Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Austin, June 2017

Roger and I visited Sophie in Austin in early June.

Sophie and I at an Austin park

The air travel was surprising low stress. We had expedited precheck with TSA. (What would that mean to a time traveller? In simple language, we had a special pass which allowed us to bypass the long security line and we didn't have to take our shoes off at the security checkpoint.)

Then, we flew United ... yes, the airline that concussed a passenger who was trying to get back to work at a hospital. At least for our trip, the flight attendants were very pleasant and even chatted with the customers. We imagine the airline encourages this for the moment. It felt like the old days.

I hadn't been to Austin in June before. I loved it there this time of year in a way I couldn't in the cooler seasons. The weather was warm but not too hot.

Roger and I at a popular photo spot. 

We saw Wonder Woman at an Imax theater. It offered a surprisingly humane "just war" message. We still need to get to peace, but this is a step.

While Sophie was at work, Roger and I spent two mornings at a French bakery. We tried and enjoyed cronuts the first morning, which happened to be National Donut Day. And the next morning, we shared a small but delicious macaroon with an avocado filling. It was pleasant to sit at a table in a calm setting and read, talk, drink coffee.

The cronut

We  walked around the neighborhood near the French bakery. Once it was a sleepy middle to working class neighborhood of modest homes. Now it's being taken over by sleek million dollar plus architect-designed houses. All the high end houses these days seem repetitively ultra modern.

One of many architect-designed modern houses going up in once modest neighborhoods.

A house original to the Austin neighborhood that is now going to homes in the multi- millions.

Sophie and Ben made us dinner one night, an eggplant dish with a bottle of $2 wine from Trader Joe's. It was very good: Sophie is a good cook. We also went to the free day at the Texas (Austin?) History Museum. Very crowded--and I wish we had had more time. Interesting exhibits. As we saw at Lexington and Concord years ago, a lot of violence led to ousting the ruling power and taking over: in this case, knocking out Mexico.

Attending the Austin Quaker Meeting was a pleasure.

Posters at the Austin Quaker Meeting: Quakers have a long tradition of welcoming the despised.

I saw an emotionally moving small exhibit on Apollo 13. The phrase "Houston, we have a problem" originated with that flight, but was, originally, "Houston, we had a problem." Living in a time when incompetency is celebrated and scientific consensus ridiculed, I almost cried to see how competency and applying scientific precision to a problem saved lives 40 years ago.

Sophie introduced us to the Great British Bake Off, season three. We played Scattegory, also new to me.

We ate wonderful food: lots of vegetarian and vegan, Mexican, Indian, a wonderful snack at a Mexican food truck ... a wine bar with a salmon and a cheese plate ... all good. Sophie has a talent for finding the best places to eat in a city with a great number of choices... When I got home I wished we had taken more photos, but when enjoying the moment, stopping for picture taken can be a burden.

We saw a  production of Taming of the Shrew, described in my last blog.

Sophie took us swimming--there's much public swimming in Austin because it gets so hot. The particular pool we used, which allows nude sunbathing (not our thing)-- the nude bathers stayed discreetly up the hill, away from the children in the pool--had the look of a 1930s CCC project: a huge (filtered) fresh water arena paved in slippery stones. The water felt very cold this time of year but no doubt warms over the summer.
Austin telephone poles are decorated, reflecting the city's vibrancy.

What a vibrant, alive and multi-cultural community Austin is. Art is everywhere. Life is everywhere. It encapsulated all the reasons we want to keep the U.S. a forward looking, open and welcoming culture. It's creative, crackling and joyful. If only that ethos could spread ... :)

Mosaic wall in Austin


  1. Austin shows the new trends of super-rich taking over at the same time a robust (a favorite buzz word today) culture coming from the variety of people living there manages to thrive. Wrenches are being thrown at it by the federal gov'ts determination to literally deport, repress, or impoverish non-whites and further kowtow poor whites in every way. We can only hope the local world is withstanding it. The university must help.

    I liked the photos of you and your daughter, you and your husband.

  2. Ironically, the very steps of the vitiated wealthy to appropriate, as Frederic Jameson would argue, the vibrant culture springing up from below, is what could end up killing the proverbial goose, also a fear in Manhattan, I understand, as high rents drive out local businesses in favor of chains. That the culture of wealth is vitiated seemed apparent to me in the banal repetitiveness and absence of imagination in the very expensive houses the rich are having built: they are all metal and glass boxes: everyone wants what happens to be in fashion at this minutes.

  3. Lovely blog, Diane. I especially enjoyed the photos of you and your family.Too bad that the rich are taking over the charming neighbourhoods, but gentrification seems to be the trend everywhere. I have heard that Austin is a liberal zone, so hopefully the money taking over will not destroy the magic. Loved the park, which reminded me of New Mexico, a place that brings back good memories.There is something special about the Southwest. It's a different vibe.

  4. Thanks Elaine. "Magic" is a great word to describe the Austin vibe.

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