• 31Mar

  • 30Mar

    We found a “steal” of a deal on Craigslist. All the rocks you can carry if you’ll just come get them. They are perfect for our landscaping ideas for our tiny space of yard. The project already looks amazing and we have at least 3 more trips of rocks to go get. We weren’t planning on doing this one right now, but when the free rocks popped up, we just couldn’t pass it up. It’s been a lot of work, has burned a lot of calories, and has caused a few scrapes and bruises, but it’s going to be so worth it in the end.

    I’m terrible and never do before pics, but here is some of the progress during and the after pics.

    2015-03-26 15.43.18  2015-03-26 15.43.24


    2015-03-26 17.23.45 2015-03-26 17.23.55


    These “beds” are just inside our gate between the fence and the slab foundation. The rocks that were there were stepping stones seated into the concrete sludgey stuff left at the end of a concrete pour. They worked fine for ~20 years, but they were starting to break and become a trip hazard. They came up very easily. I wasn’t even planning on taking them up with this project, but it was so easy, I just couldn’t stop. I have also “outlined” two beds out back (past the fence, not in these pictures). Those have a tree and a birdbath. There are also groups of rocks. A large planter will hold hyacinth. And, we plan to get a wisteria to climb the chimney. Those two should bring in the butterflies and hummingbirds.

    So, then, after all our hard work, of course, Murphy has to come visit. There is a plumbing problem. For the second time since we’ve owned this house, it “rained” from the upstairs to the down. (And created a big puddle in the kitchen for the third time, we had a big puddle in the kitchen.) We have a toilet that hasn’t been flushing well, but draining the tub after a bath seems to be more than it could handle; the toilet “belched”. So, tonight, we will seek out a snake and see if we can learn to snake a drain. It’s a very busy week: we need to wrap up the rocks project so we can stop bothering the nice man who lets us come get them for free. We need to go home and deal with my mom and her stuff. We need to do our usual end-of-month stuff.

    So, we decided last night to skip the Luza trip to Dime Box again. Hopefully (still pending Emil’s co-worker’s dad’s condition/status), we’ll be coming back from Paris on that day and would have to get up super early (5:30am?) to leave my grandmother’s in time to make Dime Box by lunch. That’s not fair to us or her.

    Here. We. Go!

  • 20Nov

    Dear Alamo @Drafthouse,

    Thank you.

    Thank you for creating a place where adults can routinely enjoy a movie among the company of other well-behaved adults. Thank you for the No Talking/Texting” rules and the No Little Kids policy. Coupled with the ever-changing menu, glorious drink list, and fabulous service, it’s an adult oasis in an otherwise family (ahem) “friendly” world.

    My favorite no-talking spot is, of course, the uncensored version of  “Magnited States of America“. I applaud you for sticking by your standards. Your rules are, in fact, the biggest reason I even darken the door of a movie theater. Yours is the only one I’ll visit. Between your policies/service and the RunPee app (which I keep discreetly running in night mode, in my lap, and away from neighbors), I can enjoy a movie experience.

    Thank you for keeping the movie-going experience one worthy of adult admission prices.

    Your fan,



    Dear parUNts of the little Crotch Dropping next to me at the Alamo Drafthouse,

    I knew we were in for a miserable experience when you seated him to the inside instead of between you two. No decent parent would put a kid between them and a stranger when there was another option, even with a seat of space.

    The little bastard (and I’m pretty sure this is literal given how little attention he got/sought from “Daddy”) of ~7 years was far too immature for the two-plus-hours movie experience at the Alamo Drafthouse. He was bored 30 minutes before the movie started, and again 20 minutes before the movie started, and again 10 minutes before the movie started. While he might be “technically” old enough to quality for admission, his maturity is far too young for this excursion. He caught my attention the most when he asked if you two called him a “douche” (you said, “dude”). I know you’d save those precious first words for his baby book, but you were too busy chatting to notice he uttered such a statement. Where, pray tell, did he hear did he hear that word used in a derogatory manner?

    During the movie and even with a bevvy of food (popcorn, an entire personal pizza, and an adult-sized drink), he was bothering you for more food and attention. When that didn’t work, he climbed up and down over and over again sitting up tall and then down low. He was annoying, even two seats away. When his Mommy-never-says-“no” version of ADD kicked in, he began bouncing his theater seat between the up/down positions repeatedly. You still said/did nothing.

    I knew I was not being too sensitive when the young girl (~9 years old) in the row ahead of us and a few seats over kept turning and looking back at him. Her parents had the impeccable manners to tell her to stop.

    He pushed too far when, about half way through the movie, he stood up in his seat. I told him, “Sit Down.” I did not yell. I did not use the expletives I wanted to, though I’m sure he knows them all. I simply did what any normal adult would do. It takes a village to raise your child, after all! He was far more well behaved after being scolded by a stranger. He was not perfect, but he heeded the advice of discipline. You should try it, sometime.

    Yet, when the movie was over, and after I walked right past you three, you accosted my husband and told him you didn’t appreciate what I said to your child??? While I’m sure your feelings were genuine, you should have aired your grievances with me. My husband neither speaks for nor represents me. You got lucky; he’s a lot more polite than I am. Heh, I bet you were surprised by his reaction of “I don’t care what you think.”

    Had you discussed this with me, I would have loudly explained to you that “parent” is a verb and that you weren’t doing it. I would have cited your “fuck trophy’s” egregious behavior to all within earshot so that others, namely those behind and in front of him, could chime in. I’d have explained the policy of the Alamo Drafthouse and that everyone is expected to keep quiet during shows. (And, no, his tall/low sitting, bouncing the seat, asking for food, etc. is not quiet.)

    In addition, I’d have told you that your child is a shining example of what’s wrong with our country. And, before you could question that logic, I’d tell you that I’m the daughter of two teachers, that I grew up learning to behave in public, that I have a Masters’ degree (and then some) in Education, that I expect you to teach your child to behave, and, finally, that parents like you are the numero uno reason why I don’t want kids. I don’t want my kids to have to associate with the little fucker you’ve bred. Why should I have to be the “bad guy” to my kids when people like you won’t discipline yours? This year, it’s movie etiquette; in five years, it’s bullying and sexting; in ten years, it’s drugs or worse. Please for the love of humanity, say “no”, now!

    If I really wanted to make your night miserable, all I had to do was raise a card; you’d have been booted by a manager. How much fun would that have been for the little Crotch Fruit? Instead, I gave you a pass and made sure your kid knew his rampant behavior wasn’t acceptable. Count your lucky fucking stars that you got to finish the movie instead of blowing $30 on tickets and that-much-or-more on food/drinks before being thrown out. …and then having to try to see the movie again to appease the power of his wishes over those of you!

    Next time a stranger confronts your child about his behavior, you need to look at what he’s doing that would warrant intervention!

    I was a good kid. / Why is yours a little shit?

  • 20Oct

    Dear Kate,

    We’ve never met, but I am willing to be your friend. I hurt for your pain and want to help make things better for you.

    My own words fail me, so I’ll draw from better scribes:

    “In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
    — Albert Camus

    “Although [there is] suffering, [there] is also…overcoming of it.”
    — Helen Keller

    Kate, though afar, I’m here for you.

    with warm (((hugs))) of comfort and support,


    This post is part of a Love Bomb Mission to send love to Kate, who is suffering from depression.
    Remind Kate that she is loved and join the mission:
  • 13Aug

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  • 27Jul

    I get a LOT more done during the day if I go somewhere than I do if I stay home. So, I’m pretty familiar with all the WiFi spots near me. I know which ones have a good/strong signal, which ones nag for multiple logins, which places have good food, and even which of my favorites beers are on draft where…for that 5pm reward for a hard day’s work!

    I’m also a courteous customer. I always order something. I usually have a meal just before or after a peak time for the business. And, I don’t stay if there aren’t free tables during these peak times unless I have put food on my tab. I know that the free WiFi is a benefit, not a right. I know that it’s a perk for customers. I know they use it as a draw to get people in the door to spend money. I follow these same rules even at fast food joints.

    Today, I hit one of my infrequent standbys. I love Kerbey Lane, so I occasionally treat myself.

    I was a little befuddled when my MacBook Pro didn’t remember the password for the WiFi, but figured they had just changed it. I even wondered if they no longer had WiFi for customers. Turns out, they have had to set it on timers that turn it off during peak hours.

    So, some inconsiderate customers ruined it for me: one customer at a tiny table in the bar area (where they don’t seat people unless the customer requests this spot). There are ~always empty seats in the bar area. Plus, I spent $15 on my appetizer, dessert, and Diet Coke; certainly comparable to any other person’s lunch tab. And, I tip well. In my opinion, a nice tip is part of the deal when you make heavy use of the free WiFi.)

    This is what is NOT ok when using the free WiFi at a business…especially if they have table service.

    • Failing to order.
    • Failing to tip.
    • Ordering just coffee (or any other refill drink) and staying longer than an hour.
    • Keeping a table occupied if anyone (any ONE) is waiting for seating.
    • Hogging a big table all day, keeping them from easily seating large groups…and yes, that corner booth counts. Don’t make the servers pull tables together for every party of five that comes through the door.
    • Talking on the phone at the table or holding a video conference. (Yes, I’ve seen this!) If it’s that critical to your work, either sit outside in this 100+ heat or rent a conference room at the local co-working office. Besides, how professional is a conference call/video from a restaurant, anyway? You might as well be at home with the crying baby and barking dog in the background.

    Respect that others around you are dining and are on a break from work.

  • 25May

    {[I was going to post this on facebook in response to one of my college friends (and a ZTA sister) asking for donations of cash, instead of clothing/food for disaster relief. She’s right. …but that doesn’t diminish my concerns or alter my ability to donate. So, rather than endure the wrath of facebook, I’m posting it on our personal blog.]}

    [“A message from my friends working disaster relief in Joplin and other recent disaster areas– No more stuff! Money is what is most needed and will be for months to come. Trucks of donated goods are clogging the streets and used clothes are piling up in ironic mountains. Give money to a disaster relief agency you know and trust. Spread the word. (via Diana Rothe-Smith)”]

    While all of this is true (cash is KING!), people give what they can. We saw a lot of this with Hurricane Andrew, didn’t we?

    I’m also jaded from non-profits who “redesignate” the money donated. How can we be sure our money goes to the actual relief effort?

    I don’t mean to sound snappish/political. It’s a real question/concern I have. I want to give, but not if the money I donate will be re-routed. And then, because I can’t be sure, I end up doing nothing.

    At least my clothing/food donation might help. After all, that kind of donation can’t be mis-appropriated!

    Yes I realize that I’m missing a key point to the original request, “a disaster relief agency you know and trust.” Trouble is, I don’t know of any I can trust.

    So, if you truly trust a non-profit in disaster-relief efforts, feel free to share which one. I do not trust the American Red Cross or the United Way. Interestingly, they are the ones who are always quickest to set up the $10 donations via text message.



  • 22May

    Last week, our Internet speed was inconsistent, and we ended up with a tech call to have the problems investigated.

    While the tech worked on lines and such, we chatted. He’s lived in New York and hasn’t been in Austin all that long. At one point, he was telling me about living in “this little bitty town…[in Texas]”

    him: “…Franklin”

    me: “oh, yeah!”

    him: “you do not know where that is!”

    me: “Yes, I do. We lived in Bryan before moving to Austin. Emil is a Bryan native.”

    him: “Oh! So then you know why I moved to Austin!” [1] (He now lives here with his wife and two cats.)

    me: “Yes, we moved here for the same reasons!”

    us: LOL!

    He was the nicest guy you’d ever want in your home fixing the broken Internet. I wish it wouldn’t have been creepy to ask him if he and his wife wanted to hang out with us (or the ChildFree group) sometime.

    [1] I spared him any potential embarrassment for his comments and did not tell him how we have several family members working for Franklin schools. We are in agreement, so that’s all that matters.

  • 07Feb

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  • 15Dec

    None of this happened to me, but it happened to a friend of mine and I’m angry for her (especially since I’ve been there).

    She was asked to donate desserts for an industry event. It was not made clear that she would be one of at least two who donated. So, she staged and planned her display, which is a reflection of the kind of work she’d do for a wedding or corporate party,  to showcase her business in front of about a hundred wedding planners and caterers at a holiday party/fundraiser. She later found out that another baker would be there, too.

    I volunteered to help her set up. We arrived to find that no one knew where the desserts were going to be. After lots of poor communication, we are told where to set up. Since we were so early, we set up everything and then leave for a snack.

    Upon our return, we find that half her desserts have been put under the table. The other half were uncovered (getting unnecessarily stale or dusty when the party was still more than half an hour off). And, the covers from those trays were place on the floor instead of stacked somewhere cleaner. ew. Sam’s cookies were taking up the other half of my friend’s table. Since they weren’t labeled, “Sam’s cookies in case we run out of good desserts from our members who graciously donated their time and tasty treats to us,” the implication was that my friend made these cheap cookies. In addition, the other dessert vendor has set up an entire table with her products. Why didn’t that vendor have to share? Where was that vendor, anyway? Oh, that’s right. She dropped off her donation and left. She wasn’t even AT the event!

    People kept talking to me instead of her. I kept saying, “These are her’s,” “This is her business,” and “I’m just here to help her out.”

    When we asked the woman in charge of this mess for a table and cloth to put the cookies (and now, brownies, too), it was as if we asked for the soul of her grandchild on. She was smug and condescending to both of us for the rest of the event. We even went above-and-beyond and made the other two tables match as best we could so it looked intentional instead of half-assed.

    The confusion came from the vast number of volunteered items: each caterer only provided one entree or side or salad, kind of like a professional pot luck. The lady who had picked up and dropped off the Sysco-esque brownies kept asking me what she was supposed to do. I told her three times who to ask for help. I guess I should have said, “I don’t work here!” She just stood there dumbfounded.

    People, this is why you get a party/event coordinator. Put one person in charge of all the details (like the layout of the room) and position them where they can be found as all the volunteers start showing up with their donations. If caterers and bartenders and rentals and bakers and photographers were asked to donate, why not a coordinator? Oh, we’ll get to THAT.

    After all was settled we both grabbed a much-needed drink and went to check in. Get this: my friend, who just battled for proper display of her $200+ donation was also asked to pay $20 entrance. Are you kidding? Ok, ok, it’s for a good cause and all. fine. But that should have been made clear up front. It is not standard to ask a vendor to both donate and pay.

    We spent the next part of the evening avoiding the fake ass-kissing and pretending we weren’t offended when coordinators would ask about our services and then obviously NOT listen to any answers. (I swear some of those women can’t hold more than one phrase in their little minds.) No wonder none of them had helped with the event.

    Then, at 8pm, after everyone had been drinking for 2 hours, after several songs of dancing and a much-too-loud DJ (Club “Woo Woo” Alll Riiiiigggghhht!), one of the hostesses took the microphone and would not continue until everyone was quiet to listen to her thank all the sponsors. Awkward! Why didn’t they do this before they served dinner? Again, a good coordinator would have set them straight on this. She read through the list so quickly I couldn’t understand several of the names. And for dessert, she only mentioned the other vendor…and not my friend. Furthermore, that organization does a printed list of the sponsors for each of their monthly meetings. So why wasn’t there a simple printed list with the 20 or so businesses listed for this? What. The. Hell?

    I turned to her and said, “you ready to pack up?” She gave a “hell yes!” and like a flash we were out of there.

    KICKER: I was considering joining the hosting organization. But now I see that they, ahem, (Be NICE, Lori. Santa is watching.) “aren’t a good fit for me.”

    What, exactly, is with people who think they can afford to be snobs during a recession?

    Two good things: A lot of people fawned over my friend’s display; it really is very beautiful. The snobs gave us the motivation to move forward with our plans for the future.