Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 15, 2013

My Organization and Ray Price

Filed under: Austin,Music,My Job,Radio stuff — Janice @ 11:09 pm

Ray Price is dead. Or Ray Price is not dead. This is one of the weirder cases I’ve seen of someone jumping the gun on a death. Apparently an “official” kind of source (like his son) said, Yes, he is dead, and all the good magazines and news outlets (like Rolling Stone) went with it and printed obituaries. Then someone else came along and said, no, he’s not dead.

Mark took some amazing pictures of Ray Price at a Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic in about 2008, I think. I wasn’t at it. I was driving home from celebrating in Denton listening to it on the radio, though, and it was interesting to hear it and then hear Mark’s version of the disorganized mess it really was.

But today it dawns on me that I interviewed Ray Price back in my radio heyday, too. He was part of Willie’s picnic when it was at Spicewood. I do not know the date on that one, but I’m guessing 2004? 2005? I have put the word out and hope to find out soon.

I hope finding the year will help me find my photos! I think we were a digital world by that time. I know I have many pictures of that day. It was a very muddy mess and I wore true hiking boots because the muck was so thick. I have pictures meeting the Keller Brothers (who later became friends and Mark’s bandmates). I have a picture of me with the South Austin Jug Band with Willie Pipkin, another bandmate of Mark’s. I have a picture of someone from the Grateful Dead being interviewed. And me interviewing Bill Mack, the legendary disc jockey, and a picture of us doing the “grip and grin.” And I know I have a picture of me interviewing Ray Price. No g-n-g of us, but me interviewing him. But I can’t find it.

I hate that my organization is ALWAYS like this. I never can seem to put my hands on THE picture that I want. I hope I can find it before he is really gone. A very nice man. I don’t think the interview was anything special. But I have seen him perform since then and he was still incredible. He was better than either Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard and he was older than both.

December Gardening

Filed under: Bluebonnets,Garden — Janice @ 12:24 am

I am very grateful to live in Austin, Texas (as evidenced by the title of this blog, I suppose). This past week has had us scrambling to protect the tender vegetation when we had some hard freezes, but still, all in all, Decembers can be so nice. We still have green grass and plenty of green plants after several nights of freezes. I liked this picture I took this week:


That is a pot on the fence between our house and the neighbor’s. It is the 3 kinds of plants we have in the garden. There’s a resurrection plant that is frozen. Dead. Gone. Except, it is a resurrection plant so it may come back, but if it doesn’t, there’s enough babies all over the garden to keep the plant going. Also there is a cactus that is not thrilled with the cold weather, but can tolerate it. There’s some sort of superdead branch and I don’t even know what that is. Then there is the bluebonnets! I just love the bluebonnets and I love when they plant themselves in our flowerpots as well as in the garden. As you can see, cold doesn’t bother the bluebonnet and it is happy, green, and just itching to start blooming come March. It won’t be long.

In the background on the right are my dead firebushes. They will come back in the spring and get tall again by August, depending on how much rain we get. But they are always my gauge of whether we have had a hard freeze or not. We had a couple already this year that froze the tips, but this last bunch froze the whole plant. Now I wait for a nice winter day and I will cut all those dead branches down. Meanwhile, on the left is a beautiful green blooming plant. I’ve forgotten what it is, but it is a Texas native I planted in the not too distant past. This year, I am pretty sure.

And in the middle, be sure and notice our unique snowman. He has gone viral again this year and pictures of him are on the internet and all over the world. One drum site has it on its Facebook page and it has over 5000 likes. That is a lot of people. This is his third winter to grace our yard.

December 13, 2013


Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 9:15 pm

It’s the weekend (almost) and that makes me think of getting the rest of my Christmas cards written and getting my Christmas candies made and going to an office Christmas party tomorrow night (the fun one, not the obligatory one) and Santa. I need to write my letter to Santa. I wonder what I was asking for in 1963? Hairspray maybe?


December 12, 2013

Fabulous Homes

Filed under: Austin — Janice @ 11:20 pm

I got to go to a holiday party tonight at a mansion. I guess they aren’t called mansions anymore, but “big house” doesn’t do it justice. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a house this luxurious… no, yes, I was, that time in Vienna when I toured the Schoenbrunn palace!


I can’t show you a picture of this home, but it was only a couple of years old and was designed by an architect and had so many fabulous rooms and features. Every window and room in the house was big and open and faced west overlooking the western part of Austin and Lake Austin and Pennybacker Bridge. No neighbors in sight at all. No neighbors around to look in either. A fireplace that faced two directions – I’ve always thought that would be the coolest thing. And instead of gas logs in their fireplace, like we have, they had concrete balls of various sizes sitting on a tray of white “sand.” Totally modern. There was a guest house and a swimming pool and a three-car garage. There were imported marble walls in the bath, recovered pine boards on the floors in some rooms, granite countertops, of course, and a fabulous curved wall made of slivers of limestone less than a half-inch wide, some polished, some rough.

The house was lovely, but the hosting couple were even lovelier. I have never been in any of their homes, even though I’ve known them for more than 10 years. I was surprised tonight that this wasn’t a big holiday party for all of their friends and family, it was just a very intimate party for “our” office. In the past we have had a happy hour or a dinner together for Christmas, but we didn’t do it last year and now that the office has gone separate ways, it certainly didn’t seem like we’d have a party this year. That made it extra special that they went to the effort to have us there for a party and a chance to see one another. I work remotely with these folks and rarely see them face-to-face. I began working for these 2 doctors in 2002. I had to stop working for them when I got full-time work in radio again, but when that ended and they took me back I promised I would not quit typing their dictation until they wanted me to quit typing. I’ve been typing with them this second go-round since the beginning of 2008. Wow. Just about to be 6 years. It is a wonderful thing that I can do it remotely. They send me digital audio, I turn it into digital text and send it back to them. It’s a great way to work, but we do miss out on some of that office camaraderie. It is nice to get a taste of it once a year.

December 11, 2013


Filed under: At home,Family,Normal Life — Janice @ 11:46 pm

I know I am jumping all over the place with topics, but YOU try writing every single day! I have many more topics I would like to write about, but so many take thought, preparation, and TIME. I’m writing most of these on the fly and hope that’s okay with the 2.5 people that read it.

I was thinking today about cartoons. The New Yorker posted a cartoon on Facebook of a giant pipeline with deer doing the limbo to get under it. It was amusing. I “clipped it” (modern day version of clipping, I shared it) for my sister because it reminded me of Daddy. Daddy worked for a natural gas company and they put in pipelines and Dad was the surveyor that told them where to put the pipeline. He had a cartoon from the era of the Alaskan pipeline under the glass on his desk. It had the giant pipeline with an igloo and Eskimo woman on one side and a crying baby on the other and her look of bewilderment.

I love cartoons and love the New Yorker cartoons that are so witty. But I do miss clipping cartoons. When I was in my 20s or so, EVERYONE would have a cartoon or two or a dozen on their refrigerator. Some of us would have them taped to the bathroom mirror. Sometimes you’d have them on your office door or bulletin board. When a cartoon resonated, you saved it for yourself, but it let others see your personality, too, by what you chose to keep. These days we pass them on, but they are soon forgotten.

Back in my 20s I put cartoons on my refrigerator. But then I started gluing them into a blank book I had. The book became a diary of the times because I was cutting out cartoons that reflected what was happening in my life. There were cartoons about college graduation and the difficulty of finding a job and lots of cartoons about the single life. I still have the book with all the yellowed cartoons, some with notes about why I thought they were amusing and what was going on in my life at the time.

One of my all time favorite cartoons is such an inside joke that I can’t believe a cartoonist drew it. I have a reputation in my family for remembering when a variety of things happened, some that might be considered dull or unimportant. I regularly remind Mark what anniversary we are celebrating today. I can tell you dates that we moved or bought something or took a trip. The cartoon is The Wizard of Id and one peasant says to another, “It was 12 years ago today that we put in the new steps.” The other peasant says something like, “Your life has been one exciting moment after another.” Doesn’t really matter what the second peasant said, the first peasant is ME!

I may not be as bad (or good) about remembering things as I used to be. Mostly because too many things have happened in my life now to remember them all. But, on that note, I have been sad today because I know it was 7 years ago today that I saw my Dad alive for the last time. He had been in the hospital over a month and had been unconscious most of that time following a cancer/jaw surgery. On the last day I saw him I stopped by the hospital on my way back to Austin (he was in Dallas and I was up there every weekend) because he had had a setback and was back in ICU. But he was lucid and I certainly expected to see him again on Saturday, but he died Friday morning.

So, back to the cartoons… It was a pleasant reminder of Daddy today to see a cartoon that he would have liked. I guess if he were still with us I would have forwarded it to him in an email. Since he isn’t, I’m glad I got this funny reminder of the things that made him happy. I think I’ll put it up on the refrigerator.

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December 10, 2013

Bone Tired

Filed under: At home,My Job — Janice @ 9:54 pm

I hate to be so tired. If I worked all day in a physical job I could understand it, but I sit at a desk in every job I have and it wears me out! So my writing today will conclude with the complaint that I am too tired to write. I’m too tired to even finish my work for the day. That means I will have to be up extra early tomorrow to finish it, I hope, so I am going to go to bed now.

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December 9, 2013

Childhood Foods

Filed under: Family,Food,Garden — Janice @ 11:55 pm

I read an article today about how the smell of childhood comfort foods brings memories back with more vividness than a photo. Duh.

But it got me to thinking about childhood comfort foods of my own. Cinnamon toast is the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve made a thousand slices of cinnamon toast for myself since I was a kid, but they never EVER have the taste and texture of the way Mom made them. White bread, probably real butter or good margarine, sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Maybe being toasted under the flame of a gas broiler helped, too. I know I ate cinnamon toast a lot as a kid (and every year since), but I have the most vivid memory of Mother waking me up one morning. My sister had already gone to school that day, I was 3 or 4, and I must have been tired because I was still asleep. Mother gently woke me up and told me that Captain Kangaroo was on. She had a plate of cinnamon toast for me and the TV tuned to the Captain… sigh… even then I knew I had it good.

From those earliest years when we lived in Amarillo, I also remember Mom’s French fries. Of course they were always good, but I remember them more vividly in that house and they seemed to be more of a treat when we had them there. Kids today don’t even seem to know that you CAN cook your own French fries. You don’t have to rely on what the fast food places call a French fry. I’ll take Mom’s.

And lemon cake. Mom probably has no idea how much I loved her lemon cake. I don’t even think it was something she continued to make that much and I don’t have a recipe for it. But back in the early 60s she had a lemon sheet cake. I remember how good and moist and lemony it was. And then the ants got in it. I remember it sitting on the counter and it had ants and Mother just threw the whole thing in the trash. I was devastated. That was GOOD cake.

Stuffed peppers, homemade tacos, hamburgers, chicken fried steak, corn fresh off the stalk minutes before it was dropped in the boiling water, onions fresh out of the garden sliced and turned into the best onion rings, all the fresh vegetables (that I ate fried mostly), and cinnamon rolls out of a can. Just some of the comfort foods that are coming to mind. Oh, and meat. We lived on a farm. We would have our own cows butchered and we filled the freezer. We’d eat steaks and roast for a while and then work our way down until short ribs were the only things left. There is definitely a difference between good meat and so-so meat. Pizza made from a little box at my grandmother’s. Cream of Wheat at her house. Fresh tomatoes. I even experienced fresh milk— as in still warm from the cow – and real cream and real butter. I would like to try that again. Mom’s chocolate cake and her polka dot cake.

Ohmygod— cherry pie. I just thought of cherry pie. If I could time travel and go back for one plate of one food in my life it would be, hands down, Mom’s cherry pie made with cherries from our cherry trees or from my Aunt Dorothy’s cherry tree, all which were off shoots of my great-grandmother’s cherry trees. Small, sour, delicious. The best cherries in the world and a pie from them was the thing. Mark got to experience one piece of the ultimate cherry pie once. I’ve only had it one time in the last 20 years and I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that I never will. I don’t even attempt cherry pie because anything I make from any kind of store bought or farmer’s market cherry is never ever going to live up to that taste.

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December 8, 2013

Cemeteries and Us

Filed under: Cemeteries — Janice @ 10:15 pm

Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of Mark giving me an engagement ring. I won’t say the 21st anniversary of our “engagement” because that truly came a week after we met in the summertime, but people tend to accept the giving of an engagement ring as a better indication of future marriage plans. I think I’ve written about the engagement ring before. There were beautiful Christmas lights all over town and they sparkled in my new diamond ring.

What does that have to do with cemeteries? No, there was no cemetery involved in our engagement at all. But I was looking through photos and a couple of good photos of us in cemeteries:


That one was near Independence, Texas, and we didn’t have any relatives there, but this one is in Mount Pleasant (Green Hill) and just about everyone around us is a relative of Mark’s:


Mostly our pictures in cemeteries don’t include us both, but we’re getting better about taking a “selfie” when we can.

People ask me about my cemetery obsession and Mark’s cooperation in my graveyard adventures. He may not be quite as interested as I am, but I was thinking about how many cemeteries he has taken me to over our 21 years and how often he’s thrown on the brakes and made a u-turn when I’ve hollered, “CEMETERY!” and craned my neck as I see one go by. I can’t recall that he’s ever said no.

I was smitten with Mark even before we had ever gone to a cemetery and I don’t think a dislike of cemeteries from his viewpoint would have made me change my mind. But it sure helped when we took our first cemetery adventure.

I’d have to check the diary to see when it happened, but somewhere in the summer or fall of 1992, there was a meteor shower that was supposed to be extra special and the weathermen were telling everyone to get out of town and see it where you could find a dark night sky. We lived in the suburbs of Dallas (Richardson for him and Carrollton for me) and there was light pollution wherever we looked. We drove out of town to find some dark sky and Mark said, “I have an idea of where to go, but I don’t know how you’ll feel about it.” Why? What could be wrong? “It’s a cemetery up on a hill.” BINGO! A guy that didn’t even shy away from going to a cemetery at night.

We headed north of town to the Zion Cemetery up on top of a very lonely hill miles from city. We crept up a very dark rutted dirt road to the top of the hill to this very old cemetery…. and found a dozen or more cars already up there. We weren’t the only ones with this idea. But it was dark and there were meteors and it was a great night, stretched across the hood of my car, talking and watching the sky.

Later, my parents moved where that cemetery was on our route to their house and we stopped there and took bluebonnet pictures. Now, I would hate to see it. I think all the suburb towns have invaded from every side.

I found this picture online and most of development seems to still be across the road at least. But I bet the night sky isn’t as dark as it was.


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December 7, 2013

Pork Stew

Filed under: At home,Food,Normal Life — Janice @ 11:34 pm

I made a pot of pork stew today to keep us warm while the temperatures stay in the 20s and 30s until tomorrow. And it turned out good! I have experimented with pork stew several times and have never been really happy. The Roaring Fork restaurant serves the most tremendous pork stew in the the world. I crave it. I want to get some right now, even though I am stuffed on my pork stew and gingerbread at the moment.

Of course, part of the reason their pork stew is so fabulous is that it comes in a little iron cauldron and is covered in cheese and there are toasty warm steamed flour tortillas along side it and, usually, at least when I go for happy hour, there is a beautiful glass of wine, too.

But I bought some cubed pork at the store the other day, the kind I usually don’t find and I have to cube it myself, so I thought I would try it again. I found a recipe online that is supposedly THE recipe from the Roaring Fork. Well, of course it has ingredients in it that I don’t have. Coriander powder, jalapeno powder, and green chile powder. I didn’t even have the garlic it called for (except now I realize I had plenty in a jar and I didn’t think of it).

All this recipe really was was green chiles, onion, and pork, and some cumin (I did own cumin!). The recipe didn’t call for browning the pork in the skillet, but I did that – dredging them in flour and spices, browning them in oil, and then putting them in the crockpot. I used 4 little cans of mild chiles and one huge onion. As it was cooking, it did NOT look that good. Oh, there was about a cup of water in there, too. It just looked like soup with bits of meat floating in it. But somewhere a few hours in, it changed and looked even worse. Now it was just one solid dark mass. But what a delicious mass it was! Surprisingly, it was very close to the Roaring Fork’s taste. I served mine with a dollop of sour cream to give it that creamy texture. Mark didn’t have sour cream and he liked it, too. And I didn’t have the tortillas and I didn’t have the cauldrons and I didn’t top it with cheese. But it was delicious, warming, and worth trying again.

No picture, sadly. It would have taken a good photo stager to make a bowl of it look appetizing, I think, but it really was. Yum. 

December 6, 2013

Snow Days

Filed under: At home,Austin,Food,My Job,Normal Life — Janice @ 10:41 pm

I don’t know where you live, but I would expect that wherever you are, people are worrying about the cold arctic blast that is hitting us. The Dallas/Fort Worth area, my old home, is iced over and everyone is hunkered down. Here in Austin, we only had cold weather and even with that we didn’t go below 32 officially today.

I have been through ice storms in Dallas and they are really something to worry about. Having come from super-cold country (Amarillo), I thought I could laugh at these people that couldn’t drive in this stuff. Then I learned what ice was all about. It truly was something that was totally different in nature from the snows of the Panhandle. I think I had one glorious ice day when I lived in Dallas. After many years in radio where there is no such thing as a snow day or an ice day, I had a non-essential job and got to stay home ONE time because of ice. It was glorious.

But the best snow day ever (okay, maybe outside of as a kid because those were always wonderful) was when I lived in Amarillo with my roommates Beth and Diane and we had a snow day. Well, actually, they had the snow day because they had jobs that did such a thing. I still got up and somehow made it through the drifts and did my morning show, but turned right around after and came home so THEN my snow day began.

I suppose if three single 20-somethings all lived together and had a snow day today they would spend most of their time on their smart phones or laptops or tablets talking with friends in other places and comparing notes about the cold weather. How sad! We had just the three of us and we made fudge and probably other fattening things. We played Scrabble and probably some card games, too. Yes, we had a TV, but no movies on hand or anything particularly good to watch, so the TV stayed off and we talked and played and cooked and laughed. It was memorable. Mostly for the fudge, but for the girls, too.

Today I sort of took a snow day. I still worked, but I worked from home. Not quite the same thing because I didn’t make fudge and I had no friends with me. But I enjoyed a fire and 3 kitties and a Christmas tree and I actually got some work done, too. The weather didn’t turn out so bad that I couldn’t have made it in after all, but I appreciate a flexible boss and job that let’s me be at home like this. Next time ice is predicted, I’m gathering up the ingredients for fudge.

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