storage I obsessed about these things. In my 2004 journal I randomly listed things I owned with some commentary. I must say that it is interesting to read this list and note things I gave away, things I no longer think I have but can't remember how I got rid of them and things that are still are part of my life. (Two warm throws described are in the living room of this apartment. And one was bought the same year on the same trip as my muffler.)

Today we went for a walk (to the bank, to the Driskill Hotel to look at their Christmas decorations, to the Farmer's Market) and I put my two little umbrellas (see above) in my backpack. Good thing. Rained pretty hard before we got back. I bought those at REI in the last couple of years. Great for travel. I put them in the carryon and they add almost no weight. 

We have a bunch of other umbrellas. In the stand by the door, there are two very nice compact ones given away by the Austonian Condos when they were marketing the place. There are about a half dozen other ones, relatively compact to very compact including a red one that my Aunt Mary gave me as a present. (I don't know when but she died over two decades ago. And she may have given it to me before I moved to Austin. Which was 38 years ago.) And there is a large, Italian-made one with a lovely fish handle. This is the season of gift-giving. I got this one as a gift and I love it! It was a birthday gift, though. It made me realize that, no matter how many umbrellas you have that a really nice one makes a great gift. 

I think both of us have a least one or two cheap, beat-up umbrellas in our cars.

And yet, somehow, I don't feel like I have too many umbrellas. In spite of the title I gave this entry.

We did have a Four Seasons umbrella. A large, nice one like they loan to their guests. We didn't steal it. FFP did them a PR favor and they gave it to him. Really. Anyway one day a friend visited the condo and it started raining. We loaned him the umbrella. He didn't return it, kept using it around town and, he said, 'accidentally' left it...at the Four Seasons. He either thought we stole it or he was just careless. How could he ask for it back!? Anyhow, we have plenty of umbrellas and it's a funny story. A funny story is worth its weight in gold.

So...one of the few (four) non-cash gifts I bought this year was...an umbrella! A very, very nice one for FFP. If he's reading this he knows one of the things in the gift bag for him. The other thing is something we (and he) always have multiples of around here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Techno Muddle

The Visible Woman...swithers.

For those following along...remember how I was thinking of submitting a ten-year-old blog entry to the Guardian project? I thought I had found a suitable one that was ten years old today. But I found a broken link and I wanted to add a period. I tried to update the entry. I still own the blog space but the location is kind of convoluted. Anyway...I went down that rabbit hole for a while. I finally gave up awash in domain names, registrars, redirections, file hierarchies, HTML and mystery. Then I kept going back to it. I finally got a link that worked, marveled at my urge to edit old stuff and looked at the clock to see the time wasted. Argh.

I was going to write about that old entry in detail today here. Maybe. Or write about the urge I had back then to record everything. Now I haven't actually entered it. Oh, did I mention that the other day I was looking at the Guardian thing and had to ask my husband what the A/S/L box meant. (He looked it up on the Internet.) Age/Sex/Location. Really? When did that become a thing?

Anyhow. Swithering. (This is a word that is not a proper English word perhaps but which my friend Mags used, may she rest in peace, and I love it.)

I also swithered over my Christmas cards. I decided to send a few more to people I hadn't received one from . Every day I seem to get a surprise one that I didn't expect and I send one to those peeps. I tried to keep track of who I received one from and who I sent one to. I'm sure I got confused at some point. But it would appear that I've sent 115 or so and received 32 or so. More if you count some electronic missives. So that's that. I have a few left and if I get some more from people who didn't receive one I can write 'Happy Holidays' on one and send them out. I didn't mention Christmas or any other specific thing on the printed card. (I really should just say Here's to 2014 on the card.)

I am also swithering about updating a friend's WEB site. I swore I was going to learn more about Dreamweaver and CSS and this and that and completely revamp his site so it wasn't such a mess. But I won't. I'll try to piece together this latest round of changes and get smarter later.

I'm also swithering about needing to clean the house and straighten up things around here. FFP thinks he got sick from ingesting dust because he vacuumed and dusted last Saturday. I usually do this stuff when he's out of the condo and I'm here. There aren't enough of these times or I get lazy so it does get out of hand.

Anyway...there is lots of time. I just need to use it wisely. Right? Stop typing and get on with it!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Infinite Legos

FFP poses with the Lego Atlas in the Lego Store at Rockefeller Center (a recreation of this

The Visible Woman...owns.

I have a long-standing love affair with Lego. The bricks didn't arrive in the U.S. in my childhood unfortunately. I managed to accumulate a sizable number of them anyway as an adult once I had some money. Then I gave 99% of them away to my grand nephews. 

I could afford to buy any toy I want now. But when would I have time to play with them? I confess to wanting to construct elaborate Lego kits and to put together giant jigsaw puzzles and to play with various electronic devices. But I know now that I'll never have the time to do these things justice. Or maybe I'll never make the time.

Long ago I reached the point where I could afford more toys than I could play with. (And buy more books than I could read, etc.)

When we visited the NYC Lego store (see above) I bought a tiny Statue of Liberty kit. I put it together right away and put its picture on facebook

This is the story of too much of my life these days: plenty of money to buy things, too little bandwidth to enjoy them. It's a good problem to have, of course. It's not a problem at all really. But occasionally I long to want something and think about it for a long time and finally get it and then use it and use it and enjoy it. It makes making a Christmas list a chore for sure. I am playing tennis with a racket that is fifteen or twenty years old. I'm perfectly happy with it. A new one would be a nuisance. I am driving a 12-year-old Honda Civic. I'm perfectly happy with it. A new one would be a nuisance. I probably need some new clothes, but I keep thinking I'll lose ten pounds first.

Naturally I give away money to charities and relatives and friends. And we buy travel and meals and tickets. And not having scores of pounds of Legos or even the approximately 3000 books we had at the old house is a bit of a relief. I still have too much stuff, however, to give my possessions the proper attention.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Change is Constant

A New Reflective Sculpture has appeared on Colorado Street.

The Visible Woman...walks.

There is no better way to see things than to walk. It's a pace that encompasses a slowly changing perspective so that you truly see things from several angles.  As people slowly approach or pass you, there is time to consider what a stranger's story might be or whether, oh yes, you know them from somewhere. (Three times in the last two days someone has flung open there car window to interact with us on the street because they knew us. In one case, a woman pulled over and got out of her car!) You can consider the minutia on the sidewalk that drivers never see: coins; fast food wrappers; beer, water and soda bottles; fallen leaves and seeds; and the occasional abandoned shoes.

When Forrest was feeling poorly on Monday, I walked around a bit by myself. With our trip to NYC earlier in the month and a busy schedule since we returned we haven't come close to getting to all the corners of our walkable world. The polished sculpture above appeared out of the sidewalk on Colorado Street. Must be part of the agonizingly slow project to create 'great streets' in Austin which mostly involves widening and enhancing the sidewalks. 

Racks for the bike share program have also appeared although the program doesn't start for a few days. No bikes yet. I fear it will mean more bikes on sidewalks. I have already had a close encounter with a bike share bike...on my recent trip to New York.  It was at least in a crosswalk, though, and not on the sidewalk. 

Must get around and walk some more and see things change. The many cranes are cranking out more and more stories of hotels, apartments, office buildings and condos. The changes in the last six plus years since our condo started rising are astounding. And on foot is the best way to see it all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Going Solo

Reflection of the tree in Frost Bank Tower with my silhouette. 

The Visible Woman...reflects.

Yesterday FFP felt awful. He would cough. And he would sleep. He could barely eat. (He is much better today.)

I felt fine. Great really. He had been feeling bad Sunday and every time I suggested an outing he said he didn't quite feel like it. So we read and we watched TV. And we read and watched TV some more. I became lethargic and antsy.

So yesterday I just went out twice and walked around downtown and looked in shops. I bought FFP Christmas presents on one trip and a hostess gift for the people who invited us for Christmas dinner on another. The weather was astonishing. The sky a beautiful shade of blue, the sun shining but the air cool, not much wind. It was a joy to be alive and outside. 

We had a benefit party in the evening at Four Seasons Residences. Around noon FFP said he couldn't do it. So I'd sent a message to the organization to fill the seat if they liked. Around six I headed over there. It's about ten blocks. I was a little chilly when I arrived (I had on a muffler and a suit, no sweater or overcoat) but it was fine. The party was in a beautiful apartment where a lot of furniture had been moved out and tables set up for dinner. The views were lovely. The art was interesting. Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke about astrophysics. I talked to interesting people and had some wine and dinner. Then I walked home in the cool, beautiful night.

I don't do a lot of things without FFP these days. I play tennis a few times a week with my friends and go for walkie/talkie/lunch with a friend about once a month and go out with 'girls' occasionally. Mostly I do things with FFP. Shopping, meals out, events. He has board meetings or appointments and sometimes shops by himself for clothes and such. (I have no patience for it.)

It felt strange to do things he would normally do with me by myself. (Except for shopping for him for a present. But I only do that once or twice a year.) I didn't feel like I was at a loss so that was good. I enjoyed rambling around and I didn't feel threatened walking to the event by myself. He didn't feel so bad that I felt guilty leaving him. I enjoyed the weather and I talked to people at the party. We usually split up at parties anyway.

I guess it's nice to know I function well enough without him. For a lot of our thirty seven years together we've had time apart. Work and business trips had us apart a lot. Now we spend a lot of time together. He has a few board meetings and other non-profit work and interviews people for a column he does.

I'm glad that we aren't driving each other crazy! We seem to do all right with lots of together time.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Curse of the Newsprint

Next to my reading chair in the house we moved out of over five years ago. This has to be the biggest the pile ever got!

The Visible Woman...reeds.

I want to be well-read and informed. When I retired (11 years ago), I wanted to learn new things. I wanted to keep up with the news and learn about news I simply missed while worrying about work and school for over three decades.

We take three newspapers. We take several magazines including the word-rich weekly The New Yorker. We buy books. We give each other books.

I read rather slowly and when I'm interested in an article or book I like to savor it until the end. I discovered years ago that FFP reads about four times faster than I do. We were propped up in bed reading. I looked over at his book and started reading along only to see the page turn when I was halfway down the left-hand side.

We have shelves for books to pile up on. I don't care about most of the magazines and while The New Yorker issues multiply we can usually get rid of a lot of them, knowing that the articles are on the electronic edition.

But I have trouble controlling the newspapers. Even since I retired. (I was, in fact, retired when that picture was taken above. Note the paper sack filled with papers? I was preparing the discarded ones for recycling.)

Some sections I throw away straightaway without reading a word. Mostly sports. Business sections if they are a day or two old and a headline on the front doesn't grab me by the throat.

But certain sections can take me down the rabbit hole for hours. The Arts section of The New York Times. Not only will a couple of articles about plays, movies, dance and visual arts intrigue me, but there are puzzles. The puzzles are like candy or crack. I can't resist them.

One wonders why I don't just read or reference all this online. But there is nothing like holding the day's offering in your hands, all of it right there. And doing the puzzles on paper, doodling in the margins. I still get irritated at continued articles (especially to other sections!) but I love the format. I love the predictability of where the news and features are placed on certain days of the week. That there are food sections on Wednesday and Science in The New York Times on Tuesday and a crossword I like in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

I bid you a good Monday morning now. I have a (relatively thin as is appropriate for Monday) stack of papers and my first cup of coffee to deal with. And I always wake up thinking "the Times puzzles will be a pleasant cakewalk and the crossword will have a theme, possibly a clever one ." (They become progressively and devilishly harder through Saturday.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pretending to Write

The Visible Woman...writes.

At some point after I retired I printed some business cards on the laser printer that had, below my name, "Pretending to Write, But Really Just Blogging." I was a pretty assiduous blogger for a while, too. Then it collapsed. At about the same time I started tweeting. I took a red pen to some of those cards and struck out 'write' and wrote 'blog.' And I struck out 'blogging' and wrote 'tweeting.' It was sad but true. I like looking back at my old journal/blog entries with their attempts at focus and, in some cases, incredible detail. The twitter archive and facebook timelines are fun in the same way. But it's harder to dig in and figure out just what was in your head and heart.

Now I tweet and tweet some more. I connect my tweets to facebook and they appear there, too. Occasionally I upload pictures to facebook directly. I share, I comment, I retweet. If I wasn't committed to Holidailies that's all I'd be doing.

Tweeting is interesting. I usually have something to say. I want to say it in one tweet breath of 140 characters. I type it out. And...it's too long. Sometimes by a lot. (See above.)

Then I edit.

And edit again and again and again and finally tweet and then it appears on facebook.

Along the way, articles, proper punctuation and spelled out conjunctions are sacrificed. You regret you didn't use one of the spare characters to put a comma between a couple of words. And then you say to yourself: how could anyone possibly care about this 'writing.' My English Textbook for my freshman year in college was called Writing with a Purpose. This sort of publishing was never anticipated! Of course, neither were blog entries of self-indulgent detail like this one. And what, after all, is the purpose?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Argh...that Nasty Blemish, the Typo!

For Sale at Uncommon Objects

The Visible Woman...writes.

A couple of days ago I noticed that the UK Paper publication "The Guardian" was seeking links to 10-year-old blog entries. I thought, well now, I could submit something. They are pretty certain that we (and they) will find these cringe-worthy. They mention
...embarrassing pits of self-loathing and the home to several Frankenstein HTML projects you’d rather forget.
Well, yeah, that. But I looked at about a half dozen entries from ten years ago and each one had a typo. It wasn't the bad free verse or the whiny self-absorption or even the  poorly-formed HTML or the sad little pictures. Those typos roared off the page and grabbed me by the throat. And I scorned the me of ten years ago who created them.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Writing or Typing?

This reflection of me and himself was taken at Barney's, I believe, on our recent trip to NYC.

The Visible Woman...writes.

What does it mean to write. Is it just typing? Do you have to have coherent sentences? Or not? Are fragments OK? Should you spell it 'okay?' Should all the letters/phrases/sentences add up to something. Just how important is conventional use of punctuation? I noticed early on in online journals (blogs now) that sometimes a casual emphasis was added by radical period stops. Every. Single. Time. I saw that usage it impressed me as something invented online which I never saw in print. Oh...maybe somewhere in Joyce's Ulysses but he did tend to running along without a single period. "yes I said yes I will Yes." Breathless that.

Since I fell hard off the blogging bandwagon and started tweeting (with an app connection to facebook sending the tweets there) I have abandoned the paragraph. Sometimes even the complete sentence. (Although once my thoughts or those of others and some pictures arrive on facebook I may run on and on.)

But I've not lost the desire to communicate, to write (type?) something with meaning. To reveal rather than fragment or obscure. To encapsulate at least one idea. To comment on current events. (OK, okay, in my pictures, as above, I tend to fragments, obscurity and received reality.)

From July 2009, early in my twitter career, I offer a couple of old tweets to show you what I mean. (Points for knowing the current event implied in that first one.)

Later I think I'll write (type?) about working within the restricted space of 140 characters without breaking my rules for writing so completely that I become disgusted. And I may also write later about typos. Argh. Ugh. There is lots of time and space in this holidailies stream after all!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Walking...The Big Movie

December 2013, Madison Avenue, New York, Ralph Lauren Shop Window Reflection

The Visible Woman...walks.

I like to think of long city walks as movies with thousands of extras, many locations and moving vehicles and a bit of a random plot.

The extras work for free and the shop windows are a free museum and an extra lens for viewing the complicated pulsating world.

Manhattan can be a little too kinetic but when there is any room to maneuver I love it so. Just when you think you've seen the weirdest outfit or heard the strangest accent or eavesdropped the funniest conversation something new comes along. Christmastime in New York is the best for this.

I took a short walk yesterday in Austin. Streets were quiet around 3PM. It seemed strikingly calm after Manhattan which is almost as full and vibrate at 3PM on any day as Austin is on a Saturday night or during SXSW. Still there is always something to see especially if you are a true flaneur.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane

The Visible Woman...travels.

I'm up this morning laundering clothes and finishing unpacking bags. We have more than we left with. We visited our favorite NYC bookstore and bought two books. I saved a couple of play bills and bought two tiny Lego figures of the Statue of Liberty. FFP bought some cologne at the famous Upper East Side Drug Store, Clyde's, and they gave us a canvas bag tote. We have plenty of totes, but who else will be filling a Clyde's tote at the Farmer's Market. So, no, we didn't really accumulate too much stuff.

I try to travel light. On this trip, for a week for both of us, we took one very large checked bag (a 28 inch Eagle Creek) and one overhead carry-on bag (not too large) and a back pack for each of us. The weather promised to be cold with some chance of precipitation so we took mufflers, gloves, umbrellas and our overcoats. (No liners because that's overkill when it's above freezing which it promised to be most of the time.) The umbrellas are very tiny light ones. The hotel will lend us giant ones but you aren't always at the hotel when you realize you need one. It was so warm when we left Austin that we put our overcoats in our checked bag. We avoid the liquids and sharps silliness by putting our toiletries in there, too. That bag also has FFP's hiking boots (he wears some versatile dress/walking shoes on the plane), a sweater for me, a suit for each of us and two shirts for each of us. In addition, there is a supply underwear and socks for each of us.

In our carry-on we have some dressy slacks (we wear jeans on the plane), a few sets of underwear and socks, a change of shirt, FFP's ties, my dressy loafers (I wear the hiking boots on the plane), chargers, my spare glasses, etc. The umbrellas are stashed in there, too, and can be retrieved quickly at the airport. I wore a light sweater on the plane but FFP didn't so I put his one sweater in there.

In our backpacks we carry our iPads (phones are usually in our jacket pockets because we wear a blazer on the plane...they are stashed and locked in the backpack for the trip through security). FFP usually carries a book. I carry emergency things like OTC meds, band-aids, cough drops, hard candy, Kleenex. I also usually carry some sort of emergency snack in case the airline puts us in a situation where nothing is available. I have a folder full of itineraries, info and tickets on paper to back up electronic records accessible on the phone. I also duplicate IDs, credit cards and cash in a security thing. FFP carries his electric razor and some snacks, too, as well as his spare glasses and his sporty golfing cap. He carries his prescription drugs in there, too.

This is designed so that we can survive if our checked bag doesn't arrive or is temporarily lost. We have a clean shirt and underwear and socks. I have my dressy shoes. We can combine the blazers worn on the plane with the dressy slacks in the carry-on. and be presentable anywhere. A trip out to buy toiletries and a few other things and we are good to go. Since I'm checking the overcoats, of course, we might shiver or get a bit wet. If we were going to NYC in February we'd carry our overcoats on board and probably put the liners in them. And, hey, if the airline loses them...we haven't bought new ones in a while! I do pack the gloves, mufflers, etc. in the carry-on. They can make a blazer and sweater much warmer.

One cool thing about trips is that you figure out how little you really need to get along! I like milling around the hotel room with my newspapers and iPad without being taunted with books I haven't read and clothes I never wear. It creates a kind of focus that is, oddly, never quite available at home. It is similar to going out for a walk and a snack with the day's newspapers. Relieved of distractions of home, the news is more interesting. In New York this stark hotel room also provides respite from the busy, busy street scene or stores, people, vendor carts and traffic. I love it but a break is necessary now and then.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Home or Away?

The Visible Woman...travels.

If all goes well I'll wing my way home today from a successful and fun trip to New York City. But no matter how much fun it was I'll be glad to be home. It's always that way.

One thing I've done in retirement is try to treat being home as if it is travel. In that vein, I'll hunt up restaurants, shows, museum exhibits and interesting sights right here in Austin. Most of my friends do this, too, but some people think they have to leave town to have a vacation.

Monday, December 09, 2013


The Visible Woman...owns.

My dad once said that he'd bought a lot of cameras but had never owned one. I don't think he ever shot a picture that I saw but he posed for lots of them.

I bet I've owned ten or fifteen cameras. Maybe more. Currently we have no less than five digital ones that we actually use. Four point-and-shoot ones. And a digital SLR with a couple of lenses that FFP bought recently. I think there are two old point and shoots somewhere that I should get rid of. They may have issues. They are probably in a sack somewhere with other techy things that should be disposed of properly.

My first camera was probably a cheap plastic film camera. Our family had one of those Brownie box cameras, I know, because I see it around my sister's neck in a photo I have. I don't know who took the picture or with what camera.

One of my very favorite cameras was a Polaroid 101. (See an entry about that here.)

I had many film cameras over the years. A tiny 16MM camera that I took on my first trip to Europe in 1972. I had a long stream of other film cameras, too, with several film formats. There was this one type where you could select to shoot panoramas or, I think, two other formats. What was that?

When digital cameras came out, our first one didn't have a review screen. You had to load them onto the computer to get a look.

All these cameras. Lots of photos. Still have slides and prints lying around from the pre-digital era. And years and years of digital pictures on the computer and back-up drives.

And, you know what? I'm not sure I ever read the instruction book on any of them! Oh, maybe that Polaroid but then it didn't have many settings!

The above picture was taken with a tiny digital camera (a Canon S1) that I carry around all the time. If you've ever read my blog, you know I'm obsessed with these mostly self-portrait, mostly shop window, reflections.

And, yes, I know...your phone or tablet has a dandy camera.

Yeah, Dad, I've bought a lot of cameras. And owned them, too. And used them. And I use the pictures to remember things.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


The Visible Woman...watches.

I saw Philomena the other day. I missed it in the Austin Film Festival but caught it at Violet Crown Cinema in Austin. It is an interesting story and the screen play worked pretty well but from what I read the real story (I haven't read the book, just some interviews with the real Philomena) wouldn't really play that well as a movie. They had to add some things to make it move. Like people going places they didn't go.

The story is basically this: Philomena got pregnant and was sent to a convent where she had her child and was forced to labor while nuns took care of the children and then, basically, sold them to people who could pay for them, often Americans. She sought her child with the help of a journalist after what would have been her boy's fiftieth birthday. She found him in a most unexpected place.

I am happy that the screenplay did not overturn the really pertinent facts about Philomena's son. Everyone should see if for a very human story told somewhat faithfully. And it should make you think twice about the current Pope's railing against the 'capitalist system' that hurts poor people.

I have given a lot of thought to birth mothers since I have a niece who was adopted as a baby. It's a long story and I won't say much about it in a public place except that I don't think her birth mother ever had another child. Philomena however did have children later.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

All Decked Out

The Visible Woman...opines. 

Don't you think that there is an escalation of decoration? I took the picture above in New York last year when we visited to see the post-Thanksgiving decoration. It was part of a Bergdorf Goodman display.Things just keep getting more and more elaborate until perhaps it is the simplest thing that will intrigue us.

Friday, December 06, 2013

New York, New York

The Visible Woman...walks.

We are in New York City, Our hotel is on Fifth Avenue. It's about six blocks south of the famous NY Library. We love walking in this town. When the weather is nice (and sometimes even when it's inclement) we walk to get places and walk to experience New York streets. Today, if all goes well, we will walk to the West Village for an early dinner and catch an Off Broadway show after that. During the day we may well walk around Times Square or to the Upper East or West side. People often are amazed that we do these walks. But a two mile walk will take us to most of the things we want to see. And along the way there are many amazing surprises.

I posted the above paragraph in case I couldn't deal with thumb typing and Chrome on the iPad. Butt, here's a brief NYC walking report. We arrived on Tuesday, taking a car service from JFK,  and after lunch in the hotel and unpacking we had a nap and walked to 59th Street, looking in shop windows and fighting crowds of sidewalk gawkers and rushing New Yorkers. Then we walked back, regrouped and walked to a restaurant on the north side of Madison Square Park. That's only ten, short up/down blocks.

On Wednesday we walked over to Madison and up to 82nd and came back to the theater district and walked around, saw a matinee on 47th, walked some more, met friends at Sardi's and walked back to the hotel. We walked at least five miles. My Austin training well-prepared me, though, and no sore legs.

Yesterday we had timed tickets to the Frick Collection so we walked there and back. That's on 70th so that's 33 blocks each way and lots of ped traffic. Blocks are short going up and down Manhattan, though, generally. We had reservations for a late lunch at a fancy restaurant near the Frick but decided to dress up a bit. The hotel gave us a ride in the hotel car there and we grabbed a cab back. Later we walked to Time Warner Center to see a jazz show at Dizzy's Coca Cola Club. That's only a little over a mile and a half.

Hopefully we'll walk to the Village and back this evening after a walk to 44th Street to meet friends for lunch. I only hope the walking offsets the eating we are doing, but that's another story.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Possessions...Buzz Lightyear

The Visible Woman...owns.

The thing about these possession entries is that it is so tempting to gather a picture. But that takes time. Maybe when I get back from New York. We are in New York and I had to queue these up because I don't have a proper computer or time to use it. Anyway....

Today's possession is a Buzz Lightyear. It is a special edition room guard (more on what that is below). Instead of his usual green and white he has a metallic blue suit and a chrome reflective helmet. I used to collect toys. I loved Toy Story. FFP got me this room guard as a Christmas present. A lot of my collections had to be trimmed or given away when we moved. I used to have a talking Woody for example but his talk box was kaput. I kept this foot-high object, however, and he sits on my desk by a Mac I just use for a few things, holding a remote for the Mac that I never use. The Bluetooth keyboard for that Mac sits in front of him like he might start his own blog any moment. But he's not really a robot. He's just a room guard.*

*A room guard is a gadget that detects motion and challenges the 'intruder' to push a combination of buttons or something to stop the thing talking. Somewhere in storage is Buzz's box and instructions. But he doesn't have any batteries installed so only his presence guards the room.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Possessions...the Scarf

The Visible Woman...owns.

It seems like I've been trying to divest myself of stuff for my whole life. When I graduated from high school, my parents moved not long after. I think my mother did some divesting for me while I traveled a few places that summer. The peripatetic life of a college kid and then a young person forced frequent relocation and with it reconsideration of what stuff went along. When I moved to Austin, I had moved all my possessions to my parents' house and garage and taken a trip to Europe. From there I moved them to a small one bedroom and had to buy a bit of furniture for it! I think I actually made a list detailing every single possession in each box for that move. Seriously?

We lived for 31 years in one house, but we remodeled and refitted multiple times. So we were constantly plowing through stuff to get out of the way of progress. Of course, when we had to get out of that house we found many things to deal with anyway. And over the last decade or so we have dealt with every single possession our two sets of parents owned at the end of their lives.

Still I'm obsessed with possessions and what I let stay around. I know everything is supposed to be used, consumed or give pleasure. Even living in 1200 square feet many objects don't qualify.

During Holidailies I'm going to do some entries about possessions and focus on a few things I own...some useful, some funny, some nostalgic. To speed things up I'm going to eschew pictures for a lot of them.

Today's possession, then...it's a scarf, a muffler if you will. It is plaid with grays and maroons a just a couple of yellow stripes running through it. I bought it somewhere in Europe, most probably Germany, in 1972. Somehow I've not misplaced it, ripped it or gotten to the point that I don't want to wear it. Every winter it gets some use. Everything should be like that. You should be able to buy something and keep it for four decades or so and use it frequently. (Well as frequently as one needs a muffler in the land of endless summer.) Of course, now I'll probably misplace it. Mufflers, like gloves, are so easily misplaced!

Of course, really, it's just stuff!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


The Visible Woman...plays.

A friend who is older than I am and still working asked for advice about retiring. I couldn't think of much to say. It really seemed easy to me: don't go to work and do more things you want to do. And...maybe catch up on some chores.

Well, in retirement (I've logged over eleven years now) I have taken time to do things I want to do. And one of those things is tennis. When schedules and weather permit, I get out and play three sets of hit and giggle doubles three times a week, playing a set with each of my friends if there is time. The participants change (and they range in age from 40's to 80's), but all are generally out there for fun. I use a racket that I bought before I retired. (I do buy new tennis shoes every couple of years.) Sometimes we play on clay. Sometimes hard courts. It is fun. It isn't really exercise exactly but it is moving around.

I hope I'm still doing it when I'm 80.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Snail Mail Tradition

The Visible Woman...connects.

It's that time of year when I design a holiday card (or occasionally buy some) and then peruse a Microsoft Access database deciding which of my friends, family and acquaintances will receive a card in the mail. At the moment there are over 600 rows in said database. However, I only had 150 cards printed. I clean up the database this time of year, eliminating the deceased (there are always some of these in the last few years) and also letting go of entries for people I've lost track of---where I haven't had a good address in years. Let's be honest: some people stay in the database just to remind me that once I knew them and perhaps even counted them as friends. Others were placed on the list temporarily and I just couldn't eliminate them for some reasons...like friends of my parents that I'd invited to events for them.

I pick out a set of people I want to communicate with, however impersonally, at least during this once a year flurry of envelopes and stamps. I favor people we've been seeing a lot as well as those who are far away but in our thoughts. I also favor people who send cards themselves. Admittedly there are people we see who aren't in this database. We've just never had occasion to collect a postal address. And there are people I'll probably never see in person again but with whom we faithfully exchange cards.

I rather enjoy sending them and, to be honest, I enjoy receiving the cards from others. Already we've received two from friends and two or three from businesses or non-profits. I even like the long letters surveying a family's year. Often the only decorations in our apartment for the season are a bunch of colorful cardboard designs and glossy pictures of other peoples' kids and dogs.

As the years go by and we communicate less and less by mail I find the ritual feels more and more archaic and strange. Somehow, though, this makes it seem even more important.

A few cards have already arrived.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

I Promise to Keep in Touch

Text of an actual postcard sent to us by a friend (RIP Al) twenty-eight years ago. When we did  things like sending picture postcards.

I last posted here in March (a SXSW film wrapup). And before that on January 1st of this year, 2013, which is now hurtling toward a close. But I've been thinking for a while about communicating more. Here in my blog and also directly with friends via the post office, the electronic message and yes, face to face.

In short I've decided to make Visible Woman more Verbose. Not just tweeting and commenting on facebook and posting pictures of Manhattans. (If you are not my facebook friend, I sometimes drink the cocktails named Manhattans and post photos of them. Yeah. Ho. Hum. But a surprising number of people are intrigued by it. There you go.) I've decided to blog old school. So old school that I'l call it an online journal (how quaint).  Instead of just hunting up a photo every day from Austin, I'll create a more organized and coherent communication.

I begin in earnest today trying for a daily post connected to this year's Holidailies (the 14th annual if you can believe it). That January 1 post was, in fact, the last of my efforts in 2012/2013 addition of this blog portal.

In this new stream of blogging I'm going to try to focus each entry on one or more of the following present tenses of verbs: Drinks, Eats, Sits, Walks, Remembers, Connects, Learns, Owns, Does, Draws, Watches, Listens, Believes, Plays and Opines. Other areas may be added. I considered including 'suffers,' for example. It sounds a bit too dramatic, however, in light of the real suffering in the rest of the world. And I'm often a bit reticent about my aches and pains and injuries.

In any case, peek in here in the next few weeks for more of me if you will. And don't be surprised if the (Verbose) Visible Woman does some "sitting, drinking, eating, drinking & drinking" in honor of my dear old friend Al. (See above.)