Austin residency form

We had Tumama’s birthday party yesterday.
Most people could make it and we had a
really nice time.
21 February 2009

Tumama’s paparazzi (and this doesn’t
show me with my camera 🙂 ).

I’ve thought of two new entries on my Austin residency form.

11. Do you recycle?

(If you lie on this question — simply to gain residency in Austin — and say you recycle even though you don’t, the city planners strongly suggest that you stay in the closet regarding your non-recycling habits or be prepared to be run out of town on the light rail while having organic produce thrown at you.)

12. Do you find 90s Grunge Lite clothing appropriate apparel for the opera?

I’m so pleased with my Austin residency form, I’ve created a page for it. There are only 12 questions right now, but as I think of new ones, I’ll add them. Earth Day, organic produce and products, vegetarianism and veganism, zero waste, light rail, UT Longhorns, cinema, and micro-breweries really need to be referenced in there somewhere.

February 22nd, 2009 | Austin | No Comments -

The quirks of Texans


Lily got her first haircut yesterday.
The impetus: our tiny fashion diva wanted bangs.
11 July 2008

I have lived in Texas my entire life with a brief two-year hiatus my sophomore and junior years of high school.  I’m 40-years-old by the way, so that is 38 years of soaking up Texas culture in its various forms: from blue-collar Houston to white-collar Dallas, from conservative rural College Station to liberal funky Austin, from the strong Hispanic culture of San Antonio to the deep religious right of East Texas to the sparsely populated southwest feel of West Texas to the German-influenced cowboy culture of Central Texas.  From the mountains and the desert in the west to the bayous and the pine forests in the east, from the Great Plains in the north to the Gulf Coast in the south, for 38 years Texas has been my home.

And as such, I truly enjoy reading an outsider’s view of Texas, especially if it is humorous.  And that is what I found with this blog entry over at Suburban Kamikaze.  Her blog entry could have easily been about my family.

July 12th, 2008 | Austin | 2 Comments -

Photography and campus bookstores

I’m still trying to get the feel for the wide-angle lens.  I feel that I take much better photos with the telephoto lens, so the poor wide-angle has been gathering dust.  While taking pictures this weekend, I decided to experiment again with the two lenses.

This was taken with the telephoto (telephoto lenses compress space):

Here is the wide-angle shot (wide-angle lenses extend space):

And here is the shot that I feel is the best, taken with the wide-angle but on level with the subject and “in” the action instead of outside and above:

I definitely felt the wide-angle took the better shots, but I would have never guessed that.  I pulled out the wide-angle simply to experiment with it, assuming the whole time that the better shots would come from the telephoto.

I still have a lot to learn.  I think it may be time to start reading books on composition and photography again.

I just realized that I have a piece of advice to pass on that I have never actually passed on.  I live in a college town.  There are five colleges within a 30-mile radius of Austin, including the nationally-ranked University of Texas.  So there are a lot of college bookstores.  Whenever I want to learn about a subject, I go onto UT’s website and pull up the required courses for a degree in that subject.  I find a class that sounds interesting, and then I go to the campus bookstore and buy the books that are required for that class.

For example, say I wanted to refresh my photojournalism skills (which actually I do).  First, I go to the online UT photojournalism course descriptions.  I find a class that appeals to me. “Hmmm… J316 Photographic Communication sounds good. They discuss visual design and recent photographic trends.”  Then off I trot to the campus bookstore which will have a list of the required reading for that class and buy the books that interest me.

I have never been able to find books that deal with a subject better than the books at a campus bookstore.  Campus bookstores beat the socks off of Barnes and Noble any day of the week when it comes to non-fiction titles.

April 7th, 2008 | Austin, Photography | 2 Comments -

In the closet


Mommy vision again. 🙂
19 March 2008

I met the other Democrat who lives in Williamson County.  The house down the street has an “Obama 2008” sign outside their house, and I say “Good for them!” to have the balls to come out of the Democratic closet.  The peer pressure to appear conservative is quite strong simply because everyone around you is conservative.  You start to feel like some crazy liberal interloper and you find yourself thinking things like, “Maybe gun control is a bad thing.”

It has to be a little tough on the current conservative Round Rock residents though.  The housing prices in Austin have become so high, many Austinites, like Matt and myself, have been forced to move to the suburbs in order to have a nice house which is big enough for our growing families.  That means more and more liberals with their tiny liberal hybrid cars and their cactus-covered xeriscaped liberal yards will be moving here.  But who knows, maybe the local Round Rock population will think the liberals with their tinkertoy cars and cacti are amusing.  Or maybe they’ll think, “Well, there goes the neighborhood” and move to Hutto.  Like the 70s computer-simulation, Life, this cell will eventually stabilize into a new pattern.

March 21st, 2008 | Austin | No Comments -

Bad Austinite… bad naughty Austinite


Mommy vision
25 February 2008

Matt and I are considering the purchase of an SUV, the Toyota RAV4 to be exact.  “Why?!” you ask, “Why, when you are a hippy and your husband is European and both of these groups cling to small, fuel-efficient cars with an unmatched self-righteous passion, are you considering an SUV?”

SUVs really fit our current lifestyle.  After Matt, myself, and both the kids in their carseats have been put into the car and the two strollers have been put into the trunk, my car is completely full.  So we’re moving up a size.  We’re looking to move up a size in house as well within the next couple of years.  Bigger family, bigger car, bigger house, bigger bills.

My only real fear is that we will not be allowed back into Austin.  Folks that don’t live here don’t realize that you actually have to fill out a questionnaire in order to become a resident of Austin.  Here is a sample of some of the questions (to gain residency, you must answer “yes” to 90% of the questions):

———-

4.  Do you have a tattoo, body piercing, brightly colored dyed hair or dreadlocks? 

5.  Are you gay or do you have a friend who is gay?

6.  Are you in a band or do you have a friend who is in a band?

11.  Do you own at least two domain names and/or two DBAs?

15.  Is some of the software on your home computer open-source?

16.  Do you own a Linux server?

(If you don’t know what open-source software or Linux is, the city planners feel it is best that you stop at this point and move to Round Rock or Pflugerville first and slowly become acclimated to Austin society before moving directly into Austin.)

20.  Do you own a small, fuel-efficient (preferably hybrid) car and openly mock people with large vehicles?

28.  Would you vote for a transient cross-dresser and/or a fictitious comic strip character for political office?

34.  For at least five years of your life, were you enrolled in college (the years do not have to be consecutive and actual graduation is optional)?

39.  Do you feel the Democratic Party is too conservative?

———-

The longer I live in the suburbs, the more I am assimilated.  If we get this SUV, I am one step closer to being a true suburban mommy.  Now I just need a bumper sticker that says, “My child is an honor student at her preschool” to put on it.

March 1st, 2008 | Austin, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 1 Comment -

The Seven-Year Affirmation


Some Longhorns were spotted in Lincoln, England. 😉
Sam, Matt’s brother, in the kitchen.
Lincoln, England
02 January 2008

Matt and I have been together for seven and a half years.  We met in May 2000 and started dating in July 2000.  Today I was thinking of the movie The Seven Year Itch which is a comedy about a man who has been married for seven years, and he briefly fantasizes about an affair with Marilyn Monroe.  With my first boyfriend, I knew that something was wrong by seven months into the relationship.  I called it The Seven Month Itch.  (We should have broken up then, but we stayed together for another four years and then broke up — not the wisest choice I’ve ever made in my life.)

There is no Seven Year Itch with Matt.  Seven Year Love, Seven Year Amazing Husband, Seven Years with a good, honorable, kind, generous man.

I am truly lucky to have such a man as my husband.  I don’t know what karmic thing I did in a past life, but I must have been a saint to be given such a man in this life. 😉

January 18th, 2008 | Austin, General | No Comments -

Only in…


I’ve been using the wide-angle lens.
Back in my university days, I used a wide-angle lens almost
exclusively, so I thought I would have no trouble with this lens.
I was wrong. It is more difficult to get visually interesting
photos with a wide-angle than a telephoto. A wide-angle will
photograph much more area, and more of it will be in focus,
so you often end up with cluttered pictures with no focal point.
But I’m learning. And it’s a fun lens.
08 January 2008

We got back into Austin Sunday night, but I have been go go go since we arrived home.  Even now I don’t have much time for an update, so I thought I would tell a couple of anecdotes that highlight the quirks of different places.  Or, in shorthand, “Only in…”

“Only in England…”

Matt’s great-aunt who is also one of Lily’s namesakes, Auntie Vera, is in the hospital at the moment and we went to visit her several times while in England.  She shares a room with three other female patients, and above each patient’s bed is a small whiteboard with medical information.  Also on each whiteboard, alongside all the medical information, is how the patient takes her tea. 🙂  Auntie Vera’s had written, “Vera takes a very small amount of milk in her tea.”

“Only in Austin…”

We had two legs to our journey: London Gatwick to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Austin.  By the time we boarded the plane to Austin, we were all dead tired, including the children.  Damian was very fussy, so I started nursing him on the plane and he fell straight asleep.  As I was nursing him, I thought to myself, “That’s how you know that you’re on a plane to Austin: you see a 40-year-old woman breast-feeding her baby.” 🙂

It’s good to be home.  Like my mom always says, “I love going to see my family and friends, and then I love coming home.”

January 9th, 2008 | Austin, England | No Comments -

An amazing weekend, and it’s only Saturday afternoon

Our whole family has had such a great weekend, and it’s not even half over yet.  Our weekend started yesterday, Friday, at 5pm.  Carla and Deb took the kids for the whole night while Matt and I went out for the annual HotSchedules Christmas party.  I love all the HotSchedules parties because they are always full of hugs, food, amazing people, and funny stories.  So we had a whole evening full of hugs, food, amazing people, and funny stories.  And we stayed the night in a hotel… without children.  It was very romantic.

And when we got home this morning at 9am, Deb and her crew were here.  It was Deb, Lins, Kels, Justin, Sean, and Sophia.  Logan had stayed the night as well.  We made a big breakfast, and Carla and Clara joined us.  And we had a fun, happy day with our family.  Some family pictures:


Justy with the magic touch putting baby Clara down for a nap.
08 December 2007


Lily and Sophia drawing together.
08 December 2007


Sean holding the top part of the fountain so Damian can’t knock it over.
08 December 2007


Sean, Carla, Justin, and Damian on the back porch.
(Baby Clara is there too, asleep in Justin’s lap.
You can see her little foot.)
08 December 2007


Kelsey with her new black-brown hair color
which I think looks really good on her.
08 December 2007


I couldn’t decide which Kelsey expression I liked better,
so I posted both of them.
08 December 2007


More of Sean, Justy, and the kids.
08 December 2007


All of the wonderful, amazing, perfect cousins.
08 December 2007

We’ve had a wonderful wonderful weekend.  Really wonderful.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we met A.J. Vallejo last night.  I told Matt that Vallejo is a part of Austin culture, like Leslie or Magnolia Cafe.

Matt really is becoming an Austinite. 🙂

December 8th, 2007 | Austin, General | No Comments -

Community


Damian playing with fallen leaves.
(One of the perks of this blog is that it
encourages me to habitually take pictures
of the children.)
30 November 2007

The kids and I had to drive into Austin today.  Fan, our betta, has a bacterial infection, so we drove to Aquatek in NW Austin to get him some medicine.  (While we were there, we picked up an uber-cool Japanese moss ball as well as some Java moss for the Macquarium.)  As I was driving into Austin and the roads began to fill up with hybrid vehicles covered in liberal bumper stickers, I got a real pang of homesickness.  This happens everytime I drive into Austin.

Austin is my true home, and I miss it… badly.

Matt and I noticed the same thing last night when we went to the Lake Creek Alamo Drafthouse to see Showgirls 2.0 with David Schmader (very very funny, btw — we thoroughly enjoyed it).  On our row was a man with bright red dyed hair, and a couple of rows ahead of us was a lady with bright blue dyed hair.  Nearly everyone in the audience was dressed in 90s Grunge Lite which is typical Austin dress code.  And I felt so at home.

How can 20 miles north make such a difference?  When the time is right (aka the money is right), I think we’ll definitely be moving back into Austin.  It’s easier to get involved in your community when it feels like your home.

And speaking of community and being a liberal techie Austinite, I contributed to an open source community!  How cool am I?!  I updated the 2007 2-up classic calendar for the DIY Planner website for 2008.

And my husband codes Java for a living.

We so belong in Austin.

November 30th, 2007 | Austin | No Comments -

Where’s Autumn?


Baby Clara (two-weeks-old) with Grandma Clara (79-years-old)
22 September 2007

Where’s Autumn?  Where’s the gusty North wind that blows through your hair and beckons for change?  Where are the cool mornings filled with crystal dew?

Where’s Autumn?

I get like this every year.  Waiting and waiting and waiting for Autumn.  And every year — seriously, every year — I get really upset and frustrated and think, “F**k this!  Let’s move!  Let’s move to somewhere were Autumn exists.  I hate Texas, the land of no seasonal change.”

For a person whose very soul is nourished and replenished by water and seasonal change, how did I ever end up in the semi-arid climate of central Texas?  I really must move someday… move to a place with water and soil and seasons.

Come soon, Autumn.  Your daughter waits for you.

October 3rd, 2007 | Austin | No Comments -