Monday, June 30, 2008

Now I See!

This graffiti is on the stairs down to the Hike and Bike trail near our downtown condo. Now, I think, I see, too.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Downtown Shapes

We were walking west on Third Street the other day and I was struck by all the signs and shapes at this one spot. The modern awning and signs are part of the Inteurban Development Office which has something to do with downtown development. The AMLI, the 360, street signs and a bit of the Hobby State office building provide other planes and shapes. Lower left corner has a gray human head. That would be FFP.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Living downtown doesn't mean escaping the sky. Besides seeing the different skies out the floor to ceiling windows sometimes we will be walking around and notice an amazing juxtaposition of cloud and skyscrapers.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Urban Dog and Tower

The 360 looms over the parking garage and parking lot we can see from our balcony. Moments earlier we saw FFP step out on the balcony. I was out walking Zoey the Urban Dog the other day with my friend Urban Girl aka SuRu.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tiniest Bar Spreads its Wings

A while back a tiny building on West Fifth opened as a bar and declared themselves the Tiniest Bar in Texas. Then they seemed to sprawl along the land the building occupies with outdoor tables and a little stage. I prefer a cool, dark bar with a Manhattan on the rocks, but this bar seems to be getting some business.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Shadow of the Mighty Oak

This isn't in a vast verdant park somewhere but is itself a stone's throw from the 360 and Zona Rosa and Mellow Johnny's. The latter two are newer businesses partially or wholly in buildings that have been around a while. It is on a plot of land the size of the tree's canopy beside a bank drive through. This live oak tree, judging from its girth, is literally hundreds of years old. Zoey the Urban Standard Poodle (she has already memorized where the 'dog entrance' to the 360 is and stops there but looks pleadingly for another tour around the block) volunteered to stand by the tree to show its size. The tree appears to be wildly healthy (unlike another of its generation, The Treaty Oak on Baylor Street, which someone tried to poison a few years back). My upstairs neighbor (Zoey's slave) and I think this is a great place to bring her on her constitutional.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All That Jazz

Saturday night we went to a benefit for Aids Services Austin at La Zona Rosa (a club, not a district) across from our condo. The benefit was Viva Las Vegas their annual fund-raiser with bling, pretend gambling, etc. The entertainment was provided by some Ballet Austin dancers doing dances choreographed to Broadway tunes. It was a good time and then had an interesting auction and we saw lots of friends there. I think they raised a lot of money of ASA, too, for their legal fund.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Some Squash, Baby

These veggies really look delightful, don't they? This is another shot from the market Saturday by FFP.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Went to Market

FFP went to the Farmers Market that is a stone's throw from the condo. It's so close that he went over there and thought "I should have brought the camera." So he went back for it. Which is good because he got this great picture of Purple Commanche tomatoes (they turn purple when ripe in four days according to the farmer), other tomatoes, squash and garlic. We bought one of the tomatoes. We may report in this space on its purple hue. FFP saw lots of people he knew at the market. See here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Today bike riders invade Austin for something called a 'crit' on a short urban course. Yesterday this bus was at Mellow Johnny's (the bike shop across the street from the condo) so I assume it has something to do with bike racing. So I guess there will be two-wheelers of a different ilk in town this weekend. I am as uninformed about bicycles as about motorcycles, but I'll still be looking for pictures!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lining up for the Cure

Not the cure for Cancer. But the band 'The Cure.' It was a sold out show at the Austin Music Hall a week or two ago and so eager were some fans to get in (was it general admission and they wanted good seats?) that they lined up well in advance. The Music Hall people made them line up behind the state garage across from out condo. Yes, the fellow first in line has a tent.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hotter than a Pepper Sprout

Temperatures have been flirting with (and embracing) three Fahrenheit digits every day. Sometimes food can be hot around here, too, but the weather and walking around downtown looking for shade can make one long for chilled soup and salad. I took this picture of peppers on offer at Boggy Creek Farm in July four years ago. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere I hope you are finding the weather tolerable or a way to keep cool.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In The Middle Of it All

From our downtown perch we are aware that things are going on sometimes because we step outside and hear or see something. Sunday I shot this picture with the Green Water Treatment Plant (that they are proposing to relocate and replace with more multi-use development) in the foreground and then Auditorium Shores across Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake to old timers). The PrideFest had been held across the way at Auditorium Shores and maybe the mass of people on the Long Center lawn were assembling for the parade. I'm not sure. Because being in the middle of things does not always mean being aware of them! We closed the balcony door again and shut out most of the rumble of motorcycles (ROT Bikers were still here) and whatever else was going on. Ultimately I think that is what living in the urban core is all about. Being in the middle of things, then retreating. All without driving somewhere. It must be especially true for those who live really high up.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mystery Light

Back in January I speculated about the weird grid on the other side this apartment building (AMLI on Second which really faces Third to me). It turned out to be a green light. I like this building very much and I even like the lights from a distance. I'm not as big a fan of them up close (as from my condo window), but they are getting to be a comfortable friend.

Monday, June 16, 2008


You haven't really experienced a place until you've been there through a day, a week, the seasons. I haven't seen it rain much from the place and we won't know how well the heating works for months but we've seen day and night, sunrise and sunset. Here the setting sun reflects for a moment in the Frost Bank Tower.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bike and Bikers

I'll show another picture of an unusual bike and some bikers and leave the ROT fest. There was also a Pride Festival but I didn't get pictures. I'll try to get out and about with the camera soonest. Hate to just shoot a picture of the Frost Tower or my suburban backyard every day! Happy Day to all the Fathers.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ima Hogg

Ima Hogg was a famous Texas Lady. Yesterday, that homophone might have been uttered between the hundreds of big old Harleys and Hondas and such. They were welcomed on Congress with pedestrians. No cars allowed. Some of those four-wheelers were being towed when we walked down there. I believe the event is called The Republic of Texas Biker Rally. FFP stepped out on our downtown balcony a couple of times last night and watched bikes on W. 5th. Otherwise, we passed peaceful evening a few blocks from their revelry.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's All There

These banners are on the parking garage of the AMLI near our condo. They tout the lifestyle and the possibilities of downtown. I don't feel like I've done enough 'relax' and I'm not leasing (perhaps to my eventual regret) but I'm doing my share of dining.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Well, Not my Dinner

Actually, not entirely. Yesterday at dinner time I was very stressed and realized I'd only had half a blueberry scone and coffee (black) all day. We reheated steak and rabbit leftovers from Taste, made a Caesar salad and had a bottle of Chianti. I had a little sip of Sherry. Later, though, I was still hungry (not that many leftovers) and I made some nachos and had part of a Shiner Bock (a Central Texas brand). Little Woodrow's (and Star Bar in the backround) are on West Sixth Street.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Turtles in the Sun

The turtles in the pond I mentioned yesterday sunned themselves on a lazy Sunday. They are a part of the small memorial to the August 1, 1966 victims on the UT campus that I mentioned yesterday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Forever Tied to Austin and Each Other

Almost forty-two years ago a man killed his wife and mother and made his way to the top of the UT Tower, killing people on the way, and took up a siege of an area for blocks around. FFP stepped out of a drug store on the Drag (as Guadalupe is called by UT area denizens) to see what the commotion was and heard a shot whiz past his ear. He thinks that it was the bullet that killed someone to his right. He thinks he was partly shielded from the sniper's view. He rushed back inside the refuge of the store. At that point, the woman in the center of this picture, Claire, was already lying on the South Mall. Next to her was her boyfriend, dead. She was struck in the abdomen and her unborn baby died. She is more than likely the first person shot that day. (She is a wonderful and humble woman who seems to demure that awful distinction with a "maybe I just wanted to have been the first.") On the left in this picture is Toby Hamilton. He wasn't on campus that day. He was in West Austin, a twelve-year-old kid doing what kids do and he heard about the shootings on the radio and saw puffs of smoke on the Tower deck. What he didn't know at that moment was that it was his scoutmaster shooting at people. And that the two young college students who had stayed with him and looked after him while his parents made a trip a few weeks before were lying on the mall, one dead and one severely wounded.

In 1966, armies of counselors didn't show up in Austin to get the victims, near victims, law enforcement officers and victims' family and friends through this cataclysmic event in their lives. Toby attended the funeral of the man (a boy himself really) he had looked up to that summer. He was so upset that his parents didn't let him visit Claire whose life was saved but who spent months in the hospital. She tried to pay off the bill but isn't sure she ever did. School was suspended for one day. Flags flew at half mast for a week. In 1999, a turtle pond was built in a tucked away spot north of the Tower to honor the victims. Some time later a small plaque was added, identifying the purpose but without naming the victims.

Informally, people affected have been coming together to heal. When I took this picture, Claire and Toby had seen each other for the first time in forty-two years a few hours before. FFP and Toby have been meeting and talking with the officers and citizens who worked to stop the shooter. FFP has worked tirelessly to honor those folks with a plaque on a county building that will be named the "Tower Heroes" building.

A while after this picture was taken, we took Claire to the pond, which she'd never seen. It was full of cute turtles. Claire said she finally felt her baby was at rest.

Monday, June 9, 2008

One Day I'll Be Able to See This

The other day I shot a picture of the Austonian Condo project from Third Street. They are putting floor markers up for the sidewalk engineers. That's a good idea. I keep having to count the floors to mark progress at Spring from our pool deck. I can see the Austonian crane from my window and when it rises up into view I think it will stay there for a long time. Although intervening buildings may one day block it (although it will be fifty stories, a closer building would not need to be that tall to block the view) I suspect once I see it, I'll see it for a long time.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Neighborhood Wine Store

Our friend John Roenigk has been running a downtown wine (and spirits and accessories) store for years (with a brief hiatus to do something in Oregon or somewhere else). He calls it the Austin Wine Merchant. He moved from Guadalupe years ago and has occupied a location on West Sixth while Austin's downtown regenerated. Of course, his parking spots and the fact that Sixth heads west (as do a lot of lawyers and bankers in the evening) probably nets him many downtown-working customers. We have patronized his shops over the years and he has advised on many wine pairings and other questions of proper drinking. We always said when we moved downtown it would be the neighborhood wine shop.

In the short time we've 'lived' downtown, we've made two visits. FFP bought a bottle of premium vodka and vermouth for the downtown bar and we both went yesterday to sample some delicious New Zealand wines (Craggy Range Vineyards) and to buy ourselves a new Screwpull as a housewarming gift to ourselves. The New Zealand wines were delicious, but I took a picture of the Rosé wine display because it looked great in the light.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Downtown Wheels

Across Fourth Street from our condo building there is a bike shop called Mellow Johnny's. These wheels were on display when we walked through the other day. I think they have locker rooms for people who bike downtown. We don't bike but we might go to the friendly little coffee shop inside now and again. It's called Juan Pelota. This is supposed to be amusing if you know that Lance Armstrong is the owner of the complex. My sources say that Sandra Bullock owns the old building that was developed into the huge bike store and little coffee place. Don't expect to see celebrities, though. Young bike salesmen, all kinds of Austinites buying and the cleverly-tattooed running the coffee shop is more like it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Kodosky Party

At the Long Center on the east side before the ring stretches around to meet the west side you may have noticed a glass-enclosed room. This is the Kodosky Donor's Lounge. In this picture you can see the glass facade of Long Center reflecting Auditorium Shores. If you saw 'The Bat' (Austin Lyric Opera's and Esther's Follies take on "Die Fledermaus"), you know that the character throwing the party at the Driskill was "Jefferson Kodosky." So, yeah they kind of took off on a real person. But in name only. Above are the real Jeff Kodosky and his wife Gail, dear friends of ours, of opera and of the community of arts and education. Jeff is a graduate of U.T. and a founder of National Instruments. I have NEVER seen him in cowboy boots! But he laughed out loud at the character on stage sharing his name who was this bantam rooster guy in outrageous cowboy garb organizing a costume bash for 'the bat' to work his operatic drama of mistaken idenity and faux pas. Of course, the lounge was their gift to the Long Center.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The West Austin Weeklies are Well-Represented

Holly Jackson is a social editor for the Westlake Picayune and himself, FFP, is a columnist for the West Austin News. I snapped their picture at the opening night of Austin Lyric Opera's "The Bat." Looking good, reporters.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Food in the 'Hood

We've eaten at Lambert's many times but Monday night was the first time we walked over from our new condo to this neighborhood restaurant. This tuna was wrapped in the thinnest gourmet ham and seared rare and served with a citrus, jicama and micro greens salad. Lambert's bills itself as fancy barbecue. (Or as the bumper strips say 'Fancy Barbecue?") Indeed. We've featured their table sauces before here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Waking Up

We woke up to a rosy sky behind the Frost Tower but I didn't get a picture taken until after seven. The chaos in the foreground is some of the furniture we are using to 'camp' here until we get custom furniture made.

Yes, we closed on our 360 unit yesterday and moved some stuff in. A fly joined us here on the 10th floor. You can't really escape nature. We understand that we are among a handful of tenants who moved in. We saw an attractive girl dashing to the gym, another attractive girl walking her dog and a little family group having a cookout and two guys (who might have been a part of that group) making some noise in our hallway. But mostly once the construction workers were gone (who created a beehive of activity during the day) it was dead. Our place had at one time three movers, our helper, a construction worker replacing a tile, one of our contractors, his two kids, a painter and us in it. Two guys came by who had apparently snuck into the building who are going to move upstairs and wanted to take a picture. Sure, we said, and introduced ourselves.

So yeah, we have a place downtown. And one day we will live there, too.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm Shivering

Not really. It's been beyond hot to scorching here. As was the band doing Twenties and Thirties music at the after party at "The Bat" on Friday. This is Cella Blue of the White Ghost Shivers band. We featured them once before here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Around the Corner Store

Today is a City Daily Photo theme day. The theme is " What is your favourite corner store or local shop in your city? Share it with the rest of the community!" (Note English spelling, America's say favorite.) Today's picture is hardly my favorite (or favourite) store in town but I couldn't resist showing it because it is called "Around the Corner Store" and it is. Around the corner that is, from our home. We are buying a condo downtown this week. I'm pretty sure my favorite (really) store down there will be the Royal Blue on Third Street. (Shown here on our blog.) Until they open a location in our building! The other shop in the triangle of land (bound by Hancock and North Loop) here is a Greek Deli. For a while they advertised tacos, too. I haven't tried them.

Other CDP sites registered to participate:
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants
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