• 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

    during

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

    after

    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!

  • 23Mar

    We’ve missed the last couple of Luza Easter gatherings. Two years ago, we were just exhausted. Last year, it fell on our anniversary and we wanted to do something “better” than eat cheap frozen hamburgers and hot dogs in Dime Box. (We went downtown, had burgers, and bar hopped a little.)

    This year, though, Emil and I had a plan that would get us there with minimal hassle and kill at least two birds with one stone.

    Since my mom is in her, um, situation, I need to make sure she does some paperwork. She’s been promising to get an attorney and write a Will, but she hasn’t done it in large part because she can’t work on that stuff with him around…and he’s always around. Well, a DIY Will from the Internet is better than nothing, so I’ve written one listing me (her preference) and my grandmother (my preference) as her beneficiaries.

    Texas has funny laws about unmarried women. We are her two relatives; it should go to us, in my opinion. My grandmother disagrees and thinks it should go to me, solely. Since neither of them have a computer (because mom’s abuser destroyed hers), I get to say what we do.

    Mom keeps saying she doesn’t really need a will because I’m her only beneficiary. I keep telling her that if she’s dead, she won’t be able to tell anyone that. I swear she thinks she’ll never die. She’s stubborn enough to cheat death, so maybe she’s right.

    So our plan was to go to Paris April 1-2, get mom to sign the Will with a Notary, take lots of pictures for digital records of the Will, get it tucked into my grandmother’s safe deposit box (since no place my mom has access to is safe from him), and then head back to this part of the state. We could swing through Bryan to see Emil’s mom and hit Dime Box on our way by for Luza Easter (on Holy Saturday). It would be a long 3 days, but we’d have Easter Sunday to recover and we’d hit all the necessary stuff. This plan was Emil’s suggestion even though it would mean he’d miss his Thursday D&D group.

    Dear plan, meet the monkey wrench

    Emil’s coworker has some family stuff going on. He was out a couple of days 2 weeks ago. He’ll need to be out Thur/Fri this and/or next week, but doesn’t yet know. They are part of each other’s backup so they can’t plan to be out at the same time.

    • We can’t plan Easter until we get this paperwork thing planned with my family….even if they aren’t the same weekend. We’ve been putting this off for too long and I need to a) see my family and b) get this taken care of. [1]
    • We can’t plan this paperwork thing until Emil takes the time off.
    • He can’t take the time off until the coworker decides if he will/won’t take the time off.
    • Coworker can’t take the time off because his thing is family and he can’t risk taking time off he doesn’t need since he might need it worse, later.

    So when the email came in this week asking everyone, again, if we’ll be at Luza Easter, all we could say is “we’re trying” and “well let you know when we know”.

    And, of course, now it’s spring and pretty weather and I’d rather be in Austin than Paris for any of it. I wish we had done this paperwork in the dead of winter. We just couldn’t find a date that worked.

    [1] As you might imagine, there is a lot more going on with my mom and that relationship than I’ve talked about on our blog. This is what you might call the tip of the iceberg. …and I’ve probably already said more than I should. Although, it’s not slander or libel if it’s true, so I have that on my side.

  • 09Mar

    I guess maybe there is pretend truth to the statement that time heals all wounds.

    This was the first year since that awful day in 2002 when “God” took Daddy from this world that I didn’t hone in on the date.

    Of course, I don’t believe that “God” took him.[1] I believe that we aren’t yet skilled enough in science to have saved him. The DOG knew weeks before. My MOM knew weeks before, too, but she can’t remember any of her behavior that then seemed erratic. My grandmother & I knew, but to a far lesser degree. If Randi Cae the Schnauzer could have talked, she would have told us he was dying.

    It wasn’t until I saw Sandra Tweet to Emil, “Did you call Mom for her birthday?” that I realized the date. It a terrible thing to have an immediate family birthday and a immediate family death on the same day. Every reminder is a curse.

    It’s not easier with time. In fact, the distractions I had today made it worse. I feel worse for not remembering (either of) the events.

    Dear Daddy, I still miss you every damn day. I still wish you were among us. It’s not fair to this world that you are not. Neither I nor any god can satisfactorily explain your sudden departure from our world.

    • Did you leave me so I’d not have the kids I didn’t really want? For sure, your part of their life would have been a big pro on that list. But, I don’t think it would have out-weighed all the cons. There are so very many.
    • Did you leave so Mom could end up with Larry3? Seeing as how he beat her, broke her house, and repeatedly continues to emotionally abuse her, I don’t think that is sound or logical.
    • Did you leave Mom so she could be there for Larry3? If so, why is he mean to her?
    • Did you leave your golf buddies for being the bigots they are? If so, you could have just moved to place with less bigots. It’s clear that Paris, Texas is a shit hole, but you don’t have to live in that shit hole.

    ….See? It’s not easier with time. The best you can hope for is to remember early in the day so you don’t feel guilty for forgetting until late in the day.

    Fuck you, “god” and “universe”. You don’t deserve my love or adoration or attention. You took Daddy at half his life.

    Happy Birthday, Mom L. (She can’t see/read this, but I wish it to her all the same.)

    [1] It’s possible that recent bigotry (from Chad) had me distracted.

     

  • 07Nov

    It’s been a while since we just did a plain old update. So here are some things going on with us.

    • Last winter, we got a new domain. You can now find us at BlueLime.us instead of the longer address. Hopefully, we’ll streamline some of the other stuff, too.
    • At some point last winter, I needed a break from the whole vegan thing. For a while, I ate all the hot wings. :) I really just needed more options and a break from having to think so hard about my food. After a period of going a little nuts, I settled back into a balance. I’m eating vegan meals at least two thirds of the time, I’d guess. I’m working on a greater percentage with meat or dairy as an occasional exception. For example, I’d rather have the best queso in town a few times a year than mediocre queso at places that use too much cilantro. It makes it a lot easier to go out with friends.
    • I finally quit facebook for real. I don’t even have my fake account, anymore. I don’t miss much about it. I’m learning, too, that I was way ahead of the curve; there are a lot of us facebook haters.
    • Last spring-summer, I transitioned out of two volunteer roles. One was simply an expired term. The other was one of those “I’m done” moments. It stopped being fun and others wanted to tell me what to do without ever agreeing to help out (yes, I asked many times). We still participate, but now it’s less.
    • In that vein, I’m still doing the Pareto “diet” that is life. I keep culling the bottom 20% of whatever is sucking the fun out of life. We focus time on the 20% of life that brings us joy.
    • Summer was, apparently, big for us:
      • Emil’s mom fell. She went from a burst vertebrae in her back to the hospital to rehab (and back and forth for a bit) to Assisted Living and is now in Memory Care. She has good days and bad days, but is doing well considering. The “team” of siblings is on top of her care. Emil sees her many Thursday nights when he’s in Bryan for his D&D group. On the nights that they do meet and that I can join him, I go, too. After visiting Mom, he games and I hang out with Jessica or even Angela W.. It’s been nice to have some girl time with old friends.
      • My mom went through some trauma/drama. We went home to help her get through the worst of it. She’s made some progress, but it’s still a problem. We’re waiting until the problem finds a “bottom” so some healing/help can begin. Meanwhile, my grandmother is doing just fine other than worrying a whole lot.
      • We rehomed Marble. He ran off P?kný, disappeared himself for a couple of days, reappeared (I told him “you’re the wrong cat to come back!”), and was still a PITA to Purrrrrl and us. Because he chewed wires, we had to be super careful about what we left where; all cords had to be wrapped. Because he did other damage, we had to live with all the doors closed. We were prisoners in our own home….most of all the girls. So, Jessica offered that if we still didn’t have anyone after her month of travel, she’d try him out. Well, he’s a good fit (thankfully!) and is fat and happy living with her. Interestingly, I had tried to fatten him up, but since Purrrrrl can’t free-feed or have his food, I couldn’t “make” him eat enough to be “slothenly”. Interestingly, he wasn’t gone a week before P?kný came back. She’s still a patio-only kitty and afraid to come inside….but it’s like she KNEW he was gone. He is such an asshole.
      • We also used summer to kick start a few little projects around the house. I’m almost done painting all the ugly brass hardware and hope to start scraping the popcorn off the ceilings, soon.
      • Since early summer, I’ve been cooking like a fiend. I can ~always tweak a recipe to my liking, but never really learned how to menu plan. Having a busy life kept me from learning this. Well, I’ve finally figured out how to plan stuff that Emil will eat, stuff that I will eat, and stuff that we will eat.
    • This fall, we joined D&D Encounters. It’s a hot mess of red tape and I don’t think the Wizard’s of the Coast people gave any consideration to making it easy for new people to join (which is the entire purpose/intent of the series). But, after some bumps in the road, our two (yes, TWO) groups normalized into good groups to play with. It’s also nice to have set plans. Since my Monday CroKnit group and Emil’s Thursday dungeon group are still going strong, we’re booked 4 evenings of most weeks.
    • October was a blast with two Halloween weekends, two parties, and much merriment. Only 358 days until Hallowe’en 15! And, it will be on a Saturday next year. This bodes both for a lot of fun :) and also for all the parties to be on the same :( night. Whatever shall we be this time?
    • As usual, I’m not looking forward to the holidays. In fact, my annual rant is overdue since I’ve already blocked pins/posts about xmas….and warned one family member that I’ll unfollow her until new year’s if she keeps it up.
    • So, we’re ready for late fall and winter and using the fireplace. I suspect there will be several movie marathons and much gaming.

    Happy Fall, Y’all!

  • 22Jul
  • 06Jun

    A Twitter friend (and fellow photographer) will be vacationing in Lago Vista this summer and wanted a list of places to eat and wanted to know what Sandra Bullock owns.

    @lanikhong: @AsYouWish Japanese, American, TexMex, BBQ. Something different that no other cities would have. &little unique shops too if you don’t mind.

    So, armed with her requests, it’s time to make a list of things that are uniquely Austin.

    Sandra Bullock’s places

    Walton’s Fancy and Staple – Emil and I ate here once to “carb load” before a bar crawl. 😉 It was outstanding. I didn’t know/remember she owned it until you asked about her. It’s also on the Austin Food Tour.

    Bess Bistro – This one doesn’t seem to have quite the following.

    Japanese

    My fave is Odaku, but I really only get veggie sushi there. Emil likes their teriyaki chicken skewers.

    I also really like Koriente Restaurant (but it’s more Asian fusion than Japanese, IMO)

    People here go nuts for (Uchi and) Uchiko, but I don’t get it. I’m not willing to try. Friends of our’s spent $125 at Uchiko for two with wine and stopped for pizza on the way home. They were not impressed. But, it’s über-trendy right now if you care about such things.

    American

    Gourmet hot dogs: Frank or Man Bites Dog (a former food trailer) [1]

    Amy’s Ice Cream – I hear Mexican Vanilla is their best selling flavor. Their vegan ices are quite good, too. (mmmm strawberry!)

    One of our faves: Magnolia Cafe.

    My favorite downtown: Moonshine Grill. It gets busy for dinner, so either go early or plan to wait a long time.

    Chez Zee is fabulous. wow!

    Black Star Co-op.

    We just discovered Red’s Porch with our childfree cocktail/restaurant explorers. Ask to sit upstairs. Take sunglasses/hats. It really is a big ol’ porch.

    A couple of our regular haunts: Kerbey Lane Cafe and Opal Divine’s

    Burgers: Big Daddy’s Burger Bar (try the Bloody Mary Catsup) and Hop Doddy

    Alamo Drafthouse Dinner at the movie. Go 45 minutes early to get seated and place your (initial) order, so it takes about 3 hours. Your munchkin is free for the first show on weekdays (or something like that).

    TexMex

    (Some of these don’t claim to be TexMex, but authentic Mexican. I didn’t know if you cared about that.)

    My favorite so far is Manuel’s.

    Up north, we like Texican.

    For really casual, we like El Mercado (with table service) or Torchy’s Tacos (order at the counter). Torchy’s is the big story for food trailers. [1] It started out that way and quickly grew into a brick-and-mortar store and now has several locations, including DFW and Houston.

    Taco Deli – some of the best salsas anywhere.

    If you want a date without the kiddo, Vivo is it. Romantic, good drinks, roses for the ladies, …and 18+ to get in.

    The “nice$t” Mexican place in town is Fonda San Miguel. I hear it’s great, but we’ve never been.

    BBQ

    (Interestingly, this was the easiest category and the first one I could list….said the vegan.)

    Pok-e-Jos – @emil285’s favorite

    Franklin BBQ – @maczter says it’s quite good, but you have to get there at ~10:30am and wait outside because they stop serving when they run out…at ~2pm.

    Stubb’s BBQ – They also have a live music venue that can hold thousands. When there is a band, the restaurant is quite busy, too, so check their calendar before you go.

    Salt Lick – an Austin icon. Not the best BBQ, but a great venue/experience and a pretty little drive out to it.

    County Line BBQ – Take the tiny one out back and feed the turtles ($0.25 for the food in a gumball machine). There are about a million of them.

    shops

    I could name my faves, but that might send y’all all over town. Our local IBA chapter has a great map of cute shopping districts that are full of locally-owned businesses.

    bonus

    [1] Speaking of food trailers, you’ll want to hit one of the bigger areas of them. Some are all packed into the same parking lot. It’s very hit/miss. If the one person working the trailer doesn’t show up for work, they won’t be open. So, hit an area where there are several so you will have better odds of eating and more variety, too. It’s like a food court and it’s totally Austin. It looks like the biggest area of them is South 1st.

    If you like Indian, you must try Clay Pit (table service) and/or Tarka (order at the counter). They are owned by the same guy and are both quite good.

    Thai? Our fave is Titaya’s.

    Italian? Reales (pizza and) Cafe.

    At any of these places, ask for local beer (512, Independence, Circle, Twisted X, Live Oak) and even local liquor (tea-flavored vodka, other locally-made vodkas)

    Depending on how mobile the little one is, you might want to go to the new splash pad in Leander or Volente Beach Water Park (water slides in lake water) which are both geared for younger kids.

    These links might also be helpful:

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Awards/RestaurantPoll/?Year=2012&Poll=Critics

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Awards/RestaurantPoll/?Year=2012&Poll=Readers

    Visit Austin

    So, now, those of you who haven’t yet come to visit us have a little incentive! 😉

     

     

  • 05Apr

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  • 19Jan

    Ack! 2012 has started off with a bang. This must be what runners and racers feel all the time….except we are sprinting through January instead of December. So, here’s a collective update.

    The Move

    Last year, our rent went up almost 10% and added some fees, too. We knew it would happen again (we heard rumors of $100-$150 increases in 1/1 units!), so we started shopping around. It had to be a Perfect Storm in a lot of ways. It’s not worth moving unless we can stay close to the same total expenses, get more space, get nicer fixtures and stuff, etc. Well, when we started looking around, there were a lot of ways we could make this happen. So, on 25-Feb, we’ll have a new place to live. We have until 22-Mar to get out of Riata, but we’re hiring movers so we can leave early in the hope that they can flip our unit quickly like they did for our neighbor. We have been quite happy at Riata. Unless they screw us over on move-out, I’ll give them a 5-star rating on Yelp. But, when we got this “shoebox” shaped apartment, it was an amazing deal we just couldn’t pass up while we still had a mortgage. We were so happy here that when the lease came around, twice, we just stayed. Now, we’re ready to face moving again to go for bigger/better.

    We looked at ~20 places and had a very strong Top 5 list. I fell “in like” with two leasing specialists, one where an acquaintance of ours lives. We found: a lovely town home, an über quiet place up the road, hardwood floors, door-to-door valet trash service, amazing views, and a couple of places with a lot of rugrats. All of the options gave us more space (so I can use Daddy’s desk again!), better amenities for our lifestyle, garage options (so we can stop paying for a storage unit primarily for Daddy’s desk and “junk”), better fixtures, and a better layout.

    Just like we did when house hunting, we made a matrix of all the “stuff”. And just like most brides do with a wedding gown, we ended up at the first place we wanted to see: Villas at Stone Oak Ranch. We have good/affordable access to a game room and a 30-seat movie theater. There is a “gift wrap” area full of paper and tape and scissors. All the standards are there too: gym, pool, business center, etc. We have a detached garage, a square balcony, “Romeo & Juliet” doors off the dining room (which I’ve re-named Rapunzel doors), garden tubs, a kitchen that is open on two ends, an excellent pantry, and data ports in all the rooms. The only things we didn’t get: gas cooking (REALLY hard to find) and a fireplace (again? dammit!). But the deal was just too good to pass up compared to the other places in consideration.

    Aside: During the process we met an amazing woman named Wendie. She gave us the low-down on why so many communities are doing away with their hot tubs. Turns out, some really scary (as in: there is no known cure) stuff can survive even in 104?-temperature chemical-treated water. The report is new and we could not find it online, but it’s scary. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT get in a public hot tub. Feet only. No “sensitive” areas allowed. eeeeeewwww!

    Don’t worry friends and family: we’re hiring movers. We are also cleaning out the storage unit and holding a big moving sale in their parking lot. What doesn’t get sold is getting donated. Goodwill is going to LOVE us! LMK if you are close and care about the few big-ticket items we’re selling.

    Oh! And we were able to surprise a friend with the referral fee paid to REALTORs. She’s a single mom and a cancer survivor, so she was elated with the news.

    (The) Grandaddy

    Grandaddy is quite frustrated and bored. His hip is so messed up from the botched “Paris-effin’-Texas” surgery that he can’t sit up. He’s been laying down since Hallowe’en. The Longview/Tyler doctors have deemed all surgical options too risky. Health care is a joke from the beginning; but in a small town that is 20 years behind the times, 1 hour from an interstate highway, and 2 hours from anything you’ve ever heard of, it’s nothing short of tragic. Mama Bee is still fighting the residuals from the beotch who called APS on her (the witch has since apologized), but no one wants to take Grandaddy on as a client. They claim he’ll have a stroke if he stays in bed too much longer, but they won’t come help her get him the physical therapy he needs to get out of the hospital bed. It’s heartbreaking….worse so to be physically and financially powerless to help. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d care-flight him to one of those fancy-schmancy places in Dallas where he’d get all the help he needs. Again, I need to win the lottery for that. I don’t know what those places cost, but even the crappy Paris nursing homes are $6K per month…and for terrible care compared with what my Grandmother can do (even at her small stature).

    The Fraud

    In the midst of The Move, we got a call that we’d have to pay rent with “certified funds” like a cashier’s check or money order. We’ve been on auto-draft, so this would be a real pain in the butt. Today, I called the “ladder” of people to find out the cause. Some jackass spoofed my Texas driver’s license number when writing a bad check at Walmart in a town I’ve never been to in Oklahoma. Telecheck reported it to credit on my DL number without checking any facts like the name. So, now, I’m in the middle of yet another fraud mess. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened. So, to all the people who gave me shit (my sorority included) for wanting to protect my SSN, DL, DOB, mailing address, and other “credit” information, Fuck You! THIS is why. Less than $300 of stupid means we have to get a money order for rent every month? Are you kidding? Since Emil was just frauded over Xmas, this is just another reason to try to get off the financial grid. I haven’t even owned checks in years and I’m still dealing with this kind of bullshit.

    Dear Walmart: stop taking checks. They are not money. They are only theft.

    “Dear” Telecheck, this a’int our first rodeo for something completely out of my control. I already don’t shop at any store that posts they use you. You have needed better processes since ~1993 when I bought <$10 worth of socks from one of your client stores. Your sign in the window means I don’t shop there. fuckers. Oh, and if you think I’m alone in my opinion, search “telecheck” on Twitter. You need to learn/use social media, too, BTW.

    The Fun

    Austin is about to ride the big wave of fun that is Spring. Right after we move in, we’ll have RISE (free workshops for entrepreneurs) and the four South by Southwest conferences. I’ve been invited to return tot he photo crew for SXSW. And, I’ve been selected to wrangle for another all-time favorite photographer at Texas School in May. It’s a fun ride, but it’s a sprint, so jump on board fast if you want to hang with us!

    Oh, and for those of you close by, look for a party in April or May. The party room at the new place is stellar (pool, poker, shuffleboard, music, swimming, etc.)

     

     

  • 31Dec
    Happy New Year

    Happy New Year

    To all our family and friends, Happy New Year! We wish you a prosperous 2012.

    Permalink Filed under: Emil, Lori No Comments
  • 25Dec

    What a great  Cristmas Emil and I had.

    We got to see both sides of the family [1]  and made time for oursleve, too. And, this is the first time in a long time that we didn’t get each other a same gift.

    Armed with new toys and gadgets (this blog post is coming to you from our couch via the new bluetooth QWERTY keyboard for my iPhone), we have a few days of R&R planned. We’ll see you all in 2012.

    Happy New Year!

    .

    [1] At Thanksgiving, we learned that one oft he Amanda’s is pregnant. Today, we learned the other one is too. The first cousins will be born in June and July. If my count is correct, these will be our 20th and 21st great neice/newphews. That’s a lot of babies in just 10 years.