Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

June 18, 2012

Time Passes

Filed under: Family,Genealogy,Website complaints — Janice @ 10:36 pm

I hate to go so long without writing because then everything I want to write about seems too big to write about right now or too trivial to write about at all. If I would write more often, the trivial would just be padding.

I am trying to do some updates on my website and it is proving as frustrating as it always has. I am not one for keeping track of passwords and I have to relearn or resubmit passwords every time I go back to a project like this. And I’m having to completely re-learn everything I have known about the website-making software and how to get the site to the Internet, too. If you go look at the main page you will see that, so far, I have not succeeded. I did get one step a little farther along tonight so I guess I should feel some satisfaction that that happened before I pulled out every hair on my head.

One of my distant cousins died over the weekend and I’m sad about that. I need to write her a nice something on my other blog. She’s related to me in 3 different ways, all going back to Comanche County, of course. Her funeral is Wednesday afternoon and if I can make it up there, I will. I know a lot of members of her immediate family because they come to the reunion too.

I’ll tell a story about Jessica…  Last summer at the reunion, her son brought some beautiful plants for the silent auction. I had bought a spider plant from him in a previous year that was lush and beautiful. Of course, it barely clings to life now that I have it, but I do still have it. Last year I got a beautiful purple Jew from him. I also got a clipping from a plant that had belonged to Jessica’s mother. Jessica told me how this plant makes a pretty house plant and it will bloom, but it is a nighttime bloomer and blooms at about 2 a.m. She said she had never seen her mother’s bloom and she had had her mother’s plant for years and never saw it bloom. Then her husband died a few years ago and a month or so after he had died she was grieving and couldn’t sleep and finally got up in the middle of the night and walked in to find that plant in beautiful bloom. She said that was just the kind of sign she needed to get some comfort and relief. I’m very glad to have a piece of that plant to remember her (and her mother) with.

June 9, 2012


Filed under: At home — Janice @ 3:25 pm

I don’t know that it is possible for me to simplify. The other day I was trying to clear out some space and my matchbook collection was there in a sack. Everyone has collected matches at one time or another, right? Maybe they aren’t as common now as they once were, but it was always an easy, free way to take home a souvenir. I have thought about getting rid of this collection for ages. Our house is too small to have it out on display and, really, what’s the point?

So I reach into the sack and thought, I’ll at least get a start and throw away ONE matchbook/box. And what do I pull out? The matchbox from the restaurant where Mark asked me to marry him and gave me my engagement ring almost 20 years ago. Just a few weeks ago were were in Richardson and debating the name of the place and wondering if it were even still in business.  Our engagement night was the one and only time I’ve ever eaten there.

The box says it was called La-Vitta Italian Restaurant and Club. I don’t find it on the web anymore, so we can assume it is gone. No doubt this was the place, though, I slide the box out and I wrote “Engaged! 12/7/92” inside.

The bag of matches has gone back in the closet, but I think this box will get a special home somewhere since – besides the ring – that is the only thing we have from that night.

Another day I tried to simplify… And this is the proof that I really DO need to do some of the space clearing you read so much about. I had happened upon a site that suggested you dedicate a week to eating the food in your pantry to help clear it out and circulate some of those cans out of there. I knew that was good advice. I am notorious for buying ingredients for things that never get made. I am always FULL  of ambition when I am at the store.

I cooked something like chicken for dinner and thought I would open a can of lima beans to go with it. I hadn’t had lima beans in ages and I love lima beans. There was a can in my cabinet. I saw the date on the top:  Expires 2008. Good gracious! I’m breeding salmonella here! And we all know that the dates they put on cans are years away so I probably bought this in 2006 or 2005. Maybe I moved it with us from Dallas, I don’t know. I did throw it away and found a can of green beans that had not expired. My one small step for clearing the pantry.

May 27, 2012

Collecting from Another Person’s Life

Filed under: Genealogy — Janice @ 9:32 am

I just read an article in the New York Times about a men and things he has collected about his father’s life.  It’s a lot more than that, but I will leave it there and hope you go read the beautiful article for yourself.

I understand this man. He has this need to gather things from his father’s life. I have that same need for my parents’ lives, but also for my grandparents’ and the greats and on and on — even to uncles and aunts and cousins, at times.

This week I found myself looking at Sanborn maps of Wichita, Kansas, and old postcards of the Manhattan Hotel there. I was recreating the environment of 1897 when an uncle, many generations back, went there from Abilene, Texas, to bring a prisoner back to be tried in Taylor County. While he was there he shot and killed a man and was charged with murder. I wanted to see where the train station was in relation to the hotel, what stores were around the hotel. How far did he have to walk from the hotel to the jail. And then where was the courthouse where his case was tried later that year? I am truly yearning for time travel, but until that day, I am busy collecting the bits and pieces of someone else’s life.

May 12, 2012

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

Filed under: Normal Life — Janice @ 10:35 pm

My husband and I have great conversations with lots of laughs …at times.

One of the many indicators that I had to marry this man and spend the rest of my life with him was when we first met and, at some point, I said, “Oh, I forgot what I was going to say,” and he replied immediately, “Oh yes, I’m radioactive.” It is an old Steve Martin joke, but the fact that it came to him that quickly made me laugh because it was something that I often said.

So I have become accustomed to having those conversations that don’t require any explanation. I’m sure other couples that have been together 20 years have no trouble understanding (or couples that have been together a month and had that same sort of immediate bond). We can watch TV together and he’ll say, “Oh, that’s that woman that was…” and I will say, “No, this is the other one.” And we’ll both know exactly what we’re talking about.

Until tonight.


Maybe he was just too weary to understand me this time.

Mark was at his computer in his office, which is adjoining the living room. I sat down in “his” chair because from that chair I have a view of him and it is easier to carry on a conversation.

Side note: I suppose it only makes sense that Mark has “his” chair and I don’t have a chair that is clearly “mine.” I grew up in a household where there was a “Daddy’s chair,” but no “Mama’s chair.” This wasn’t Goldilocks, but there was definitely a chair that we could sit in ANYtime we wanted…until Daddy came into the room and expected to sit down.

I turn on the news (I heart Brian Williams), Mark stands up and walks toward me, stands three feet from his chair. and  says, “Trade places with me.”

I stand up and move to stand three feet from the chair, he sits down, and I say, “Okay, now what?”

“Now what what?”

“I traded places with you, now what?” I say with that “haha aren’t I clever?” tone in my voice.

“What are you talking about?” None of that “haha aren’t you clever” tone in his voice.

“You told me to trade places so I did!” Now with that desperate, “Oh please, tell me you get it” tone in my voice.

“I just wanted my chair.”

“I KNOW you wanted your chair, but you SAID, ‘Trade places with me.” So I did…” Desperation is so unattractive.

“I just wanted my chair.”

I sat and we watched Brian and soon he was dozing with a kitty on his chest.

May 11, 2012

Two Stories

Filed under: Family — Janice @ 10:19 pm

I posted this picture this afternoon on my Facebook account:


It’s funny how a picture can so quickly remind me of so many different things. First, the era of the picture (and its oddity) remind me of a picture a cousin of mine used to have from her family. Somewhere I have a printed copy of the photo she made for me because that was back in the days where we didn’t have digital pictures and didn’t share them (I’m glad those days are gone). It was a picture of a distinguished older African-American man sitting in a chair. Black and white and from nearly the same era (it appeared) as this picture. Also in the picture were two toddler blonde-headed Caucasian children, each standing by his knees and comfortably leaning on him. There was also at least one long-eared hound dog at his feet or nearby.  It was truly a one-of-a-kind picture and she said that it was from somewhere in her family and the man was a servant or a slave or a caretaker who was very much a part of the family and an important figure to those two little boys. Like this picture, it makes you just wonder what prompted the picture to be taken. That one (the man and the boys) is very sweet. This one is just odd!

The second story that comes to mind is a family story from my family history. I would have to go look it up to remember who it was exactly, but I’m pretty sure it was an uncle or a cousin of mine from the Couch family because my cousin Paula has it written in the information that she has shared with me. In that story, set in the days before there were cars, a couple of the boys in the family were taking the wagon into town from their farm in Comanche County to get something that was needed at the store. Their little brother begged to be allowed to come along with the big boys and was permitted. It was no short trip, but it was made worse when, on the way home, a blue norther blew in and about froze the boys. So they stopped at a house along the way to seek shelter for a while. To warm the boys up, the woman of the house made a pot of coffee and gave a cup to each of the older boys. The little 5-year-old boy followed her back to the kitchen and said, “Please, ma’am, can I have some coffee, too?” She said, “Why, you shouldn’t be drinking coffee, it’s not good for you,” and he replied, “I know ma’am, but I’m 5 now and it’s awful hard to give up.”

The second story is a story of my sweet husband Mark. When Mark and his brother Dave were little boys, they lived in Richardson, Texas. Their grandparents lived in Abilene, Texas. It was not unusual for them to get to fly ALONE to see their grandparents or for the return trip. They had spent extra time after a holiday with the grandparents and, when they had to go back home, their grandparents dropped them off at the airport (ha, I’m kidding, I don’t they did THAT back then)… they took them to the airport. At some point, a woman saw the 2 boys and said, “Aren’t you awfully young to be flying by yourself?” and Mark replied (with some degree of impatience or disgust), “No, I’m 6 and he’s 5!”  As if that was all she needed to know.

May 10, 2012

Meet Flaco

Filed under: At home,Cats — Janice @ 10:02 pm

I can’t let this week end without telling the story of our newest family member, Flaco (though we discussed the Bones might be a better name for him right now). This is my new baby:


This doesn’t show how teeny tiny he is. Right now he just the right size to pick up and have his torso fit in the hand easily.

Mark has been complaining that the cats love me and don’t love him. His cat, Nathan Jr., was always climbing up in his chair to sit beside him or curl up and nap with him on his chair. Since sweet Nathan has been gone, Mark has not received quite the same measure of affection. With Willie, it is easy to see why he bonded with me. He was about 3 weeks old when Mark left on a one month tour. So while Mark was off working and playing gigs, Willie and I bonded a lot. We bonded a lot because I gave away his mother and brothers and sister before Mark came home. And then sweet Phil was in foster care with a single woman a long time before we got him, so he was always more comfortable with me. So Mark has been saying he wanted a new cat. But it was just talk, we didn’t need a cat.

And then Monday, my friend Miss Trish, our catsitter and an employee of Austin Pets Alive!, the good folks who rescued Phil and raised him as a bottle baby until he was well enough to go out in the world, posted a picture of a kitten they had at their little storefront. He was just the cutest thing. I admired him on Facebook and Trish posted another sweet picture for me. I asked for a picture of his tail (since I’m partial to long-tailed cats) and she told me that his tail was normal length, but had a kink in it. Our cat Willie has an interesting kink in his tail too, to I like that. She suggested I come see this sweet kitten that they called Ian (they are named alphabetically, just like the hurricanes).

I went over to Austin Pets Alive! after work and took them some cat litter while I was at it. It didn’t take long before I was in love with little Ian. He was in a “room” with a couple of grown cats and he had no fear of them and marched around like he owned the place. So before I knew what was happening, I was filling out paperwork and passing their inspection and getting ready to bring little Ian home with me.

I got home just before Mark left for his Monday night gig, but he thoroughly approved of my choice. He knew I got a prime A #1 kitten!

Willie and Phil are not so sure. There was some growling and hissing on the first day, primarily from Phil, and primarily directed at us, not at the kitten. Things have calmed down considerably and the boys have all played together a little bit. Phil is not sleeping up by my neck like he has always done, but I hope he will get back in his old habits, soon. This kitten isn’t a substitution, he’s just an addition.

Come see him before he grows up!

May 7, 2012

Normal People and Normal Lives

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories,Normal Life,Writing — Janice @ 7:45 am

I keep looking around the Internet for blogs about "normal" people and their normal lives, but I’m not having a lot of luck finding them. There was a time when blogs/online journals were all about individuals and their random daily thoughts. That is how I met two good friends in Austin — I used to read their daily diaries when I lived in Dallas. I haven’t determined how to even search for that kind of blog anymore, so if you have a suggestion, please speak up.

This came up when we were on our wonderful New Mexico vacation. I drove by cute little adobe houses in the mountains with smoke curling from their chimney and a sweet little garden plowed and ready to plant by the side of the house and I wondered what their daily life was like there? What did they do for a living? Was their life as peaceful and cozy as it appears or is it hectic and crazed and anxiety-filled like mine?

This isn’t the first time I have had these thoughts. When I was a little girl, Daddy and I had a "thing" when we traveled. He and I liked old houses, where my Mom and sister were more into fancy and new. We would drive past an old broken down, unpainted farmhouse and Daddy would say, "There’s a house for us, Janice, how about that one?" I would agree that it was perfect for us and I would picture what life would be like in that broken down house out in the middle of nowhere.

And I don’t just do it for old houses, either. Mark and I were in Houston for New Year’s and we drove through the River Oaks section of town with their fabulous Christmas lights and decorations and enormous houses, guest houses, 8-car garages, etc., and I wondered about THEIR daily life. Did they really have time to enjoy their beautiful home or were they always traveling for work, staying late at the office?

So, what I’m thinking is that average daily life is interesting to people and I am going to write entries from time to time that are probably a little boring to some, but might be fascinating to someone that wonders what in the world a woman with no children does all day. Or a woman that has one of the coolest jobs in the world does while she sits in her cubicle for 8 hours. And what it is like to be married to a drummer. ETC.

But that entry apparently won’t be this morning. But when I do write it, it will probably start with how I always spend too much time on the computer in the morning and then I get showered and dressed for work in 5 minutes. Then my friends will begin to understand why I look like I do.

May 1, 2012

My Job, Part I

Filed under: Music,My Job,Normal Life — Janice @ 10:28 am

I have never written about my job in detail here, so I want to give you a taste of what I do.

I have had several jobs in my life that people say “Oh how cool!” Being a DJ, obviously, was one of those that people thought would be super fun. It was. Now I have a job with the title “Music Designer,” just like someone might be an Interior Designer, I design the music for a business. Again, people say “How cool!” Lots of co-workers in the building think it is the coolest job in the company and are envious. They are right. It is.

So what does a Music Designer do? Truly, there are a lot of boring parts in most days, just like any job. I usually start my day (late) and read the emails that have come in and deal with anything urgent there. Urgent might mean that a program I have running has run out of songs and needs to be updated. That is rare since we get warnings if that email is going to be coming. Urgent might be questions from my boss or co-workers. The worst urgent is an email telling me that one of my programs has profanity or some other unacceptable song in it and it needs to be re-issued (we call it “republished”) immediately. This can be bad news for the company because the cost involved can be very high. If, for instance, you do the music for a store with 1000 stores in the chain, we might have to re-print 1000 discs (they aren’t CDs, but similar) and send them by a speedy method to 1000 locations. A $10 mailing charge times 1000 locations? You can see why we do NOT want to get an email like that.

So that leads to a lot of what I do …  While many people picture me listening to music I like and just bopping along, enjoying the tune, a lot of my time is spent listening to music I expect to use in a program and checking it for profanity or other things we don’t want in a song (some people don’t want religious references, some don’t want drinking references, most don’t want references to morbid subjects, like suicide, etc.). Friday I was listening to 7 to 10 songs by the heavy metal band Avenge Sevenfold (I think that was their name) for these things. Surprisingly, they were mostly acceptable. No, this isn’t music that I would choose to put into anyone’s program, but I have a casino in Connecticut as a client and they like to have music in their program by the artists that are performing there that week. This band is playing there in June so I needed to get their music into the program. The week after this band, there was an 80s dance music show with about 10 performers on the bill. The only one I recognized was Vanilla Ice, so I included Ice, Ice, Baby, of course, and then I had to see if there were songs in our database by the other performers and then find out which ones (if any) were hits that people might recognize (since I didn’t) and then I had to listen to all of them and see what lyric problems they might have. Heavy metal, rap and dance, and who knows what. This casino has so many different styles of music it is rather weird to have them all in the same program. As a Music Designer, I would NOT recommend it, but they are the client. And when I am in a casino and I hear the noise levels of the machine and the people and barely hear the music, I realize that it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

When I’ve finished with a little project like that, I might go to work on another client’s music, gathering appropriate songs and compiling them for their monthly update. Each client is different in what combination of types of music they want, so I have to remind myself of their current program and then go hunting. Right now I have 3 clients that use a LOT of Texas Country music. That is one of my specialties, so I have been working to get licensing for a lot of the artists from Texas so that we can use their music. I also try to put their music in other programs to make it worth their while to go through the hassle of being licensed with us (we do pay them, it is worth it). Some of my clients have lots of the current top 40 music in their programs. Some of these songs on the charts are songs I don’t use in any other programs, so, again, I have to listen to them and familiarize myself with them. Some I may choose NOT to use because even though the client THINKS they want all the hits, I can hear that some of these are too far out there for them or the themes are too dark or too sexy or something. I use my judgment on these things. But it requires me listening to a whole lot of music that I don’t like.

But I also take care of a lot of programs that are not specifically for one client, but many might use the program. Stuff like “hits from the 60s,” “hits from the 50s,” “country,” “traditional country,” “bluegrass,” etc. I enjoy most of these because there is a clear-cut delineation of what works and what doesn’t work on most of them. Was it a hit? Is it the right era or genre? This week I did a lot of work on the 60s program. It is ever-evolving because our technology upgrades and then I can use better versions of the same song, so I am always looking to see if I can find a better quality version of songs that are already in the program. Many times I do checks and realize that there are missing songs from an artist. Perhaps when someone else started this program we didn’t have that song, or maybe I missed it at some time, or we didn’t have it. But now, I am looking at, say, hits by the Supremes and I realize “Hey, I loved the song The Happening. Why isn’t it in here?” I’ll go and check and find that we do have it and I’ll add it. Or, if we don’t have it and I think it is important enough to have in the program, I’ll go searching for it in other databases where we can buy music and request it. I did that last week with Neil Sedaka’s slow 70s version of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. And that made me think of Tony Christie’s song “Amarillo,” which was written by Neil Sedaka and was a minor hit for Christie, but I still wanted it, so I requested it, too.

A LOT of my time is that “oh that reminds me” thing that leads me far afield from the program I am working on. Or I’ll be working on, say, the 70s program and realize that one of these hits would be perfect for a restaurant I have music in so I’ll save that song in their folder so I’ll come back to it when their time comes. Or I’ll go see the whole list of songs by that artist and pull several for that restaurant or other stores. I may throw them out later when I come back to it, but at least it give me a start on finding their music.

Well, that’s enough for this entry of “What I Do.” This stuff fills up most of my time in most of my days, but isn’t my full job. We’ll get to that another day.

April 28, 2012

My Radio History

Filed under: Radio stuff — Janice @ 10:24 pm

It’s been an interesting week with reminders of all my days in radio popping up. Right now I am listening to a fabulous hour-long CD that a Facebook friend that used to work in Amarillo sent to me. It has airchecks (tapes) of disc jockies that worked in Amarillo in the 50s and 60s, along with commercials and other things that remind me of home. Snippets of music and commercial slogans make me sit up and say, “Oh yeah, I remember that!”

Along with that, this week someone is demolishing the KVET building I worked at on Lamar in Austin. There is a reunion of the old employees in the parking lot the evening before that sounds like a lot of fun, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to go to it. I worked in that building less than 6 months. When I first went there in August of 2001, I thought, “Wow, this is a cool, old authentic radio building!” It was so old-fashioned with it’s long narrow stairway up to the actual studios and offices on the second floor. The studios were incredibly cramped and the sales people practically sat in each others’ laps in their offices. It didn’t take long for me to realize how nasty dirty that old building was and it lost a lot of its charm when I first pulled myself up to the board and my fingers hit rock hard chewing gum that had been put there by disc jockies for decades.

I have also talked to some people this week and had the opportunity to tell some of my radio stories. It brought back memories of stations I might have only worked at a month before I moved on (yes, I could be fickle) and stations that I spent years at and loved so much about them. I don’t want to be in radio again, I just want it to be 1981 again, I think.

April 22, 2012

Writers’ Inspiration

Filed under: Writing — Janice @ 9:51 pm

The writer’s workshop would have been PERFECT if a.) there had been 10 lively, engaging participants, mostly younger than me, but several right around my age, that all were interesting and vivacious and turned to me for my knowledge and wit, b.) I felt confident and superior and realized that my many years of writing and of being published have laid the perfect foundation for my most productive period of writing to begin now, and c.) Sarah Bird had seen me among the participants and exclaimed, “Oh, wonderful! I want you all to meet my friend and favorite reader, Janice Williams. Janice would you come up here and tell everyone how much you love me and my writing? “

Okay, so it wasn’t the perfect writer’s workshop. As I looked around the room of 50 or so gray-haired women and men, a couple of baldies and maybe 3 who could pass for someone under 40, I realized that I am a middle-age wannabe writer. It was a lot easier to go to writers’ conferences and workshops in my 20s and be a young, eager, wannabe writer.

Saturday I participated in a really nice day at the beautiful Blue Rock Studios near Wimberly with Sarah Bird telling us all she knows. She claims it was her first seminar, which is a surprise and I think this now opens up a whole new opportunity for her. I loved it. She talked about her writing style and did a lot of motivating about “telling the story you need to tell.” I know I have lots of stories I want to tell and there are plenty that don’t require the death of the person I am writing about, so I need to get with it.

This TINY little blog is a small start. It is nice to be back. Thank Sarah.


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