Thursday, July 31, 2008

O. Henry Museum

As Wikipedia says "not to be confused with 'O Henry!' the candy bar." William Henry Porter lived in Austin in the late 19th century in this house which is on East Fifth Street. It is now a museum run by the City of Austin Parks and Rec. He wrote "Gift of the Magi" as most people know. Some also know he wrote a lot of his stories in prison, hence the pen name. A modern "Gift of the Magi" might be a guy selling his Play Station to get his girl the workout game for her Wii and meanwhile she sells the Wii to get him Guitar Hero or Rock Star or something. [Disclaimer: I have no game console of any kind and am only vaguely aware of what this tradeoff would be. Old women should avoid trying to be amusing in this way, but I couldn't help myself.]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I thought I'd go back to the Fourth of July and show you what the crowd looked like at Auditorium Shores and the lawn of the Long Center for the symphony and fireworks. I took this from my condo but I watched the fireworks (with a radio simulcast of the symphony) from the 20th story of this building.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hurricane Sunset Reflected

The storms that came these hundreds of miles from the coast after Hurricane Dolly gave us the great sunset I showed you and here is its reflected glory in the Frost Bank Tower from our condo.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yes, But what was he Doing??

This is a mechanical cabinet in Town Lake Park (that no doubt has controls for the fountain electrical and lights), as yet relatively unsullied by uninvited marks except for this stenciled graffito indicating that maybe that cartoon character lost his specs here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beer and Breakfast

They aren't saying beer for breakfast, no not really, huh? But you can get both all day. I like this joint, featured the other day even if I was somewhat disappointed to find it's a chain. A manufactured Irish experience, maybe. Although last time we were there I thought that a verbal altercation was going to turn physical and thought soccer might be the bone of contention. It certainly isn't Davy Byrne's in Dublin where, I' m proud to say I had a pint once. Maybe two

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The River Winds

Lady Bird Lake (created by Longhorn Dam on the Colorado River of Texas) meanders its river bottom as seen from the 22nd floor of The 360. A friend of mine closed on his place yesterday and I shot this picture from there as we sipped Veuve Clicquot. We've toasted in our place with various friends but haven't had a formal housewarming. We would have to have ten of them...we know so many people and the place is so small. So perhaps we will just continue having people over a few at a time. That extra twelve stories makes a difference in the view.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Irish Angle

The Warehouse District has, at its heart, a part of Fourth Street where the sidewalks career up to the dizzying heights of old loading docks. The Irish Pub and Restaurant Fado flies its flags (I'm guessing that's the Irish flag whipped around the pole in the wind) in the shadow of Frost Bank Tower. Food here is good basic fare and, of course, Guinness is on tap.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hurricane Sunset

The hurricane that slammed into Texas miles away created clouds and weather here (but not enough rain so far). As the sun set and we were watching its reflection in the Frost bank tower we saw it was very dramatic even compared to this picture. So we put our drinks in unbreakable containers and went over to the pool deck. The dramatic sky silhouetted the Monarch (still in its Independence Day dress) and the cranes of the Spring and other construction. FFP experimented with the point and shoot night time scene setting.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two Swans on the Lake

Two swans (really they are paddle boats for rent methinks) look conspiratorial as they survey Lady Bird Lake.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Four Flags Over Downtown Austin

This is a shot looking south down Guadalupe and shows four flags on the Plaza Lofts. I think their idea was to show the six flags that have flown over Texas (the Texas and U.S. flag are in front). These four flags (as every school kid and amusement park aficionado knows) are those of Spain, France, the Confederate States of America and Mexico. Adding our affiliation with the United States before and after the Civil War and our time as the Republic of Texas (nine short years from 1836 to 1845) you get to the 'six flags'. If native America peoples carried a banner into battle with the interlopers that is lost in this type of display and their dominion is not recognized. In case you are peering at this looking for the (controversy-inducing) Stars and Bars of the Confederacy: the flag is this one which was the original flag of the rebel states. (The Stars and Bars was apparently adopted from the Confederate Battle Flag later to look less like the U.S. flag.) I have no idea why this property (one of Austin's original new wave of downtown condos) decorated with all these flags but I have a pretty good idea why people who decide to display the flags use the one almost no one recognizes as the Confederate Flag.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Over Her Shoulder

There has been a bit of renaming downtown in the last few years. We have to remember to call Town Lake something else: Lady Bird Lake. The solution, though, is to just tag on the names so you will still be right I realized yesterday. Hence we have Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Peeking over her shoulder on the plaque is our condo building with the confusing name, The 360. (Because there is a highway officially called "Capital of Texas Highway" that we all call 360 because its number name used to be the only name. It is nowhere near our building.) Now if they'd only named First "Cesar Chavez First Street" and 19th "MLK 19th" we wouldn't have lost track of the numbering scheme. Of course, nothing would save us from having a South First and a South Fifth south of the river (really Town, er, Lady Bird Lake) when numbered streets are normally east and west. And, after all, the numbered streets used to be tree streets so we have Old Pecan Street Restaurant on East Sixth. We joke that all this confusion is intentional but of course it's really not. Never attribute intention when mere ineptitude will explain everything.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

No Dogs

This is another view of the pond in Town Lake Park shown here with the admonition to keep your pets out of the wildlife mix.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pulled in Different Directions

Ever feel that we aren't all pulling the same way? FFP shot these dogs with part of the owner at the Saturday Farmer's Market downtown. The dogs seem ready to go one way and the owner another.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Elephant Room Jazz

We walked over to the Elephant Room last night for Happy Hour and listened to Liz Morphis sing some tunes with Trevor LaBonte on guitar, Ryan Bowman on bass and (not shown) Eric Hargett on sax (a friend of hers in from LA). She did those tunes we love like "Fly Me to the Moon" with some fantastic arrangements. Here she listens to the guys solo while waiting to go back to the mike with her sweet voice. The Elephant Room trumpets (ha) that they have jazz 365 days a year. Now that we live downtown that means we can take a stroll to hear jazz any time. How cool is that? We've shown the Elephant's neon and pictures of Liz singing there and Stanley Smith playing clarinet and even the beers on offer here. That makes the Elephant Room right up there in number of appearances on this blog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pedestrian Bridge

FFP and I have been pleased to discover that the walk to Whole Foods Planet (the ground zero of Whole Foodness) is a pleasant ped walk until the last block on Fifth. This pedestrian bridge takes folks from the new Monarch apartments across Shoal Creek. We walk by it. We cross the creek on a different foot bridge that runs parallel to a decaying abandoned railroad bridge. The wild creek area yielded a flashy red cardinal the other day. The Gables has nice landscaping on their side of the walk. We understand that Third will one day be extended and we worry that during that process they will mess up our access to this path (and our entree to the hike and bike if we go south from the bridge). We think that surely pedestrians will be accommodated in the final scheme of things.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Shore of Lady Bird Lake

Actually THE Shore. These folks named their condominiums The Shore. It is ne ar Rainey Street, east of our Congress and not far from IH35 on the north shore. If we had friends living there, we could go see them by walking out our front door to the hike and bike and then getting to their neighborhood. This is the understated entrance. I'm not sure how fully occupied it is yet, but there do seem to be people moved in.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Think They Don't Want You to Park

Not everything downtown is high rises and fancy shops. Over around East Avenue, near IH35, there are houses and this shop which is Austin Carriage Repair or some such (perhaps they work on the horse-drawn carriages you see around town). They don't want people parking there I don't think! And yes, this was one of the possibilities for 'NO' theme day on July 1.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Iron Works B-B-Q

You might ask what iron work and barbecue (or B-B-Q as the sign says) have to do with one another. Well, this barbecue place is in the building that housed the Weigl Iron Works, a shop that made lots of the wrought iron around town back in the day. Now it's been a place for Texas barbeque for thirty years but it is designated an historic place for its former life. Iron Work B-B-Q is a favorite place for barbecue and, unlike many Central Texas and Hill Country Emporiums is right in downtown Austin! It is steps from the convention center.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Swan Aground

Normally sailing gracefully across the water, this black swan was for some reason on the trail around Lady Bird Lake. He made a nice composition with the stone wall, elephant ear plants and lake.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Art in the Lobby

Our condo building downtown is very high-tech. Well supposedly. These painted disks in the spire to the top have scenes from Austin nature or something. It's very hard to get a good picture. Inside the 'art' is on TV screens and is selected from local galleries.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Hyatt

Back when the Hyatt was built on the South Shore of (then) Town Lake, it was one of the premier hotels in town. There was a restaurant (and club?) high up with a view. A soaring lobby with rocks and streams and they served fajitas in the lobby restaurant everyone raved about. But that was, what, late seventies? They have recently renovated the hotel and I haven't been inside. Must walk over there one day and have a look around. This view was from the Hike and Bike Trail on the north shore of (now) Lady Bird Lake showing a lovely reflection of the building.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Observation Piers

We finally took a walking tour of Town Lake Park and this is the pond. The piers are called 'observation piers' although one is put in the mind of fishing. We saw minnows, larger fish and turtles.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Austin Convention Center

This is a view of the part of the Austin Convention Center from east of Trinity on Cesar Chavez. When I was editing the picture I noticed that the spire of the 360 Condos is peeking out between the buildings. It's interesting how shorter buildings that are closer block sight lines to a point and can make tall buildings a surprise when walking around. The Convention Center is a pretty large venue and home to lots of events. It is the headquarters of SXSW, for example. It was home to several thousand people who fled Katrina in 2005, too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Giant (Mexican) Martini

The Cedar Door is a famous bar in Austin and their special drink is the Mexican Martini. I think that's a Margarita with olives garnishing it. I know olives are involved. (My mixocology is limited to Manhattans, basic Margaritas and whiskey and water.) The bar is located at 2nd and Brazos. This bar has been open for over thirty years in this same building. However, the building has been in four locations. Is it going to be at 2nd and Brazos forever? Probably not, the way things are growing downtown, but, then again, with recession, maybe they'll be there for a while.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Texas

This large map is atop a hill on the south side of Lady Bird Lake in a park next to the Palmer Events Center.

A close look at this map will give you an idea why Austin claims not only the Capital City status but claims to be the 'Heart of Texas.' Texas is an irregular-shaped critter but, if it had a heart this might be it. Click on the picture for a closer look at the distances to other cities. A tour around the state involves LOTS of miles. Not too many visitors do it. There are areas of the state I've never explored in my fifty-something years here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pipes to Scale

This junction of pipe is near the water treatment plant (which will eventually be moved) on the Hike and Bike trail near our condo. I don't know its purpose but maybe it brings water to the plant? FFP posed to give it scale.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Celebration of the Red, White and Blue

People crowded the Long Center lawn, Auditorium Shores, the First Street (Drake) Bridge (closed to vehicles) and assembled on balconies and atop parking garages where they could view the fireworks. We joined friends on the 21st floor of the Chase Building at the Headliners Club of Austin to eat a fancy picnic and watch the fireworks while listening to a simulcast of the symphony playing outside the Long Center. Our friend James Armstrong had blue stripes, but when Jeannette Nassour stopped by to say 'hello' we marveled at an Old Glory belt buckle, earrings, scarf. The view of the fireworks was fabulous from our seats and afterwards we had a birds eye view of the traffic we'd avoid by walking home. (OK, we ended up going to a couple of bars.)

Friday, July 4, 2008


This car was parked on Second Street. I believe it was last Sunday. It was a pale green Prius with a license plate that means 'greens' in Spanish and a sticker I'm guessing indicates Ireland. Here's to the green, wherever you find it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quiz Today

It's fun once in a while to say "what's this?" to the audience. This is on the trail around Lady Bird Lake (nee Town Lake). What do you think it is?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mexican American Cultural Center

This building in the Rainey Street neighborhood is a stark white vision. I haven't had a chance to visit it, but FFP and I walked on the hike and bike trail to this neighborhood the other day and got a picture of the outside. As my dear friend Juan from college used to say "brown is beautiful!" Only the building is starkly white! Not that some Mexican Americans are not white. Many however have darker skin tones derived from 'Native Americas' hues or blends with that and European Latin peoples and have skin tones that are darker, with dark eyes and hair. So I wonder if the building's finish was a conscious decision. Does it evoke pyramids built by native peoples in the country to our south? One day I have to go inside and see what the facility has to offer. It is certainly beautiful on the outside. It was much in the news when it (recently) opened.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Day of NO

It's theme day in City Daily Photo Land. Signs with admonitions of 'NO' are the theme. I found a lot of choices but picked one of these tiles that my city uses to try to keep motor oil and such out of the storm sewers.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants