Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

April 3, 2017


Filed under: At home,Food — Janice @ 7:57 pm

My world is so dull these days that I think about a blog post and know immediately that there is nothing to tell.

Today I was reading the posts of The Bloggess and she makes her dull life so darn interesting that I really don’t feel like writing a blog post.

But, sometimes there is that urge to communicate with the world, so I will try again to develop a habit. Slowly but surely….   Just don’t expect anything funny.

There is a sweet big yellow cat sitting here by the computer, wondering why I don’t come feed him some more food before I get busy with this sort of thing.

A few days ago I knew I needed to cook some hamburger I bought before it went bad. I had a head of cabbage and I thought I would make a cabbage and beef sort of unrolled cabbage roll recipe I like. I went to the refrigerator and found no hamburger. Where was it? I looked through every drawer in the fridge and touched every item in the refrigerator to MAKE SURE that I wasn’t overlooking it. I wondered if Mark had thrown it out, seeing that it was past the Sell By date, though I doubted that he would do that. I couldn’t find it so I finally decided I must have opted to NOT buy the beef at the grocery, knowing I had plenty of other things to eat at the house (and that I probably would let it ruin while I didn’t get around to cooking…. I tend to do that.).

This morning I bundled up a bunch of plastic bags to take with me in hopes of putting them in a recycle bin somewhere soon. Then I also grabbed up several of the reusable cloth bags so I would have some spares in the car in case I went to the grocery. One bag had some heft to it. I investigated and found my missing pound of ground beef, a week old, and still in the grocery sack. Gross gross gross. Fortunately it was securely wrapped in plastic and hadn’t leaked, but I do think we had been smelling it a little bit and didn’t know what we were smelling. Gross gross gross. I threw away the hamburger.  Obviously.

Tonight I went by the grocery store and only got things that were full of preservatives and had no refrigeration needs.

January 3, 2017

A Pitiful 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Janice @ 11:10 am

There’s been a lot said about 2016 and the “horrible” things that happened during the year and the many artists and celebrities and loved Americans that passed away. I can add to the horribleness by pointing out my measly 2 posts on my own blog over 365 days (oh, wait 366… this was a leap year). I make a New Year’s Resolution to do better in 2017. So this is one. I only have to produce two more posts to meet that goal.  It sounds easy enough, but we’ll see what I come up with.

I have gone back this week and re-read some of my entries from the Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Cruise in 2009. I am going to leave this Friday on that same cruise, but under different circumstances. No husband playing in a band this time, I’m going with a girlfriend who is graciously taking me along as her companion since her husband couldn’t go.

As I was looking up those old posts I discovered how difficult it is to FIND old posts. I can’t seem to find a way to look up a certain date or see the titles of a lot of posts at once. Have you figured that out? That makes me think that maybe 2017 is the time for a new WordPress theme to make them all appear in a more orderly fashion. If that is possible…   I’m not sure how easily I can move from one format to another. I know there are still many old posts that don’t have the photos they started with or have lots of odd punctuation because I switched hosts some years ago. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to fixing those glitches, so let’s not go so far as making crazy promises like that, but I’m looking into a new theme. Be forewarned. I’ve gotten used to this soft peaceful green. I won’t get crazy, trust me.

Happy 2017!

June 11, 2016

Priming the Pump

Filed under: Random genealogy — Janice @ 2:55 pm

I’ve got to do SOMETHING to get me to update my so-called blog again, right? I’m going to be a little more free to just throw in little discoveries. These are the things that make my genealogy even more fun. Not necessarily BIG discoveries, just coolness I find in my research.

So today, for some unknown random reason, I started poking around on a tree branch where there is a little mystery. I won’t go into that, because I have made no eye-opening discoveries there, that’s for sure. But I looked at the 1900 census for Mills County, Texas. Lots of my ancestry is in Mills County, just across the county line from Comanche County in Central Texas. I was looking at the entry for an uncle, Aaron Little. Nothing unusual about he and his wife and kids and even two sisters-in-law living in their household.

But I see something I don’t often see in a census. A “visitor” is enumerated within their household. It’s a 43-year-old man named “J.A. French.” 

French_J.A - no relations

Even more interesting, he’s from New York and his parents were both born in New York as well. That’s a LONG way to come in 1900.


But then I’m really surprised to see his occupation:


Seeing “farmer” and “housekeeper” on hundreds of census entries, I have NEVER seen a musician counted in an old census.

So that’s it for this discovery, but you know I’m going to be doing some research on J.A. French and see what kind of touring musician he was. But it makes me happy that even my ancestors and collateral ancestors were gracious to musicians in their day.

Okay – that’s all for this time, but I hope to write more little entries like this. Comments will boost me to do more, you know that, right?

January 26, 2016

A Bright Beautiful New Year

Filed under: At home,Austin — Janice @ 11:36 pm

I’m not making myself feel guilty about NUTTIN’ this year, I swear. So I haven’t felt a single pang of guilt as this blog lies here, lonely and pining.

But this week I did think maybe it would be a good idea to prime the pump and put something down. Anything. Get those juices flowing.

Then I read a couple of posts from my friend Dana at danastarr.net  and that totally bummed me out because she has some beautiful long pieces that are funny and insightful and have pictures, too. I’m probably back to feeling guilty again.

But I will write something for you. I am LOVING this beautiful winter weather we are having. I went up to Dallas this weekend and it is so much more wintry up there. We haven’t had a freeze at all here. My always wait until my lantanas and fire bushes have been frozen to cut them back. No freeze, they are growing like crazy. Everything is still green (except the deciduous trees) and we have iris and jasmine blooming and my daffodils are about ready to bust out.

Sure, we could still get a freeze and I don’t mind since it would help the allergies and kill some mosquitos, but I’m trying to enjoy the pretty days while we have them.

I snapped this driving across the Lamar street bridge this week. It is against the law in Austin to use your phone while driving, so rest assured I was at a complete standstill in traffic when I took this. That’s a law I totally obey because I know I am not capable of using my phone and driving at the same time.

I talk about the beautiful greenery and then put up a picture of bare trees, but it was about 60 degrees on January 25 and the sky was stunning.

2016-01-25 18.12.55

December 9, 2015

A New Sarah Bird Book

Filed under: Reading,Writing — Janice @ 11:26 pm

I know I have written here before about my deep love for Sarah Bird and her writing. I won’t go into the whole history again, but I learned about in her in 1988, I think. My best friend Beth had told me to read The Boyfriend School. She had discovered it and thought it was great. I was traveling for my living in those days and I went into a phenomenal book store in Ann Arbor, Michigan, right by the campus. That was a beautiful city and a great store with the old fashioned ladders going up to the top shelves. I was hunting around and decided to look for Bird and I found one paperback book called Alamo House. It was her first novel, before the Boyfriend School, so I got it and finished it on the plane home. I couldn’t put it down.

Side note:  A writing teacher later said I wrote a bit like Sarah Bird. She said that without knowing if I even knew Sarah Bird’s work, much less knowing how big a fan I was. That was a huge HUGE boost to my fragile ego.

So since in 1988 I have been most faithful and have gone to a bookstore each and every time Sarah wrote a new book. I had a paperback of the Boyfriend School and eventually was able to replace it with a hardback copy. But in all these almost 30 years, I have never had Alamo House in hard cover. Everything I read said that it was just completely unavailable. Now that the Internet let’s us know at the click of a mouse where things are available, I can find it on the web for about $35 now. Tonight I was at Half-Price Books and found Alamo House, hard cover, FIRST EDITION MIND YOU! just sitting there on the shelf priced like a normal book. AMAZING. Did I mention it has the original dust jacket, too?  I didn’t have to look twice, that’s for sure.

Alamo House is now joining everything from the Boyfriend School to Above the East China Sea on my Sarah Bird shelf and I’m thinking of rereading the whole stack of them, starting over at with book one.


Diary for a New Year

Filed under: Normal Life,Writing — Janice @ 1:11 am

I have become immersed in sites that have planners and calendars for the New Year. There are some complex, multi-tapped, works of art out there. A little spendy for me to buy, use two weeks, and then forget, so I will by pass them. I bought a calendar at Big Lots! for $2 and it will work in here in my office where all I really need is to know the day and the date at a glance.

I did order and receive my 2016 Daily Diary from Moleskine. I’m so glad I discovered these. I think this will be my fourth year with one. They have good thick paper so even when I write with a fountain pen or a Flair pen (do they still make Flair pens?) it doesn’t soak through. The color for this year is a hunger green. I’ve had a brighter green before, and red, and purple. I like green because it reminds me of prosperity and I plan on having that a lot in the new year.

Have you ever heard about bullet planners? I’ve been reading up on them on the Internet and they can be done on a blank notebook and don’t require the commitment of a big hunk of cash so I may try that method a bit this year, too. And then about February I will resort to my old style of sticky notes, Google calendar from time to time, and “Oh I’ll remember.” Fortunately I have very very few commitments in my life. I could put “work” down on my dayplanner from 8 to 5 every day. And then I would laugh and laugh when I saw the 8 every day when I got to work at 10.

I promise this year to write in my handwritten diary every day. I can’t keep the promise to write HERE every day or even every week, but I have the habit and routine of my diary pretty well ingrained in my life. It’s by the bed, I turn on the light, get under the covers, write in my diary, put it away and read a while, put mentholatum on my lips (oh come on … you have your quirks, too), put in my earplugs, and I happily say my thanks and gratitude and go to sleep.

As for the others, I am not going to sweat it. I have never had a boss raise the issue of my organizational abilities and I don’t have to punch a time clock or visit clients at certain times on certain days. I have a creative job in a creative environment and, so far knock on wood, they have allowed me my freedom to be less organized. I am rolling with the flow this year and not stressing over things that have been this way for years and years. Not worth it. Happy New Year. It’s on January 1 this year, right?

December 6, 2015

More Holiday Spirit

Filed under: At home,Normal Life — Janice @ 10:24 pm

There is a Christmas tree in my house. Not one, but two actually. Last year our raggedy little fake tree was looking bad. I swore we were going to throw it away after Christmas to force us (me) to get a new one in 2015. And, surprise, surprise, I must have kept my promise. That sounds so UNLIKE me! But I climbed into the attic just before Thanksgiving to pull down that tree and no tree was in sight.

Mark went looking for a tree when he was at a big box hardware store. He came home puzzled; he couldn’t believe “good ones are $100!” Actually, good ones are more than that, but okay ones are triple digits, for sure. We don’t have children, we don’t have company, we won’t be having a holiday party here, so we really didn’t need a tree like that…especially when I’m still paying for air conditioner repairs from August and a new washing machine in October.

I went to Big Lots! Friday and found a nice little tree, on sale, for just $70. That seemed reasonable to my budget-oriented mind and so I got it AND a smaller, bright purple tree. Both have the lights on them already. In fact, the “big” tree (it stands just a hair taller than me) has lights that can be white or multicolored or flash back and forth. Mark and I have generally alternated years on the tree:  one year he gets his all white lights, the next year I get all multicolored. Sometimes we have both, the multis up the middle and the white on the tips. With this tree we can have our favorite when we are home alone and alternating between the two when we are home together.

I got them set up and lit and spread the branches today, but I didn’t have the ornaments from the attic. My enthusiasm for the project waned as the day went on, so I’ll get to those sometime this week.

I will have pictures of the trees eventually—hopefully fully decorated—and I will post them along with the lights across the street that make me happy every time I look out.

December 5, 2015

Austin Christmas Outing

Filed under: At home,Austin,Food,Music — Janice @ 11:26 pm

I just got in from a fun night feeling the holiday spirit.

Each year, KUT radio has a carol sing-a-long on the steps of the State capitol and they light the city’s downtown Christmas tree (as opposed to the Zilker Park “holiday tree” created from the moontower there). I have never been to this downtown event, although I have admired the downtown tree many times. In my early days in Austin, it was always a real tree and was brought in from somewhere. It wasn’t a giant tree like in Washington or Rockefeller Center, but big enough. A few years ago the city changed to an artificial tree. It’s a cone-shaped, quite obvious fake tree, but still pretty and festive. 2015-12-05 19.24.01

I heard the commercials this week for the singalong and asked my friend Deidre if she might want to go. She had plans for later in the evening, but we decided we could do it all. So tonight I met up with Deidre and two of her friends that have become my friends and we went downtown. The whole event was bigger than we expected. Finding parking wasn’t easy, but with the beautiful weather we didn’t mind the walk.

In front of the capitol were truly thousands of people in the dark, under the trees, singing Christmas carols along with a piano player and a songleader/disc jockey from the radio station. Programs with lyrics were passed out so everyone could sing all four verses of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Giant projectors were casting big stars in kaleidoscopes across the building front. We sang along with great gusto on Feliz Navidad and Jingle Bells and many more. Then there was a 10 down to 1 countdown the tree was lit.

Along with the tree lighting was a whole little festival down on Congress. Booths selling food and drinks and homemade products and crafts and artwork. We strolled a bit before we got to the singing to see what they had. And then there were bands playing on each end of the street after the singing ended, so there was lots to do and see. I didn’t know there would be so much.

2015-12-05 19.24.49After, we walked down Congress and enjoyed the lights and the people-watching. Deidre knows MANY people and she was greeting someone about every block. We found a semi-fancy Italian pizza place to have some food. From the street it seemed like a bar and a utilitarian Italian restaurant. Getting inside, though, it was easier to see it was a little more upscale than I usually frequent and full of many young urban dwellers. They did have great food and we had some awesome pizza.

We ended the night where Deidre had planned on going originally: a beer garden south of the river that had a reunion of a band she had loved in the past, Black Before Red. I had never heard of them before, but they did have interesting songs with really unique melodies and chords and great lyrics, too. I may never get to hear them again, but it was a really good experience and a good night. 11058118_10153756154829346_7686185045814933066_o

Deidre’s friend Rebecca has lived in Austin a year longer than I have and comes from the Panhandle just like me. She and I were discussing how we don’t DO these Austin-y things like we once did. When we moved to Austin we were exploring different parts of town and going to the festivals and trying new restaurants. Now we do the same things over and over and stick to the familiar. She said, “You know the nickname of Austin, right?” I said, “What? The Violet Crown?” She said, “No, the new nickname is the Velvet Rut.” That described it. It’s comfortable, beautiful, and yet too familiar. I was glad to get out of the rut tonight.

I’ll steal Deidre’s selfie to show you the girls celebrating on Congress.

December 4, 2015

Lost Day

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Food — Janice @ 6:11 pm

I had every intention of writing EVERY DAMN DAY, so I can’t say where yesterday went to. I think it was the combination of having been at the computer all day long, doing my late night wrap-up work I have to do, and having the pull of a good football game distract me. Then the football game was such an amazing finale that I forgot about coming back to type. Oh well. It’s only a goal, not a law.

I saw a post today about what Christmas was like in the 1970s. I related very much to some of the items on the list, like receiving the Montgomery Wards, Penney’s, and Sears Christmas catalogues in October and poring through them circling everything we wanted or making long elaborate lists, making sure to note the full name and page number and letter so it would make it easier for mother to write on the order form and order them all for us. You had to order, ON PAPER, and mail it to someone to take out of the envelope and, for all I know, walk into their warehouse and pick out the items from the shelves themselves.  It was a little bit slower than our process of clicking one-button on the computer and then wondering why UPS didn’t have it with them the next day when they delivered.

Christmas at our house involved a lot of foods throughout the season. We always had Chex mix close at hand. Fudge, too. Mom would make divinity (if she had a bright sunshiny day to make it on because it wouldn’t work otherwise was what she always said), peanut patties, peanut brittle, or other Christmas candies. We usually had a fruitcake that someone made or gave to us and I never went near it. Now that I am older and LOVE fruitcake I wonder what I missed out on. We also had some eggnog close at hand. I think I liked it earlier rather than later, but there was probably a time I wasn’t sure about it.

I can remember lots of Christmas Eve’s at my grandmother’s or there were a couple of trips to see the out-of-town grandparents at Christmas. Some holidays had cousins or grandparents visiting us. But if I listed the favorite Christmases in the 70s, I am quite certain that I’d start with the Christmases where it was just our little family of four, Mom, Daddy, my sister, and me. I think we laughed and had more fun when it was just our little group than any other time. The others were memorable in many ways, but if I could go back, I’d pick one with just us.

December 2, 2015

Am I Sick?

Filed under: At home,Food,My Job — Janice @ 10:30 pm

No, I am not sick, but something’s up. I’m cranky. That’s never a good thing. And I just looked at a web site full of recipes and they all made me think, “Gag, that sounds awful.” Maybe I am sick. That certainly does not sound like me.

I did leave work to come home early today. I didn’t leave sick. I left sick and tired. But I didn’t stop working. I came home and worked the rest of the day. The office building has been doing something with their smoke and fire detection systems for way too long now. We’ve gone through it before and it started again, today. They have to prop open the doors of the stairs, the fire escape, and blow lots and lots of outside air through it to test something. I don’t quite understand the concept. What I do understand is that the stair door is just across a “hall” from my desk. Except it is a hall without walls and I am in an open cube. My 10 coworkers of my department are all grouped together in this cubbyhole area, but most have at least one cubicle wall blocking the wind from their faces. I do not. We put a thermometer on my desk today and it dropped to 64 degrees in a flash. That temperature can feel good when you are outside in it in the sunshine, but not inside when you are facing into a gale wind and trying to work. The last time this happened half of our staff in our department got sick from the cold or from the airborne allergies it forced into our faces. Today I picked up my work and came home and didn’t fight it.

But I went to the doctor today, not because I’m sick, but just for a check-up/follow-up. All is well, tests were fine, I’m a healthy girl. So I came home and took a nice nap to celebrate. I made some healthy soup for dinner, though I would have eaten chips and cheese for dinner if I had only had some. I cannot go to the grocery store when I’m in this cranky, poor-me mode. I do that and come home with way too much chocolate and crunchy salty things. I must wait until lettuce and salmon sound good to me.

Bottom line. I hate to write when I feel cranky and have nothing to write about. I hate to complain in a permanent blog where future employers (heck, current ones) can read it and judge me. But I swore I was going to write every day this month (let me hedge that — as much as I can), so here it is. Done.

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