Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

March 31, 2014

Getting There

Filed under: Bluebonnets,Cemeteries,Writing — Janice @ 9:57 pm

Well, I keep saying I have everything set up on my new computer in order to do my jobs and my fun stuff and then I think of something else I need. I just installed the Windows Live Writer. It does make it a little easier to get the blogs written and sent to the site and it makes the pictures a lot prettier, so I am glad to have it up and running again.

I did have dinner tonight with my “muse” Diana. We talked about writing and children and money and life and it was really great to see her one-on-one again. I think we talked on the phone last summer and were going to get together on my porch when the fall weather cooled things down and here we are having already made it through winter and it will be too hot on the porch before we know it.

Diana is about to finish her master’s degree in a specialized study of Texas music history and Texas writers. It’s a one-of-a-kind degree and she’s the perfect person to blaze the trail. It’s the kind of degree I would love to HAVE, but I’ve seen all the work she’s put into it and I don’t think it’s the kind of degree I want to work toward. I think my school days are over. I admire her for taking it on.

I am not a photographer, but I feel like I need to insert a photo for interest. This was taken about a week ago in LaGrange. I love their old city cemetery and the bluebonnets there are incredible. This doesn’t come close to doing it justice or really showing you how thick they are. I will have to purloin Mark’s good pictures one of these days.

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March 30, 2014

Blogging Again

Filed under: Cemeteries,Travel,Writing — Janice @ 8:08 pm

I have to learn how to write a blog post all over again. I did upgrade my computer after having the difficulties before. I got a nice pretty sleek new HP and it is working like a dream. Like many people, I didn’t like Windows 8. I went in with the intention of upgrading my knowledge and learning to like it, but soon learned it was invented for people with a tablet and the ability to swipe swipe swipe with their fingers to get to things. Like the lady says, "I ain’t got time for that s***." Finding that it took about 5 clicks just to get the power to turn off, I went in search of a better way. I found a program (and this reminds me I need to go actually buy it, I’m in a trial) that makes everything look like Windows 7 did. It’s called Start 8 and it is good. My menus are all just like they were before. I haven’t found a downside to it yet.

Mark and I have been out taking bluebonnet pictures today and last weekend. That sent me looking through old bluebonnet pictures. I could make album after album of me in the bluebonnets. It is awfully narcissistic to have so many photos in the bluebonnets, but when I’ve got a great photographer for a husband and I love the bluebonnets, I don’t care what others might say. I never had my picture in the bluebonnets as a baby or a child, so I’m making up for lost time.

I was looking through the pictures from a great trip we took 2 years ago. I can’t believe it has already been 2 years. After the craziness of South By Southwest, we ran off to Taos to give Mark several days in a row in the same place to rest and recuperate. As I recall, he felt no need to rest and we were on the go every day walking to the Plaza or driving to the canyon bridge or exploring something. It was a wonderful vacation with lots of adventures and a LITTLE bit of rest.

One memory was about how my keen eye for a cemetery gave me one to explore. We were driving down from Eagle Nest after a terrific hamburger at a little Mom and Pop roadside restaurant and enjoying the vista. Suddenly, off to the side, up a steep incline, I saw a grave marker or a cross or something that said CEMETERY to me. I hollered, "Cemetery," and Mark, being the great exploration companion that he is, threw on the brakes, put it in reverse and got us parked beside the road before I bailed out to see what I could find.

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Very few graves were readable. There was one or two stone ones that were "real" carved tombstones. One was for a poor little 4-year-old boy that died in 1913. I can only imagine how tough the conditions were in the mountains of New Mexico in 1913. New Mexico had only been a state for a year or so when he died. He had a Spanish surname so his family may have lived in the area for generations, going back to Mexico. Or maybe they had just come there, looking to homestead.

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I don’t remember how it happened, but I do remember turning in that cemetery and falling face-forward downhill. Luckily, I fell and stopped. I might have tumbled all the way to the road. It was a super sandy, fine dusty dirt and I came up covered. I wasn’t hurt and the fun continued with more careful footing.

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There was no gate or sign on the cemetery, so I didn’t know the name, but I though I certainly would be able to find it on a map or on findagrave.com in the future. No such luck. I can’t even pinpoint exactly where it was and if I went back again I don’t know that my eyes would be able to find it.

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This cemetery had no bluebonnets, which is what I really love, so I hope I can continue the postings and get to the fabulous pictures Mark took last week at a bluebonnet covered cemetery. My friend Diana and I are getting together tomorrow to turn over a new leaf and make a pact and write more in our blogs, so I hope that happens. I know the getting-together will happen. I hope the pact and the writing happens.

March 3, 2014

Computer Fritz

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 9:59 pm

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Well, this is almost the computer I am working from, it seems. Or not. Those computers with the big floppy discs and all the print in one color didn’t seem to ever break, did they?

This computer (an HP Pavilion Entertainment PC Laptop) has served me quite well for 4 or 5 years. I bought it as a refurb from Best Buy… something I highly recommend if you can find what you need among the refurbed computers. It saved me a lot of money and this has been a great PC. Ah, but lately I have been getting the blue screen of death more often than I would like. I try to do a restart and I get a message saying that this computer has no operating system. Scary! Yesterday I bit the bullet and ordered a new HP laptop for myself. Now I can’t remember if it was a refurb or not. It was a steal, so it may have been. It is going to be so much faster than this one I will be amazed no matter what, I’m sure.

The thing I hate about a new computer is finding the software I use and getting it put onto the new one. I like the apps on the phone. You get a new phone and you have to reload apps, but usually something somewhere tells you what ones you had before and, if you forget, you can get them so easily when you need them. The software I need may be harder to acquire next week, but I’m trying to not think about that.

I have to wonder how many computers I have had through the years now. I have been such a cheapskate that I have had several hand-me-down computers (an Apple II-E!) and cheap ones that didn’t work out well. I am glad I am learning to not go the total cheap route (waiting until someone wants to hand down an old one). Next week, new computer and all sorts of new resolutions about my web page and blog and having all my genealogy files in order, etc. hahahaha That’ll last about 3 minutes and then I’ll start checking Facebook and forgetting everything.

January 19, 2014

Cross-stitch

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

Christmas

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

Crosswords

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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