• 02Apr

    Last Sunday,, we took advantage of the gorgeous day to drive through part of the hill country. 



    The views from atop a hill (near the build site of a $550+K home) were spectacular. Even the low lake looked pretty. The bright green young leaves gave the hills an interesting color pattern.

  • 29Jan

    January always brings allergies to Austin in the form of Cedar Fever (the pollen from up in Hill Country). Even people who have never suffered from allergies are bothered by this stuff.

    This year, though, I had to take it up a notch. I spent 10 days with a bronchial virus that had me sneezing some, coughing a lot, and to tired from that to do anything else. I missed #CroKnit for two weeks in a row. And I missed both D&D sessions for the week in the “middle” of the virus running its course.

    Mid way through all my stuff, Emil’s mom had a TIA (mini-stroke) and had to make another ER/hospital run. The designated siblings had another medical meeting, changed her doctor to one who is more geriatric specialized, and did some research about services. She’s back in the memory care unit. We saw her today and she’s doing better; she was getting her hair done and had had an afternoon full of visitors.

    Part way through my virus, my mom also had an almost break up with the abuser. It didn’t come to fruition and he’s still there, but I feel we are yet another step closer. I’ve made it very clear to her that he will either straighten up or he’ll have to deal with me. Since she /really/ doesn’t want that, I’m able to keep some of the ridiculous out of my head. I’ve also written her will, so we’ll be driving it up there one weekend soon to make her sign it and store it in my grandmothers’ safe deposit box. With all this threatening to break up, I want her real wishes in writing. The most likely scenario is that they will die in a car crash at the same time (since they do so much driving from her place to his and since car wrecks are such a common cause of death). I need to make sure her wishes are protected from anyone who might try to wiggle in. She refuses to acknowledge that she will die some day, so she keeps insisting that a will is not needed. Raising parents is not fun, y’all.

    On the upside, while I was fighting the virus, I started and caught up on Orange Is the New Black. And, I started and nearly finished The L Word.

    Now that I’m back among the semi living, I’m up against:

    • feeling behind on tasks that had not due date
    • prepping to shoot several peoples’ headshots in conjunction with a workshop for a local professional/nonprofit group
    • figuring out what my next steps in life are
    • working on our current projects while prepping for what will come next, especially with little home renovations
    • trying not to feel guilty for losing nearly a month of the year, already

    Moral of the story. Open doors with your body weight. Wash your hands a lot. Use hand sanitizer several times a day. Use jojoba oil to moisturize after all those skin-drying activities. (Huge thanks to Melody for this tip: the molecules of it are smaller than any other oil so your skin/cuticles can soak it up better than other oils.)

    Happy winter, y’all.

  • 03Jul

    We needed a little getaway, but the calendar gods were not smiling upon us. So, instead of a mini vacation for a night or two, we took a micro vacay just for the day.

    I picked Colorado Bend State park. It wasn’t too far out for us to miss our obligations, like visiting Mom. I did note that there is nothing fun to do in the Brazos Valley, so we could make double use of our trip to Bryan. No wonder we always left there to go to Austin or Houston anywhere else. CBSP is a primitive park, so the vast majority of the park is left all natural and untouched.

    Our primary task was to hike the ~1.5mi to Gorman Falls. It’s fed by a spring & the waters pour over limestone to create a beautiful piece of nature. My iPhone photos do not do it justice!

    They mean it. The hike is strenuous, especially on a hot day. (I think it was 97? during our hike from ~11:30am to 2pm.) Water is essential. Gatorade, as it turns out, was a bad idea. The sugar seemed to attract more bugs. We had resisted using any bug spray for fear it would make us hotter. The terrain is rough, there is some climbing and it’s ~3 miles round trip with up- and down -hill hiking both ways. I stress this because we saw two guys without any snacks, and an entire family with their dog and just one tiny bottle of water for them all.

    The early view from near the trailhead.




    the hike down


    about Gorman Falls


    the downhill climb





    Our view during our picnic lunch.


    The springs are protected, so you can’t get in them. And the river is gross; you don’t want to get in it.

    What’s worse: uphill or down?

    After some much needed time in air conditioning, we drove through the rest of Colorado Bend state park. Camping is quite primitive (no electricity), but the tent sites are right along the river. After we left, we stopped at Bob’s Bad Burgers & General Store for a drink.

    The next part of our adventure took us to Lake Buchanan. We saw it a few years ago when this current drought really kicked off. It’s not any better. Every marina and “waterfront” neighborhood is just sad; the public boat ramp is totally useless.

    20140703-204325-74605635.jpg 20140703-204325-74605227.jpg 20140703-204324-74604805.jpg
    Remember when boat ramps went deep into the water? This one ends several hundred feet (we guessed a mile) before the water’s edge.

    Fishermen have made “roads” on the former lake bed so they can get to the water’s edge.

    A bluebonnet. In JULY. Growing against an old tree stump in the former lake bed. Bluebonnet. July. Wrap your brain around that one!

    Upon leaving Lake Buchanan, we saw a bonafide zebra ranch. Their gate security was insane–I guess it’s a good place to pull pranks–so we didn’t stop for any pictures. As if the bluebonnet wasn’t a crazy enough sighting. then, just about the time we were over the crazy stuff, we saw another pair of zebra’s at another ranch. Are people entering zebras into rodeos, now, or what?

    Down the highway a bit, and separated by only a dam, Inks Lake is full and thriving. Campsites were all in use. People were skiing and swimming. Many “bundled” rafts and giant floaties created make-shift party barges in the middle of the water. We walked the little trail to Devil’s Waterhole to watch the teens and college kids jump off the cliffs. We picnicked on our supper while we enjoyed the entertainment. Yes, that’s right: two picnics in one day!

    On the way back home, we stopped a Scooters & Shooters (or: as one patron declared, they need to drop the initial S’s and call it Cooters & Hooters) for a drink. We were lucky enough to meet the owner and his girlfriend. They were finishing up an audit (where they are having to prove they pay their 14% liquor taxes; the local uptight fundies ratted them out for something they didn’t do.) and talking of their upcoming trip to Sturgis. Of course.

    We topped off our #MicroVacay with a dip in the pool at home. Pretty good for a $34 “vacation”. :)

  • 09Apr

    I’m downtown this afternoon. I am going to work a college fair this evening to help represent the University of Miami. I came down early to have a snack before the 3-hour shift.

    While on the train ride down, Emil texted how I was doing. This was my response:
    Productive/happy, the complimented, then yelled at, then sad, then Pecan Porter happy, then frustrated, now on the way back to happy. Women=complex

    Then, it occurred to me that this is funny & I should explain in more than (140-)160 characters.

    Productive/happy. Armed with my iPhone, the WordPress iPhone app, & my bluetooth keyboard, I blogged for As You Wish on my way down.

    complimented: As I walked from the train station to my favorite food trailer, I (saw two women here to represent OK State and) got a genuine compliment from a stranger who liked the flower in my hair. It’s orange, of course.

    yelled at: a homeless woman with Tourette’s/similar yelled at me to give er a dollar and then called me a “bitch” with a “saggy mother fuckin’ ass” when I didn’t give her money. Technically, this is just wrong. My bootie is in pretty good shape! :)

    sad: Miguel Is Cuban is no more. According to the staff at The Chicago House, he closed after SXSW ad is selling the trailer & his spot on Craigslist. I nearly cried at this news;; I was that sad.

    Pecan Porter happy: 512 Brewing’s Pecan Porter. Enough said!

    frustrated: I went to an old standby for my pre-college fair snack: Champions. Apparently, my powers of invisibility kicked in because I had to get pretty aggressive to be able to order. The bartender clearly prefers male customers. And, right now, she’s trading war stories with another bartender from another place who is in here before her shift. #classy

    the way back to happy: the best hummus platter in the world: big bowl of hummus, feta, red onion, Greek olives, cucumber, tomatoes, and warm pita. I’d take a picture, but at this point in this blog post, it’s 1/3 gone! 😉

    Since all of this happened in about an hour: Women=complex

    Bonus: on the fashion front, not only are young women wearing patterned tights with shorts, they are now slathering glitter on, first. That takes “I didn’t feel like shaving” to a whole new level.

    Permalink Filed under: Austin, Lori Tags: , 2 Comments
  • 18Mar

    I’ve been quite proud of my Canes during this basketball season. Our only complaint is that people rank Duke highly in a year they don’t deserve it.

    And now, my team is coming to Austin! I’m very excited!!! It all happened on St. Patrick’s day. And, BTW, Ireland’s colors are green, orange, and white…just like Miami’s!

    At noon, we went to Cover 2 to watch the ACC Tournament championship. It was a great game: the “best [first] half of college basketball you’ve ever seen” according to one announcer. The hostess congratulated us on the way out the door. :)

    We had St. Patrick’s evening plans with two other couples. (Together, we make up “Them!”.) So, while we had our first Irish drinks–whiskey and Diet Coke for me–the emails and calls started rolling in. Miami would be playing in Austin. Where did I want to host the pre-game party? What about all these other details? For about an hour, it was exciting and frustrating: thrilling that my Canes are coming to Austin; frustrating that they expect answers on a Sunday evening on St. Patrick’s Day! Still, it’s all take care of and we’re set to host the alumni and fans in our weird town.

    When we got home from hanging out with Them!, Emil found us tickets to Rounds 2/3 of the Regional. (Miami has a bye for Round 1.) Today, he’s asking for Friday off.

    My Canes are coming to Austin and I’m helping host the party! holy cow!

    We’re going to the Big Dance! Our “elderly” team (23, 24, 25 year olds) has made history for our school: first ACC Season Championship, first ACC Tournament Championship, first trip to the Big Dance and a part to play in March Madness. And, if you believe Dick Vitale, we’ll make it to the Elite Eight!!! holy cow!

    Holy. Cow! (batman.)

    Oh, and our seats are way out of camera range, but my sign will read:




    Permalink Filed under: Austin, Lori 1 Comment
  • 14Mar

    We didn’t do much with/at #SXSW this year. We did make plans to and attended #gdgt.

    That was the same day as Circle Brewing’s birthday party. So we had beer (well, our friends and I had beer) and then took the train from there to downtown. On the way there, we stopped at Manuel’s Cuban trainer. If you are ever downtown, it is a must-try.

    It was fun to go to a little mini-version of the Consumer Electronics Show and see some of the new tech devices. The wait in line was long, but it was an open bar once inside. When we left, the line was still just as long as when we went in.

    The trains are running all day, instead of just during morning & evening commutes; in fact, I’m on one right now headed to the station closest to Emil’s job. We’re going to a Miami event at The Domain.

    Anyway, so it’s very “spring break” feeling for us, but with a lot less #SXSW stuff than in previous years.

    Who knows, maybe this weekend something will becon us toward that crowd/

  • 07Feb

    Whew….an understatement.

    The “leak”? The dishwasher. yay!

    The dishwasher had a big pool of water sitting in the bottom of it. We don’t know how or why it got there, but the warranty guy turned it to a cycle to make it drain. …and all the water drained. It was like magic!

    To test it, we ran a cycle while we were near it. Nothing seemed to leak in any way. So, we are going to keep an eye on it, but so far, we might not have a problem. How the water got in there is still a mystery, but I’m not going to try to repeat the problem on purpose!

    Today, we (Emil stayed home to help with the leak evaluation) met more new neighbors, learned the pool-side happy hour schedule, and learned that there are a whopping five kids in the whole 120 units. We were doted on with ingratiations such as, “we love it when young people move in” and learned that we live on the “cool kids” end of the ‘hood where everyone down there hates the nosy HOA prez. Since I watched her peer into our neighbor’s back yard a couple of days ago, I’m going to make a sign an lay it on our patio.

    “If you can read this, you’re being too nosy, Pat.”

    We also learned that one complaint at the annual HOA meeting in January was that there are too many USA flags? really?!?!?! So, Saturday is Miami basketball game against UNC and we have a watch party that day. I’m going to display that 24′ flag Emil got me a few years ago. And, if I ever find a cheap rainbow gay-pride flag, I’ll fly that, too. Gotta keep the old bigots guessing! 😉

    Anyway, we did lots today and are both exhausted. I know why and how I’m tired each day, but I do NOT know how Emil can go to work all day and then do some of this stuff at night, too. We’re both “working” the same hours, but he needs a lot more sleep than I do.

    Anyway, tomorrow, he’ll be at work and I’ll work on the space with my next-most-important items to-do list. Then, we’ll go to the Austin No Kidding! games night at Pam & Ryan’s place. Saturday morning, we are going to move Turtleor, go watch my Canes beat UNC, and try to get more stuff ready for the movers to come on Tuesday. Tuesday! tuesday? eeek! tuesday.

    Feel that? It’s the big sigh of relief that we don’t have to jackhammer the beautiful 6″ tiles in our kitchen floor.


  • 06Feb

    It rained last night. Today, when I got to the town house, I found small puddles of water in the middle of the kitchen floor. Worrying that we had a leak, I checked the ceiling, the windows, the doors, and both the dishwasher and refrigerator. All were bone dry (even upstairs). In fact, the biggest puddle was under a dry plastic trash can I used for the scraps from lining the kitchen cabinets yesterday. weird.

    So, I did the logical thing: I messaged Emil and mopped it up. I did a few other things around the place…

    One of the things I did was scrape the living room windows with a razor blade. They needed a good cleaning. I was outside when the HOA President/nazi came by on her morning walk and said hello. This wasn’t my first sighting of her. The day before I watched her peer over a fence into our neighbor’s patio. Um, if you can’t see it from the common area, it’s not worth being nosy over!
    She tried to act sweet with “I’m just over there if you need anything,” but I think it was her second or third sentence when she said we’d need permission to do anything exterior. I was quick to inform her that I was scraping the paint from when the exterior was painted. She defended her remark with some “years ago” bullshit. Yes, it was years ago when they did it wrong. And no, the place does not yet need new exterior paint, but I’m still going to take care of their lack of maintenance issue from the way-back time. We liked the place in part because of that big window. I’ll be damned if I’m going to look through paint flecks to see outside.
    I also told her we’d be making a request soon to have our front door repainted since bare wood was showing.
    She was not once forthcoming with any contact information like her exact unit or a phone number or email address. (If I were an HOA President, I’d have some little business cards. For cryin’ out loud, they are free from some online services and a whopping $10 with others.)

    ….and after that, the puddles were back. great. A least this time, I can determine their origins and verify it’s not from the dishwasher or refrigerator.

    We have had possession of the space for such a short time (6 days), that the paperwork has not yet been processed for the home warranty. So, Emil texted/emailed/called to get all that info.

    I wandered the property for our handy man, Mario. I found his smoking-on-the-job assistant, Jason, but not him.

    I went two doors down to Annie. Turns out she’s only lived there six months and doesn’t know much, yet. She gave me two numbers. One (for the HOA Management) was disconnected.

    I tried to reach the HOA President. Guess who wasn’t answering her phone? Guess who has her phone set to NOT receive voice mails?

    I drove back to our apartment to get the HOA book. I waited for return calls and other info and loaded the car with a few things. I was just about to give up when we got some news. By this time, I was “hangry” and had to stop worrying about others to take care of my own needs. I was in a hurry at the sub shop and as I was getting back into the car, I cracked my forehead on the visor. I was still shaking off the “stars” when the phone rang. Our painter wanted to come over for the walk through and to settle up. sure.

    I had given the short version of our story to the painter. So, when Emil called with some bad news (warranty covers only $1000 and won’t replace any flooring they have to destroy to get to the problem), our painter watched me shed tears of frustration. He then gave me a total that was more than the bid/expectation. So, I gave him the cash (cash!) for the bid we’d received and we made arrangements to deal with the other money next week. He was kind enough to look at the floor and our outside overflow pipes and render a professional opinion. Meanwhile, we are still missing two ~expensive screw drivers. While the painters had no reason to use (or accidentally pick up) screw drivers, no one else has been in the space. sigh.

    In the midst of all this “how to fix what’s broken” stuff we are also learning our domain from that of the HOA. Turns out, plumbing, even that within the foundation, is ours. yippie. Now, I still need the HOA/similar to tell me how to turn off our water supply.

    So, I head outside to find a cutoff. I find four. Sweet. Four units; four valves. I try the one that “must” be ours and have no luck getting it to turn. At that moment a neighbor’s friend pulls up, asks me how I’m doing, and offers to help. Our neighbor joins us. We try both valves and neither seem to work. I thank the gentlemen for their help and time. I wander around and find no discernible pattern to the cutoff valves for our new neighborhood.

    Next, I try the numbers in our fancy HOA notebook. They are all landlines of people who have day jobs, disconnected numbers, and services that no longer apply to our area. What I wouldn’t give for an up-to-date mobile-friendly website!

    It’s around this point that I can be found wandering aimlessly through our freshly-painted unfurnished home sobbing in frustration.

    Emil calls State Farm. They will cover any flooring replacements that the home warranty won’t. yay!

    Finally, Tracy, our neighbor who bought the home across the street, arrives. She’s already proved to be in the know with the ‘hood, so I head over. She knows Bill down-the-street, and expects that her neighbor will know how to help. Eventually, we find the valve. It took four neighbors, one friend-of-a-neighbor, and two handymen, but we got the water turned off….or so we thought. After this, I heard from the home warranty company and they said the plumber would be out this evening. Tracy comes over to see the paint job and notices a “remote possibility” that the puddles could be from the dishwasher. I don’t agree based on what I’ve seen, but I’ll keep an eye on the spot in case she’s right.

    By this time, I’ve spent all afternoon on the damn water cutoff and need to go get Emil from work. On my way out, our neighbor Annie stops me; she’d been cooking all day and wanted to make sure I had lunch. sweetness.

    I pick Emil up with an “I have no opinions on dinner but I want beer” attitude. We were driving to the new neighborhood bar we’ve wanted to try when we got the call that the warranty company wanted to send the plumbers tomorrow morning, instead of tonight. I got loud so she could hear me through Emil’s phone and said that while I didn’t care, it was shitty of them to lie to me and make me wait all afternoon. Anyway, we went for beer–where we sat next to two plumbers with lots of stories, advice, and opinions–then tacos, and then to the townhouse. Even with the water cut off, there is moisture in the kitchen. I mop, again…and we quickly realize that we can not completely bleed the pipes dry. The water is cut off as much as it can be, but that’s not 100%. At least it will be easy to show Affordable Plumbing where the leaks are.

    It’s been the longest and hardest day of home re-ownership so far. This kind of shit is exactly the reason we wanted to rent for the next forever. Calgon, take me away!

    2013-02-06 10.45.59

  • 05Feb

    Today was quite busy, but noting much that’s photo worthy. I met the painters this morning so they could cut the hole for the cat door.

    I also finished cleaning the kitchen cabinets, the floor under the range, and the outside of the range, itself. (Next task here is to clean the burner grates, the oven racks, and the oven itself. fun.)

    I also put our “stained glass” film on the mirror behind the bar, for a distinct improvement. I’m sure this isn’t the final look, but it’s a big help!

    Last night, while I took a knitting break, Emil installed the plantar/rack for the herbs. He was even considerate to put it in the sunniest spot and where Turtleor will be able to admire it! (Not really, of course, but it’s a cute idea!)







  • 04Feb

    Today was day 1 of our painting contract. Our guy, Ray, had to be in San Antonio today, so Saturday, he introduced us to his right-hand guy, Saul. Saul said he could do it all in two days. But then, in between, one of Saul’s trucks died alongside a highway. So, Saul called in Joaquin and Miguel.

    The three of them worked away, while I cleaned the grease-coated kitchen. They worked quickly, thoroughly, and accurately. I didn’t even notice when Saul left to get the rest of the paint.

    Every time I peeked in on their work, I was blown away at how much progress they made. If you need painting in Austin, I highly recommend these guys.

    Don’t our new colors look pretty?