Monday, December 31, 2007

A Very Pleasant Day

It was so warm yesterday that I left my jacket in the car when we went down to Lambert's for brunch yesterday. The sky was perfectly blue and our future home loomed over the state garage and chilled water plant as we stepped out of the car on Guadalupe.

Lambert's has a Sunday brunch and it is a most unusual format and this was our first time to try it. (We've taken you there before but not for Sunday brunch.) If you are a big eater, it's a bargain. Even if you aren't, it's a great thing to have although a little expensive. For one price, they will bring you all the egg courses or French toast that you want. But it doesn't stop there. They bring out muffins and scones. But that isn't all. You can go to the buffet and order up bacon, cheese grits, sausage and hash browns to your heart's content. And, the best part, there is a serve yourself bar with fresh fruit, mac and cheese, potato salad, house-smoked salmon, ribs, brisket and prime rib. And desserts like pie and stuff. We tried not to overeat but FFP and our friend did cover a lot of ground tasting different things. We walked around in the sun (shirt sleeves remember) and looked in shops before going home to read and watch football and snooze. We will have another front tonight to turn the weather colder, but still we will be glad to be in Austin!

Tomorrow, the Daily City Photo family will (optionally) reprise a favorite picture from the year. Since we've only been involved for part of the year, we 'only' have 228 pictures to choose from (besides today's). FFP has voted for this montage (part of the Daily Photo typical breakfast theme day). Maybe that's what we'll do or maybe I'll decide something else is more representative of 2007! In any case, tomorrow's assortment of photos for all the sites ought to be a very nice one so be sure to visit tomorrow after your celebration. And Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Musical Soiree

We spent the late afternoon/early evening yesterday having a few drinks and snacks and listening to friends of ours singing at a house musicale. Kevin Ahart watches above as Marie Betcher sings. The right part of the montage shows William Parker, who opened his house for the very old school event, and also sang some tunes. From Kevin's Great American Songbook tunes (think Rogers and Hart and Cole Porter) to Marie's opera arias and William and Marie doing some Broadway with a few volunteers from the audience thrown in there was a lot of music accompanied by Shawn Ellison, sight-reading everyone's sheets on the piano before ducking out for a paying gig at Truluck's. It was a very enjoyable and unusual way to spend time in this high-tech age.

Austin is buildings and scenic overlooks, but the people make the place for sure so it's fitting that a few faces show up here for a day or two!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Austin's Les Amis du Vin at Gypsy

FFP and I occasionally go to a Les Amis du Vin (friends of wine) event. But there are often conflicts. We always read through the events and we noticed their annual "orphan's dinner" which was held last night at an Italian restaurant on Barton Springs Road called Gypsy. People who aren't still doing family events (or maybe they've escaped from same or even bring the family!) get together for an event during the holiday week. FFP snapped this picture of me (pink sweater second from end on left) and some of our companions at this dinner. We had Italian wines, too numerous to mention, but we especially liked a Bolgheri which had the most delicious vanilla could almost just smell and skip drinking. But, of course, we didn't and had a sip or two with multiple little courses ending with the cheese and fruit one you see.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Goodbye Holidays

Christmas is receding. People have had a couple of days to return what Santa brought and the jolly old elf is worn out and will have to spend the next twelve months putting a little muscle and fat back on his frame. Soon it will be 2008 and life will be back to 'normal.'

Actually this picture was snapped in December 2005. I was walking in the neighborhood near a chain drugstore on Burnet. It's a somewhat soulless area although you can walk to a Mexican bakery, independent coffee shops and some pretty interesting other businesses...thrift stores, diners, antique shops, etc.

Must get out and get some fresh pictures for this space. Meanwhile, pack away the decorations and get ready to pop the champagne.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Open 365 Days a Year

This montage shows a mural along the side of the Threadgill's World Headquarters, some of the plaster armadillos adorning the eaves and the reader sign outside on Christmas Day indicating that they were open. Inside hundreds dined including us and our three elderly parents. My dad, FFP and I couldn't finish our plates but his parents cleaned splitting a turkey dinner! We are glad Threadgill's is open 365 days a year so we can dine out on Christmas. Unfortunately I didn't find out the north (original) store was closed for remodeling so we did a lot of driving around. Which the parents enjoyed but it made us arrive at the one open store at a little after 11 and while we got a table almost immediately it was very crowded already. I did look on the WEB and now I can see the remodeling notice there. Before Christmas I didn't see it or it wasn't up. Anyway, all's well that ends well. The World Headquarters is near the site of the departed Armadillo World Headquarters, the scene of many an amazing concert before it's demise. The north store (currently being remodeled) was actually the original Threadgill's, started by the departed Kenneth Threadgill after prohibition as a roadhouse in an old gas station.

When I moved to Austin, the Armadillo was still going and Threadgill's old gas station was abandoned from its second life and was adorned with graffiti reading "Janis Sang Here." FFP and I actually had our first date at the Armadillo in 1975. I'm glad Eddie Wilson keeps the memories and some good food and music alive for us.

For those who live here: Threadgill's is always open unless they are remodeling. For those who may visit Austin: a visit to Threadgill's is in order to see the memorabilia and eat some excellent home cooking.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where We Fed on the Eve

Santa Rita is owned by a friend, Eddie Bernal, shown here with FFP, who also owns two other restaurants (including Blue Star and 34th Street) and a catering business. This restaurant, in the 26 Doors Shopping Center on 38th across from the 'main' Seton Hospital was, as I mentioned, the scene of our Christmas Eve Mexican feed. Eddie's businesses are a big part of the neighborhood we currently live in and the parties we attend. Local and delicious.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Have Your Self A Merry Little Christmas

Last night we were at the 26 Doors Shopping Center (on 38th Street). People were crowded into Santa Rita Cantina for a fix of Mexican Food on Christmas Eve. All the shops were closed and a multitude of Christmas wares glowed inside this home furnishing store awaiting their after Christmas sale. (Which isn't starting until the 27th. Guess they celebrate Boxing Day in that family. Not many Americans do.)

Do have a wonderful day and week. Enjoy your family and your traditions whatever they may be.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas At Our House

I've quit pretending to cook so there is no trotting out of china and heating a turkey breast with a few 'from scratch' veggies, packaged bread and store-bought gravy and dressing. Tonight there will be tamales at a restaurant with friends. (We've been steaming the little seasonal beasties already here and there.) Tomorrow will find us at Threadgill's (open 365 days a year) getting each parental unit and ourselves exactly a portion of whatever pleases. Some sliced turkey for sandwiches lurks in the fridge along with sausage and cheese sent by my niece (and sampled last night). Decorating consisted of spreading all the cards received around the front room and dragging out a large collection of Christmas figures (mostly bendable Santas) and scattering them around our media room where we will open our presents after the meal. It may not seem like much or very festive but the average age of the ones FFP and I entertain is 91.6. This will be all the excitement they tolerate.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve so I guess it's Christmas Eve Eve today. We have what passes for our Christmas tree up (pictures of silly decorations at my house tomorrow) and we had friends drop in yesterday to put together a Christmas jigsaw puzzle. Ho. Ho. Ho. Here is the Capitol Building again with its tree. I took this picture Monday when it was clear at night. Today it's freezing out. Brr. That's cold for here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Take a Deep Breath

I don't know if you have a place to retreat and take a deep breath and stay calm amidst the holiday cacophony and I don't know if the outdoors is inhospitable this time of year where you live. But I've reached back to October to show a picture I didn't exhibit from inside the walls of an elegant private home we visited for a museum fund raiser. For those following along, you saw the belvedere and the koi here before. Yes, take a deep breath. Relax. All will be well. Now you can go back to lights and festivities and malls!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stealth Decoration

There are evergreens growing along Capitial of Texas Highway (aka 360) and every holiday season 'vandals' go on public property and put garlands and ornaments on a tree. Public officials were initially all puffy about this and probably still are. The decorations could blow off and be dangerous, you are trespassing on public right of way, etc. Naturally every year a few more are decorated. [Ed. Note: This is not something you would do given that (1) You refused to stop on the shoulder and get a picture of the ones that look attractive and took a picture of this vague attempt at the corner of 2222; and (2) You can't bring yourself to decorate on your own property.]

Well, yes, they look a lot nicer in a group along the way south of Spicewood Springs, but someone apparently jumped out while the light was red and flash-decorated this one! And, yes, I didn't want to risk stopping on the shoulder...this is a high speed road! This corner is also one for the books with a beggar on the west side asking traffic going east (these guys seemed to have assigned corners) for money. This beggar is different because his sign doesn't say he is a Viet Nam Vet or just in need (the usual) but declares that he is an '85-year-old WW II vet.' Whoa.

So, not much of a picture, but here at Austin Daily Photo, we like a few words, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Hill

In the early nineties I bought a new Civic. My old Subaru had a habit of spitting and coughing when it was cold and not going when I said 'go' with the accelerator. While this saved me from colliding with a red-light running vehicle going about sixty miles per hour one time and a deer, a big buck with lots of points, another, I got tired of it and bought a new Honda. At the time I worked on 360 (aka Capital of Texas Highway) and the hill in this picture was part of what could be one avenue of commute. If only your car could go up with the proper energy. So when I test-drove that Civic I took it up that hill. Its satisfactory performance made me buy it and I'd probably still have it if people had managed to quit running into me in it. This hill is the end of Spicewood Springs Road on the east side of 360. If you plan on continuing on the old scenic Spicewood Springs Road after careering down to the stoplight at the bottom of the hill, you have to take a left turn and dog leg to the western part. Years after 360 intersected Spicewood Springs at this curve, they blasted up the hill on the other side to make a different street, Bluffstone.

Photo was taken hastily out the car window. Still you get the idea of how steep it can be to come straight down one of our little hill country hills. It's much flatter, by the way, a few miles away in our neighborhood. Because the coastal plain begins in Austin with the hills on the west.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shopping that Makes Me Go 'Hum!'

In the new AMLI apartment building downtown there is a new store...selling ski ware and snow boards and a few University of Texas logo hats and such. It makes me go 'hum' but whatever. The picture shows the new building's attractive facade, a reflection of the Hobby office building and part of the older AMLI apartments a block away. The space between here and the other AMLI will be occupied by the W Hotel and Condominiums and the Austin City Limits Studio. Some day. They haven't broken ground. These apartments face Third Street with a parking garage on Second for those following along with a map.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Still Dark Up There

Our future home is backed by a deepening sky. This is the 360 Condos shot from West Sixth in front of the Austin Wine Merchant last night about 5:45. It won't look like this in six months or so because people will be living in the condos and turning on their lights as the night sky darkens. And there will be no crane towering above it. They seem to leave the parking garage ablaze all the time now.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Downtown Dogs

I see plenty of pups who are being 'strolled' downtown, but I'm not sure a pet store is the best choice for that high dollar retail. This is a new store in the Second Street district. Since we are dogless after a couple of decades, I guess, it just doesn't seem like a store I'll be needing. (Unless it's to buy a gift for my friend the poodle who will be living one floor up.) Just goes to show you don't always fit the shopping demographic of your neighborhood. There are several dress shops with nothing over size 2 and another new store has snow boards in the window! Ha. To use a snow board in Austin, Texas: (1) travel at least 1000 miles; (2) buy lift ticket. Well, the downtown dogs make more sense than that. I'll show a picture of that other store, too, soon enough.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

45th Annual Nutcracker

Ballet Austin's "The Nutcracker" will be staged next year at the Long Center for Performing Arts. But here is the Paramount's lovely marquee announcing this year's long run in their smallish theater. Bass Concert Hall on the University of Texas campus (where big operas, concerts and ballets were held for the last 25 years) is undergoing renovation. Those of you following along at home know that the Paramount is a central element of downtown's Congress Avenue.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Frequent Stops

Our agenda last night took us to Congress Avenue on a night of drizzle. Nevertheless, our spirits were raised by the lights, by Ballet Austin's production of "The Nutcracker" with snow on the audience, by visiting with friends and by, well, spirits. We started at a law office Christmas party overlooking the Capitol building. The office is decorated with a lot of amazing art and some neat decorations for Christmas. Everyone makes the scene from artists to famous waiters to judges and other pols. Lawyers, of course, but also people recently laid off from Dell, ad men, bankers, art patrons and dilettantes. We got there at the beginning of the party, ate and drank and visited and then walked to the Paramount. "The Nutcracker" deserves a bigger venue and an orchestra but the production was wonderful. At intermission partners were invited to step into the State Theater lobby. One side was being used for children wrangling (all those party kids, mice, soldiers, angels, bon-bons, etc.) but patrons toasted with champagne on the other side while eating cookies.

As we left downtown (we'd been parked near Colorado which is one-way south), FFP pulled onto Congress and while we waited behind the car shown here (enlarge and notice the 'frequent stops' bumper sticker??) I shot a picture of the Capitol looming in the mist with its big tree at 11th Street.

We are now officially in a Christmas mood here in Austin.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shiver me timbres

Here's a shot from a few weeks back -- it's from the "Perfect 10" party we went to at Saks Fifth Avenue to honor some (ten to be exact) of Austin's top philanthropists.

This band, called "White Ghost Shivers" was playing that night. You have to love their spirit and off-the-chart looks. They play twenties songs, as you might have suspected from the getups, especially on the "flapper" singer. I am remembering that they were playing "Don't Tell Mama" when I snapped this picture. It was a very nice affair -- with ample supplies of food and libations being doled out all night long.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now is the winter of our disconnect

Lots more fun at stately Ball-Preece mansion. Turns out the main water line between our meter and our house, which ran under our circular drive, had sprung a slow leak. I'll spare you the boring details; but the bottom line is that the most efficient way to fix the problem was to totally reroute the entire pipe through a new trench along the north side of the driveway.

Here you see the old pipe, which had a T-joint near the front of our house. It had to be capped off, which required more digging. (You can see the capped pipe in the very middle of this shot, just below the point of the top yucca leaf.)

Well, whoever buys this house will be getting a lot of nice new infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Swan? A-Swimmin'?

When we were at The Domain the other night I was a little tipsy. (I wasn't driving.) We rounded a corner and this giant plastic bird loomed up. I pointed the camera and shot. Now, looking at it, I'm wondering: Why was it there? A Twelve Days of Christmas Thing? It is a swan, huh?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Writing and a reading

Hi-- Forrest here, posting today. As we may have mentioned, I'm on the board of Badgerdog Literary Publishing. Last Saturday, some of the children in the program read a sampling of their works at St. David's Episcopal Church downtown. This young fellow really spiffed up for the occasion. He looks sharp in his suit, doesn't he?

As you can see, after the reading, the stars of the show had an autograph session. They were signing the latest edition of their journal Youth Voices in Ink. I enjoy being part of this organization, which does a lot of good and gives kids an outlet for their creativity.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Breakfast on Burnet

Burnet Road is a long, soulless commercial strip near our house. It's the kind of area some suburbanites would want to live far away from. But then they wouldn't be able to walk to anything commercial or even pop out quickly in their cars for a quart of milk or loaf of bread. They would miss out living close to a street that was the home to a bunch of independent joints to eat, many serving up breakfast on Sunday.

We chose the Aranda's Taqueria yesterday. It is their #3 location. My plate of chorizo eggs, beans and potatos cost less than three bucks. You have visited other breakfast on Burnet locations with Austin Daily Photo such as Pacha and the Frisco. We haven't taken you to Elsi's or Austin Diner or Upper Crust or the Taco Shack. (The latter, however, is not open on Sunday morning.) All independent and a short drive (or even a walk) away.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fall!

In Austin a lot of the trees are live oaks or shrub cedar. They don't do much in the way of creating 'fall colors.' The live oaks drop their leaves brown as dust immediately replaced with green ones. There are a few trees mixed in, though, that have leaves turn gold and red before they shower the ground with a little color. Of course, the weather has been so temperate that it is just now happening in December, months after people traveled to New England to peep at bright leaves. There they have snow now. We might go the whole winter without snow. It's happened before.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Not. Really, I just went outside in my shorts and short-sleeved polo (dressed for my tennis match) and it's not even eight o'clock and there is no good reason for so much as a sweat shirt this morning. Night before last an employee of the Apple Store in the Domain was putting in a Christmas window. It seems late to do it since Thanksgiving (let alone Halloween) is well-passed now. But the weather out there? Not the least bit frightful!

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Different Domain

We were at the upscale 'neighborhood' called The Domain on its shopping street last night. It is a quick drive (assuming light traffic on Mopac) from our house. It might as well be another planet, though. We don't go there too often. I think it may have been our third trip. Our first was for the grand opening of Neiman Marcus. The second for the grand opening of McCormick & Schmick's location there. Last night we went to a party at the Ralph Lauren store and we knew almost everyone there. And then went to a restaurant called North which was full of people and we didn't know any of them. And then we were walking around and met this gal who was a pharmacy company rep who had a couple of doctors in tow. She took us along to some other place where the bar was stacked with more strangers. It didn't seem like Austin. Because we usually know people and the places we go don't seem so full of hip, young people who look like they belong in New York or Dallas. I did know one of the doctors, though. I've taken my dad to him. They are calling this area a second downtown. It has that feel for sure.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Austin in Costume

Austin is a dress up kind of town. And I don't mean ball gowns and tuxedos although I guess that scene gets its due. I mean costumes. Costumes are not just for Halloween might be the motto. Hence there is a store on South Congress that has, for as long as I can remember, sold and rented stuff so you can dress up as, well, anything. It's called 'Lucy in Disguise.' I personally rented a black leather jacket, a Bombay jacket and bought various costume accessories at this shop. I wanted to rent a Gumby costume but the one they had was made for someone a foot taller. Anyway I'm not much of a costume person anymore (I'm barely capable of making my normal wardrobe appropriate yet interesting) but they continue to entertain me with their window display and this (relatively new?) mural and sculpture atop the shop.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Whole Foods Planet

Years ago, Forrest and I shopped at a independent health food grocery store around 10th and Lamar. It was called Whole Foods Market. Later it expanded and opened stores in other parts of towns, in other cities in Texas. The downtown store moved to 6th and Lamar and then moved out of that space into the world headquarters between 5th and 6th. I call the place 'Whole Foods Planet' because they have signs that say 'Whole Foods Whole Planet' and such. Now, of course, there are Whole Foods stores in lots of U.S. cities including one in the Time Warner Center in New York City. You need to say New York City in a certain way if you are a Texan. I think it derives from an old San Antonio brand salsa commercial. I'll have to let the italics work that for you. I read that there is now a store in London. Texans, well Austinites at least most of whom weren't born here, tend to mention London in a calm way that implies they often visit. Which they probably do. They may, if mentioning Paris, however say Paris, France. That's because while there is a London, Texas it is much smaller and less well-known than Paris, Texas. So they aren't really being hicks but, you know, being clear. I do not think, however, that Paris has a Whole Foods Market so I digress.

Anyway, this photo is of the Whole Foods Market World Headquarters which includes a store with lots of dine-in options (sort of like Harrod's in London or Ka-De-We in Germany only on a smaller scale and more, well, organic). There is also a parking garage, a culinary center, office space and a roof-top plaza that, this month, is turned into an ice rink.

Last night when we visited here we had dinner at the Vegan Bar. It was delicious. As we sat down I ask FFP how long it would be before we saw someone we knew. He said, "Oh, about five seconds," as someone we knew rounded the corner headed to the seafood counter for dinner. After eating we made our way around the store and picked up some local products like White Mountain yogurt and tofu dip and, I'll confess, a six-pack of Shiner and one of draft Guinness. OK, that last one is only local to Dublin but I became a fan in that lovely city!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Alluding to Function

Back at the holiday arts fair on Sunday to the Ron Boling booth. His cards says "Alluding to Function" and I think that's why we see lids and spouts and handles that are really probably decorative. I'm just guessing because I don't know this ceramic artist from nearby New Braunfels and he was otherwise engaged when I snapped this picture but I got a business card. FFP and I were saying Sunday how amazing it is how many great musicians are in this town after we heard a great band at our club Christmas party. It is also amazing how many fantastic artists there are around.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Artist Series

We have shown other artists in Austin Daily Photo. (By the way, yesterday was our 200th post. My time does fly.) Yesterday after I went to the gym at my club I walked across the cul-de-sac to the Laguna Gloria property which is part of the Austin Museum of Art. They were having an artists' fair for the Christmas season. This is Barry George. He's been in Austin a long time. (With some sojourns elsewhere I think.) He once executed a commission for us which became the first member of our backyard found object band. I found a picture here on one of my other blogs of that long ago work. Barry makes things by welding found objects and he had a lot of small objects for Christmas presents in his booth for this show.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Iconic Restaurants

FFP and I decided to go out for breakfast yesterday. We thought briefly about a favorite coffee shop that has some interesting food and about a taqueria in our neighborhood. Then I said: "How about Frisco?"

The Frisco has been here in Austin longer than I have. It opened in 1953 so FFP can't probably remember it not being here either. It was once part of a local 'chain' of restaurants run by one family and the others were called 'Night Hawk' restaurants. This was opened, apparently, as a more casual diner for breakfast and burgers whereas the big brother restaurants were steak and potatoes and an upscale experience. For 1950's Austin, you understand!

I think only The Frisco remains of that group of restaurants, flashing its eponymous burger outside. (I prefer that incarnation of the burger but some like one called the Down South.) Yesterday, though, we had breakfast. The #2, I think. There was a dizzying number of choices: bacon or sausage, grits or hash browns, eggs up or over or scrambled, biscuits or sausage and what type of jam. You don't get a bunch of little containers of jam here but instead a plate with whipped butter and a big dollop of your choice of jam. FFP says they used to have a delicious apple butter but it is no more.

The Frisco is moving soon to make way for a chain drug store. I'm glad they are moving rather than closing. And I hope they take this sign!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Theme Day - Bridges

The Daily Photo community theme for November 1 is 'Bridges.' We offer a view of the old bridge on Mt. Bonnell Road now only used for foot traffic. (A newer bridge for cars was built in the '90s.) Our 'niece dog' Zoey the Standard Poodle is adding to the picture's light and shadow. She is actually on leash...I removed it with software. (We have leash laws here in Austin!)

Check out some places around the world for more bridges:
Boston (MA), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Inverness (IL), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Stockholm, Sweden - Setúbal, Portugal - Brussels, Belgium - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Hyde, UK - Manila, Philippines - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - London, England - Austin (TX), USA - Toulouse, France - Weston (FL), USA - Sesimbra, Portugal - Selma (AL), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Cleveland (OH), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - North Bay (ON), Canada - Arradon, France - Paderborn, Germany - Durban, South Africa - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - Portland (OR), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wichita (Ks), USA - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Grenoble, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Arlington (VA), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Cheltenham, UK - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Saratoga Spgs. (NY), USA - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Nashville (TN), USA - Toruń, Poland - New Orleans (LA), USA - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Melbourne, Australia - Moscow, Russia - Trujillo, Peru - Château-Gontier, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Joplin (MO), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Brookville (OH), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Chandler (AZ), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Baziège, France - Auckland, New Zealand - Wellington, New Zealand - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Subang Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Detroit (MI), USA - Riga, Latvia - Nelson, New Zealand - Budapest, Hungary - Cape Town, South Africa - Sydney, Australia - Dunedin (FL), USA - Sofia, Bulgaria - Radonvilliers, France - Turin, Italy - Montpellier, France - Kansas City (MO), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Wailea (HI), USA - Lubbock (TX), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Terrell (TX), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Budapest, Hungary - Montréal (QC), Canada - Sharon (CT), USA - Le Guilvinec, France - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - London, UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Orlando (FL), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Paris, France - Mainz, Germany - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Darmstadt, Germany - Naples (FL), USA - Torino, Italy - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Bogor, Indonesia - The Hague, Netherlands - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Anderson (SC), USA - Melbourne (VIC), Australia - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand

Friday, November 30, 2007

City Hall, Second Street

The back of City Hall is on Second Street. (There is a plaza on Cesar Chavez which used to be First Street which you saw a bit of here when the giant guitars were around.) The distinctive thing in the back is a point thrusting across Second Street. Austin Java occupies the space below the gleaming windows. That makes two local coffee spots for our new neighborhood, with Jo's seen here. As we grow old downtown we will have free entertainment, too: watching the City Council in Action!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reaching the Top

Our future home is stretching to its final height in the background (our unit is way below that, however) and the AMLI apartments in the foreground with their finish of sort of a metallic tile catch the setting sun in this picture taken Tuesday when we walked from The Four Seasons to the Second Street District. One day, the W Hotel and Residences will probably interfere with this angle.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gingerbread Village

The Christmas decorations were officially launched at the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday and the center of attraction was a village of edible houses. Some gingerbread was used, of course, but all manner of other edible ingredients as well. Created by the pastry staff and sold for charity the little village will grace the Four Seasons lobby (along with a tree and other decorations) for the season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shop Local Alien Shops

I assume this place (which is in this center) is a local business. They sell electric scooters and bikes. Presumably not to people from other countries (or worlds). Although the green thing in the window is a blow-up 'little green man.' FFP and I go on two legs or in efficient (not hybrid yet) Honda cars but if you need an a two-wheeler that doesn't use fossil fuel but the hills of Austin are getting you down, might try these folks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Acoustic Instrument

This is a photo I shot of the balconies and ceiling of the Dell Hall in the new Long Center for the Performing Arts. In this state-of-the-art hall everything is designed as a part of the sound equation including the construction of the seats. Excitement is really building in the community about the center.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Unexpected Oranges

We don't have oranges in Austin. It gets too cold in the winter for citrus trees, really. But this tree, tucked between a tennis court wind screen (which protects it from the north wind) and a stone wall produces a scad of oranges to be pecked at by wildlife (perhaps the peacocks like them?) and tossed about by vandals.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Food Made For Walking

Cipollina is one of those protean little places that serves multiple purposes. Across from the famous fine dining restaurant, Jeffrey's, and, in fact, affiliated with them, it serves a walking neighborhood crowd for coffee or wine and beer and snacks, provides 'take home and heat' stuff to those same walkers or shoppers at Fresh Plus grocery next door and occasionally hosts some live music. The food has an Italian spin, thus the name and clever sign. (I took this long ago. It's rainy and cold today so I'm probably not going to be out snapping pics for this journal!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Holiday Dessert

We had two holiday meals yesterday. One was at our club where FFP and I hosted all our parents and celebrated his dad's upcoming 97th birthday. I knew I'd be eating another meal in the evening so I put the brakes on dessert and had this cute turkey-shaped iced cookie and a cup of coffee (black). Must admit that, later at a friend's house, I succumbed to apple pie. But no ice cream!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Neighbors (Far) to the North

This photo was taken from an upstairs hallway in the Four Seasons Hotel, looking back at the city. A puff of wind caught the Canadian flag in the foreground and made it dominate the U.S. and Texas flags. The hotel is managed by a Canadian company, I explain to folks who notice the flag. Mexico is a much closer neighbor to Austin, of course. It's a little further to Mexico than to Dallas... about 240 miles (approximately 390 kilometers). The fastest way to get out of the state of Texas from Austin is probably to go to Mexico! Headed to Canada from here? Well over 1200 miles I'd say (around 2000 kilometers at least).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Get Your Orange On

All over the world, people support their sporting heroes by wearing the 'colors' and logos of the team. The University of Texas colors are burnt orange and white. This photo, from the UT Women's basketball game the other day, shows what 'burnt orange' is, more or less. There is some difference of opinion on the exact shade. Occasionally you'll even see a "Tennessee orange." UT's mascot is the Texas Longhorn (see basketball floor). I'm not a UT alum and I'm not really fond of the burnt orange color per se. I support the teams, though, as they are an integral part of the economy of Austin. FFP, on the other hand, marched with the Longhorn Band long ago. Friday the football team takes on Texas A&M in a rivalry that is older than I am. The game is in College Station this year, some miles to the east where A&M is located, but you will see folks wearing their 'colors' in town anyway as they go to sports bars and homes to watch the game.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

East Side Competition

When we were on the East Austin Studio Tour the other day I noticed this place across from Joe's Bakery getting a bold announcement painted. The guy is decorating La Monita's Taqueria on Seventh. We have taco joints a lot closer to us and there is a Mexican bakery in my neighborhood that one can easily walk to. And there is still a lot of competition for taco shops and pan dulce purveyors among the new condos and evidence of yuppie invasion on the east side. And, Austin being Austin, there is a Taco Shack in the stately Frost Bank Tower downtown!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stately Home...and Trees

There is an area north of The University of Texas where homes were built by local architects and craftsmen, sometimes for themselves and, often, for professors. Most people refer to the area as Harris Park, I believe. We took a Heritage Society tour of the exteriors of some of the houses on 32nd Street yesterday. This shot doesn't show the Monterey-style Spanish Colonial Revival house to best effect. Rather I shot it to enjoy the beautiful live oak on the property. Click here to enjoy the larger image.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Art in the East

This is Jennifer Balkan with her painting and some "models" (the armless dolls shown). East of IH35, there is a thriving art community spread among taquerias, bodegas, gentrified single- and multi-family housing and businesses and aging homes with their original residents still in them. We drove around for a little bit yesterday during the first day of E.A.S.T. (East Austin Studio Tour). There were over a 100 locations of warehouses and old houses where artists worked and were showing their wares. We only made it to a couple (along with a stop at Joe's Bakery), but we made our first stop Dog House Studios which is an old house on Willow with the painters Jennifer Balkan, Karen Maness and Pablo Taboada sharing the digs. We were familiar with and loved the two ladies when they were showing and working elsewhere.

E.A.S.T. continues today, Sunday the 18th, (10-5).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Long Center Facade

The privately-funded Long Center for the Performing Arts is being built with the 'reuse, recycle' mantra. Tiles in shades of green were captured from the old Palmer Center and can be seen above these windows. The windows, while new, reflect the aesthetic of that material. The windows also reflect, in the word's other sense, our skyline as seen here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friends With Books

When FFP and I move downtown, we are going to have lots of bookshelves and while we are downsizing the collection of books, I plan a little section for 'books friends wrote.' Last night we went to a signing for a book by flag collector and relatively new Austinite Pete Keim (shown) and his son Kevin Keim, who is Director of the Charles Moore House here. Pete has an amazing collection of U.S. Flags and the pair collaborated with Jacob Termansen, a design and architecture photographer from Denmark, to produce a beautiful book, A Grand Old Flag.

Shown getting a book signed is Mildred Witte, a commissioner with the Texas Commission on the Arts. The event was on the patio of the hip Hotel San Jose on South Congress.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No...'s Bar-B-Q sauce! Last Sunday we went to the University of Texas Women's Basketball game at Erwin Center. The center has mezzanine seating and so the Rudy's Bar-B-Q people use the height to fly a giant bottle o' sauce balloon around above the crowd. Occasionally it releases coupons which flutter down to patrons. Rudy's is a place that started in a little town in Texas and is now a 'chain' but mostly limited to Texas (although the brand has leaked into Oklahoma and New Mexico). When I'm at my dad's, their 183 location is where we get piles of slow-cooked meat and appropriate sides for visitors.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The folks who own the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas like to do film decoration and use recycled stuff they find. Here, in the lobby of the south location at this center, they used part of an old carnival ride to hang in front of the "When Aliens Remember the Alamo" mural. Inside the theaters you see light sconces made from old film reels. I haven't seen the new Alamo Ritz downtown but I hope to soon. It should be an iconic Austin location before you know it. It is hard for the Austin Daily Photo team to get around to all the iconic locations with our cameras. But we try!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Close to Completion

The 360 condos have risen almost to full height. It is seen here at night with the ring of the Long Center (getting close to completion itself) curving above me. We got a construction tour of the Long Center yesterday. We don't miss a hard hat tour if we are invited. In fact, we didn't even have to don them for this tour. There are seats in the Dell Hall. Not all are installed but we were able to sit in some. The 360 will top very soon and a tree will appear on the spire on the south end of the top, as I understand it. The big news around yesterday was that the Monarch (to the left in this picture, click pic for better look) is going to abandon trying to sell the condos and instead go back to being an apartment building. There are exciting things going on in downtown Austin, but some unknowns, too. One condo project we know of has been abandoned. But the 18-story building to the right of this picture is also an apartment building about to come online.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Austin Art

Yesterday we were invited to a lovely home for an art exhibit and party. The home, perched in the hills off The High Road, had a Zen feel. Our friend Katy Nail's paintings had been hung all over the house making for a delightful show of house and art. She appears here in the bathroom with a painting she calls "Beyond Marfa." She is wearing some awesome boots and a poncho from Guatemala embroidered with many birds. The party was packed with interesting people including Katy's mother, Frances Nail, an author; and her daughter, Carrie Rodriguez, a singer. We also talked to Johnny Guffey, the infamous and famous longtime waiter at Jeffrey's, and the McAfees, the owners of Barr Mansion.