Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

January 19, 2014


Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 11:31 am

I got an email from the Old Farmer’s Almanac today (yes, I get emails from the Old Farmer’s Almanac). It was advertising cross-stitch kits and patterns. I couldn’t help but click on it. And I couldn’t help but think how “fun” it would be to order one and work some cross stitch again. Fun isn’t really the right word. Challenging, maybe? Satisfying? It is certainly an art form and I have felt artistic and creative (along with frustrated and destructive) when I’ve cross-stitched in the past. It set me to thinking…

No, I didn’t order anything and I really don’t want to do any sewing and I know it would be a waste. I might do cross stitch again if I were a.) single, b.) catless, and c.) had someone who could be the recipient because I really don’t want any cross-stitch samplers on my walls.

Cross stitch, though, is one of my many talents. One that I would think that few girls learn anymore and few women under 50 see as something interesting.

Does it show that I am from a whole different generation that I learned to cross stitch at my grandmother’s side when I was a very little girl? Maybe not only a different generation, but a different/unique part of the country. Both of my grandmothers cross-stitched, but Mamma Williams, the one I lived closest to, did a LOT more cross-stitching. She also sewed some clothes, knitted, crocheted, and quilted. She cooked and gardened and wrote letters and kept house, too, but when I think about her, I’m usually thinking of her in her living room chair with her “bad leg” propped up on a footstool, with “handwork” in her hands, watching Johnny Carson. Beside her chair was a sewing box with legs where all of her threads and scissors and work stayed when she wasn’t working on it.

I still have the first embroidery I ever did. It is a cup towel with a design of a anthropomorphic head of lettuce digging in the garden. It is probably all pretty simple stitches, but it is colorful and cute and I’m sure Mamma had to cut out stitches and knots a lot and have me redo things. I am quite sure I did it before I was 6 years old. I remember participating in a in-class school play in first grade where I played a bunny child and the bunny children were all doing various household chores. I took my embroidery hoop and a piece I was working on then and was quite pleased that I was not just acting, I knew how to embroidery. I also remember no one else caring one whit that I could do it. And I remember many many knots and tangles as I tried to be a bunny and sew at the same time.

Over the years, I embroidered a lot. Mother worked on a big bedspread/quilt with cross stitch (for years and years) and I think I helped on it some. There was also a large blue tablecloth that either she or I started and worked on for years and years and YEARS. It became such a millstone (you can’t throw away something that has so much work in it) that I eventually had Mamma finish it for me. We had to buy new thread because I’d somehow lost all the thread it came with (it was a kit) and the new thread didn’t quite match the old thread. So I now have that blue tablecloth with two distinct threads (and with her stiches being much better than mine) that sits in my china cabinet and possibly has never even been used.

I have several sets of embroidered pillow cases. They rarely get put into service. I am actually using one set right now, though, because during the bad pollen seasons in Austin (generally January through December), I try to change the pillow cases more often than the sheets so our faces aren’t pressed up to pillowcases full of pollen from our hair. I think the ones I’m using were embroidered by Mamma, but I have others that were either Mom or my other grandmother. I’m not even sure.

I think somewhere in the house or the attic I have a counted cross-stitch sampler I made for Mamma with some quote about how wonderful grandchildren are and it has the names of her five grandkids around the sides. I inherited it because I did it and I like that family stuff… but what do you do with something like that? I had another kit just like it that I was going to make for the other grandmother with her 11 grandkids, but never even started it.

I sometimes have that thought “Why don’t I ____ anymore?” and you can fill the blank in with cross-stitching or quilting or the other things I used to do while watching TV. Then I remember that I have 3 cats that LOVE ribbons and strings. And I remember that TV watching comes far behind working on the computer. And I remember that Mark absolutely hates watching TV with me when I’m sewing because of the frequent “OWWW!” that he hears when my fingers get stuck with the needle (that happens a lot in quilting). I also don’t paint, bake cakes, work crosswords, or play piano like I used to. If I had 10 more hours a day at my disposal, I know I STILL wouldn’t do any of those things. Knowing that, I need to divest myself of some of the tools of those hobbies, but that is very very hard. It is part of my identity. I am a person who owns a piano. I am a person who owns a sewing machine and knows how to use it. I am a person who has a big box of material because I like to quilt. I’m trying to change my self-identification to “I am a person that doesn’t cling to old hobbies” and “I am a _____” (whatever the opposite of hoarder is). Since I can’t even come up with the WORD, it is hard to live up to the image.

January 6, 2014

Not dead yet

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 10:17 pm

I haven’t made it back into the daily routine yet. Today was day 17 with this pinched nerve. It has improved tremendously. Acupuncture really did some amazing things with the pain. Two trips to the chiropractor got me straightened out enough to walk without yelping too much. I can start out walking and feeling almost okay, but it degenerates pretty quickly. I tried walking to our mailbox yesterday and it took a LONG time to get back. That’s only maybe 4 houses down.

I was back at work today, too. The trip TO the bathroom isn’t so bad, but the return trip is slow. Sleeping is much better, at least, and I can sleep on both sides now and get from one to another without too much pain.

Meanwhile, cedar fever has taken the place of the bronchitis. Joy. It has made me super tired, but I might as well sleep since I can’t walk.

Our Christmas decorations are still up, the tree fully decorated. It’s high time it gets put away, but you do what you can do. It’s bitter cold today, like it is all across the country, so most everyone is hunkered down and staying in. That is fine by me, too.

This is making me feel guilty for any time I was ever unsympathetic to my grandmother’s bad hip and leg that she suffered with her whole life, or to my mom’s bad knees that she has hobbled on for years (at least until she got the replacement last year). I’m learning about a whole new sort of pain with this!

December 27, 2013

Slipping Back

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 10:29 pm

I guess I didn’t succeed in the “Holidailies” since there’s been a few days of gap since I wrote last. I certainly didn’t expect it myself.

These 2 things may be completely unrelated (though I doubt it), but I’ve been going through physical therapy for a bum knee for the last few weeks. Lots and lots of exercises to strengthen both knees and help my balance. I was at the PT place on Thursday last week. On Saturday I did some Christmas shopping on glorious South Congress. It was a really beautiful day for it after pouring rain that morning. I had on good solid athletic shoes because I knew I needed to be sturdy on my feet. But, somehow, during the day, my hip just started hurting like it has never hurt before. And there was some pain in my thigh, and knee (not the bum knee, the “good” knee), and around to the shin. I kept shaking it out and stretching it, thinking it was just crooked or something, but it was not going away. I didn’t want to cut my shopping short because we were having such a good day, but eventually we called it a day and I went home.

Let’s just fast-forward to today and totally skip the week of bronchitis and wheezy lungs and croupy cough I’ve had (that has NOTHING to do with the leg). I have a pinched nerve in my back. Never in my life have I had such a thing. And I wouldn’t wish this on anyone except maybe my worst enemies (I have a list if you’d like to see). Seven full days of not being able to walk normally or roll over in bed without a scream.

We were traveling on two of the days and then we had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so finally yesterday I was able to call my PT place and say, “Get me in, NOW.” A great PT worked on me for an hour and got a little bit of mobility into the leg, but didn’t do a lot for the pain. Back this morning for more torture, I mean treatment, and I’ll be back Monday. Now everything I read on the Internet makes it sound like a pinched nerve is just something you treat and live with and isn’t really fixable. I certainly hope that is not the case or I am going to turn into a 300-pound woman because I won’t be able to move across the room.

I’d like to be that brave, smiling-through-the-pain kind of person, but I don’t think that will ever be me. I am cussing and yelping with every step. Today she did show me the positions that will pinch the nerve the least and give me the least pain so I’m sticking to them. Of course, I now walk like an old crone. I’m hoping for better things tomorrow and by Monday. At least with the bronchitis calmed down I am feeling more like writing and WILL get back in the Holidailies spirit.

December 22, 2013

Short posts

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 11:33 pm

And shorter!

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December 21, 2013

Shortest Day of the Year

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 11:31 pm

Today is the shortest day of the year. The Winter Solstice. I need to read up on how the ancients discovered which day was the shortest and predicted it. I assume they knew in advance so they could plan their Solstice celebration, right? It didn’t just sneak up on them and they had to throw an impromptu party? “Quick, make some cheese dip, this night seems awfully short!”

As the days gets shorter and we get deeper into my holidays and days off and traveling, my Holidailies entries certainly get shorter, too!

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December 20, 2013


Filed under: At home — Janice @ 11:33 pm

Christmas is just almost here.

I was trying to think tonight what would make this Christmas “perfect.” Sadly, it can’t be perfect without my family and it can’t be perfect if I have to travel. The two cancel each other out. We are going to be home alone for Christmas, which can be very relaxing and fun. Ideal is starting the day with cinnamon rolls and coffee and oranges. Reading through the Christmas cards and letters that have arrived (since Mark hasn’t seen any of them). Maybe remembering to open presents (some years we have totally forgotten that part). Watching a movie. Taking a nap. Reading a book. Taking a walk. All of those things can make for a really nice Christmas Day.

I have no idea what we are going to eat on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The grocery is closed, of course, so I had to buy enough food to keep us stocked up for a month, even though they only close the ONE day. We could eat turkey and dressing on Christmas Day, but that is if someone (oh, yes, me) cooks it. One year we had a lovely Christmas Day lunch at the restaurant Green Pastures. I don’t really want that this year because that does mean you have to get up and get dressed nicely. But they do make a lovely brunch with every food in the world available to enjoy. And their delicious “milk punch” which is sort of like an egg nog or a melted ice cream with liquor.

Ideal would be playing a card game or working a crossword puzzle. Not that I have done those in the last 20 years or so. But it would be fun. We’ll make phone calls to the families on both sides and some friends, too. Maybe we’ll even do some Skype this year and see what is going on in the other households.

We are traveling a little for Christmas with a fast trip between now and the holiday. That will be fun, the traffic shouldn’t be horrible, and the food, company, and festivity should be nice. I’m looking forward to it.

Full reports along the way, I hope. I don’t want to mess up my Holidaily record!

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December 19, 2013


Filed under: At home,Normal Life — Janice @ 9:41 pm

I heard tonight on the radio that the crossword puzzle is 100 years old this weekend. The very first puzzle was published in a New York newspaper 100 years ago on the weekend before Christmas and it was a big success and became quite the fad for the next 10 years. Of course the fad is still going.

I have a crossword puzzle laying right here by the computer, but I don’t know if I’ll get around to working it. My printer has an app that prints it for me automatically and I am lazy about actually doing it.

I do love crossword puzzles. There have been times in my life where I’ve been pretty good at them. Back in my early radio days we would get the Amarillo Daily News at the radio station in the morning and my roommate Beth, who was also a copywriter for the station, would each work it furiously, comparing notes and helping one another –well, usually she helped ME, not the other way around.

I think I got into the crosswords the deepest 20 years ago when I was working for Metro Traffic Control in Dallas. They are the folks that do the traffic reports on the radio. I had worked in the airplane morning and afternoon for a time and then came in to the offices to work for a few months before I left. While I worked in our building, on the 50th floor of Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas (yes, inside the iconic ball), my coworkers and I became AVID (freakish is probably the word) crossword puzzlers. We had our jobs to do and we did that well, but in the times between reports, we would whirl around and face the center of our bullpen and compare notes on our puzzles and help one another. This, of course, was before the Internet so we couldn’t easily look things up so we would share our personal knowledge and also wear out a dictionary looking for words, like Schipperke. I still know that breed of dog because of those days. I’m sure there are other things I learned in that time.

The crossword breeds a compulsiveness in the solver. I absolutely hated leaving clues unsolved or having that ONE LETTER that you were unsure. It always seemed to make no sense that I could have every letter in two different words, but still not be certain what the one letter they had in common was. Of course, that is what makes a good puzzle. I only liked the puzzles that had the theme with the long answers that were all tied together. If I at least understood the theme I felt a great sense of satisfaction back in those crossword days.

There’s been a million movies and romance novels where the hero and heroine work the New York Times Sunday crossword together in happy companionship. I have never had help with a crossword in my life from Mark, but I still can dream. I know all I have to do is ask and he will supply the answer to the good music questions like “Aretha has it” on this one on my desk right now.

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December 18, 2013

Larry Lujack is Dead

Filed under: Radio stuff — Janice @ 11:03 pm

First, I have to acknowledge that I got “Best of the Holidailies” for my second Ray Price blog this week. Thank you! That was nice. I didn’t even know I was in a competition, I will try harder now (…ha, maybe).

And I don’t want my blog to be just obituaries (well, that would be AWESOME, but I like writing about other things, too), but Larry Lujack died today. Maybe he’s not know to most of the world, but he was the “Superjock,” the legendary morning man on WLS/Chicago during the heyday of radio when I was a guppy dj wanting to be big time.

This made me think about DJ’s in general. When I was just getting into the world of radio in 1978 and 1979, we would hear about these amazing DJ’s in far-off places like Chicago and San Francisco and LA and Miami. Larry Lujack, John “Records” Landecker, the Greaseman, Dr. Don Rose, Howard Stern, Don Imus, and on and on. If we were lucky, someone would have a cassette tape that was a tape of a tape of a tape that someone had had of some of their best bits. Or maybe it was just a tape of one random morning that a jock taped when he was visiting their town. We would listen in awe to these guys. I still think of bits that I heard on those cassettes (remind me to tell you about Dr. Don’s ‘No, just kiss me’ bit some time).

I recently compiled several big boxes of reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes that I have been hauling around from house to house for 30 years. I would like to get rid of them, but I have to listen to them again and see what I have. A lot of them are these airchecks that I gathered from various places.

We would listen and discuss the airchecks and we all got better in the process. You wouldn’t just listen and laugh, you listened and absorbed and tried variations of their bits. No one in our market had heard these brilliant bits so we could rip them off without worry and try them on the all-night show where no one would hear it if we messed up the punch line or the sound effects. It was on-the-job training of the best kind.

Now, if you want to hear the best DJ in America in real time while they are on the air, their station is streaming and you can hear it. If you can’t listen while they are on the air, their station probably puts their best bits on their website somewhere. Or someone may be a collector and puts their bits on the air. There are full websites dedicated to the old airchecks, too. If you want to hear Larry Lujack in his prime or more recently, you can dial it up in seconds and listen. There are also youtube videos of these jocks working their shows or doing commercials or demonstrating how it is done. The sad thing is… there are so few jocks to teach anymore. It may be an exaggeration, but there aren’t the hundreds of kids clamoring to be rock jocks because the glamour of the rock jock is gone – it seems. No kid is working the all-night shift in Amarillo and trying out accents and bits and elaborate raps in an effort to get to move up to 7 to midnight.

One reason I always liked Larry Lujack was that he was himself on the air. He read stories and had bits and conversations, but he didn’t have characters or accents (or if he did, I don’t remember them). He was just himself and being my own self was something that I thought I could be better than I could act. That’s the only kind of DJ I ever was and Superjock Lujack was a great example to me.

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December 17, 2013

The Little Drummer Boy

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 11:15 pm

I was trying to find something to post and write about tonight. It’s always a matter of “which one,” not “what,” and then I found this priceless memory:


We haven’t been struck by lightning yet, but it still could happen. This was many years ago when we lived in Carrollton. That was our Nativity scene set up on my old radio in the entryway to our home. But since we live in a world of drums, having the little drummer boy in our nativity was very important.

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December 16, 2013

Ray Price, again

Filed under: Music — Janice @ 11:12 pm

Ray Price died today, officially. His son apparently jumped the gun yesterday and posted it and the news organizations of the world printed obituaries. All were retracted and then run today with the extra paragraph about the first errors in reporting his death. Mark has had some Ray Price playing around the house yesterday and today and has taught me more about the Ray Price shuffle, the sound all good drummers adore (and Mark is one of the best at playing it).

And the picture I was seeking finally appeared tonight:


I don’t think I have any audio from that day at all. But good memories. I was wearing my hiking boots because the mud was bad. It had rained a lot that week (in July! unheard of!) and everything was muddy and hard to get to. We were set up in a tent in the backstage area, far away from the stage and the show. But from time to time when the station was going to play a couple or three songs, I would make my way through the mud and slip out into the crowd so I could get a little bit of feel of what was going on on the stage so I could talk about it on the radio. I mean, that’s why I was there, right? I did that a couple of times early in the day, but then, at one point, when I came back to the backstage gate I had been in and out of several times, they would NOT let me back in. Backstage pass or not, I was out of luck. I had to hoof it hard and heavy to another gate and get in that way. I know I barely made it back that time and was huffing and puffing on the microphone. Of course, it made for a good story that I could use on the air.

I’m glad I interviewed Ray Price that day. I don’t remember having any other phenomenal interviews. Since Willie’s show doesn’t happen until midnight at a picnic, I never had him on the air. Yes, he was around. I am sure he was playing with each act, like he does, but I didn’t have him on for some reason or another. I won’t name names, but I mostly interviewed minor players, except for Ray. Lots of acts were delayed because of the traffic trying to get to the picnic. I was fortunate that I had gone out early that morning. I think Toby Keith was one artist that had his bus stuck in the backup for hours and his set time had to change.

But, back to Ray Price. I hope more recognition comes to him now. Yes, it would have been nicer if he had had more of it during his lifetime. At least he had a full career that lasted his entire long life and so many others either didn’t have the long life (Hank) or their career dropped off dramatically before their long life ended (Faron Young). Lefty Frizzell seems to have gotten more respect after he died than before (or maybe that’s just me), but I hope there is even more love coming Ray Price’s way now.

Michael Corcoran, a terrific Austin music writer, wrote a piece about Ray Price this week called “For the Good Times…My Ass.” It is well worth reading to learn more about the man and to see a much better photo of Ray Price taken by my husband, Mark Hays.

I just got off on a tangent of watching YouTube videos of Ray Price and found his induction into the Hall of Fame. It gives you some of the reasons Ray Price was so important in country music. Interesting to see Lyle Lovett on the front row of the CMAs, too. I wish the Hall of Fame inductees still received this kind of recognition each year, but they do not, sadly. Bobby Bare barely got to stand and tip his hat last month. But that is another tangent. This other video of Ray Price is not a great one… just one from someone’s phone at Gruene Hall 7 months ago. But it shows how beautiful his voice was right up until the end. And how he was still putting on a great show.


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